Buddhist meditation consists of two steps: Calmness of mind and insight (Vipassana). The student at the meditation retreat is helped to develop calmness and concentration by encouraging him to focus his attention on a spot at the base of the nose. In this way he can be aware of the in-breath and the out-breath. When the mind is given only one object it gradually becomes calm and steady.
Respiration mindfulness has several advantages:
- The breath is natural and common to all human beings.
- The breath is available at all times to focus the attention on it.
- Mindfulness of the breath is a technique that can be practised by members of any religion, or a person of no religion.
There is no reason why a good student in meditation should not be able to secure a concentrated mind in a few days of training. Little by little all conscious awareness of breathing stops. The student becomes mindful only of a small point of light and warmth. At this point the mind becomes one pointed and clear and unwavering. It is a common belief that a person whose power of concentration is good can achieve better results. There are definitely many advantages that accrue to a person who undergoes a successful meditation retreat. It doesn't matter whether this person is a religious person, a business person, a politician, a worker or a student.
Vipassana, insight, involves an examination of the inherent tendencies of all that exists within one's own self. With a calm and concentrated mind the student focuses his attention into himself. He becomes aware of and observes:
- The mental and bodily components in the process of change.
- The process of change as unsatisfactory (suffering).
- The illusory nature of a permanent self.
This awareness will very gradually lead to detachment from the physical and mental elements that are experienced as changing. It will little by little free the meditator from reactions such as anger and desire. It will give that peace within which will show you that you are getting beyond the day to day troubles of life. It will take you, slowly but surely, beyond the limitation of life, suffering and death.
Those interested in doing a Vipassana meditation retreat, please click on a local site on the homepage.
The IMC UK normally holds monthly Vipassana retreats. The other IMCs normally hold bi-monthly Vipassana retreats. Local groups mostly hold one or two Vipassana retreats a year.