Vipassana – The technique of Gautama Buddha
Vipassana is the technique of lord Gautama Buddha. The path of Buddha is considered as Golden Mean because he teaches that there in no need to go to any extreme – neither in indulgence nor in abstinence. His path is a Golden path, which does not demand affiliation to any idea, belief or dogma. Even after the lapse of more than 2500 years since he walked on this earth, there is no decline in his teaching or in the relevance of his miraculous and amazingly simple meditation technique ‘Vipassana’. In fact this meditation technique is often considered as the technique of the future because of its extremely simple yet very powerful method. For the busy and extremely complicated life of 21st century, Vipassana is the kind of friendly meditation which can be done by anybody, anywhere and at any time.
Vipassana means ‘to come and see’. To be more precise – to come inward and see. It is the way of the Buddha. He do not give sermons on reality. He only says ‘ “come and see – ‘Eehee Pissico’. Just come inward and see for yourself the reality.
In a single sentence: What is Vipassana ?
Vipassana is :
“To watch your breath with awareness. “
That’s all! It is just simple. To be watchful of your breath as it comes and go. It is Vipassana. The easiest meditation technique of all time.
Breathing is the most of important life process of our body. Nobody can exist without breath even for a single moment. In fact breathing is so important that nature has made it automatic in all living being. Nobody has to remember to breath. Just like internal vital process of our body like pumping of heart, circulation of blood, digestion of food etc, the breathing also happens on its own. Numerous meditation techniques are centered around breath. Almost all spiritual schools has developed a majority of their meditation techniques around breath. The reason for such infatuation with breathing is that it (breathing) is not merely a process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling Carbon Dioxide. Breathing, in reality, is a bridge between our body and our self.
From the moment we come into this world – till the moment we die, we continue taking breath. Breathing is a link between our soul and our body. So when one meditates on breathing, invariably, he gets connected with his self.
In Vipassana you have to be just aware of your breath. A simple rule is that no matter what you do, no matter in whichever action you indulged in – just be aware of your breathing process. Be watchful of breath as it comes inside your body and goes outside. Don’t try to control your breath. Vipassana is not ‘Pranayam' (the yogic exercise in which one control various movements of breath). If your breath is deep let it be, if it is shallow let it be. Just let your breathing in its natural rhythm.
Understand this by this analogy: Just imagine that a river is flowing. Now the flow of the river may be fast or slow. What you have to do is to sit on its bank Just watch the river as it flows. Don’t try to create ripples in it. Don’t do anything that affects its flow. Just be a watcher. This river is your breath. The breathing process is going on. Just be a watcher of this process. Slowly slowly as you watch your breathing, your mind will start calming own. You will see that all thoughts are disappearing on their own. Eventually as you keep practicing, such moment will start coming when you see that everything has come to a standstill. There will be no thoughts, there will be no emotions. However, there will be full awareness. The state of choiceless awareness. In this state you will know the real you.
Some important things about Vipassana:
(1) Though this extremely easy meditation can be done anytime, anywhere, initially it is strongly advised that you allocate some fixed time for it on daily basis. Choose a separate room and sit in a comfortable position. Them meditate by watching your breathing.
(2) The real success will come when you can be aware of your breath while doing all kind of daily activities like reading, playing, driving, swimming, or doing any domestic task. However this stage will come after a regular practice for a considerable amount of time. At that point there will be two aspects of your existence – doing and being. You will be doing everything, fully involved in your tasks, yet inside there will be a center of awareness in you undisturbed by outer circumstances. That will be the true state of a meditator – the one who will be creative outside and meditative inside.
A step by step explanation of Vipassana
Here is a basic instruction for Vipassana breathing meditation taken from a talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu given to a conference on AIDS, HIV and other Immuno-deficiency Disorders in Long Beach, CA, Nov. 13, 1993 .
The Breathing Meditation
The technique I’ll be teaching is breath meditation. It’s a good topic no matter what your religious background is. As my teacher once said, the breath doesn’t belong to Buddhism or Christianity or anyone at all. It’s common property that anyone can meditate on. At the same time, of all the meditation topics there are, it’s probably the most beneficial to the body, for when we’re dealing with the breath, we’re dealing not only with the air coming in and out of the lungs, but also with all the feelings of energy that course throughout the body with each breath. If you can learn to become sensitive to these feelings, and let them flow smoothly and unobstructed, you can help the body function more easily, and give the mind a handle for dealing with pain.
So let’s all meditate for a few minutes. Sit comfortably erect, in a balanced position. You don’t have to be ramrod straight like a soldier. Just try not to lean forward or back, to the left or the right. Close your eyes and say to yourself, ‘May I be truly happy and free from suffering.’ This may sound like a strange, even selfish, way to start meditating, but there are good reasons for it. One, if you can’t wish for your own happiness, there is no way that you can honestly wish for the happiness of others. Some people need to remind themselves constantly that they deserve happiness — we all deserve it, but if we don’t believe it, we will constantly find ways to punish ourselves, and we will end up punishing others in subtle or blatant ways as well.
Two, it’s important to reflect on what true happiness is and where it can be found. A moment’s reflection will show that you can’t find it in the past or the future. The past is gone and your memory of it is undependable. The future is a blank uncertainty. So the only place we can really find happiness is in the present. But even here you have to know where to look. If you try to base your happiness on things that change — sights, sounds, sensations in general, people and things outside — you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, like building your house on a cliff where there have been repeated landslides in the past. So true happiness has to be sought within. Meditation is thus like a treasure hunt: to find what has solid and unchanging worth in the mind, something that even death cannot touch.
To find this treasure we need tools. The first tool is to do what we’re doing right now: to develop good will for ourselves. The second is to spread that good will to other living beings. Tell yourself: ‘All living beings, no matter who they are, no matter what they have done to you in the past — may they all find true happiness too.’ If you don’t cultivate this thought, and instead carry grudges into your meditation, that’s all you’ll be able to see when you look inside.
Only when you have cleared the mind in this way, and set outside matters aside, are you ready to focus on the breath. Bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Breathe in long and out long for a couple of times, focusing on any spot in the body where the breathing is easy to notice, and your mind feels comfortable focusing. This could be at the nose, at the chest, at the abdomen, or any spot at all. Stay with that spot, noticing how it feels as you breathe in and out. Don’t force the breath, or bear down too heavily with your focus. Let the breath flow naturally, and simply keep track of how it feels. Savor it, as if it were an exquisite sensation you wanted to prolong. If your mind wanders off, simply bring it back. Don’t get discouraged. If it wanders 100 times, bring it back 100 times. Show it that you mean business, and eventually it will listen to you.
If you want, you can experiment with different kinds of breathing. If long breathing feels comfortable, stick with it. If it doesn’t, change it to whatever rhythm feels soothing to the body. You can try short breathing, fast breathing, slow breathing, deep breathing, shallow breathing — whatever feels most comfortable to you right now…
Once you have the breath comfortable at your chosen spot, move your attention to notice how the breathing feels in other parts of the body. Start by focusing on the area just below your navel. Breathe in and out, and notice how that area feels. If you don’t feel any motion there, just be aware of the fact that there’s no motion. If you do feel motion, notice the quality of the motion, to see if the breathing feels uneven there, or if there’s any tension or tightness. If there’s tension, think of relaxing it. If the breathing feels jagged or uneven, think of smoothing it out… Now move your attention over to the right of that spot — to the lower right-hand corner of the abdomen — and repeat the same process… Then over to the lower left-hand corner of the abdomen… Then up to the navel… right… left… to the solar plexus… right.. left… the middle of the chest… right… left… to the base of the throat… right… left… to the middle of the head…[take several minutes for each spot]
If you were meditating at home, you could continue this process through your entire body — over the head, down the back, out the arms & legs to the tips of your finger & toes — but since our time is limited, I’ll ask you to return your focus now to any one of the spots we’ve already covered. Let your attention settle comfortably there, and then let your conscious awareness spread to fill the entire body, from the head down to the toes, so that you’re like a spider sitting in the middle of a web: It’s sitting in one spot, but it’s sensitive to the entire web. Keep your awareness expanded like this — you have to work at this, for its tendency will be to shrink to a single spot — and think of the breath coming in & out your entire body, through every pore. Let your awareness simply stay right there for a while — there’s no where else you have to go, nothing else you have to think about… And then gently come out of meditation.