Meditation or Bhavana in Pali means to develop
mental ability. As human being, we have the ability to make our minds
stable, calm and peaceful. The mind remains undeveloped without correct
mental exercise. The technique to develop our minds is called Meditation.
When we meditate, we can clearly see how our mind is working. Mind is
unstable, shaking or jumping from one object to another. It always comes
across with anxiety, worry, tension, agitation, grief, and sorrow. So that,
our mind becomes impure with evil thought. An impure mind indeed gives
unhappiness and a pure mind happiness. To achieve real happiness, we need to
discipline our mind by means of meditation practices. This meditation
technique was discovered by the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Although
this was developed as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not limited
to Buddhists. Meditation technique is a universal remedy for universal
problem and it has nothing to do with religion. Therefore, it can be
practiced freely by everyone without conflict due to race or religion. It
offers equal benefits to all who practice it and it is applicable to
The Pali word Vipassana is made up of two parts:
Vi meaning variously, in various ways and Passana, which means
to watch, observe or investigate. So Vipassana means to see clearly,
to observe thoroughly, to investigate penetratingly in various ways the true
nature of things as they really are. By things we mean all animate and
inanimate bodies we see around us all the time. Ordinarily when we look at
anything, everything including our body, with our normal eyesight, we
believe, we think, we see all there is to see, concerning the particular
object. Actually, what we have seen is only superficial, however carefully,
or thoroughly, we have made the observation. We see only what we already
know by conventional terms- man, woman, dog, tree, car, etc. In Vipassana
meditation we see deeply through all that is observed. Vipassana
Meditation is purely the Buddha's teaching, mental culture discovered and
taught by him. It is an analytical method, based on mindfulness, awareness,
vigilance, close observation. The principle of Vipassana meditation or
mindfulness is to observe, to watch, or to be mindful of all mental and
physical phenomena as they really are.
To begin with meditation practice, it is very important
to chose a meditation object. Everything can be meditation object. Anger, if
we are aware of it, jealousy, stress, breathing etc. are meditation objects.
Among these objects, we chose one as an Initial Object and we stick
to that. As they come, we watch the other objects as well. We notice them,
but they should be Secondary Objects. Here, we chose our breathing in
and out as initial object to focus on. As we breathe in we say mentally "breathing
in" and as we breathe out say "breathing out". We cannot shut
ourselves off from other objects together. As they come in, whatever the
object, we make a notice on them.
Here are some instructions for sitting posture. When you
sit, do not cross legs unless you have done so before and found that you
have no problems with that. It is better to keep your legs apart but
touching each other. If you keep them crossed, they can produce heat and
pain, and later stress. You are not supposed to change your posture immediately without making a notice. You may
do that slowly and mindfully. Place your right hand on the left. Keep your
finger together. Keep your body straight. If you feel your body is slumping
forward, try to straighten, but do it slowly and mindfully. Keep your eyes
closed, not tightly but merely.
Now start breathing in and
out as usual. As you breathe in, say in your mind "breathing in". As
you breathe out, say in your mind "breathing out". While
concentrating on your breathing in and out, if your mind goes somewhere, say
it goes home and you see your home, you now release your mind from breathes
and take note of home. When you see home in your mind, you note it "seeing,
seeing, seeing" for three times and come back to your breathing. If you
hear somebody talking to you in your mind, you note "hearing, hearing,
hearing" for three times, and come back to your primary object, which is
breathing in and out. If you feel pain somewhere in your body, note in your
mind as "pain, pain, pain" for three times. Leave it there and come
back to breathing. If you are thinking, simply note "thinking, thinking,
thinking" for three times and come back to breathing in and out. This is
the meditation technique to be practiced everyday.
Vipassana Meditation Practice can be accomplished
adopting various posture such as walking, standing, sitting, and lying, etc.
But the most common posture are sitting and walking. People usually start
with sitting and alternate it with walking. Unlike sitting, in walking
meditation you keep your eyes open. The primary object in walking is the
movement of our feet, lifting and placing. Contemplating lifting as we lift
our foot off the ground and placing as we place it on. However, we should
not look at our feet. We look straight ahead and downward at angle of 40
degrees or three meters. The hands may be clasped together either in front
or at the back, or folded in front of the chest.
You then walk slowly, much slower than usual speed,
noting "lifting, placing" until you reach the end. When stop,
observing "stopping, stopping." Turn back, observing "turning, turning."
Stand for a while to make a mental note of standing, standing. Then start
walking again observing "lifting, placing". At the beginning, the
distance must not be less than ten paces or more than thirty. It is
preferred that one chooses to make between 20-30 paces if possible.
After walking for about six rounds, you add another
primary object- lifting, forward, placing, while walking. Then as
you are about to turn, you note the intention to turn; intention,
intention, intention. Turning and standing should be observed as
described earlier. However, this time before you lift your feet, please
note intention to do so saying in mind "intention, intention,
intention"- and then proceed with lifting, forward, placing.
The intention to lift or to turn are mental objects, "lifting,
forward and placing" are physical objects to be observed.