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Contents

Getting Started: An Introduction to Insight Meditation 1 Lesson 7: Delusion .... 49 An Introdu ctio
Getting Started: An Introduction to Insight Meditation
1
Lesson 7: Delusion
....
49
An Introdu ctio n to Vipa ssana Medit a tion
Wh a t You Need to Meditate ...........
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3
Q
&
A Session
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50
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Exercises for Wo rkin g w ith Thou g hts a nd Im ages ....
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T h e Kalyana Mitta
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Gett in g th e Mo s t from Your M editation
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52
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T h e Noble Eightfold Path ...
Int e r view: Sharon Sa lzberg a nd Jo se ph
The Sto r y of the Buddha ...
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Lesson 8: Karma
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T
h e
Fo ur Brahma- Viharas
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How to C ulti vate
a Dail y M edit a ti o n
Practice
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T
h e Six Rea l ms of
Ex is tenc e ..
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Lesson 1: The Power of
Mindfulness
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Exe rc ises for
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Th e F ive Precepts
Po stur e
Breat h
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Lesson 9: Equanimity
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Ge tting t h e Most from Your
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T
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Eig h t Vicis situd es
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T h e Six Sense Doors
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Lesson 2: Bare Attention
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Exe rc ises for Working with Plca sa nr and Unpl casa nt Fee lings ..
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Gett in g th e Most from Your M ed it:ati on
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Walkin g Exerc ises .......
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Lesson 10: Faith and Wisdom
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M
edit a tion
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Lesson 3: Desire and Aversion
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T h e Five S piritu a l Pow e rs ..
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Q & A Sess ion
The Five Hindrances
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Gett in g t h e Most fro m Your M cditation
Bi g Mind Exe rc ises ..
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Ge tting the Most from Yo ur Med itation
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Lesson 11: Lovingkindness
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Lesson 4: Sleepiness, Restlessness, and Doubt
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Six Ca tego ri es, Fo ur Phra scs .
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Q &
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The Five Hindrances, Parr II
Encounteri n g Mara
Exe rc ises for Work in g with Hi ndr a n ces
Ge ttin g the Most from Your Med it a tion
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T h e Bene fit s of Lovingkindnc ss ...
Metta Exerc ises
Gett in g the Most from Your M edita t io n
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Lesson 12: Practice in the World
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Lesson 5: Concepts and Reality
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Exe rc iscs fo r Tak
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o t h c Wo rld
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The Myths of Tim e, P lace, a nd Self
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Gett in g the Most from Yo ur Meditat ion
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Ea tin g Exercises
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Last Words
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Ge tting th e Most from Your Meditat ion
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Lesson 6: Suffering
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Exe rc ises for Working w i t h Emot io n a l Sta t es
Gett in g the Most from yo ur Meditat io n
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4 7
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48

Getting Started

An Introduction to Insight Meditation

Welcome to Insight Meditation: An In-Depth ( :orrespon d ence Course. This a udio program and workbook will take you step by step through a compre- hCll sive training course in meditation. You may also \l lhmit questions and completed exercises from the workbook to yo ur personal m editation instructor.

T hi s

co urs e

is

rooted in

th e Buddhist

style of

/lipflSsana, or insight, meditation

- Iliciltal techniques for sharp e ning yo ur awareness and

but these fund a -

releasing painful mental habits are u se ful no matter what yo ur religious or spiritu al orientation. It 's not n ecessary to affi liat e with any beli e f system in order to b e n efi t from Insight Meditation. T h ese mindful -

n ess prac tices can support

yo ur ex ist in g s piritu a l p at h

  • - whether it 's

a structured pr act ice lik e C hri stianit y or

Judai sm, or a more person a l se nse of your relation ship with the great questions of hum a n existe nce.

AN INT RODUCTIO N TO INSIGHT MEDITATION

The suggested length of your response to each l'x ercise - such as "150 words/l minute" - is intended ,IS a ceiling, not a minimum. If you feel you've ,lll swered the question satisfactorily in just 50 words ()I" 15 seconds, don't feel obliged to continue writ- i ll g or speaking. It's not necessary to produce pages (.r description about your meditation experience. At IIIL: e nd of each set of exercises, you're encouraged to I'l' port any problems in your practice to YOut medita- I ion instructor. Use this opportunity to expand on 0 1I r a nswers as necessary.

)'

Plunge Right In

Med itation is a lifelong practice that develops at a rate \ ollsistent with the amount of tim e and effort you (,,"vote to it. This course is designed to offer you a 1',I'a duated path leading to the everyday experience of

Illindfu iness. You'll find it most

fruitful and meaningful

whe n you take it a step at a time, contemplating each It-sso n and entering into each guided meditation fully 1l('1()re proceeding to the next lesson.

O n the other hand, there's no reason to delay begin-

  • II iIl g yo ur

meditation practice. The profound gifts of

,Iwa reness, compassion, and direct experience are always ,Iv: lilable to us ; the sooner you discover them, the more (I!'(' ply you can explore them during this lifetime. " Il ere's a practical reason to get started, too: your cor-

l'r'I/,on dence privileges must be used within twelve months / 1'11111 the date we receive your registration form,

' I'h e Buddha taught the doctrine of the "Middle

\'\1: 1)' '': a path that avoids extremes and remains ( (' lll e red in the reality of the present moment. In

Ill is

sp irit, we encourage you

to find your own pace

n c ith e r rushing nor hesitating. As you progress in 1111' co urse, you'll learn how to determine what pace is

Ill 's i

for you on

any given day,

1IIIIlc rstanding will grow.

and yo ur trust in that

An Introduction to Vipassana Meditation

People have practiced some form of meditation, or quieting the mind, since the beginning of recorded

history. Every major world religion,

and many l esse r

known spiritual traditions, include a contemplative

component.

Vipassana, the style of meditation taught in this course, can be traced directly to the way the Buddha himself practiced, and is common to all Buddhist tra- ditions. It is characterized by simplicity, stillness, and attention . Vipassana meditation is designed to quiet the mind and re fine our awareness, so that we can experi- ence the truth of our lives directly with a minimum of distraction and obscuration.

For those of us who are patient and determined in our practice, joy increases; peace increases; the abil- ity to live a beneficial and compassionate life increases.

  • - Charlotte Joko Beck

AN I NT RODUCTIO N TO INSIGHT MEDITATION The suggested length of your response to each

(~\

- ... -/
-
...
-/

3

~

' / be zafil is the most commonly used meditation cushion , IIl1ong Western practitioners lI)e

'/ be zafil is the most commonly used meditation cushion ,IIl1ong Western practitioners

' / be zafil is the most commonly used meditation cushion , IIl1ong Western practitioners lI)e

lI)e rectangular gomden {shown here on a w bltton and with a II//'P0rt cushion} is firmer and higher than the zafi'

' / be zafil is the most commonly used meditation cushion , IIl1ong Western practitioners lI)e

SlIlIle meditatol1 ;reflr sitting at an angle supported by

(I,l' crescent milt

AN I NT ROD UCT IO N TO INS I G HT

MED I TAT I ON

' / be zafil is the most commonly used meditation cushion , IIl1ong Western practitioners lI)e

Support Cltshiol1S are available in variollS siz es, and can be //Sed with all kinds of Cl/shiol1S and benches to raise the sitti ng surface

' / be zafil is the most commonly used meditation cushion , IIl1ong Western practitioners lI)e

M editation bellches offer an altemative to the more traditional cross-legged posture

Everything has mind in th e lead, has mind in the forefront, is made by mind If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness will follow, lik e a shadow that never leaves .

  • - Th e Dh amm ap ada

5

AN INTRODUCTION TO INSIGHT MEDITATION

The Story of the Buddha

' I' he meditation

techniques presented in this course

we re originally taught by the Buddha, four to five Illlndred years before the birth of Christ. "Buddha" l!leans ''Awakened One," and refers to a prince who is

Ilclieved to have lived in the Ganges Valley of north- v:t s tern India. He is sometimes called the Gautama 11"c1c1ha (Gautama was his family name; his personal 11:lme was Siddhartha).

Legend has it that when the Buddha was born,

.Islrologers told his I' iI her a great king,

father that the child wou ld become or - if he witnessed much suffering

: 1 great religious leader. Wanting the young prince to "ti c in the worldly realm, his father went to enormous kllgths to shield the boy from encountering suffering. ,'-; iddhartha was lavished with every conceivable pleasure ,llld comfort, but forbidden to leave the palace grounds.

Finally, however, the prince persuaded his chari- "Icer to take him into the city. There, he saw an old IllTson, a sick person, a corpse, and a holy man. These I r:ttlitional Four Signs led to a protracted inner search lor [he meaning of life. Siddhartha left his family at

til l ' age

of 29 to become a homeless spiritual seeker.

After six years of severe ascetic practices, Siddhartha

Iv :,1 ized

that the path of self-mortification was not

"',Iding to the enlightenment he sought. This under-

~l.lI,ding is the

basis of the "Middle Way" of Buddhism

: 1 s piritual path that avoids extremes of ascetism and Illdulgence.

Finally, the aspiring Buddha resolved to sit in IIl cditation under a tree until he attained full realiza- 11(lll. While meditating, it is said, he did battle with rVLir:t - known as the "killer of life" and the "killer "I virtue" - who tempted and mocked him. But he " VlTca me these obstacles through the strength of his , II' llTmination, and achieved enlightenment - a state " I cl ear understanding about the nature of reality IIllder the tree now known as the Bodhi tree in the IO W Il of Bodh Gaya (bodhi means "awake").

Buddhists respect the Budd h a as a human being who found a way to break through delusion and find true happiness. Thus, rather than regarding him as a deity with extraordinary spiritual powers, practi- tioners take heart from the Buddha's example and commit themselves to emulating his accomplishment through their own practice of meditation.

The Noble Eightfold Path

In the ta lks that follow, you'll hear references to right effort, right action, and so on. These qualities are drawn from the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path, which he realized at his enlightenment and included in his first teaching. The Eightfold Path delineates the path that leads to happiness. It consists of:

• right understanding • right thought • right speech • right action • right livelihood • right effort right mindfulness • right concentration

In each

case,

"right" means acting in

a way

that

causes no harm, cuts through delusion, and expresses a balanced way of working with each of these factors.

Right understanding and right thought are said to lead to the accomplishment of wisdom. Right speech, right action, and right livelihood are associated with ethical conduct, as expressed through the five precepts introduced in Lesson #1. Right effort, right mindful- ness, and right concentration describe the mental discipline required to follow the path of meditation.

What is this Middle way, the knowledge of which the Buddha has gained, which leads to insight, which leads to wisdom, which conduces to calm, to knowledge, to insight, to Nirvana? It is the Noble Eightfold Path.

  • - The Mahavagga

7

Introductory Glossary

Each lesson is accompanied by a short glossary that

defines some of the words an d

terms you 'tt encounter in that

lesso n. This introductory glossary is designed to clarifY

some elementary meditation vocabu lary.

cushion - a te rm re fe rrin g

to whatever yo u s it on whe n you meditat e

kalyana mitta - spiritua l

fri en d [Pali *]

Middle Way - a spiritual p at h that avo ids extr e me s of se lf- mortification an d se lf- indul ge n ce, as taug ht by th e Buddha

mudra - lit e rall y, "ges ture" [Sansk rit] ; usually re fe rs [0 particu la r hand po s ition s used in m editation practice s

practice -

to pra c ti ce m edi -

tation (t h e emp h as is b ein g

o n repeated ly start in g agai n , w hi c h is th e essence of

  • m ed itation)

sit -

to sit in form a l

  • m ed it at ion

vipassana -lit e ra ll y, " [0 see cl ea rl y" [Pali]; in s ight; th e sty l e of meditation tau g ht in thi s co urse

walk - [0 practice form a l walking meditation

* Pali

is th e language that

the Buddh a spoke.

8

INS IG HT MEDITAT ION: AN I N- D E PTH CORRESPONDENCE COURSE

Interview: Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein

Teachers Sharon Salz berg an d jos eph Go ldstein began meditating more than 25 years ago. What first drew th em to th e path ofawareness? How can their experience help us today, as we begin practicing ourselves? Sharon and joseph answer some of thes e qu estions in this interview.

51: Wh a t motivated yo u to begin medit a ting?

55:

I was a co lle ge st ud e n t,

h a d

b ecome acquainted

with Buddh is m , a nd

h ad

a

d ee p intuition

that

m

e ditation w as

th e

k ey

to

re so lvin g my per-

so n a l s u ffe rin g.

 

JG:

I was

in

th e Pea ce C orp s in T hail a nd and started

going

to

so m e

di sc uss io n

 

gro up s

at

Buddhist

temp les. Aft e r I h ad asked many, many questions,

on e monk

fin a ll y s ugges

ted I try m ed itating. The

pos s ibility

of a syste m at

ic

inn e r journ ey was tre-

m

e ndou slyexc i t in g.

 

51:

How did medit at ion fit wi t h th e religious

training

family?

or und e rsta ndin g yO Ll inh e rit ed from your

TlJe Il/JiglJl Mtflit rllioll Sotiety ill 8rm·e. MflSSflcl11lsetts

ss: Meditation wasn't particularly connected to my early family belief systems.

JG: There was n e ither much conflict nor connectio n .

I

think I came mor e from my

study of

and int e res

t

in philosophy. I had a strong

d es ire

to understand

my life .

51: Did you find your family and friend s thought medi - t ation was weird? How did you deal with judgments and other negative reac tions to your practice?

JG: Mostl y, there was support from family an d friends.

And

I

was

so

inspired

by my

practice , I wasn't

much sh ake n by whatever nega tive comments did

com e.

SS: Society in genera l considered meditation weird in

1974, when we first came b ac k from

India. T h e

re act ions of

o th ers n ever took away the healing

and obvious benefit of the practi ce.

51: At what point did yo u make a lifelong commitment to m editation? What brought you to th at decision?

JG: It's something that has unfolded quite organi- cally, rather than coming from a decision. It quite simply feels to be the most important and reward- ing thing in my life.

S5: I started practice in 1971, knew from the first moment it was important, and have never stopped. I don't recall "deciding" on a lifelong commitment

  • - it just is.

ST: What is the most common misconception you've e ncountered about meditation?

JG: People often think meditation means thinking about something, reflecting on or mulling some- thing over. In mindfulness practice the idea is to be aware of what's arising (thoughts included), but not to particularly think about what's happening.

SS: T he most widespread misunderstanding I've seen is that the goal of meditation is to cease thinking, or to only have pleasant and wonderful experi- e nces. It isn't that at all, but rather to be free, whatever experience is happening.

ST: How has meditation affected you? How would your life be different if you didn't meditate?

SS: Not meditating is an inconceivable thing to con- template - meditation practice forms the basis of integrity, connection, and compassion in my life.

JG: It 's hard to imagine my life without meditation prac- tice. It provides a context of meaning for my life and an inner spaciousness, peace, and understanding.

ST: From your own experience, what a dvice to a beginning meditator?

is

your

best

JG: Whenever

your

mind

wanders,

simply begin

again. All the rest will follow quite naturally.

SS: I will share what my teacher Munindra told me a t the beginning: "Just put your body there." The ex perience of practice will always change, but it do esn't matter - our continued commitment to awareness is what's important.

I N TRODU CT IO N TO I N SIGH T M EDI TATIO N AN

Do not look at the faults of others, or what others have done or not done; observe what you yourself have done or not done.

  • - The Dhammapada

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1

Basic Meditation Practice

The Power of Mindfulness

W hat is happiness? According to the Buddha, hap- pi n ess beyond our ordinary experience of pleasure .Iri ses when we are mindful. Meditation cultivates

Illindfuiness -

which is another way of describing

w ha t happens when we

  • III L' present moment.

bring our full attention to

. rhe first

talk of

this series discusses the power

Ikll mindfulness can generate in our lives . You'll lea rn .Ihout the five basic Buddhist "precepts, " or moral I 11111 mitments, and how they can help you cultivate til L' power of mindfulness in yo ur own life. The ques-

lions a nd answers on page 12 of this workbook reveal

  • III rI h e r insights into the relationship between the

"I l'Cc pts and happiness.

T h e g uid ed meditation on part two of this first lesso n g iv es you clear instructions on how to medi-

tat e

in the insight (vipassana) sty l e. It's suggested

that you determine where you'll meditate and have your cLlshion, b e nch, or chair ready b efore listening to the CD. Allow 45 minutes of unint errupted time for this first meditation session .

The photographs on pages 16 a nd 17 of this work- book will help you find a comfortable , appropriate meditation posture. Remember that it's fine to change yo ur position if yo u're too uncomfortable. Feel free to experiment until you find a posture that works for you.

T H E POWE R O F MI N D FUL NES S

Q:

I can't shake this sense that vowing to keep these five precepts makes me some kind of mindless follower; that I'm bowing down to some outside moral structure.

A: The Buddha said that morality - which basically comes down to the practice of caring and con- nectedness - is simply the outer manifestation

o f a heart

filled with love and compassion. A

good question to ask yourself might be, "What makes me truly happy?" Are you happier when you feel your connection with others, or when you feel isolated from others? Certain behaviors le ad to happiness, while others lead to suffering. The precepts are like guideposts that point us in the direction of greater integrity, connectedness, simplicity, compassion - all the qualities we need in order to be happy. You can use the precepts to experiment. How does it feel, for example, to not drink that beer? You could use that precept as a tool for exploring your experience. The more

\f"mm Srt/z belg

information you have about yourself, the more options are available to you. So instead of con- straining you in some way, practicing the precepts can actually empower you.

Q:

A:

What should I do if I break a precept?

Just start a gain. That's

the

ess e nce of all medi-

tativ e practice:

over and over

and

over,

we're

willing to s tart again.

The Five Precepts

  • 1. To refrain from killing or physical violence

  • 2. To refrain from stealing (taking that which is not offered)

  • 3. To refrain from sexual misconduct (using our se xual energy in harmful ways)

  • 4. To refrain from lying, harsh speech, idle speech, and slander

  • 5. To refrain from taking intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause heedlessness

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13

It's possible to feel fulfilled and happy, irrespective of changing conditions. This is the essence of meditation.

-

Sharon Salzberg

I NSIGH T MED ITAT I ON : AN IN-DE PTH CORRES PO NDENCE COURSE

Posture

In the B uddhi st trad i tion, mind and body are con-

sidered

rela xe d

interd epe ndent facets of your ex p erience. A body helps relax the mind. The traditional

m

editation

po st ur e

pr ese

nt e d

below

is

designed

t o

create a suppo r t iv e

awareness pra ct Ice .

p h ys

ica l str u cture for

your

Many peopl e ex perien ce a ce rta in amount of physi-

cal discomfort w h e n they

fir st

b eg in s itting meditation .

This is due partly to the unfamiliarity of the medita-

tion posture, and

pa rtl y 1"0 see in g more deeply held

tension . It's recommended that you sit comfortab ly and experiment un ti I you fI nd rhe posture that best supp orts your clarity and m in dFu ln ess.

Traditiona ll y,

Budd hi st

meditators

h ave

used

a

seven-point system to h e l p them d evelop an optima l sitting posture . T h ese s uggest ion s app ly to those who use a c u shion as t h eir m editation s upport. If you sit on a chair, try not to lean your back aga in st the backrest. Keep your spi n e as e rect as possible without stra ining, and your hand s on yo ur thighs. Your feet should be flat on th e floor in Frollt of yo u.

However you c hoo se to s it , co

ns id er these postural

instructions as s u ggestio ll s, ments. It's b ette r to s hift yo against pain a nd st re ss.

rath e r than ri gid require- ur po st ur e t h an to strugg le

1.

Legs

Cross

above

you r l egs

loose ly i n front

of you,

just at

or

the ankles. Your knees s hould

be low er than

your hips. If your legs "go to sleep" during medita-

tion, try crossing them

the other way

arou nd -

or

you can sit with one l eg in front of the ot h er without crossing them at all. You may be more comfortable with your knees on the ground. If so, use a high enough cushion. Or you might kneel, placing the cushion between your thighs and ca lves, as tho u g h you were s ittin g on a s hor t bench.

  • 2. Arms

Let your arms hang l oosely at your sides. Now bend

them at the elbows, and let

your hands fall natura ll y

onto your thighs. Don't use your arms to support the

weight of your torso, or "hang on" to your knees keep from falling backwards.

to

Some meditators prefer the so-ca ll ed "cosm ic mudra" (gesture), which is formed by cupping yo ur

right hand in your left, palms up, with th e second

knuck l es of yo ur right

hand roughly aligned with the

first knuckles of your left. The tips of your thumbs

should just barely touch one another, forming a tr i- angle with your hands. If you're feeling sleepy, it can be helpful to keep your thumbs very slightly apart,

so that they warn

you of an immin ent nap attack

by colliding with

one another. In this mudra,

yo ur

hands are resting

loosely in your lap,

close to

yo ur

belly. (See photo on page 17.)

  • 3. Back

How you hold your back is the most important ele-

m ent

of your meditation posture. Imagine that yo ur

vertebrae are coins, piled

one on top of th e other. Let

your back find its natural erectness; don't strain. You' ll find that the natural concave curvature at the sma ll of your back helps to support your weight. As on e teach er has suggested: "I magine that your spine is a strong oak tree. Now lean against it. "

  • 4. Eyes

Let your eyelids fall closed, without squeezing them shut. If you find yourself dozing off, open your eyes slightly and let yo ur gaze drop to ground about 6 feet in front of you. Resist the temptation to let yo ur eyes glaze; but at the same time, don't focus fierce ly on whatever is in your field of vision. Let your gaze be soft.

14

  • 5. Jaw

IZclax your jaw and mouth, with your teeth slightly :Ipart. It's said that your lips should be parted just e nough to admit a grain of rice.

  • 6. Tongue

I ,c tting the tip of your tongue rest behind your upper front teeth reduces the flow of saliva, and hence your IlCed to swallow. The poet (and meditator) Allen (; insberg calls this "an old Buddhist trick."

7 .

Head and shoulders

When you first take your seat, posltlon your head

Ily gaz ing levelly in front of (I mps your neck very slightly

you. You'll find that this forward. When you close

your eyes (or drop your gaze), maintain this position . l ie aware of your shoulders, and keep them relaxed.

T h ese seven points have been us ed for centuries. Yo u may find them difficult when you first begin to , i I; but over time, you ' ll experience increasing ease. Th e first few gu id ed meditations will teach you how to make your discomfort an object of meditation , Ii rawing it into your field of awareness as part of til e totality of your experience. With practice, you'll 1v:1rn to cultivate a relaxed and attentiv e state of both IIlind and body.

THE POWER OF MINDFULNESS

Like a beautiful flower that is colorful but has no fragrance, even weLL-spoken words bear no fruit in one who does not put them into practice.

Like a beautiful flower that is colorful but also fragrant, weLL-spoken words bear fruit in one who puts them into practice.

Just as many kinds of

garlands can be made from

a heap offlowers, so also much good can be done by a morta l being.

- The Dhammapada

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15

INSIGHT MEDITATION: AN IN-DEPTH CORRESPONDENCE COURSE

Lust cracks the brain.

  • - U Pandita Sayadaw

~~':; .(~

INSIGHT MEDITATION: AN IN-DEPTH CORRESPONDENCE COURSE Lust cracks the brain. - U Pandita Sayadaw ~ ~

1\ l

When sitting on a chair, keep the feet fiat and back erect

16

~ . Meditation posture (ji-ortt view)
~
.
Meditation posture (ji-ortt view)

THE POWER OF MINDFUL NE SS

1\

I..

dilrttion posture (side view)
dilrttion posture (side view)
THE POWER OF MINDFUL NE SS dilrttion posture (side view) Kne e lin g postltr e,

Kneeling postltre, with a meditrttion bench

THE POWER OF MINDFUL NE SS dilrttion posture (side view) Kne e lin g postltr e,

I I,ll/d .- IIIrty rest on the thighs, or in this ''cosmic mudra"

This is our lift, in this moment:

this one breath.

  • - Sharon Salzberg

17

I NS I G HT MEDITATION : AN IN -DE PTH CORRES PO NDENCE COURSE

The entire art of meditation practice is knowing how to begin again.

  • - Sharon Salzberg

18

Breath Exercises

These exercises are designed to help you integrate the talk

and guided meditation in Lesson # 1 . If you find it

dif-

ficult to express your responses in writing, you may record

them on a standard cassette tape and return that instead of written answers. In either case, be sure to identifY

which exercise you're responding to before each answer. Respond to at least five of the exercises that follow.

Exercise #1

Technically, meditation can be d e fined as aiming the mind and sustaining attemion upon an object. A common examp le is that of trying to pick up a piece of broccoli with a forle

Imagine a piece of broccoli on

a plate.

In your

hand you're holding a fork, with the rather obvious goal of spearing the broccoli ju st d ee ply enough so you can lift it and bring it to your mouth. To accom- plish this, you need two things.

The first is called right aim.

If you wave the fork

around

in

the air,

you

won ' t get a lot

to eat.

Rather,

you need to aim the fork dire c tly at the food. The second quality you need is a careful modulation of

energy.

If yo u 're too

listless, the fork will just hang in

your hand. If you're too forceful, you ' ll bash the fork through the broccoli and the plate. Everything will go flying - and aga in, you won't get mu c h to eat.

In meditation, we also rely on these two qualities:

aiming the mind directly at the object of the present moment, and connecting just deeply enough with our attention. Often the first object we use is the breath. We aim the mind toward just this very breath - not being concerned with what came before, or even with the very next breath. In effect, we're saying:

"Just this one breath."

Practice in

this

way for

at l east 20

minutes and

describe yo ur experience. Use about 300 words (or 2 minutes).

Exercise #2

What sensations do you feel with the in/out of the breath or the rising/falling of the chest or abdomen? Common sensations with the in and out of the breath at the nostrils are coolness, warmth, tingling, vibration, pulsing, and itching . Common sensations when being with the rising and falling are move- ment, stretching, releasing, tension, pulsing, and pressure. Sometimes the sensations are exper i ence d as a smooth flow, sometimes as staccato bursts. You may feel all of these, some of them, or sensatio ns other than those described here.

Spend at le ast 20 minutes observing your breath, and describe the sensations you feel most strong ly. Use about 150 words (or 1 minute).

Exercise #3

There is no need to control the breath. Simply see how outbreath just follows inbreath, without an imposition of your will.

Take a few consciously full breaths, then let go. Use about 150 words (or 1 minute) to describe how it feels to let the breath flow without directing or shaping it.

Exercise #4

Bring your awareness to the very beginning of th e inbreath or rising movement. See if you can catch the end of it. Be aware of the very beginning of the out- breath or falling movement.

Briefly de scribe your experience.

Exercise #5 ' I 'he re 's a difference between feeling

hr ca th. In this exercise, use a simple

and observing the arm movement as

, I m o del. Move your arm

slowly in front of you, back

a nd forth. Observe it as though from a distance, or vis u ally. Now feel the sensat ion s as though your con- ,\c io Llsness were within the ar m . Can you describe t h e diWe rence? Use about 150 words (or 1 minute).

Exe rcise #6

\ () ll1 e times there are pauses between th e in- and

C1l1 t br eaths,

or between the outbreath and the ne x t

i llhr ea th. If there's a pause or a gap , you can simply sit .llIllli sten to sounds, or feel touch points (areas where

y () ur body is in actual contact - e.g. your buttocks or IUIl':cs touching the ground or chair, or your hands I' Hl c hing each other. Touch points are usually around I h e s ize of a quarter).

Sp end approximately 10 minutes bringing your .Iware ness to the pauses between breaths, and describe !Il L' te chnique you use for maintaining attention at dl ()se times. Use about 300 words (or 2 minutes).

I':xc rcise #7

I' ract ice the gentle letting go of distracting thoughts. \" ,11 don't have to judge yourself, or figure out why

\" II I we re thinking or what you were thinking. Practice

Ill l' s imple but powerful act of always

beginning again .

W ll at is your experience? Use about 300 words (or 2

Illillut es) for your answer. M alu notes of any questions or problems that have

"";'('1'1 in your practice or study during this lesso n.

tI' t'lII

to your

meditation

1,"/'ll lIses to these exercises.

instructor along

with

Send

your

TH E POW ER OF MINDFULN ESS

Remember, whatever

happens, no matter how

far out your mind gets, just

believe what's right in front ofyou . That's your direction. No matter where your mind goes, return to that.

Just believe what's right in front ofyou.

  • - Bobby Rhod es

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19

Tranquil and alert.

  • - Town motto of Barre, Massachusetts

I NSIGHT MEDITATION: AN IN-DEPT H CORRESPONDENCE COURSE

Getting the Most from Your Meditation

This section of your workbook is intended to help you take your meditation out into the everyday world, and to help troubleshoot any problem areas in your practice. Pleas e let your meditation instructor know ifyou're experiencing consistent problems with any facet ofyour practice. Practice the breath meditation in Lesson #1 daily.

Experiment with posture. Sometimes, very slight adjustments in posture can ease discomfort. You might also want to try different types of med itation cushions and benches (see page 4); or see how it feels to sit in a chair.

Use what might o th e rwi se b e co nsidered "dea d" time (e.g. in your car, or waiting for someone to show up for an appointment) to focus your awareness on your immediate experience. This practice will help you to expand the sense of prese nce a nd co nnection you're developing in formal meditation into your everyday activities.

Review the article ca lled " How to Cultivate

a Daily Meditation Practice" on page 10.

20

Lesson 2 Glossary

bare attention - the aware-

n ess of direct "p lop" mind,

expe ri ence (see below)

bodhicitta -litet'a lly, "awak-

ened h eart" [Sanskr it *); the

state of mind that motivates us to help alleviate the suf-

fering of others

discriminating wisdom - the capacity to distinguish between direct and co n cep- tual exper ience; someti m es used to distingui sh who le- some or b eneficia l thoughts and actions from unwhole- some or harmful ones

"in order to" mind -

a goal-oriented motivation; meditating in order to ac hi eve a certain outcome

mental noting - a technique

used in m ed itation to help

direct the mind to the object of m ed itation

"plop" mind - immediate aware n ess, like the s udd en sou nd of a ftog plopping into a pond

right effort - the energy underlying the mental discipline of meditation; one aspect of the Nob le Eightfo ld Path

virya

effort

- courageous h eart; [Pa li )

* Sanskrit is the classical language of anc ien t Jnd ia.

22

I NS IGH T MEDITATION: AN IN - DEPTH CORRESPONDENCE COURSE

Q & A Session: Bare Attention

By now, you'll have had some experience of working with thoughts during meditation . In this question and answer session, Joseph Goldstein exp lains the role of thinking

  • - and not thinking - in your ripening practice.

Q:

Am

I supposed

to clear

my

mind of thoughts

during meditation? Is t h e point to stop thinking

altogether?

A:

No. That wou ld be impossible. One central func- tion of the mind is to ge n erate thoughts, and there are many sit uation s in our liv es where that's helpful - eve n indi spensab le. The point of medi- tation is to tra in ourselves to know the difference between thinking :\I1d being lost in thought. If we don't know that difference, we get trapped in worlds that ex ist on ly in s id e our minds, and miss the moment-to - mom ent immediacy of our lives.

Q:

Does that mean that, at least when I'm meditat- ing, thoughts are my e n emy?

A:

Not at all. Thoughts are no more and no less than fleeting images and impress ion s th a t pass through your mind. Watching them is e no rm ous ly helpful, because this is the way you find out how insub-

stantial and

epheme ral they actually are. When

you start to inv es ti gate the thinking process, you come to understand more fully the difference between direct experience and being lost in the stories of our thoughts. Without that understand- ing, it's very difficult to liv e in the present.

Q:

Isn't the mental noting technique just another way of generating thought? I mean, here I am, thinking a thought, and then on top of that, I have to think, "Oh, I'm thinking."

A:

The mental note is a thought, but it is a skillful use of the thinking process. It helps support our awareness of just what is arising. Not only does mental noting help you bring awareness to your thoughts, it cuts thtough the stories thoughts tend to spin. So for examp le , you might be thinking

about how much you're attracted to someone, or how angry someone has made you, or you may be developing elaborate mental plans for the house you're going to bui ld , but when you label these thoughts, they're all just "thinking, thinking."

When

you don't get

invo lved in them, all thoughts

follow

a n atura l life

cycle of arising, dwelling, an d

passing away. Mental noting helps you to not take the contents of your thoughts too seriously.

Q:

A:

Some teachers stress focusing on positive thoug hts and letting go of negative ones. Is that a goo d thing to do?

Certain

practices work in this way and can be ve r y

helpful. In vipassana, we simply label all thoughts

as "thinking," and let result of that is that

them go on their way. T h e

we can

le t

go

of negativ e

thoughts because we see their impermanence and

transparent nature, not because we're afraid of them or are condemning them.

jo seph Goldsteill

Q:

A:

As I continue to meditate, will I find m ys elf expe- riencing fewer thoughts?

Often, the mind does quiet down , and there may

not be th e u s ual flood of thoughts. It 's important

to remember, though , that th e goal of

medita-

tion isn't necessarily to think less, but to become more present for your experience - including your

exper ienc e of thinking - yo ur life. The more we

throughout every part of practice in this way, the

less we find ourselves being driven by our mental co nstructs. So whether we have fewer thoughts than we did before , or continue thinking as much

as ever, our responses to our thoughts change. By becoming aware of the fact that we're thinking,

we' re better able to bring so me discriminating

wisdom to our choic es . Do we

want to act on this

thought? Or just watch it pass on through?

BARE ATTENT IO N

1 think the one lesson 1 have learned is that there is no substitute for paying atte ntion.

  • - Dian e Sawyer

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23

IN SIGHT MED ITAT IO N : AN I N-DE PTH CORRES PO N D ENCE COU RSE

Walking Exercises

These exercises will help you in tegrate the information in the

second guid ed

meditation of this course. Ifyou don't walk,