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 _shakti_
Joined: 7/5/2011
Msg: 1
Vipassana MeditationPage 1 of 5    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
I just returned from a 10 day silent meditation retreat learning this technique, and am curious if anyone else has any experience with it?

I wasn't sure which forum would be the most appropriate, I thought maybe religion, but unfortunately it's totally dead in there now, plus meditation isn't religious.. so I figured this would be the closest fit.

Anyway, I'm mostly curious as to others experience who have done the 10 day retreat (which is the standard introduction to this style), but would welcome any discussion about meditation in general as well.

Oh yeah, and have any of you heard about the Vipassana prison program?

 _shakti_
Joined: 7/5/2011
Msg: 2
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 9/30/2012 9:11:51 AM
Hey Frank, I've already practiced many styles of meditation throughout the years, Vipassana is new to me.

While it's true that you aren't supposed to mix different styles.. that is so that you know for sure where the benefits are coming from. In order to give it a full chance to blossom.

Earlier this year in India I was given a 'secret mantra' which I wasn't sure I could let go of.. I had a struggle with that, but since practicing this style, I feel that naturally just passing away. It was tainted anyway, so the purity I have found in Vipassana is welcome.

As for vegetarianism (if that wasn't just an analogy, lol), I was there before the retreat so that wasn't a struggle at all. I do eat seafood when I am really craving it on occasion. And there are many practitioners who do still eat meat.. it isn't a black/white condemnation thing.

I don't feel constrained by any rules, and would never agree to make changes unless they made sense to me. I won't get in trouble for discussing other styles of meditation, imo they all have benefit. It's just a matter of what you are drawn to. Have you done the 10 day course, or have just heard stuff about Vipassana?
 justherefortheforum10960
Joined: 8/14/2012
Msg: 3
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 9/30/2012 12:00:04 PM
I sat zen from many years and eventually got more interested in Theravadian Buddhism. The techniques are related, but different. I found both to be powerful forms of mediation, but have have come to believe that Theravadian seems closer to what the Buddha actually taught.
 Trailsman5
Joined: 4/10/2006
Msg: 4
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 2:34:35 AM
Forgive me, but how are the meditation styles different than just sitting quietly in an empty room?
 _shakti_
Joined: 7/5/2011
Msg: 5
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 9:26:20 AM
^^ Long time no see :)

There are many different meditation techniques. I have practiced quite a few and there are some differences in the results that you get. Hard to explain if you have no meditation experience at all though.
 Trailsman5
Joined: 4/10/2006
Msg: 6
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 9:39:16 AM
How do the techniques differ? In the thoughts that are focussed on? In the way one is sitting/standing?
 _shakti_
Joined: 7/5/2011
Msg: 7
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 9:51:06 AM
In some techniques you use imagery, in others a mantra, in others certain poses/breathing techniques... there are walking meditations, active kundalini type meditations, the list goes on and on..

In vipassana, at its base.. you focus on the breath and bodily sensations.

Oh, and as for how they differ from just sitting in an empty room? The goal is to transcend what is lovingly called the 'monkey mind'.. the mental chatter that goes on incessantly until you learn to quiet it. You wouldn't achieve that merely sitting in an empty room.
 Trailsman5
Joined: 4/10/2006
Msg: 8
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 10:24:55 AM
And these different techniques produce different results? Can you modify which techniques you use depending on your needs?
 _shakti_
Joined: 7/5/2011
Msg: 9
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 1:23:34 PM
Yup, absolutely. With Vipassana, you aren't supposed to mix techniques.. but it's not like I'm going to just quit yoga (my style includes chanting and meditation) or never enjoy a mantra again.

Have you ever meditated?
 Trailsman5
Joined: 4/10/2006
Msg: 10
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 5:57:47 PM

Have you ever meditated?


I have sat in a tranquil place alone with my thoughts.
 Coma White
Joined: 4/11/2004
Msg: 11
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 7:50:40 PM

Oh, and as for how they differ from just sitting in an empty room? The goal is to transcend what is lovingly called the 'monkey mind'.. the mental chatter that goes on incessantly until you learn to quiet it. You wouldn't achieve that merely sitting in an empty room.


What you mention sounds similar to Buddhism. I come from a background of Hermeticism and that's something they teach as the first step. Being able to silence the mind is required for the following steps. The other forms of meditation that are part of the first step are holding one thought in your mind without distraction, and observing your thought pattern with a relaxed state of mind. I think everyone could benefit from that. We have too much garbage in our minds and most people have problems with focus and racing thoughts.
 justlookingvt
Joined: 5/8/2010
Msg: 12
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 8:00:42 PM
I don't consider myself qualified to make a contribution to this thread (but, it wouldn't be the first time I choose to disregard that fact) ;-). I just got an iota of useful information regarding the technique at

http://www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml

I thought I'd share the link for those who, like me, are not familiar but might be interested.

Somewhat on topic now...

From what I gathered from the above link, Vipassana meditation is a technique to become more aware of the connections between our mind and our body. The goal, being able to exert some conscious and positive control over those connections. Awareness is the key, and I presume, increased awareness and control, the purpose. In that respect, I believe, Descartes stated the starting point of all meditation, I think, therefore I am.

The dictionary defines meditation as:



a discourse intended to express its author's reflections or to guide others in contemplation


Personally, I feel this definition to be overly simplified to the point of being incomplete. Specifically, most meditation techniques focus on internal awareness, inherently a reflexive process. An attempt to complete the above definition would, at least, require adding inner contemplation.

I see meditation as a one of the variants of metacognition. Meditation has traditionally implied the reflexive application of some of our abilities onto one or more parts of the inner self. Metacognition - as I see it - is the application of one's abilities onto the abilities themselves (metareasoning when applied to the process of thinking).

I have done very little (if any) of what is considered traditional meditation. I started metacognition in my late teens after reading Hermann Hess' book "Siddartha" which connects meditation and metacognition, and sets Siddartha onto the metareasoning path. Hermann Hess' "Steppenwolf" is an interesting combination of both, meditation (not in traditional form) and metacognition.

As Forrest Gump said.... and that's all I have to say about that. :-) (for here... but he didn't say that, I did) ;-)
 Stray__Cat
Joined: 7/12/2006
Msg: 13
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 8:49:47 PM
Trailsman
Consider the various forms of meditation as a banquet spread out before you.
You can choose what best to eat. What is healthiest and most beneficial for you.
If you don't like squid?
Eat the lamb.

For most, sitting and observing passing thoughts and emotions is how it is done.
The stillness comes when you see inner phenomena as passing clouds.
Thinking stops. Stillness ensues

But what if you are ADD or AHD?
There are meditation techniques for that.
Where a practitioner visualizes a specific thing/object
and that thing/object changes.

For instance, one practice(which I haven't done), is visualizing Buddha in your heart or head. And he spins and turns into a rainbow. You can also use Jesus. or Allah. or an angel.
Doesn't matter.

The benefit of that practice is it engages your whole mind in the visualization
so you cannot think of anything else.
If you are easily distracted, that will give you focus.

Another type is to chant a mantra to aid in concentration.
This form is the same as a nun or monk saying Hail Mary repeatedly.

Yoga is another type of moving meditation.
as is Ti Chi.

The goal of meditation is to give you a perspective outside of what you
think and feel. That way what you think and feel does not run(ruin?) your life.
You can CHOOSE to think this. Or feel that.
You are not dragged helplessly around by thoughts and emotions.
You can gain control of them.
and in so doing....your life as well.

That is the aim.
The method to achieve that is of less importance.
 Coma White
Joined: 4/11/2004
Msg: 14
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/2/2012 10:39:11 PM

The goal of meditation is to give you a perspective outside of what you
think and feel. That way what you think and feel does not run(ruin?) your life.
You can CHOOSE to think this. Or feel that.
You are not dragged helplessly around by thoughts and emotions.
You can gain control of them.
and in so doing....your life as well.


That's the goal of some types of meditation. If you are able to achieve thinking about one thing and banishing irrelevant thoughts from your mind, then the next logical step is the completely empty your mind. A lot of mystic practices require this type of thought control as the foundation of their system. On a spiritual level, people practice the emptiness of mind in order to be receptive to subtle energies and passive/active communication with spirits.
 Full_of_Grace67
Joined: 11/15/2011
Msg: 15
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History
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 7:07:27 AM
You mean 10 days of silence?? It would be really hard for me to quit talking that long! MAYBE 10 hours while I'm sleeping, lol

But seriously, I don't think I am enlightened enough to really meditate the right way. I went to a woman's retreat for a month and got close, but there is always too much going on in my mind! Kinda like when I'm having boring sex: "What should I make for dinner tonight? Did I send a thank you card to my grandmother? I need to finish that book I started..."
 Coma White
Joined: 4/11/2004
Msg: 16
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 11:37:38 AM

But seriously, I don't think I am enlightened enough to really meditate the right way. I went to a woman's retreat for a month and got close, but there is always too much going on in my mind! Kinda like when I'm having boring sex: "What should I make for dinner tonight? Did I send a thank you card to my grandmother? I need to finish that book I started..."


It's something that you work on over time. I can only talk about Hermeticism because that's the system I use, but one of the basic concepts is focus. When you're driving, focus on driving, when you're doing a job, focus on the job, when you're having sex, focus on sex. It's almost impossible to move on to advanced techniques without this sort of thought discipline. It can benefit all areas of a person's life. If a musician on stage starts thinking about a fight they had with their girlfriend, they might make a mistake, etc.
 _shakti_
Joined: 7/5/2011
Msg: 17
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 11:49:12 AM
Coma White:
I come from a background of Hermeticism and that's something they teach as the first step. Being able to silence the mind is required for the following steps.
Interesting, is it possible for you to share the other steps?

The other forms of meditation that are part of the first step are holding one thought in your mind without distraction, and observing your thought pattern with a relaxed state of mind.
That sounds very similar to meditating with the use of a mantra.. you keep the so called monkey mind busy by reciting, so that you can get in touch with and remain in pure awareness.

Justlooking:
I don't consider myself qualified to make a contribution to this thread (but, it wouldn't be the first time I choose to disregard that fact) ;-)
I seriously wanted it to be an open discussion about meditation, so I'm glad you joined in, and especially that you added the link to more info- like why didn't I think of that? lol..

Awareness is the key, and I presume, increased awareness and control, the purpose. In that respect, I believe, Descartes stated the starting point of all meditation, I think, therefore I am.
But awareness and thinking aren't the same thing.. I can think about a sensation on my arm, but actually being aware of and feeling it is another thing entirely.. if that makes sense?

My teacher in India had us close our eyes and feel where our awareness naturally wants to reside inside of our body? That is a compelling exercise and only takes a moment.. mine definitely wasn't where I thought it would be.

This brings up a whole other meditation method, that of self inquiry (made popular by Ramana Maharshi and others).. you ask a series of questions while meditating, like when a thought bubbles up.. am I that? And so on.. to peel it all away and determine who you actually are.

I have to admit, that method is a bit too much of a mind trip for me. At least at this stage anyhow.

Interesting bit about metacognition.. it kinda reminds me of lucid dreaming, but wouldn't you still be 'stuck' within the limited framework of the intellectual reasoning process?

@Stray Cat, well put!

Petygrace:
You mean 10 days of silence?? It would be really hard for me to quit talking that long! MAYBE 10 hours while I'm sleeping, lol
Believe me, I know what you mean. It was hard work! I'm not going to sugar coat that. I had days that I wanted to run screaming. Days that I didn't want to get out of bed. Being in silence and meditating that long (11 hours/day) really brings up your stuff. It can feel overwhelming at times, but you are given techniques for dealing with it. Techniques that translate easily to the 'real world' as well. Invaluable.

But seriously, I don't think I am enlightened enough to really meditate the right way.
I'm not sure there is a 'right way'. When I first started, I just sat there and watched the thoughts come and go. I had heard of visualizing a tool to help clear the mind in the process, so I imagined a broom sweeping all the crap out as it came up. I had to use the broom a LOT, lol.. but so what? You just start where you're comfortable.

I went to a woman's retreat for a month and got close, but there is always too much going on in my mind! Kinda like when I'm having boring sex: "What should I make for dinner tonight? Did I send a thank you card to my grandmother? I need to finish that book I started..."
That's the 'monkey mind' and we've all got one! It's just a matter of learning to tame it. Show it who's boss :)
 justlookingvt
Joined: 5/8/2010
Msg: 18
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 1:26:40 PM

But awareness and thinking aren't the same thing..


I believe that to be true... I also believe (without any proof) that the awareness level an individual can achieve is dependent on the individual's thought processes.



... wouldn't you still be 'stuck' within the limited framework of the intellectual reasoning process?


yes... I believe you are right.... and wouldn't awareness be limited by the intellectual reasoning process too ? After all, it is your intellectual reasoning that, at least in part, triggered your curiosity into self awareness. It is logical to conclude that self awareness and self understanding are limited by one's intellectual reasoning abilities. Siddartha had to learn this before being able to achieve his goal (nirvana). A very worthwhile read... I highly recommend it :-)

On intellectual ability, directly related to Vipassana, I found the following in Wikipedia, which I thought was interesting:



fMRI were used to assess the thickness of the brains of twenty Westerners who had experience with Insight meditation. It was determined that their brains were thicker in regions of the brain involved with somatosensory, auditory, visual and interoceptive processing depending upon the amount of time that they'd spent practicing. The researchers suggest that this may slow cognitive decline typically associated with aging.


It seems, our intellectual limits change based on our needs ;-)



like why didn't I think of that? lol..


Good question ;-) meditating that could yield some insights ;-)
 Stray__Cat
Joined: 7/12/2006
Msg: 19
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 3:19:49 PM
^^^^
YES!

That awareness and thinking ARE not the same...
and separate
and not related phenomena
is one my first meditation insights.

As a westerner....we are taught:
"I think therefore I am."
Yet, now as a mediator I now know...
"I am...therefore I think."

That "I am" awareness precedes thought.
Not the other way around.

when I meditate....simply being "I am"....
I can observe thoughts/emotions arise on their own
without being caught up in them.
or thinking on..or contributing to them.
They starve by lack of mental energy and dissipate on their own.

In the past I was sad....or hurt...or worried.
now I see sadness, worry, pain...as separate from myself.
Not AS myself.
I am not ENTWINED with negative emotions/thoughts.
I still have em.
But I am NOT them.
They are like birds that fly in and out of my mental window on their own.
To me that was an enormous benefit.
and a gift of freedom.
 loveoccult11
Joined: 9/8/2012
Msg: 20
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 9:00:43 PM
The taming of the mind is just the very beginning for it is like in Hermeticm a understanding of universal equilibrium between the person and the universe. This comes into harmony when the two minds form one thus unionization.

Duality is the key that stops everything. Sure meditating is important but so is wisdom and knowledge. Your never get anywhere if your own mind is lost in duality of right and wrong. one must see ahead of this. Thus Good can only be good cause we know bad and bad can only be bad because we know good. there two forces of the same force thus to go beyond those 2 forces is to seek union with all of creation.

When you meditate you must detach yourself from the outside world and your body too so you do not self-identify with the body because that is what holds your spirit back from its true force. Go beyond duality go beyond the body and your be in ever lasting bliss that with the divine.
 MutedEnthusiasm
Joined: 7/8/2011
Msg: 21
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 9:28:38 PM
I did the 10-day retreat some twenty years ago as a novice with no experience – maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was sure I was the world’s worst meditator with all the mental yammering that went on upstairs.

Honestly, much of the time I just went with it, and let those mental movies play – full of desire and aversion, back and forth, and much guilt about doing it so poorly.

There might have been a hundred of us in the hall, all sitting perfectly still except me wiggling like a kid on crack. It was awful. By day three I was ready to bolt and I still don’t know how or why I stuck it out but I did.

I remember the mild shock of returning to the outside world, driving straight from there to a ski-hill in the Okanagan which was quite a sheltered environment. Good thing too because of how sensitive I was feeling.

I wish I’d stuck with it now as a daily practice. I’d have twenty years of practice behind me and my life would look much different I’m sure. But that’s a futile thought so I’ll let it go.

Now I listen to my dharma talks from zencast (Gil) and the San Francisco Zen Centre (google or itunes). Gil Fronsdal was Zen for decades, Vipassana now – he usually calls it mindfulness – and a good teacher. The Zen centre has a variety of speakers which is nice. There's a ton of material there.

It’s time I started sitting again – past time. It’s so good for me when I do it. Thanks for the thread. Always a good thought.
 Coma White
Joined: 4/11/2004
Msg: 22
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 9:57:05 PM

Interesting, is it possible for you to share the other steps?


I'll start by giving you more information about the first step. Meditation is only one component. Like I said, there are three types of meditation in step one, observing your thoughts, keeping your focus on one thought and having no thoughts. These are in addition to being mindful of everything you do throughout the day.

Step one requires you to create "soul mirrors" where you list your good and bad qualities and keep track of them as you progress through the steps. You also divide up your qualities between the four elements. For example, anger could be assigned to fire and laziness could be earth.

There are a few things you do with water as well. The first excercise is to place your hands in cold water and visualize negative aspects of yourself being drawn out by the water. The second is to place your hands in cold water after visualizing a positive quality in the water and then absorb it. The third (optional) is to place your face into cold water for beauty. This can be done seven times to correspond with the planet Venus.

You can use food in a similar fashion. Imagine the food embodying your wishes and consume the food without reading, watching tv, or conversing with people. Next, do the same thing with air. Impregnante the air with your goal or positive quality and inhale that air. You can also visualize breathing out the opposite quality.
 LennyPane
Joined: 2/2/2011
Msg: 23
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History
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/3/2012 10:29:41 PM
Before the first time I ever meditated I asked people who were experienced with it what to expect.
They mostly told me it takes time to master it and not to expect to get great at it right away. Weird thing is I instantly was good at it, it felt like a discipline that was almost like an instinct for me. Within my first couple weeks of meditating, I got to the point where my whole body would tingle intensely and I felt like I didn't weigh anything. At the same time
I felt mentally like I was completely 'still' as if I was at the same vibration as everything surrounding me. It would get to the point where I would feel as if I were about to lose consciousness, but being fully conscious while feeling this. I would get scared and shake myself out of it. The feeling during this was extremely pleasant, actually euphoric. But as I said it would get so intense it would scare me. Anyone experienced this? If so what happens if you don't snap out of it? Out of body experience?
 loveoccult11
Joined: 9/8/2012
Msg: 24
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 10/6/2012 7:05:21 AM
the fear you have is the attachment to the body.

The tingling can be because of energy centers starting to open up.

Out of body experience is one thing but so are many many others sometimes... You have to pass a block in your mind and when you do (which you dont shake yourself out of...) You might hit another block you never remembered up untill now.

To say your good at somethng is simply that of ego. Naturally we are all good at meditating as we are spiritual beings.

I suggest you let yourself goo and see where it might lead you...
 Dynan3
Joined: 11/28/2012
Msg: 25
Vipassana Meditation
Posted: 12/18/2012 3:58:17 PM
Offered in honesty, not judgment nor competition (of which there is already too much).

I've spent 40+ years getting bounced around methods of looking for inner peace, truth and happiness. (Very) Briefly, it included immersion into the catholic ritual as a parochial schoolboy until 3rd grade, metaphysics, Ram Dass based Hindu practice, and actual ashram experience in India, meditation (individual and in groups).

It all changed one day when my son (34 years old at the time), who has been my cosmic buddy more than anything, said simply,"Dad, I found it."
"Found what?"
"The answer we've been looking for."
"Ok...cough it up!"
"Dhamma."
"What?"
"Dhamma."
"Listen, I've been searching for 40 years."
"Ok."
"I've even lived with an enlightened guru for 5 years and you're gonna tell me that you have something better?"
"Yep."
"What is it?"
"Dhamma."
"WHAT the f--- is Dhamma?"
"Natural law."
"How do you get/become/practice Dhamma?"
"Vipassana meditation."
"What's vipassana?"
"Things as they are."
"How do you practice it?"
"You sit with the truth of the self."
"How do you learn it?"
"You attend a 10 day course given by dhamma.org ."
"How much does it cost?"
"Nothing."
"What do you eat?"
"They feed you."
"They feed you?"
"Yes."
"Where do you stay?"
"They house you."
"Free room and board for 10 days? How can they do this?"
"Because of the generosity of students past. They make donations if they want the course to continue for other people."
"Why?"
"So money never influences the teaching."
"Where did the teaching start?"
"With Buddha's experience of enlightenment."
"How's it been passed along?"
"Directly from teacher/student to teacher/student in a direct, unchanged form."
"What's so different between this and the jillion other schools of thought that are out there?"
"It's not thought. It's experience."
"Experience of what?"
"Your self. As it is."
"What do I have to do there?"
"Practice the five silas." (pronounced: shee-luz)
"And they are...?"
"NO: killing, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, and no intoxicants."
"That's it?"
"Yup. Also, the course is taught in noble silence."
"And that is....?"
"No talking, except to the teachers and managers, no notes, glances, gestures. It is supposed to be as if you're alone."
"Ok...I'll go to a course."

(Almost a year later I attended a 10 day course, after careful, loving reminders from my son.)

I say,"Ok, I went."
"And?"
"It was everything you said it would be."
"How so?"
"I simply cannot believe that, after forty years of hearing about karma, it can so simple to remove past karmas. Stunning."
"Vipassana is difficult in some ways at the start. But the difficulties ARE the removal of sankharas...karmas."
"I'm speechless."
"That might be a good thing."
"No, really. I'm stunned that a method so simple can give so much happiness. Not pleasure, happiness."
"Empowering, isn't it?"
"And now I understand how new karmas are formed. Stunning. All this was hidden in plain sight."
"The universe is tricky, huh?"
"It's such a practical and honest way to live life. It removes the competition and replaces it with compassion."
"Well it does show the daunting path to enlightenment. Not that the course assures it, but the path is shown."
"Has anyone you know gone to a course?"
"Ever heard of Eckhart Tolle? He went."
"Wow. It figures. I'm sure some other teachers went as well."
"I'm glad you went."
"I am too, you little shit."

Humbly,
Dynan
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