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05.01.2014
The purpose of Insight Meditation is not to create a system of beliefs, but rather to give guidance on how to see clearly into the nature of the mind. The term Insight Meditation (samatha-vipassana) refers to practices for the mind that develop calm (samatha) through sustained attention and insight (vipassana) through reflection. If the chin is tilted very slightly down this will help but do not allow the head to loll forward as this encourages drowsiness. First, follow the sensation of your ordinary breath as it flows in through the nostrils and fills the chest and abdomen. It is not necessary to develop concentration to the point of excluding everything else except the breath. If you have access to some open land, measure off about 25-30 paces’ length of level ground (r a clearly defined pathway between two trees), as your meditation path.
Walking brings energy and fluidity into the practice, so keep your pace steady and just let changing conditions pass through the mind. Focus attention on the breath, which you will now be using as the means of spreading kindness and goodwill.
If you are experiencing negative states of mind, breathe in the qualities of tolerance and forgiveness. This practice can form all or part of a period of meditation – you have to judge for yourself what is appropriate.
Peacefulness can develop into a very nourishing kindness towards yourself, if you first of all accept the presence of what you dislike. This meditation can expand, in a movement of compassion, to include all people in the world, in their many circumstances.
Kindness and compassion originate from the same source of good will, and they broaden the mind beyond the purely personal perspective. In this way one gains first-hand understanding of the way things are, without reliance on opinions or theories – a direct experience, which has its own vitality.
A fundamental technique for sustaining attention is focusing awareness on the body; traditionally, this is practised while sitting or walking. There will be a sense of ease and interest, and one begins to look around and become acquainted with the mind that is meditating. Practice sincerely with the limitations of time and available energy, and avoid becoming mechanical about the routine. Place the hands on your lap, palm upwards, one gently resting on the other with the thumb-tips touching.


Rather than to create a trance, the purpose here is to allow you to notice the workings of the mind, and to bring a measure of peaceful clarity into it. Refining your attention or pursuing tranquillity at such times will only make matters worse! Alternatively, you can circumambulate a room, pausing after each circumambulation for a few moments of standing. Rather than expecting the mind to be as still as it might be while sitting, contemplate the flow of phenomena. Keep the body quite straight and bend one arm up so that the hand acts as a support for the head. Meditation naturally teaches patience and tolerance or at least it shows the importance of these qualities.
The calming effect of meditating with a kind attitude is good for beginning a sitting but there will no doubt be times to use this approach for long periods, to go deeply into the heart.
Let your mind rest calmly on that-whether it’s boredom, an aching knee, or the frustration of not feeling particularly kindly.
And remember, you don’t have to feel that you love everyone in order to wish them well!
It also gives rise to the sense of deep calm that comes from knowing something for oneself beyond any doubt. Meditation practice, supported by genuine willingness to investigate and make peace with oneself, will develop naturally in terms of duration and skill. One of the most effective postures for the cultivation of the proper balance of stillness and energy is the sitting posture. These postures may look awkward at first, but in time they can provide a unique balance of gentle firmness that gladdens the mind without tiring the body.
Move your attention, for example, systematically from the crown of the head down over the whole body. Apart from giving you different things to notice, it is a skilful way to energise the practice if the calming effect of sitting is making you dull. First, let the attention rest on the feeling of the body standing upright, with the arms hanging naturally and the hands lightly clasped in front or behind. Adjust the pace to suit your state of mind – vigorous when drowsy or trapped in obsessive thought, firm but gentle when restless and impatient.
Sweep through the body, resting its stresses; or collect your attention on the breath, consciously putting aside memories of the day just past and expectations of tomorrow.


So you may well wish to develop a more friendly and caring attitude towards yourself and other people. Visualize the breath as a light, or see your awareness as being a warm ray and gradually sweep it over your body.
On the out-breath, let go of any stress, worry or negativity, and extend the sense of release through the body, the mind, and beyond, as before. This does not imply the approval of negative states, but allows them a space wherein they can come and go.
There are different techniques; most of them are easy to learn and very useful in daily life. With this, the mind will probably calm down and you may find some thoughts drifting in – reflections, daydreams, memories, or doubts about whether you are doing it right! Allow the eyes to gaze at a point about three meters in front of you at ground level, thus avoiding visual distraction.
The following is an introduction to samatha-vipassana meditation in the Thai Theravada tradition (adapted with minor amendments from the Bung Wai Forest Monastery, Thailand).
It is not especially productive to meditate when you have something else to do or when you’re pressed for time.
Instead of following or contending with these thought patterns, bring more attention to the body, which is a useful anchor for a wandering mind. A sense of ease and calm may then arise, allowing the mind to become open and clear in a natural, unforced way.
As you breathe out, let the mood of that thought, or the awareness of light, spread outwards from the heart, through the body, through the mind and beyond yourself.
This constant and sustained investigation is called mindfulness (sati) and is one of the primary tools of Insight Meditation. While walking, be aware of the general flow of physical sensations, or more closely direct your attention to the feet. The exercise for the mind is to keep bringing its attention back to the sensation of the feet touching the ground, the spaces between each step, and the feelings of stopping and starting.



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