Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vipassana Meditation

Namaste friends & Yoga enthusiasts.. I'm posting again a article from our old blog which I  wrote originally in November 2008. I talked today to a friend who is going to Vipassana for the first time.. so I thought about sharing this once again. There you go:

Hi guys.. I have just come back from my second 10 days Vipassana Meditation course, in Dhamma Giri, the headquarters of Vipassana International Academy in Igatpuri, and would like to share with you about this experience. Have a look at the pictures from Dhamma Giri complex. (Pictures of the Meditation Halls are not allowed.)

For those who don’t know, Vipassana is a technique of Meditation taught in ancient times by Gautama 'the Buddha' himself, and preserved (in Burma) in its pristine form by a long line of teachers descended directly from the Buddha and it was brought back to India by S.N. Goenka, or Goenkaji as he is widely and respectfully referred to.

The technique involves the following observances and practices: Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom).

And for those who think meditation is an easy job… that you just need to sit cross-legged and do nothing… you will be surprised to know that Vipassana Meditation is a hard work and that the 10 days course calls for a lot of effort and discipline.
In Goenkaji’s own words, one has to “work diligently, ardently, persistently, patiently but continuously, observing sensations throughout the body and remaining equanimous, understanding the technique properly, purifying the mind, to work out one’s own liberation from misery”.

More about the Technique

The technique of Vipassana is a simple, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy, useful life. Vipassana means "to see things as they really are"; it is a logical process of mental purification through self-observation.

From time to time, we all experience agitation, frustration and disharmony. When we suffer, we do not keep our misery limited to ourselves; instead, we keep distributing it to others. Certainly this is not a proper way to live. We all long to live at peace within ourselves, and with those around us. After all, human beings are social beings: we have to live and interact with others. How, then, can we live peacefully? How can we remain harmonious ourselves, and maintain peace and harmony around us?

Vipassana enables us to experience peace and harmony: it purifies the mind, freeing it from suffering and the deep-seated causes of suffering. The practice leads step-by-step to the highest spiritual goal of full liberation from all mental defilements.

About the Course

The standard meditation course in this tradition is a residential course of ten days’ duration. The participants commit themselves to staying on the course site for the full ten days, observing a rigorous timetable, maintaining complete silence (Noble Silence) among themselves for the first nine days.

(Individual Cells for Meditation around the main Pagoda)

At the beginning of the course, we take the five precepts as given by the Buddha to householders: to refrain from killing, to refrain from stealing, to refrain from telling lies (one of the reasons for the Noble Silence), to refrain from sexual misconduct (which involves the maintenance of complete celibacy for the duration of the course), and to refrain from taking any intoxicants.

We start with the practice of Anapana Meditation, that is, the observation of natural breath. On the fourth day, when some concentration has been gained, we switch to the practice of Vipassana Meditation, the systematic observation of the entire mind-matter phenomenon through the medium of bodily sensations. On the last full day, we practice Metta-bhavana, that is, loving kindness, or sharing with others the merits we have gained.

Important aspects of the practice during the course

Noble Silence – (means silence of body, speech and mind) one abstains completely from communication with others whether vocally, or physically by glances or gestures. By doing so one becomes capable of approaching mental silence.

Adhitthana – (means strong determination) to sit in a comfortable position of your choice for a full hour, observing sensations and remaining equanimous with a strong determination that you are not going to open your eyes, hands and feet.

Awareness and Equanimity – They are like the two wings of a bird. They should be equal in size and strength, otherwise it can not fly. In Vipassana is the same, being aware and equanimous should be the same in size and strength, otherwise it won’t work.

If you want to do a 10 day course of Vipassana Meditation you can get all information you need and make the reservation online at http://www.vri.dhamma.org/

That's it for now. You can write to me if you want more details and tips for the course. Take care.