Mindfulness Meditation in Daily Life

“Mindfulness Mediation” or Vipassana Meditation  is a capacity for heightened present-moment awareness that we all possess to a greater or lesser extent.  “Mindfulness” are particularly effective, because they aim at changing the underlying beliefs and patterns of negative thinking that create the anxiety.  Essentially, you learn how to focus mindfulness on the underlying core emotions and make them the primary object of your meditation.  Generally, it is what is not seen that has most power over you, and mindfulness meditation is directed at exploring the structure of our inner feelings in great detail.

Training this capacity seems to have a quieting effect on brain areas associated with our subjective appraisal of our self. By considering thoughts and feelings as transitory mental events that occur, but are separate from the self, people are able to lessen their hold on their worries and positive mental health outcomes follow. Mindfulness can be as simple as just watching the breathing.
Even the most basic tasks such as washing  the clothes can consume so much emotional energy that it simply becomes easier to give up. So much emotional energy is expended in this endless worrying that we are left feeling completely drained and fatigued, which makes us even less able to cope.
However, what is even more important than the thoughts or beliefs at the core of anxiety conditions are the emotions, the feeling energy that empowers those thoughts and beliefs. This is what we address in Mindfulness Meditation.
When you develop a mindfulness-based relationship with your inner emotions you set up a completely different inner environment that greatly facilitates transformation, resolution and healing of the emotional constructs of anxiety and fear. The simple fact is that reactivity inhibits change, while mindfulness promotes change and healing. You first learn to recognize the impulse to react with fear or panic as it arises, and to respond at a very early stage to the impulse with mindful-attention. This simple action stops the reactivity proliferating into worry and negative thinking, and opens up a brief moment of choice, a space before the reaction takes off. This is the beginning of the de-conditioning process. With practice you can develop and lengthen this space, especially in mindfulness meditation sessions, which become practice grounds for developing new ways of responding to your emotions and the associated external situations.
As you develop this space, what is called the “therapeutic space of mindfulness,” you create an opportunity in which the trapped emotional energy that powers the reactions can unfold, unwind and become much more malleable. This inner freedom allows emotions to change and transform, which eventually leads to their resolution. We all know the importance of “facing our feelings.” Well Mindfulness Meditation provides the method and details of how to do that, and in a way that leads to beneficial change, rather than simply re-experiencing the emotional reactivity. It is a well-established fact that Exposure Therapy, in which you deliberately make controlled contact with your fear or phobia, is an essential part of healing, but the whole point of such therapy is not to simply re-experience the trauma, but to experience it differently. Mindfulness allows you to do this very effectively, and with your mind will rapidly learn new perceptions and new pathways of experiencing that are not based on emotional reactivity but on balanced responsiveness. This in turn naturally leads to more functional and more positive thinking and more useful core beliefs that are empowered by positive emotional energy, rather than the previous negative energy.
How to Do Mindfulness Meditation:
1. The techniques of mindful meditation is not new. You  just find a quiet and cozy place. Sit in a chair or at the floor along with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
2. Try and set aside all thoughts of the past and the longer term and stay within the present.
3. Discover your breathing, targeting the feeling of air moving out and in of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Listen in on the way in which each breath changes and is different.
4. Watch every thought come and go, whether or not it’s a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts arise to your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
5. If you end up getting over excited to your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and easily return for your breathing. Remember to not be hard on yourself if this occurs.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation:
Mindfulness gives rise to insights which ripen into wisdom, because the more deeply and clearly we are able to observe the reality of our mind body and world, the more we will understand how and why things are as they are.

Here are 10 benefits to practice mindfulness meditation.

  1. Increases grey-matter density in the hippocampus (an area of the brain known to be important for learning and memory) and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
  2. Reduces Anxiety Disorders, Including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  3. Reduces Sleep Problems
  4. Improve focus, concentration, and precision.
  5. Improves Relationship Issues
  6. Enhance the quality of communications and relationships.
  7. Deepen peace of mind and sense of flow
  8. Deepen insight and intuitive wisdom.
  9. Awaken more authenticity, heart, soul, and caring in our lives and work.
  10. Increases strengthen faith and self-confidence.

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Essence of Yoga and Vipassana

The concepts and methods of harmonizing body, mind, and spirit introduced centuries ago by Patanjali have been adopted by scientists, religious and spiritual leaders, and experts in the field of physical and mental health, as well as by the public at large. The concept of observing the breath and the tingling sensations of the body have been adopted by Gautam Buddha. Kriya yoga and vipassana are the two wings of a spiritual journey. If one is weak you cannot fly comfortably. God realization and stillness of mind both are important.

Buddha said “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. “ Vipassana is the art of conquering yourself.

Essence of Vipassana
Essence of Vipassana

Paramahansa Yoganandanin the writer of the spiritual classic,“Autobiography of a Yogi”, said “Meditation is the science of God‑realization. It is the most practical science in the world. Most people would want to meditate if they understood its value and experienced its beneficial effects. The ultimate object of meditation is to attain conscious awareness of God, and the soul’s eternal oneness with Him. “

 

In the teachings of the Zen masters we observed “What we call the body and mind in the Buddha Way is grass, trees and wall rubble; it is wind, rain, water and fire.”

 

Himalayan spiritual master Amit Ray of Uttarkashi in his book,  Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style”  said “There are three aspects in yoga, the first one is keeping the body and mind in harmony and healthy. The second one is stilling the mind and the third one is realising the inner sprit. Yoga deals with the first aspect of life. Vipassan is more about the stilling the mind and for the third one you need your own inner grace.”

Ramana Maharshi the master of yoga through self-inquiry mentioned that “self-inquiry is certainly not an empty formula and it is more than the repetition of any mantra. If the inquiry `Who am I?’ were a mere mental Questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of self-inquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one `I’ searching for another `I’. Much less is self-inquiry an empty formula, for it involves an intense activity of the entire mind to keep it steadily poised in pure Self-awareness.” Self inquiry is the art of knowing yourself.

Sri Aurobindo tried to amalgamate the older religions and said “Eevolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Super-mind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.”

Great yogi Ramakrishna Paramhansa taught ceaselessly for fifteen years the basic truths of all religion through parables, metaphors, songs and by his own life. He said “There are pearls in the deep sea, but you must hazard all perils to get them. If you fail to get at them by a single dive, do not conclude that the sea is without them. Dive again and again, and you are sure to be rewarded in the end. So also in the quest for the Lord, if your first attempt to see Him proves fruitless, do not lose heart. Persevere in the attempt, and you are sure to realize Him at last.”

Essence of Religion
Essence of Religion

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Vipassana meditation

About 2500 years back, Lord Buddha re-established the Vipassana meditation techniques. Vipassana meditation helps effective utilization of mental energy and life force. It brings calmness, happiness and harmony in life. The life energy is not wasted or escaped in the continuous waves of thoughts. True Vipassana meditation provides enough energy to tackle all the problems of our everyday life. In the book Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Lifestyle, the Himalayan meditation master Sri Amit Ray of Uttarkashi, explained Vipassana meditation is an ongoing creative purification process. Observation of the moment-to-moment experience cleanses the mental layers, one after another. Vipassana is searching deeply within, the deeper realities of all experiences. …. Vipassana arises as you pay awareness to the inner and outer experience unfolding at the present moment. Vipassana is not associated with any rigid formula or methods. Whenever you are aware of your mental or physical feelings like tension in the muscles, movement of limbs, stiffness, heat or cold, you have begun to develop special understanding of realities.”

Benefits of Vipassana meditation:

The rewards of meditation of Vipassana are many. It develops patience and liberates from all secondary and the dependences. The achievements of Vipassana can be felt to even the very first meeting. In the Pali language Vipassana means looking from the other side of the river.  In Vipassana, you have to think beyond ten-day Vipassana retreat. Objective of Vipassan is to go beyond suffering, beyond the cycle of birth and death.

When you are aware of tension, movement, tautness, heat or cold, you have begun to develop special close understanding. Vipassana meditation strengthens digestion and keeps us free from toxins that clog the body’s channels and prevent the flow of vital energy in the body.

Hindrances in Vipassana Meditations:

There are five hindrances. First is sensual desire, it is the greatest hindrance to Vipassana, practice. Aversion or anger is the second hindrance. Sloth and torpor is the third hindrance. restlessness and worry is the forth hindrance. Skeptical doubt and criticism is the fifth and the last hindrance.

Rapture in Vipassana Meditations:

Mystical bliss, joy and rapture is part of integrated yoga and vipassana. When the mind is concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable and steadies this positive joy arises.

Vipassana Beyond Suffering:

If you practice Vipassana from a true master, you will never feel pain during the practice and after the practice. You will be always filled with joy and exhilaration. Your body will always feel cool, calm, and comfortable. You will always feel great love in the heart region. You will be at extreme mental balance and finally mind itself will come to a complete stop.

Vipassana meditation
Vipassana meditation

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Many Paths one Goal: Yoga and Vipassana

Vipasana means observing the movements of body and mind in a systematic manner as they are in the present moment.  It is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India before the birth of Goutama Buddha. Goutama Buddha re-established its importance of this path to get freedom from human suffering. The three foundations of vipassana are sila, samadhi and panna. Which means:

Sila :  Moral conduct

Samadhi: Observation and Witnessing

Panna: Wisdom of the ultimate.

Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, is well known. There are one hundred and twelve methods in Vijgana bhairaba, vipassana is one of them. Theravāda vipassana teachers like Mahasi Sayadaw emphasize the importance of examining the kalapas as a means to gaining insight.

Great Vipassana master Sri Amit Ray who wrote,  “Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style” , combined the vipassana and the eight limbs of  Patanjali’s yoga as follows:

  1. Yama and Niyama: Self Discipline and morality
  2. Asanas :  Observation of the movement of the body postures
  3. Pranayama : Observation of  the breaths
  4. PratyaharaObservation of the senses
  5. Dharana : Observation of the thoughts, the movements of the mind.
  6. Dhyana : Witnessing the feelings of the pain and pleasure
  7. Samadhi : Union with the ultimate

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Frank Boccio, in his book  Mindfulness Yoga, agrees. “Patanjali talks about asana as stability and ease,” he mentioned, “and when that happens, there is the dissolution of the sense of separation, an overcoming of the pairs of opposites. That’s the whole practice right there: People feel more able to sit with whatever is arising.”

Click here to know more about the essence of yoga and vipassana.

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Integration of Yoga and Vipassana

Vipassana: the art of mindfulness was practiced in ancient India before the birth of Goutama Buddha. Buddha re-established the importance of Vipassana.  Patanjali’s in his famous book “Yoga Sutra” described the art of integration of body, mind and soul in eight systematic steps. Compassion, joy and loving kindness are common ground for both the practices. When insight meditation (vipassana) and yoga practices like Asana (postures) and pranayama (breath and vital energy channel purification practices) are combined together, it provides tremendous benefits.

For details about Integration of Yoga and Vipassana click here.

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