Insight Meditation Workshop Online

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<ul><li><p>eBUDDHANET'SBOOK LIBRARYE-mail: bdea@buddhanet.netWeb site:</p><p>Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.</p><p>Ven. Pannyavaro</p><p>Insight Meditation Workshop</p><p>Insight Meditation Workshop</p></li><li><p>IINNSSIIGGHHTT MMEEDDIITTAATTIIOONN WWOORRKKSSHHOOPP -- OONNLLIINNEE</p><p>with Venerable Pannyavaro</p><p>Introduction</p><p>This course describes a series of meditation exercises and some practicaladvice on how to apply them. It works best if you follow the courseprogressively, giving each sequence of instructions a good 'work-out'before proceeding further.</p><p>Meditation is the intelligent heart of the Buddha's way; the only criterion isthat you should apply it to daily life. The purpose of this meditation courseis not to create a system of beliefs, but rather to give guidance on how tosee clearly into the nature of the mind. In this way, you can have first-handunderstanding of the way things are, without reliance on opinions ortheories - a direct experience, which has its own vitality.</p><p>This course has been prepared with both beginners and experiencedpractitioners in mind. A feature of this workshop is that you areencouraged to share your meditation experience with others, as it willenrich not only their practice but also your own as well. So your questionsand my responses will be posted here as we go along. Above all, feel freeto ask for clarification on any aspect of the practice presented here.</p><p>The Internet is a new medium to learn the ancient art of meditation but it isstill mostly text based. This Online meditation workshop can be moreinteractive with your involvement. To facilitate this, there is a question formin the program, which you can use to ask questions about the practice andthe answers will be e-mailed back to you.</p><p> Meditation Online</p><p>MEDITATION QUESTIONS FORM</p><p>Click on the blue underlined link and it will take you to BuddhaNet's Insight Meditation Online Website.</p><p>Feel free to send your questions onmeditation to Venerable Pannyavaro.</p></li><li><p>IINNSSIIGGHHTT MMEEDDIITTAATTIIOONN WWOORRKKSSHHOOPP -- OONNLLIINNEE</p><p>Overview of the PracticeIt is necessary to appreciate the nature of practice as applied to meditation as itcould mistakenly be taken to imply the notion of control. This is far from the case,as the meditator needs to maintain sensitivity and a flowing receptivity to theexperience without deliberately controlling it. Discipline in the meditation contextcan also be misunderstood as imposing one's will to control the practice; actually,it is no more than following and persistently applying the instructions. So correctpractice is just repeated performance to develop skills, without controlling orinterfering with the experience. It's developmental - the way to growth!An important consideration for the meditator at the beginning of the practice is tonotice how you are relating to your experience or what your attitude to it is. If ithappens to be reactive or judgmental then it is necessary to change the way yourelate to things, situations or people, by cultivating qualities of friendliness,empathy and that of letting go'. Actually, by being more accepting and allowing,without the struggle to gain something, will enhance the practice and facilitate anatural meditative state.</p><p>Three-Fold Strategy of PracticeTo have direction and guidance for the practice, you will find that it is necessaryto take a holistic approach and to work within a supportive structure. Such asystem is found in the "Three-fold Strategy of Practice", which is a complete andintegrated system supportive of the psychological well-being of the practitioner:</p><p>(a) Restraint - of behaviour in order to harmonise relationships;(b) Recollectedness - or the development of the meditation skills and;(c) Discernment - which upon maturity, is the wisdom that sees the true natureof mind and existence.</p><p>Restraint and HarmonyTraditionally there are five rules of conduct formally undertaken, or are hereimplicitly accepted, as the prerequisite for meditation. They are the foundationsthat good practice is based on, without them good concentration cannot beattained. These restraints need to be considered and respected, as they act asprotectors for your well-being on the meditation path: 1) refraining from harmingor taking life; 2) from taking what is not given; 3) from the misuse of the senses;4) from false and harsh speech; and 5) the taking of intoxicants which clouds themind. This is the ethical underpinning of the threefold system. But they are not tobe considered as mere no-nos as they are balanced by the cultivation ofpositive behaviour: honesty, generosity, kindness, etc.</p><p>The Meditation Skills</p></li><li><p>The quality of recollectedness or full awareness is acquired through thedevelopment and the managing of three meditation skills: Right Effort, RightAttention and Right Concentration. Effort is right in the sense of arousing,sustaining and balancing the effort; meditative attention is right when there isclose and impartial attention to the various meditation objects as they arise;concentration is right when it centres upon and intensifies the meditative focus.Too much effort makes the mind restless; not enough makes the mind slack; toomuch concentration restricts the awareness, not enough and the mind loses itsfocus; but there can never be too much attentiveness, as the acuity of attention isthe factor which will deepen the practice. The successful managing of thesemeditation skills will produce mindfulness or presence of mind, the prerequisitefor a finely tuned discernment.</p><p>Discernment and InsightDiscernment is the intelligence that uncovers the true nature of things by seeingthrough the 'content' mind to the underlying processes. This presupposes a non-reactive awareness with a perfectly attuned attitude and a penetrativeattentiveness, which has the potential to see what really is. The outcome ofsuch practice is direct experiential knowledge of the three universalcharacteristics of existence: change, unsatisfactoriness and impersonal processwhich culminates in a series of insights freeing ones view from the distortionscaused by ignorance.</p><p>Three-fold Strategy and Mental ImpuritiesMental impurities are said to be present in three stratified layers in the mind: 1)dormant 2) manifest and 3) expressed. These impurities, or the three poisons ofgreed, hatred and ignorance, can be dealt with in three ways: first theirexpression can be restrained by harmonising ones behaviour; secondly, whenthey manifest in the mind, for example as angry thoughts, then they can beskillfully suppressed through concentration practices in serenity meditation;eventually when they are seen at their primary source or dormant level then theycan be eradicated through insight meditation. Here's an example of how thethree-fold strategy is used to deal with our most troublesome negative emotion -anger: first restraining your behaviour in a situation where anger arises by notgiving it a chance to be expressed; as soon as anger surfaces in the mind asnegative thoughts then a serenity meditation technique will calm the anger in themind. But it is only through insight meditation where the ego-illusion is seen at itsprimary source, as the notion of me and mine, can the anger at the dormantlevel be seen with the possibility of eradicated it at its source.</p><p>Understanding the Two Modes of MeditationIt is important at the beginning of this course for you to thoroughly understand thetwo types of meditation. Because it will contribute to your ability to adjust andmanage your own evolving practice, especially if you do not have the guidance ofa personal teacher.</p></li><li><p>There are two types of meditation: Calm and Insight. Calming or serenitymeditations use techniques of 'fixing' on a single object, excluding all secondaryobjects to produce calm and one-pointedness. Examples are techniques usingvisualisation, following the respiration, mantras and contemplation. The secondmeditation mode is practices that develop awareness. That is, paying closeattention to the predominant object in your physical and mental experience withan moment-to-moment awareness. The result of this meditative attention will leadto insight knowledge.</p><p>The ability to manage yourself in meditation, depends on making appropriateadjustments or 'fine tuning' during a practice session. This ability is based onunderstanding these two modes of meditation. For example, if you becomestrained or tense during insight meditation, switching to the serenity meditationmode will calm and relax the mind; or if you became stuck in a becalmed mind-state in serenity meditation, you can invigorate the mind with an awarenessexercise to give it an investigative edge. For the meditation practice to be skilful itneeds to be based on understanding the framework of practice and doing thepreparatory work as outlined above.</p></li><li><p>IINNSSIIGGHHTT MMEEDDIITTAATTIIOONN WWOORRKKSSHHOOPP -- OONNLLIINNEE</p><p>The Art of AttentionThe practice of insight meditation revolves around the art of meditative attention.Its basic tool is 'bare' or primary attention, which uncovers or lays bare things asthey really are. In this way, a non-reactive, unconditioned awareness is acquiredthat leads to insight knowledge.</p><p>The basic tool in meditative attention is the practice of 'bare' attention. It is the'primary' attention that sees through the 'content' mind to the underlyingprocesses. In laying bare the reality of mind/body phenomena, bare attentionreveals their salient characteristics without interfering with them. The art of 'bare'attention is to register the predominant object in your experience as it arises,without preference. That is, noting the changing phenomenon without reaction -be it sensation, sound, thought or a mind-state. However, if there is a reactionduring the observation, as is natural for the untrained mind, then that too must benoted. The practice of bare attention is used in conjunction with the 'four spheresof attention'.</p><p>Four Spheres of Attention:These spheres of attention are frames of reference to guide the attention in theinvestigation to the four areas of the body/mind experience in the presentmoment context. They are based on instructions given by the Buddha as theFour Establishments of Awareness or Mindfulness:</p><p>Awareness of the BodyThis is experiencing the body through its primary elements, (earth, air, fire andwater) that is, hardness, softness, temperature, fluidity and movement within thebody. Together with awareness of the four body postures: sitting, standing,walking and lying-down as well as movements and actions in daily activities.</p><p>Awareness of the Feelings or SensationsIs noting the feeling quality as either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral while beingcareful to differentiate the primary or bare feeling from the emotional elaborationor story.</p><p>Awareness of the Consciousness and the State of MindThe awareness of consciousness is the 'knowing' of anything - for example, aphysical sensation and the knowing of it. Also particular attention is paid to themind-states, for example - happiness, sadness, agitation, and noticing theirarising and passing away or impermanent nature.</p><p>Awareness of the Mental ContentThis is not analysing or classifying mental events, but using the attention topassively register the 'things of the mind': thoughts, ideas, and concepts, as a</p></li><li><p>witness without any commentary. It is not the intention to stop the thinking, but toinsight into the nature of thought.</p><p>An exercise in 'bare' attention . . .</p><p>Here's how to establish the habit of using 'bare attention' while focused on thefour spheres of attention: First come to attention by simply noting whatever ispredominant in your experience at this moment. For example, as you are sitting.Notice the touch sensations from the body's contact to the cushion/chair. There isthe experience of a quality of hardness or softness (the earth element in thebody). There is a feeling quality present from the contact - probably a neutralfeeling (the sphere of feelings); there's the knowing of it (the consciousness) andyou might think about the experience of the touch (thought, or the mentalcontent).</p><p>Now, try using bare attention to just register the sensations of touch, say on thekeyboard or in sitting, note the feeling that arises, the knowing of it, and anythinking about the experience.It actually very simple - it just a matter of remembering to do it as a practice, sothat it becomes ingrained as an awareness habit that automatically arises foryou and supports the bare attention in daily life.</p></li><li><p>IINNSSIIGGHHTT MMEEDDIITTAATTIIOONN WWOORRKKSSHHOOPP -- OONNLLIINNEE</p><p>Technique of Mental NotingA useful device to support meditative attention is naming or labeling the variousobjects during the observation of your own body and mind. Used judiciously, it isa useful tool to assist in focusing and sustaining the meditative attention.</p><p>The noting is done by repeatedly making a mental note of whatever arises inyour body/mind experience as it arises. For example, 'hearing, hearing', 'thinking,thinking', 'touching, touching', etc. This can be a powerful aid to help establish theattention, especially at the beginning of the practice, when it is necessary tosystematically note as much as possible to stabilise the attention. Otherwise, youare likely to get lost in unnoticed wanderings with long periods of inattention.</p><p>The noting practice can be combined with the practice of orientating to the SixSense-Doors by the naming of the physical and mental objects as they arise. Itneeds to be pointed out that during mental noting, you must not analyse, interfereor identify with what is being observed (e.g. just note 'thinking, thinking' ratherthan 'I am thinking, it is me that is thinking'). The exact words used in notingaren't important - it's just naming or labelling the experience to support theattention. Once you have established deep meditative attention the noting can bedropped as it can interfere with the direct experience, which is always unique andfresh.</p><p>A Two Minute Insight Meditation Exercise:Turn off your computer monitor, sit quietly with eyes closed and see if you cansustain the noting of the rising and falling of the abdomen or any other mentaland physical phenomena arising at one of the six sense-doors.</p><p>Congratulation!At every moment of noting, there is Right Effort, Right Awareness and RightConcentration - the three meditation factors on the Path of Insight.</p><p>It is important just to note whatever phenomena arises and not to get caught upin judgments about whether it is good, bad or indifferent. For example, if you sitin meditation for say half an hour and you are aware that the mind has beenwandering for most of that time, just note: 'wandering', 'wandering'. The InsightMeditator's practise is to note with full attention and equanimity at everyopportunity, without judgement!</p></li><li><p>IINNSSIIGGHHTT MMEEDDIITTAATTIIOONN WWOORRKKSSHHOOPP -- OONNLLIINNEE</p><p>Orientating to the Six-Sense DoorsMeditation is not confined to the sitting...</p></li></ul>