Insight Meditation is also known as Vipassana Meditation. According to Buddha, practicing Vipassana is the only way to enlightenment. But What is Insight Meditation and How to Practice It?
Today, in this article, I will share with you the answers. Also, I will discuss with you about the Watcher that is your True Self, the states of mind that will arise when you meditate, what you should focus on when practicing Insight Meditation, what are the insights you will gain, and how to practice this meditation.
What is Insight?
When you check the dictionaries, you will find many definitions of what Insight is. Basically, it is an instance where you capture the true nature of a thing. And you do it through intuitive understanding.
What is Insight Meditation?
Insight meditation has been around for a long time. It is one of India’s most ancient technique for meditation.
The practice is to do self-observation. And in doing so, you will attain the ultimate state of stillness, silence and emptiness. When I say emptiness, what I mean is the emptying of thoughts.
As a result, with these states of being, you are left with pure awareness. And that is the presence of our True Self.
As you sit in this state of pure awareness, you will hear a ‘little voice’. This is the arising of insight. And is can only be achieved by insight meditation.
The ‘Watcher’ is the True Self
In the previous section, I mentioned about your True Self. Let me explain further here.
In order to succeed in your Insight Meditation practice, you need to learn how to separate your ‘Watcher’. The Watcher is a part of our consciousness and it observes what is going on in our mind and body.
The Watcher starts as part of our consciousness. As we practice, the Watcher expands itself, and becomes omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. All the while remaining impartial.
As you practice more, you begin to realize that the Watcher is actually your True Self. It merely watches and observes your train of thoughts and emotions. The observation is when these thoughts and emotions arise at that very moment. Not later or before.
Initially, we merely watch and take no action. Eventually, with the Watcher, we can finally control and master our body and mind.
#watcher #trueself #insightmeditation #meditation
What are the States of Mind That Will Arise?
Now that we talked about the Watcher, let us discuss what the Watcher observes.
When you meditate, there will be various states of mind that arise. It is good to be familiar with these states of mind so that you and your Watcher recognize them, and know what to do with them.
One thing for sure, you must not anticipate these states of mind. Nor should you try to figure out where they came from. Also, do not try to change it or suppress it.
Merely observe them.
And as you practice this separation, you begin to realize your True Self.
As you meditate, you will experience emotions. Some of you may feel fearful. I actually had one student who was so afraid of the dark that when we switch off the lights during a session, she would scream out loud. And that is even with candles lit to illuminate the room.
Some of you may feel restless. Many of my students experience this. I would hear them shifting to try to settle down. And there are many more feelings that can occur.
In your Insight Meditation practice, simply note these emotions that you are feeling. Do not make any attempt to change your emotions.
You are merely the observer. These emotional states are not you.
You may experience altered states of consciousness when meditating. These altered states do not last.
Also, do not be enamored or caught up with these altered states. Simply be the observer.
If you like to read more about the altered states that can happen, refer to the 17 Experiences that I wrote previously.
Feeling at One with the Universe
This is a beautiful experience. I have had it before, and it can be mesmerizing and intoxicating. And I say it with caution. Because you should always just observe, and not fixate on this.
What happens is that you will feel as if you are everything you see and feel. Everything that is outside you is inside you.
If you focus on someone, that person becomes you. If you focus on a tree, the tree becomes you. If you focus on a bird or animal, it becomes you.
This experience usually do not last.
Just like drug-induced states, there may be multi-colored, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional states. You may even feel as if you are floating in this world, and will not have a care at all.
The feeling is you have reached paradise. And you may even feel ecstatic about arriving there.
Alas, it will end badly. The end can be sudden. And you will feel let down, as if you have a bad hangover.
This was discussed in the 17 Experiences article. The visions appear when you are at the theta wave state.
Again, just observe.
When Do the States of Mind Arise?
All the states of mind mentioned above do not happen in any particular order. Plus, you may experience some and not all. Also, they may appear intermittently throughout a meditation session.
From my experience, I noticed that not all my students experience these states of mind. Some students go through an entire session without experiencing any of it at all.
Another situation that may occur is that you may experience a few of the different states in one sitting. For example, you can start the meditation with feelings of uneasiness. Then as you continue meditating, you may experience visions.
Every state that you experience, you must observe and drop it. Merely recognize that it had happened, and then let it go.
You can share the experiences but do not boast about them. That is when ego takes over. And it can negatively affect your practice.
#statesofmind #insightmeditation #meditation
What Do You Focus on During Insight Meditation?
When you practice Insight Meditation, you need to focus at your forehead, the area between your two eyes. Imagine this area like a television screen. All your thoughts are to be placed here.
Do not bring up topics for contemplation. Do not conjure anything to put into this area. Just let the thoughts arise on their own.
Soon, you will notice thoughts arise. They may be problems of the present. They may be financial problems. Or relationship issues. Eventually, memories of yesterday, the last week or the last month may turn up. Thoughts about the future may appear, too.
These will appear as images. And they will be seen at the center of your forehead where the so-called television screen is.
At some point, when you have seen all the problems in your life, there will be random thoughts. They will appear as if in a chain of their own. They may appear so suddenly, and you can get swept up by them.
After that, you will be brought back to the present practice. There will be a short interval of stillness. In that stillness, you begin to observe your state of mind.
Are you calm? Agitated? Experiencing visions? Or even rapture?
When something distracts you, it will trigger memories. And you will go through the above process again.
Over time, as you practice, you begin to have longer and longer periods of stillness and silence. Eventually, these extended moments of silence will bring about the most exhilarating state of pure awareness. You are then in pure bliss.
You keep practicing until you enter the state of pure awareness in an extended time, as long as possible. And then, during this still and silent emptiness, insights will appear.
What Are the Insights?
This all depends on where you are at in your spiritual development.
If you are still worldly and materialistic, then your insights will be of that nature. The more you let go of this world, the higher the level your insights will be.
For some people, they may develop psychic abilities. This can be precognition, clairvoyance, telepathy or telekinesis. Or any other psychic ability.
Ultimately, the best goal of Insight Meditation is to have character transformation. That is to have love, compassion and equanimity replace negative traits like anger, selfishness, pride, ignorance, lust, and such.
How to Practice Insight Meditation?
You can start by doing Breath Meditation. In the video below, I gave a guided breath meditation. You can use it to start off your Insight Meditation.
You can play it on your phone, with ear buds. The guided meditation will guide you, step by step on how to do it.
In the above guided meditation, you will relax as taught in the previous Breath Meditation article. This time, you will notice the breathing as an arising and falling action.
Then continue the practice further by noticing the emotions, feelings and states of mind that you experience during this meditation. As taught in the sections above, do not attempt to modify or suppress your thoughts or any of the states of mind.
Have choice-less awareness. This is very important for this practice.
Next, you focus your attention at the forehead. The area of focus is between your two eyes.
As mentioned above, see this area like a television screen. All your thoughts are to be shown here. See your thoughts of the past, present and future screened here.
And simply observe. You do that by separating your Watcher. I usually visualize my Watcher stepping out of me, and standing on my left side.
Let the Watcher observe all the images on that screen. Let your Watcher’s attention on these image on the screen must be total. When you do so, you will find that you are focused on the images, and you cannot pay attention to any mental chatter.
As you continue to fully focus on the images, any mental chatter or thoughts will start to disappear. And eventually, there will be no thoughts.
Suddenly, there may appear to be a train of thoughts. It may be a powerful wave of thoughts. And just as suddenly, you will, at some point, realize that you are in that chain of thoughts.
Immediately, focus on the images. This will bring about another interval of stillness and silence.
Initially, you may not even notice these intervals of stillness and silence. Through constant practice, one day you will be able to be aware of them.
When that happens, do your best to hold on to a moment of stillness and silence. Do your best to lengthen that moment. Immerse in it. Enjoy it.
Initially, when you are less experienced, these moments will slip away very quickly. Just keep practicing. Experience is essential in this practice. As you practice, there will come a time when you can keep that interval of stillness and silence long enough for you to enjoy pure awareness.
From this expanse of pure awareness, insights will arise.
The insights appear as a small little voice that emerges from the pure awareness. The insights will be at your level of development. After many years of practice, and truly letting go, you will gain spiritual wisdom.
There will come a time when you can even continue this practice when you are out of sitting meditation. For example, when you are walking.
We can actually meditate in any position and in any state of activity. The way to do it is to be completely mindful and aware of every action.
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