Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just 15 minutes a day is all it takes...

For about two weeks now I've been fairly consistent at meditating for 15 minutes every morning before going to work.  This morning I noticed the 15 minutes doesn't seem like 15 minutes any more, but less.  It's very encouraging. 

I have also been working with trying to figure out how to sit properly to relieve back pain.  A friend of mine recommended finding the "sitting bones" and putting my weight there so I am sitting on my sitting bones (what they are designed for) instead of using my back to sit up.  You know what?  It works!!!

Your sitting bones are the bony protrusion in your butt.  Just bend over, reach behind you, grab your butt and feel for the bones.  When sitting, find those bones by leaning forward until you have placed your weight on them.  I was focusing too much on "sitting up straight" and that was what contributed to my back pain.  So far, so good!  Give it a try if you are also struggling with back pain.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Something to ponder in meditation

Take away all your possessions.

Take away all your education.

Take away all your money.

What's left is all you are.

What are you all about?

Jealousy and Meditation

A couple of months ago we had a discussion about jealousy in our Buddhism class. As I reflected on this I thought, "Hmmm...I can't think of anyone or anything I'm jealous of."

This statement alone explains why meditation can be so very important to personal growth. I have a strained relationship in my life that I have been trying to figure out. I have been meditating on it, giving it my complete focus during meditation (or at least, as much as I can keep my mind focused - quite a challenge!).  During meditation this week, I have gained a great deal of insight into why I feel this strain in the relationship.  I'm jealous!

When I began my meditations with this focus, I found that it was even more difficult to keep my mind focused on my intention.  I thought remaining focused on the breath was a challenge!  Nope, try keeping focus on something you've hidden from yourself for so long!

When the first thought began to arise for examination as to why I feel the way I do, I was genuinely surprised as to what it was.  The first day, I got a glimpse that it had to do with a perception of lack of support.  Okay, that was good to ponder and I was able to fairly easily understand where this feeling came from.  On the second day, the jealousy thought began to bubble up.  When I thought it, I was even more surprised.  As I reached out to grab hold of the thought and began to expand upon it and examine it, there were suddenly a crowd of thoughts pushing in front of it, trying to grab my attention.  "No!  Me! Me! Look at me!  It's much more important that you think about this idea for the meditation group".  I felt as if I were being sucked into quick sand with my fingers slipping as I tried to hang onto that branch that would keep my head above ground.

I hung on, clinging, grabbing the thought while pushing the others aside.  I grabbed hold of it and pulled it up to my single point of awareness.  This thought appears to be the root of this perception.

Now that I understand better, what do I do about it?  I know that I will be continuing my examination of these realizations so I can come to a sound decision as to what I should do about these feelings and how to re-program them.  It will also mean rebuilding the relationship without the perceptions that have dirtied it to this point. 

This is just one example of the many where meditation can be so very important!  Have you had any such experiences during meditation?  Please share your experiences by commenting on this post.  (You can post anonymously if that makes you more comfortable.)

"The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves."
    -- William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vipassana Meditation Technique

Great guided video which explains and walks you through a brief meditation.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I have been accepted for the Vipassana Retreat in February!!! I got the email last night notifying me that I have been accepted. I AM SOOOOOO HAPPY!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

it's all in the mind

In The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buddhism, Gary Gach shares the following story.

Korean monk Wonhyo (617-686 C.E.) set out for China to study Buddhism.  On the road one night, he took shelter in a cave.  He found a gourd of pure water, which he drank.  Content, he then fell asleep.  At dawn, he awoke startled to discover he'd spent the night in a tomb and that he'd drunk putrid water from an old skull.  It came to him in a flash that "mind creates all things, all things are products of the mind alone."  Realizing this, he turned around, as there was no longer any need to study in China.  He studied his own mind instead and went on to become one of Korea's greatest Buddhist teachers and scholars.

In our Buddhism class on Sunday, Howard shared a story of a man and woman who were so very hungry that they finally decided to eat their infant child in order to sustain themselves and live.  Of course, anyone who reads or hears this is immediately repulsed and thinks, "How in the world could someone do that to a child?".  Yet, when we eat meat or eggs, aren't we eating someone else's children?  It's all about perspective in your own mind.

struggling with monkey mind?

My son is attending college with the goal of becoming a psychologist. We recently had a discussion regarding multi-tasking. He told me that recent studies have found those that multi-task often find it very difficult to focus their minds as they get older since they have trained their minds to do many things at once.

If you think about it, it makes sense. After all, isn't meditation about training the mind? As a culture, we multi-task constantly. Driving the car and talking on the phone (even if it's hands-free). Reading a book while listening to music. I'm sure you can think of many, many more examples; and if you can, then you, my friend are a multi-tasker.

Multi-tasking is difficult to avoid. Trying to cook a meal so that everything is ready at the same time and hot when it's placed on the table. However, when multi-tasking becomes such a strong habit, we are challenged with daily mindfulness.

As I practice mindfulness, I have found that it appears even harder, especially in meditation, than ever before. Is it because I am more aware now (the goal) or is it because a lifetime of multi-tasking has made it even more challenging to settle my mind into one point of awareness during meditation?

I've been rolling this around in my mind for a few days now since my son mentioned that to me. It has helped me to feel better about the monkey mind -- and it should you too.

Just keep reminding yourself that meditation is the practice of training the mind to be aware. Think of how old you are and how many years you have allowed your mind to roam freely. Just like gaining weight, it doesn't happen overnight -- and losing the weight doesn't happen overnight either.

Eventually, if you remain dedicated to your practice, you WILL attain the awareness during meditation that you seek. The ability to sit and bring awareness to your breath, to quiet the mind through awareness.

It will not happen overnight, in one week, one month, or even 10 years. This is why you must approach your meditation practice as a lifelong commitment. Otherwise, you will remain frustrated and discouraged with the monkey mind.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Great intro and web footage of Georgia Vipassana Center

This guy does a great, but honest, narrative about the course...

personal Vipassana retreat experiences

Someone after his first retreat....

This guy is humorous...but also has footage of the GA center that I will be attending...

if you don't have time to read about it...'s a short video that tells you the basics of Vipassana meditation.

zazen meditation

Thanks to Lorena and her Conscious Sanity blog for turning me on to this blog from Gwen Bell.  A great video on zazen, a Japanese meditation style.  Great introductory video on how to sit properly with tips for beginners.  The important thing to remember is...don't become discouraged!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Confirmation of application receipt & a suggestion

I'm a little late in reporting this...but on September 6th, we received confirmation from Dhamma Patapa that they had received our applications.  They also sent an email to each of us suggesting that we re-consider taking the course at the same time sense it is often difficult to follow the no-contact/no-interaction rule.  I replied, reassuring them that we had read and intent to abide by the code of conduct.

This evening a friend of mine came in and said his daughter attended the course with some friends of hers.  He said they left after 3 days, "because it was boring".  Interesting observation.  I guess I am surprised that if she read all the material on the web site before attending she would have expected anything less than "boring".  It's pretty clear to me that there is no physical movement or interaction, no exercise, no yoga, no other forms of meditation, prayer, etc.  No books, no radio, no TV, no internet, no journals.  Meditation for 10 hours 45 minutes each day.  I would expect boring, wouldn't you?

Now let me explain what I mean when I say I would "expect boring".  Boring in the sense of no entertainment or interaction.  You are meditating.  If you read about Insight Meditation (which is what they are teaching), you would understand that it is not meditation visualization to music.  It's literally trying to quiet the mind and do nothing else for 10 days.  Buddhism has never been real big on complex and long-winded explanations.  They give you something to ponder and discover for yourself what the truth is at the core of what they have presented to you.

I am very much looking forward to this (somewhat scary) challenge.  I know that I will succeed.  There is no doubt about that.  I know that it will be extremely difficult.  It is curiousity that fuels me.  I am curious about learning the traditional technique from properly trained teachers.  I am curious about finding out how long it will take before my mind will finally slow down and run out of things to say.  I am curious to see what will happen when my mind does finally quiet.

Please understand that I am not ridiculing or making light of her experience.  Her experience is just as valid as anyone else.  The only thing that I question is if she had a true understanding of what she was signing up for when she did.  If she did not, then I can fully understand why she would have been so unhappy.

I am looking forward to the challenge of overcoming physical and mental discomfort and accepting things as they are.  Forever changing, always in flux.They will come and they will go.  Nothing is permanent.

It's the mind-part I'm struggling with.  I'm working on that now in my meditations.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Doctor Approved and Applications Submitted!

I saw my doctor yesterday and he gave me the thumbs up to attend the course. He was familiar with the course as another bipolar patient of his has attended one.  He said his other patient did well and he knows I'll do very well.

Troy finally agreed to the February 24th-March 7th, 2010 date!!  I just submitted both of our registration forms online.  We should hear something within the next two weeks.

Monday, August 31, 2009

in preparation

To prepare for the retreat, and because they are just good lifestyle changes, I've decided to make a list of things I can do to prepare.
  1. No more Pepsi
  2. Get up earlier in the morning, eventually getting up at 4 AM each morning
  3. Sit in silence and for longer periods of time
  4. Practice mindfulness in all actions and activities
  5. Take daily walks
I know there are more.  I'll have to re-read the material...again...and see what else comes to mind.  I'll update this as I think of anything new.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


The Southeast Vipassana Center, Dhamma Patāpa, meaning the “Majesty of Dhamma” is one of about 100 centers worldwide and the ninth center in North America offering courses in Vipassana Meditation, taught by S.N.Goenka and his Assistant Teachers in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
Dhamma Patāpa is located in Jesup, GA which is in the South East part of Georgia in Wayne County. It is approximately 70 miles southwest of Savannah, GA 90 miles north of Jacksonville, FL and 250 miles southeast from Atlanta. It is located on a remote property with beautiful old pine trees, oaks, and other varieties of trees and vegetation. The beauty and seclusion of this property makes for an ideal meditation environment which will serve students in the Southeast for years to come.

The first Vipassana course in the Southeast area was held in Stark, FL in May of 1993 with a second course in December of 1993. From 1994 to 2007, Camp Marywood in Switzerland, FL was rented twice a year, to hold ten-day courses. Courses at rented facilities have also been held in Atlanta, GA and Chapel Hill, NC. During this time Vipassana students in this tradition always looked to a time when a permanent center could be built to offer courses throughout the year.

In 2004 the Southeast Vipassana Association was founded and a Center Search committee was subsequently formed to locate land suitable for a meditation center. Initially the search began in North and Central Florida but was later expanded into Georgia as well. After considering many sites land was purchased in Jesup, GA in December 2005. The Center is being constructed in phases, the first of which is to be completed in January 2008. The first phase will allow us to offer ten-day courses with a capacity of approximately 30 students plus staff and teachers. Throughout the calendar year 10-day courses and Children/Teenager courses will be offered. Future expansion plans will eventually bring the Center to a capacity of over 100 students.


Registration for 2010 courses begins September 1st. I am waiting for Troy to give me an answer if he wishes to attend with me, and if so what date.  I have already printed out the application and have started sharpening my pencil.

I know I want to take the course in the first quarter of the year. Some time ago I had the month of March in my mind and it just "feels" right.  There are two course offerings which both fall in March -- one at the end of February, beginning of March and the next in the middle of March.

Of all the choices I have, these are the dates available:
  • January 13th-24th: Can't do because of year end responsibilities at work & lack of available vacation days
  • February 3rd-14th:  Same as January
  • February 24th-March 7th:    This is when I *want* to go 
  • March 10th-21st:  Can't do this one because my co-worker has plans during that timeframe.
  • April 14th-25th:  If I can't do Feb 24th-Mar 7th, then this will be the course
Once we choose the course date, then it's more than just something I'm "going to do", but something I AM doing and I can tell you exactly when I'm doing it too!


From the website:  "The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the continuity of practice. For best results, students are advised to follow it as closely as possible."
This will be my daily schedule for ten days.  Registration/check-in is on a Wednesday evening and the program ends two Sundays later in the morning.

As you can surmise, it is a rather demanding schedule.  I added up the time spent in meditation and it is a total of 11 hours and 45 minutes each day.  The longest sit is 2-1/2 hours.  You also have to remember.  These are meditations taken in total silence.  No music.  No guided meditations.  You are given instruction of the technique to be applied and then left to sit with it.

It's almost like meditation boot camp.

-- AM
0400....................Morning wake-up bell
0430-0630............Meditate in the hall or in your room
0630-0800............Breakfast break
0800-0900............Group meditation in the hall
0900-1100............Meditate in the hall or in your room
                                   according to the teacher's instructions
1100-NOON.......Lunch break

--  PM
1200-0100............Rest and interviews with the teacher
0100-0230............Meditate in the hall or in your room
0230-0330............Group meditation in the hall
0330-0500............Meditate in the hall or in your room
                                   according to the teacher's instructions
0500-0600............Tea break
0600-0700............Group meditation in the hall
0700-0815............Teacher's discourse in the hall
0815-0900............Group meditation in the hall
0900-0930............Question time in the hall
0930....................Retire to your room; lights out


When sharing the timeline for each day during the retreat with a few of my fellow co-workers, one jokingly  replied, "Sounds great and perfect for you, but I'd rather poke a pencil in my eye!"  To which I responded, "Ah, but if you poke a pencil in your eye, you lose the sight of that eye.  If you spend 10-days in silence, think of the inner sight you will gain."

Seriously, though.  Why do I want to attend this retreat?
  1. Because I know that meditation has the potential to change lives, and as a result, change our world.
  2. To learn the technique and how to apply it to my life from qualified and dedicated teachers so that I may live a more peaceful and aware existence.
  3. For the knowledge and self-confidence that can be gained from a commitment to and completion of the course.
I believe that techniques which are taught free with no strings attached, no cult associations, no recruitment in mind, and no personal or financial gain to the teacher, are the ones most worthy of exploration.  I already know and understand the wealth of benefits bestowed upon a disciplined meditator.  I have read multiple accounts of people who have attended the same program and have all spoken similarily about their experience.  The first 5-6 days are pure hell as you struggle with the ego.  But when the ego finally releases your mind, you break through into the bliss, the knowing, the connectedness to all.

Will this blissful state be my personal experience?  I do not know.  It is my intention to attend with no expectations.  To be dedicated to the code of discipline and to surrender to the will of the teachers and their teachings.  I will follow this path and see only where it leads me.  Perhaps to many answers -- or -- if I'm blessed, only to more questions.

Part 6: Code of Discipline (Concluded)

(Conclusion of a series of blogs describing Vipassana Meditation and the retreat program. Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken directly from the website.)

Course Finances

According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run solely on a donation basis.  Donations are accepted only from those who have completed at least one ten-day course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers. Someone taking the course for the first time may give a donation on the last day of the course or any time thereafter.

In this way, the courses are supported by those who have realized for themselves the benefits of the practice, wishing to share these benefits with others, one gives a donation according to one's means and volition.

Such donations are the only source of funding for courses in this tradition around the world. There is no wealthy foundation or individual sponsoring them. Neither the teachers nor the organizers receive any kind of payment for their service. Thus, the spread of Vipassana is carried out with purity of purpose, free from any commercialism.

Whether a donation is large or small, it should be given with the wish to help others: "The course I have taken has been paid for through the generosity of past students; now let me give something towards the cost of a future course, so that others may also benefit from this technique."


To clarify the spirit behind the discipline and rules, they may be summarized as follows:

Take great care that your actions do not disturb anyone. Take no notice of distractions caused by others.

It may be that a student cannot understand the practical reasons for one or several of the above rules. Rather than allow negativity and doubt to develop, immediate clarification should be sought from the teacher.

It is only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum effort that a student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from it. The emphasis during the course is on work. A golden rule is to meditate as if one were alone, with one's mind turned inward, ignoring any inconveniences and distractions that one may encounter.

Finally, students should note that their progress in Vipassana depends solely on their own good qualities and personal development, and on five factors: earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health and wisdom.

May the above information help you to obtain maximum benefit from your meditation course. We are happy to have the opportunity to serve, and wish you peace and harmony from your experience of Vipassana.

Part 5: Code of Discipline (Continued)

(Continuation of a series of blogs describing Vipassana Meditation and the retreat program. Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken directly from the website.)

Separation of Men and Women

Complete separation of men and women is to be maintained. Couples, married or otherwise, should not contact each other in any way during the course. The same applies to friends, members of the same family, etc.

Physical Contact

It is important that throughout the course students avoid any physical contact whatsoever with others of the same or opposite sex.

Yoga and Physical Exercise

Although physical yoga and other exercises are compatible with Vipassana, they should be suspended during the course because proper secluded facilities are not available at the course site. Jogging is also not permitted. Students may exercise during rest periods by walking in the areas designated for men or for women.

Religious Objects, Rosaries, Crystals, Talismans, etc.

No such items should be brought to the course. If brought inadvertently, they must be deposited with the management for the duration of the course.

Intoxicants and Drugs

No drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants should be brought to the site; this also applies to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and all other sedatives. Those taking medicines or drugs on a doctor's prescription should notify the teacher.


For the health and comfort of all students, smoking, chewing tobacco, and taking snuff are not permitted at the course.

It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences and requirements of individual meditators. Students are therefore kindly requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals provided. The course management endeavors to prepare a wholesome, balanced menu suitable for meditation, without subscribing to any particular food philosophy. If any students have been prescribed a special diet because of ill-health, they should inform the management at the time of application. Fasting is not permitted.

Dress should be simple, modest, and comfortable. Tight, transparent, revealing, or otherwise striking clothing (such as shorts, short skirts, tights and leggings, sleeveless or skimpy tops) should not be worn. Sunbathing and partial nudity are not permitted. An attitude of modesty prevails at all times. This is important in order to minimize distraction to others.

Laundry and Bathing

No washing machines or dryers are available, so students should bring sufficient clothing. Small items can be hand-washed. Bathing and laundry may be done only in the break periods and not during meditation hours.

Outside Contacts

Students must remain within the course boundaries throughout the course. They may leave only with the specific consent of the teacher. No outside communication is allowed before the course is completely over. This includes letters, phone calls and visitors. Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices must be deposited with the management until the course ends. In case of an emergency, a friend or relative may contact the management.

Music, Reading and Writing

The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc., is not permitted. No reading or writing materials should be brought to the course. Students should not distract themselves by taking notes. The restriction on reading and writing is to emphasize the strictly practical nature of this meditation.

Tape Recorders and Cameras

These may not be used except with the express permission of the teacher

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Part 4: Code of Discipline (Continued)

(Continuation of a series of blogs describing Vipassana Meditation and the retreat program. Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken directly from the website.)

Acceptance of the Teacher and the Technique

Students must declare themselves willing to comply fully and for the duration of the course with the teacher's guidance and instructions; that is, to observe the discipline and to meditate exactly as the teacher asks, without ignoring any part of the instructions, nor adding anything to them. This acceptance should be one of discrimination and understanding, not blind submission. Only with an attitude of trust can a student work diligently and thoroughly. Such confidence in the teacher and the technique is essential for success in meditation.

Other Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship

During the course it is absolutely essential that all forms of prayer, worship, or religious ceremony--fasting, burning incense, counting beads, reciting mantras, singing and dancing, etc.--be discontinued. All other meditation techniques and healing or spiritual practices should also be suspended. This is not to condemn any other technique or practice, but to give a fair trial to the technique of Vipassana in its purity.

Students are strongly advised that deliberately mixing other techniques of meditation with Vipassana will impede and even reverse their progress. Despite repeated warnings by the teacher, there have been cases in the past where students have intentionally mixed this technique with a ritual or another practice, and have done themselves a great disservice. Any doubts or confusion which may arise should always be clarified by meeting with the teacher.

Interviews With the Teacher

The teacher is available to meet students privately between 12 noon and 1:00 p.m. Questions may also be asked in public between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. in the meditation hall. The interview and question times are for clarifying the technique and for questions arising from the evening discourses.

Noble Silence

All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow students, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited.

Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may approach the management with any problems related to food, accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should be kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling that they are working in isolation.

Part 3: The Code of Discipline for the Meditation Course

(Continuation of a series of blogs describing Vipassana Meditation and the retreat program. Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken directly from the website.)

The foundation of the practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā — the wisdom of insight.

The Precepts
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five precepts for the duration of the course:
  • to abstain from killing any being,
  • to abstain from stealing;
  • to abstain from all sexual activity;
  • to abstain from telling lies;
  • to abstain from all intoxicants.
There are three additional precepts which old students (that is, those who have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers) are expected to follow during the course:
  • to abstain from eating after midday;
  • to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decoration;
  • to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.

Old students will observe the sixth precept by having only tea (without milk) or fruit juice during the 5 p.m. break, whereas new students may have tea with milk and some fruit. The teacher may excuse an old student from observing this precept for health reasons. The seventh and eighth precepts will be observed by all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Part 2: Meditation, Self-Discipline & Serious Mental Disorders

(Continuation of a series of blogs describing Vipassana Meditation and the retreat program. Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken directly from the website.)

Meditation and Self-Discipline:  The process of self-purification by introspection is certainly never easy--students have to work very hard at it. By their own efforts students arrive at their own realizations; no one else can do this for them. Therefore, the meditation will suit only those willing to work seriously and observe the discipline, which is there for the benefit and protection of the meditators and is an integral part of the meditation practice.

Ten days is certainly a very short time in which to penetrate the deepest levels of the unconscious mind and learn how to eradicate the complexes lying there. Continuity of the practice in seclusion is the secret of this technique's success. Rules and regulations have been developed keeping this practical aspect in mind. They are not primarily for the benefit of the teacher or the course management, nor are they negative expressions of tradition, orthodoxy or blind faith in some organized religion. Rather, they are based on the practical experience of thousands of meditators over the years, and are both scientific and rational. Abiding by the rules creates a very conducive atmosphere for meditation; breaking them pollutes it.

Students will have to stay for the entire period of the course. The other rules should also be carefully read and considered. Only those who feel that they can honestly and scrupulously follow the discipline should apply for admission. Those not prepared to make a determined effort will waste their time and, moreover, will disturb others who wish to work seriously. A prospective student should also understand that it would be both disadvantageous and inadvisable to leave without finishing the course upon finding the discipline too difficult. Likewise, it would be most unfortunate if, in spite of repeated reminders, a student does not follow the rules and has to be asked to leave.

Serious Mental Disorders:  People with serious mental disorders have occasionally come to Vipassana courses with the unrealistic expectation that the technique will cure or alleviate their mental problems. Unstable interpersonal relationships and a history of various treatments can be additional factors which make it difficult for such people to benefit from, or even complete, a ten-day course. Our capacity as a nonprofessional, volunteer organization makes it impossible for us to properly care for people with these backgrounds. Although Vipassana meditation is beneficial for most people, it is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric treatment and we do not recommend it for people with serious psychiatric disorders.

NEXT:  The Code of Discipline

Part 1: Introduction to the Technique

I thought I'd start with a series of blogs describing Vipassana Meditation and the retreat program.  Here is the first in the series which provides an introduction to the technique.  (Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken directly from the website.)

Vipassana is one of India's most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind, and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems, and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be practiced freely by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and it will prove equally beneficial to one and all.

What Vipassana is not:
  • It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith.  
  • It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment.  
  • It is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socializing.  
  • It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.  
What Vipassana is:
  • It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.  
  • It is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life's tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way  
  • It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.

Vipassana meditation aims at the highest spiritual goals of total liberation and full enlightenment; its purpose is never simply to cure physical disease. However, as a by-product of mental purification, many psychosomatic diseases are eradicated. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance. With continued practice, the meditation releases the tensions developed in everyday life, opening the knots tied by the old habit of reacting in an unbalanced way to pleasant and unpleasant situations.

Although Vipassana was developed as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not limited to Buddhists. There is absolutely no question of conversion. All human beings share the same fundamental problems, and a technique which can eradicate these problems will have a universal application. People from many religious denominations have experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation, and have found no conflict with their profession of faith.

Taken from web site.  Click on the Blog title to be taken to the page this information was taken from.

NEXT:  Meditation and Self-discipline

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It happened again!

Picked up a book this past Friday that for some reason really seemed to pull at me.  "Broken: A Love Story" was written by Lisa Jones and is the story of a Native American healer and horse-handler who is a quadriplegic.  It's an account of her personal experience while writing an article about him, which eventually lead to the book I'm reading.  It's her experience of unexpected self-exploration and healing. (It's actually quite good, if you're interested.)

About halfway through the book, guess what she mentions???  Her and her boyfriend, not only attending Vipassana retreats...but she actually worked at a meditation center for a year!!!

Also saw a flyer last Friday for a center that leads Vipassana Meditation as well.  This is meant to be!  I'm seeing it everywhere I go!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Beginning

A couple of months ago I sent an email to a friend of mine that owns Shine On Yoga, a local yoga center. I asked her if she knew of any meditation teacher training courses that may be available. I am always interested in building upon my knowledge and experiences with meditation so I can be a more effective teacher for those that seek. There are plenty of courses out there, but how is one to know if they have truly found the real deal without spending a few hundred dollars up front? Not to mention, I do not have the few hundred dollars to pay for a certification. It's not so much the piece of paper I'm interested in as the knowledge. I am thirsty! Pour me a drink!

Alas, I digress! Back to the beginning!

During my search for meditation teacher training I came across a web site for a Vipassana Meditation retreat. Having a strong interest in all disciplines from the Eastern part of our globe, I was immediately intrigued. Reading that the retreat is FREE had me reading more!

The retreats are sponsored by a worldwide organization and are free. Program, meals and lodging are all free. You only have to provide your transportation there and back.

According to their web site, they will not accept any donations from participants until after they have completed the 10-day program. They only wish those who have tried it and found it helpful, to contribute to the continuation of teaching the tradition to all who seek. They also offer week end retreats for returning students in which you can offer personal services to assist in the maintenance of the programs and facilities.

I found the closest center is in Jesup, Georgia. The Dhamma Patāpa Southeast Vipassana Center is located in Jesup, Georgia. (It's not far from the coast and close to Fort Stewart.)

The program is rather intense and strict. You must be willing to agree to every condition in the Code of Discipline.

Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art Of Living.

From their web site:

"Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. "

"The scientific laws that operate one's thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace."

Sign me up! In 2010, I will successfully attend and complete a 10-day Vipassana Meditation retreat in Georgia. Stay tuned as we pick the date, complete registration, and begin our preparations for the upcoming retreat. (For example, getting up at 4 AM every morning and sitting for two hours in meditation before breakfast. Ack!)

I'm very excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing my experience with you! Stay tuned!