Vipassana in Daily Life

In Vipassana, the object of meditation is one’s own consciousness. While we continue to use the breath as an anchor to the present moment, it is no longer the only object (as in other forms of meditation). Instead, we become aware of whatever the most prominent stimulus is in that moment, and we allow that stimulus to be our object. It may be a thought, a feeling, a physical sensation, a sound, a smell, or just about anything else. Whatever it is, we simply notice it without becoming involved in thinking about it. In this sense, we are working toward achieving an objective and non-reactive state of mind. At the same time, Vipassana is not primarily a relaxation technique and we are not trying to flee from reality or go off into a trance. The goal is active and objective observation of our subjective experience, without attachment.

In terms of actual practice, try to find a quiet place where people, phones, and other distractions will not be an issue. Wear comfortable clothing and consider taking off your shoes. Sit either on the floor (perhaps on a cushion) or in a straight back chair. Place your hands on your knees or folded in your lap. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Take two or three deep breaths and begin to focus on the present moment. Use your breathing to anchor you to the here-and-now. As you continue, notice the most prominent stimulus, whatever it is, without engaging it. Try to sit still and maintain focus for 10 minutes. Just as you are not reacting impulsively to the thoughts or feelings that you have, do not react impulsively to physical discomforts as they arise. For instance, if your nose itches, do not immediately reach up to scratch it. If you want, you can choose to scratch your nose. Or, if you want, you can choose just to let it be. Whatever you decide, act in mindfulness and with great intention.

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