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  • Writer's pictureAsha Venkatarao

Mindfulness / Insight Meditation

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Insight Meditation - What is it; can I do it?

Why is it so hard to sit still?

Am I the only person who finds it challenging to quieten the mind?

Can everyone hear my loud, incessant thoughts?

Am I on the right Meditation technique for instant & forever Moksha?

Shouldn't I be reaching kinda-Nirvana, like today?

How long does Meditation take to give me the peace I'm craving?

Do these questions sound familiar? :)

Get answers to these questions in this article by Sally Kempton

This article is by Sally Kempton, another one of my favorite writers. She writes on Meditation, Buddhism, and related subjects in Yoga Journal, a magazine dedicated to the exploration of Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda. Sally's words have cleared lots of doubts in my mind and heart, so I wanted all my students and fellow travelers to read this article of hers. She explains beautifully what Meditation is, what it is not, and how to go about it. Do spend a couple of minutes reading it - You might actually surprise yourself by Meditating :)) "Dear One, If I had to tell you only one thing about meditation, it would be this: Meditation is your personal experiment, performed in the laboratory of your own mind and body.

- Get Comfortable The first principle for successful meditation is to make yourself physically comfortable enough to meditate for at least 10 minutes slowly working up to 30 minutes. The basic rule for meditation posture is that your spine be erect. Use props to support your hips and knees and your back. If sitting on the floor is too uncomfortable, sit on a chair. Use as many props as you need to support your spine and push you into an upright posture. Your aim is not to create a perfect meditation asana but to support your body so it will let you be comfortable and start shifting the focus inward.

- Next, choose a simple core practice, and do it daily until it becomes a habit. Your core practice can be to observe your breath, again and again. This becomes your base, your foundation for turning the mind inward. For a beginning meditator trying to establish a practice, this is imperative.

When you're beginning a meditation practice, start with 10 minutes and increase your meditation time by 1 minute a day until you've reached a half-hour. This will allow you to cut the basic groove of practice. But, here's the good news: A daily 20-minute practice—especially if you do it twice a day—will improve your focus, stabilize your emotions, give you access to a deeper level of creativity, and treat you to more prolonged glimpses of your peaceful source.

- The most basic instruction is simply to remember to refocus. As soon as you notice that you are thinking or spacing out, you bring your attention back to the mantra, to the breath, or to any other practice you're doing. Over and over again, you'll lose your concentration, and get lost in thought or reverie. This is normal—it's been happening to every meditator since the yogis of prehistory sat in their caves. So you do what they did: Recollect what you're supposed to be doing, and come back. Over time, you develop better focus. - Another basic strategy for dealing with thoughts is to mindfully observe them as they arise and subside, without attaching to them. Strangely enough, just noticing that you're thinking—without following the thought train—will usually dissolve the thought all by itself. Whenever you notice yourself thinking, simply say to yourself, "Thinking." Another tactic for breaking your identification with thoughts is to imagine them as clouds in the sky and see them drifting away, dispersing into the background of the mind. - Staying the Course Sometimes you'll experience periods of great depth and excitement in your meditation practice, and at other times it will feel dry and boring, or like a struggle with thoughts. There will be weeks of peace, and weeks when sitting for meditation brings up emotions like grief, anger, and fear. Be willing to sit through boredom and resistance, and recognize that meditation is a journey that will take you through different emotional layers. This is part of the purifying effect of meditation—a process that is sometimes called "samskaric burn-off," during which your buried tendencies come up to be released. Let them move through you without hanging on to them or trying to push them away. Layers of "stuff" are being removed from your system! The people who get the most from meditation are the ones who welcome it in all its seasons, realizing that when you sit to meditate, you are inviting both an intimate encounter with your own mind and heart and a deep opening to the universe itself. - Mindfulness Breathing Mindfulness, which can be defined as simply paying attention—to your breath, your body, or your surroundings—is one of the most widely practiced methods. Mindfulness of the breath is the most basic and natural meditation technique, because when you follow the flow of the breath, it automatically causes your mind to turn inside. You can use it not just in seated meditation but at other times, too. Observe the rise and fall of the breath, noting the coolness of the breath touching your nostrils on the inhalation, and its slight warmth as it touches the nostrils with the exhalation. As you notice thoughts arising, simply note "thinking" and return to your focus on the breath.

- That's My Mantra Practicing with a mantra gives you a focal point for the mind—a meditative thought to substitute for your ordinary mentalogue. The right mantra carries with it a feeling of comfort and sweetness that lets you easily sink inside. The best known of these mantras is Omkara. Sitting quietly, inhale slowly with the thought "Om." Exhale slowly with the thought "Om."

Feel the energy and vibratory quality of the syllable as it impacts your inner body. When other thoughts arise, bring your attention back to the thought "Om." Let your focus on the mantra syllable be soft. Allow your mind to merge with the mantra, as if you were a boat merging with the current of a river. And, so, my Dear One, follow your heart, follow your breath, and as you sit again and again, let it become clearer and lighter inside." Isn't she Awesome? I'm impressed by teachers like Sally, who are able to see clearly and write in a way that makes sense to people like us. I hope you can also find 10 minutes in your day to breathe deeply, feel it and stay with the Knowingness of yourself - That Person is Worth Knowing Warm Wishes to start your journey, Namaste, Asha

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