Vipassana Meditation

Interdisciplinary approaches yield insights

Vipassana Buddhism teaches us that the default state of mind is "monkey mind", jumping from one thing to the next. Vipassana means "insight" or "clear thinking" and is the path of wisdom.

In mindfulness we let go of distraction to return to the breath. After a little while we may enter "access concentration" where we are less distracted.

We may push distractions away so  far they do not return and all there is is breath. Time has stopped and keeping the focus in the breath has become effortless, flow state.

This is Dyana or Jhana. The place where you step back into the garden of the mind and the work of tending the garden is the same as the work of enjoying the garden.

Mindfulness is the practise of relaxed focus, alert but rested awareness. Mind calm like a still lake, reflecting what it sees. The aim of the practise of mindfulness is the cultivation of the habit of conscious awareness. Habits maketh a person. Our character is mostly comprised of habits so practised we're not aware of them, unconscious habits. Mindfulness casts light into the dark of the unconscious.

I learned Vipassana meditation, both mindfulness of breathing and the Metta Bhavna as taught by the Buddha in ghe sutras, from the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order when I was in Cambridge at university. I also saw the beauty of Tai Chi as a form of worship with them. Tai Chi is also self-defence and I learned worship as warfare.

I understood then how and why mindfulness of breathing worked and that it was beautiful. The practise of mindfulness is the practise of relaxed focus, of alert but still concentration. In letting go of distractions to return to awareness we give the mind space to unfurl. The Metta Bhavana I had a strange relationship with.

Around 2011, about the time of the birth of my first child, I sought to return to my spiritual centre. I pursued my search through the religious practise of mindfulness of breathing meditation, one hour a day, six days a week for seven years. Alongside Christian worship as a spiritual practise instead of the Metta Bhavana. It was transformational.

Zen is the Japanese form of Buddhism. The Zen meditation is Zazen, which I consider harder than mindfulness of breathing. Zazen is sometimes translated as "just sitting", because that's how you do it. You just sit.
"Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen."
     — Bodhidharma
Not thinking, being.
“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
― Alan Watts
But really I think you should say, neither thinking nor not thinking is Zen. Zen merely is.

The Buddha taught living in the now as the path out of suffering, as did another great spiritual teacher.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

"People wield their moral code like weapons. But judging them against their own code usually undoes them. Don't tell them your moral code. None of their business."

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