Mindfulness Meditation has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. Both the experience of meditators and scientific research have revealed a host of benefits from the practice, from improving sleep to reducing stress and depression to boosting the immune system.
The essence of mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. The Buddha had this to say about Right Mindfulness:
When going, the monk knows “I am going,” or, when standing, he knows “I am standing,” or, when lying down, he knows “I am lying down.” Or in whatever position his body is placed, he is aware of it….Whether he goes, stands or sits, sleeps or is awake, speaks or is silent, he is acting with full attention.
Digha Nikaya, II: 292
Sayadaw U Pandita, one of the world’s leading teachers of Vipassana / Mindfulness meditation, offers these instructions on performing Vipassana.
Vipassana, or insight meditation, is the practice of continued close attention to sensation, through which one ultimately sees the true nature of existence. It is believed to be the form of meditation practice taught by the Buddha himself, and although the specific form of the practice may vary, it is the basis of all traditions of Buddhist meditation.
1. Which place is best for meditation?
The Buddha suggested that either a forest place under a tree or any other very quiet place is best for meditation.
2. How should the meditator sit?
He said the meditator should sit quietly and peacefully with legs crossed.
3. How should those with back troubles sit?
If sitting with crossed legs proves to be too difficult, other sitting postures may be used. For those with back trouble, a chair is quite acceptable. In any case, sit with your back erect, at a right angle to the ground, but not too stiff.
4. Why should you sit straight?
The reason for sitting straight is not difficult to see. An arched or crooked back will soon bring pain. Furthermore, the physical effort to remain upright without additional support energizes the meditation practice.
5. Why is it important to choose a position?
To achieve peace of mind, we must make sure our body is at peace. So it’s important to choose a position that will be comfortable for a long period of time.
6. After sitting down, what should you do?
Close your eyes. Then place your attention at the belly, at the abdomen. Breathe normally—not forcing your breathing—neither slowing it down nor hastening it. Just a natural breath.
7. What will you become aware of as you breathe in and breathe out?
You will become aware of certain sensations as you breathe in and the abdomen rises, and as you breathe out and the abdomen falls.
8. How should you sharpen your aim?
Sharpen your aim by making sure that the mind is attentive to the entirety of each process. Be aware from the very beginning of all sensations involved in the rising. Maintain a steady attention through the middle and the end of the rising. Then be aware of the sensations of the falling movement of the abdomen from the beginning, through the middle, and to the very end of the falling.
Although we describe the rising and falling as having a beginning, middle and end, this is only in order to show that your awareness should be continuous and thorough. We don’t intend you to break these processes into three segments. You should try to be aware of each of these movements from beginning to end as one complete process, as a whole. Do not peer at the sensations with an over-focused mind, specifically looking to discover how the abdominal movement begins or ends.
9. Why is it important in this meditation to have both effort and precise aim?
It is very important to have both effort and precise aim so that the mind meets the sensation directly and powerfully.
10. What is one way to aid precision and accuracy?
One helpful aid to precision and accuracy is to make a soft, mental note of the object of awareness, naming the sensation by saying the word gently and silently in the mind, like “rising, rising . . .,” and “falling, falling. . .”
11. When the mind wanders off, what should you do?
Watch the mind! Be aware that you are thinking.
Read all 52 questions and answers at http://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-vipassana-insight-meditation/
What’s in a name?
Sayadaw U Pandita is actually his title followed by his name. “Sayadaw” indicates the senior monk or abbot of a monastery; “U” is an honorific prefixed to the monk’s dharma name (a new name acquired during the monk’s ordination); Pandita is his dharma name.
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