May 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
Vipassana is one of the oldest meditation techniques in India. Long lost to humanity, it was ‘rediscovered’ more than 2500 years ago by the Buddha, which he used as a method to attain enlightenment.
Seeing things as they really are
Vipassana means “seeing things as they really are”: this is the process of self-purification through self-observation. You begin by observing your normal and natural breath in order to focus the mind. Once your attention is fine tuned, you begin observing the changing nature of the body and mind, thus experiencing the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and the non-self. It’s this realization through direct experience that constitutes the work of purification. The path as a whole (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and is in no way related to an established religion or sect. Therefore, it can be practiced freely, regardless of race, background or religion, anywhere and at any time, and it will also prove beneficial to all.
Vipassana meditation is not:
• A form of intellectual or philosophical entertainment;
• A cure, a form of excuse to take holidays or to meet people;
• A way to escape the vicissitudes of life.
Vipassana meditation is:
• A technique that aims to eliminate suffering;
• A kind of lifestyle that allows you to enjoy a positive role in society;
• A kind of mental purification that allows you to face, in a calm and balanced way, the problems and tensions of life.
Target the source of your suffering
Vipassana meditation aims for the highest spiritual goals: total liberation and enlightenment. Since the goal is never the cure for physical diseases, mental purification can have the positive side effect of eliminating many psychosomatic diseases. In fact, the practice of Vipassana meditation dissolves the three causes of all our sufferings: greed, aversion and ignorance. With regular practice, Vipassana meditation releases the tensions that you develop in the daily life and loosens the knots created by the old habit of reacting in an excessive way to pleasant or unpleasant situations.
The Middle Way: The Vipassana Path
Excessive reactions to life’s events, either good or bad, positive or negative, is of the great sources of our misery. Real happiness is experienced through stillness and equanimity, and not through excitement. Although this takes a lot of practice, Vipassana meditation allows us to experience every event with a similar form of reaction, one which is not swayd in any direction.
Although Vipassana meditation was developed or reintroduced as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not restricted to Buddhists alone. There is absolutely no question of religious conversion: the technique is based on the principle that all human beings share the same problems, and that eliminating these problems must be applicable universally. People from a wide variety of religious backgrounds experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation and found no contradiction with their faith.
HOW TO PRACTICE VIPASSANA MEDITATION
Sit in a comfortable but alert position. The traditional and popular lotus position is not necessary but it is encouraged… What matters is that you are in a comfortable position. This may be with your legs extended in front of you or on a chair. Your hands should be a specific position: place your right hand in your left hand, and let them rest on your legs.
Then stay that way for 40 minutes. The spine and neck must be straight. Close your eyes and breathe normally. Stay as still as possible, only change your posture if it is absolutely necessary. You will experience discomforts and aches[ but these are part of the process.
The essential thing to observe is the movement of the belly, just above the navel, with each inspiration and exhalation. This is not a concentration technique, so your attention will be solicited by many other things, such as pains, thoughts, sounds, etc.
In the practice of Vipassana meditation, nothing is considered a distraction. In other words, when something happens, stop watching your breath, focus your attention on the moment’s event until you can return to the breath. These may be thoughts that cross your mind, feelings, judgments, physical sensations, impressions caused by external stimuli, and so on.
The important point is vigilance and not the object of attention. So be careful not to identify yourself with what enters your consciousness. Just stay aware and simply observe.
This technique is not necessarily obvious to learn and practice; it can calm the mind as much as it can be an obstacle if it’s not adapted to you. Try it, and if you feel good, continue. But if you don’t, then stop and try another, more active method, such as walking mediation.
Meditation and personal discipline
Of course, the work of self-purification through introspection is never easy. We must work intensely. You will achieve results through your efforts; no one else can work for you. That is why meditation will only be appropriate for those who want to work seriously and observe the discipline, which actually exists for their own good and protection; Discipline is an integral part of the practice of meditation.
It is said that habit takes between 20 and 30 days to be done and undone. At first, these daily 40 minutes will look long and difficult, but after a few weeks, the practice will begin to settle into your routine and your mind will begin to change. The continuity of the practice in isolation is the secret of the success of this technique.
July 17, 2012 § 4 Comments
We all have felt anxiety before. No matter how confident and relaxed you are, you know what it’s like to be nervous before an interview, trembling before a speech, or cold and clammy over the pending results of your graded quiz.
The point of this article is to provide you with eight different ways to release this tension. There are more powerful ways in which you can relax (as we will provide in our products) however this article provides eight ways you can use anywhere. Hardly anyone will actually notice that you are using them. You will not have to sit in a meditation position on the floor, or chant mantras to relax yourself… so no worries.
Also, notice the title of this article is not “…Calm Yourself Down”. We don’t calm down. We calm up.
Calming yourself involves not detaching yourself from your environment, but integrating yourself with it while you mentally move inward to obtain steadiness. You should not feel tired or detached. You should simply become “in the zone”: Alert, focused and relaxed.
This one’s great for if you are waiting to give a speech or if you are nervous in a group setting. Simply put your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on the arms of your chair. If your chair doesn’t have arms, place them on the edges of the seat. Brace yourself. Now, take a deep breath, and push up with your arms and feet as you exhale. Lock your arms – let your torso hang from your locked arms for a moment while you finish exhaling… long and deep. Go limp, but remain locked in the up position. Now sit back down. You feel like a noodle, and everything is cool.
Breathing is absolutely crucial to calming yourself. I recommend you do some in-depth research on Eastern styles of breathing, and how to breathe powerfully with your diaphragm. Breathe in strongly and slowly through your nose as you expand your diaphragm. Your stomach should rise, not your chest. Now, blow it out strongly and steadily through your mouth. Repeat this a few times. You can feel the tension leaving your body.
This one may not seem like much, but it has serious subconscious value. When most people are relaxed (particularly us guys) we have a tendency to spread our legs slightly and take up more space. By consciously spreading your legs while sitting (or standing) you will take up more space, which is what we generally do when we are comfortable in a setting. Perform the action, and the feeling of comfort will follow.
Yes, slouching is bad for your posture. Slouching for years will curve your spine. Slouching for a few minutes will not. This is another habit most people demonstrate when they are relaxed and comfortable: They slouch. So, next time you feel antsy about a situation, allow yourself to lean back your head and slouch slightly in your chair. Once again, the feeling will follow the action.
Powerful people are often calm, relaxed and comfortable in their actions. When they sit around a table, they often do one of two things with their hands: Steepling, or the hands-behind-the-head. To steeple, put your elbows on the table, and steeple your hands in front of your face – like the bad guy does in the movie when he’s going “M’yesss…. Muwahaha…. I can see it all coming together so perfectly…” Think of yourself as the bad guy when you steeple your hands. You know you are going to win. You steeple your hands as you turn over your master plan inside your head. Everything is falling into place so perfectly. Muwhaha. For more of a “corporate” power / relaxation effect, lean back in your chair and put your hands behind your head, lacing your fingers together. This is how bosses sit when they are talking to people who work for them. It has profound effects in making you feel more powerful and relaxed.
This is an incredible psychological tool we will cover in more depth in our products. Your subconscious mind anchors certain actions / stimuli with certain feelings and responses. Psychological anchors and triggers are used everywhere. It is the reason behind many strong emotional connections. If you had a song played at your wedding, hearing the song played at a later date may make you cry. The emotional event was your wedding, and you heard a song during it (the anchor). Thus, the song became tied to the feelings you felt during your wedding. Uponhearing the song again (the trigger) you feel the same feelings again.
Another example is if you became very ill once from a certain drink, you may become sick simply from smelling the drink in the future. The emotional event was becoming very ill, and the anchor was the drink. Therefore, smelling the drink in the future could make you sick very quickly. Anchors are used everywhere, in positive and negative emotions. To use them to calm yourself, develop a specific anchor every time you are calm. My anchor is to place my hand palm-down on my thigh. Every time I am relaxed, I do this, to reinforce the anchor. Then when I need to be calm, I simply fire the trigger (palm on the thigh) and my mind recreates the emotion tied to that anchor – which is relaxation. Pick an anchor you don’t use that much, such as touching your ear, or putting your hand on your knee. Do it whenever you are relaxed, and when you need to become relaxed, doing it will help to put you in that mental state.
Kill Internal Dialogue
There are many ways to do this, but here’s one good technique: If you are talking yourself into a worrisome state, or worrying while talking to someone during a conversation, do this immediately. Defocus your eyes, and open your peripheral vision. Look at two areas ahead of you, to each side. Picture your conscious thoughts in those areas. Now, draw your gaze up from both points at 45 degreeangles until they meet in the high-center of your vision. Next bring the gaze straight down, so it is directly in front of you (a person’s face if you are talking to them). Now, picture your gaze coming straight back to your own head, as you return your consciousness to your own mind. Not only does it help increase focus, but the simple effort required to perform the exercise will often stop any distracting internal dialogue you are having at the time.
If you feel a general anxiety of your whole body, such as being self-conscious of your hands, feet, or body position, this exercise can work wonders. Close your eyes. Take a few deep, long breaths: in through your nose and out through your mouth. Place your tongue on your front pallet, directly above the backside of your upper teeth- this is effective in stimulating cross-lobe integration (and relaxation) in the brain. Picture a point far in front of you. Project your thoughts there in your mind. Continue breathing, and keep your thoughts there, until you are fully relaxed and have forgotten about clammy hands, sweaty feet, or mismatched socks. Once you are relaxed, slowly bring the point in front of you closer as you return to a fully aware state.
March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
Why do we always feel the need to be productive? Always having to be on the move or keep our mind occupied. It feels like any time there is silence we have to fill it with some thing, god forbid there be a moment of uncomfortable silence to reflect in. It almost appears as though we are scared to spend a moment in silence. As though we’re afraid of what we might come to realize during our silent contemplation.
To reflect on your own personal reality is one of the most effective ways to get inalignment with your goals, desires and passion. Most people are not even aware of what they want to experience in life; they’ve become caught up in being “comfortable” keeping busy in order to continue being “comfortable” that they forget that there is an entire universe of possibilities awaiting them.
Silence is the key. From the silence can we begin to see cleary what we want to create in our reality. We must have the idea before we can start to build. The art of contemplation breeds change. We humans are not meant to be like gerbils, running on the treadmill of life. We must be still and listen to ourselves for a change in order to surpass the lifestyle and experience of previous generations.
Can you sit still in complete silence with your eyes closed and your hands in your lap? Could you do that for 15 minutes a day for the rest of your life? Try! Do it and see what happens. I guarantee you will see change in your life if you do this. You will begin to build a relationship with yourself that you once had when you were achild, before your mind became poisened by preconcieved notions. But don’t beleive me, do it yourself!
This simple yet underestimated way of experiencing reality is one of the missing pieces to bringing a grander experience of life to every one. Being in completesilence alone or with other people allows you to just be. They should teach a course in school called “Silience: The Art of Being”. We must go back to our infant nature and stop trying to fool ourselves in to thinking that we have it all together and understand all aspects of reality.
If we allow the idea that “we have to always be productive” to be prominate in every moment of life it will only hinder our growth as human beings. We’ll never take a moment to look and say, hey wait a minute if we keep walking the path we’re walking its only going to create more and more suffering, maybe we should change course. With out moments of silence, with our breaks in unconscious mindpatterns, we won’t be able to co-create a new reality for all human beings to live in. We need to take that time and experience the simplicity silence.
Maybe we’ll all finally realize that we’re just children convinced that we’re adults.
Shane Lamotte has developed a desire for knowledge of Zen, Taoism, Buddhism, Quantum Physics and anything that involves the nature of reality. His vision includes creating music that gives its listeners a “wake-up call” to change society in a positive way. Go to http://www.livingillusion.com.
March 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
My last blog entry concentrated on the mechanics of compassion: sort of like a step by step guide to enter the process and get things started.
The reason for this follow-up is to explain the real power of compassion, its strengths and its misconception.
Let’s begin with the latter. Compassion in popular culture is widely misunderstood. It is often presented as an instrument of weakness associated with a cartoon like depiction of all things essential to the “tree hugging hippy” movement.
Ok, let me say this clearly. Although compassion is a simple process, it is NOT an easy one. It’s the most difficult thing for a human-being to do.
Compassion is a solvent for two of the largest energy wasters for humankind: anger and guilt. This is its greatest strength. It allows us to look at another person and ourself with detachment and without getting caught in the all too familiar downward spiral of hatred associated with anger and guilt. Furthermore, compassion enables you to liberate yourself from the results of ill practices of others and to not get caught up in their misery.
Let me illustrate this with a short and simple example:
Think of the last time you’ve done something which would be considered outright hurtful. Some people felt nothing, in which case they would probably not be reading these words. Others felt guilty afterwards, and maybe so for a long time. This is the case for a large portion of readers. Although with time we tend to “forget” a specific guilt, they don’t really go away. Ever so often they will reappear and give us that oh so annoying pinch in the stomach combine with a mental note such as “dam, I wish I hadn’t done that”. Can you feel it? Do you see the energy being drained away, as if it was stolen? The awkward truth in this is that we do it to ourselves. Yes, someone else maybe responsible for an unfortunate event in your life but ultimately, YOU decide weither or not it deserves any energy and how much so.
In the practice of compassion, we adress these self damaging behaviours by bringing them in our awareness, an thus makes it easier to avoid doing hurtful things in the future since we become more aware.
Imagine all the energy not spent on hatred, anger, guilt and bad habits but instead spent on constructive things in your life such as work, family, relationships and education. This is why compassion is ultimately a force, one when combined with the regular practice of meditation, will open a path of both peace and immense productivity in your life.
February 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
As the subject of my last blog post, I addressed Letting Go. But in order to truly embark on this path of trust, one must practice compassion.
Compassion; we’ve heard that expression used in various situations and used in abondance. But what does it mean in it’s essence?
A real compassionate individual is someone who’s in the constant and perpetual mode on compassion. So how do we define compassion? It’s basically regarding all living things with loving kindness… All of them of what he or she may have done. Indeed, not an easy task at hand; however, that is exactly why the practice of compassion will simultaneously be both the most difficult challenge your soul will ever encounter as well as the most rewarding.
In order to comprehend compassion, let’s brake it down into steps or its mechanism:
- Look at others with humility. Let’s face it, we’re only human beings. This means that we ARE imperfect and DO make mistakes. All of us are made up of characteristics which we could qualify as either good, neutral and bad. But essentially, we’re all just trying to understand life and go through its several hoops and hurdles. Some of us fair better than others at this. Some will encounter great difficulties and may partake in selfish or dangerous acts. Some are simply sick… Their minds suffer from some sort of disorder and these individuals won’t see the world as will a more balanced individual. Therefore, it’s important to continuously keep this notion in check: he/she is just a human being.
- This is your world, and you belong to it. You therefore have an impact on it and are capable of doing great things. This means that you’re connected with everyone else in the universe as we are all part of the same energy. See others being part of the same greater entity to which you belong to.
- Forgive. Knowing that others are simple human beings helps us to forgive. In forgiveness, the main dynamic is letting go of something which is completely useless to us: grudges. In fact, a grudge will only make you sick. Forgiving also means forgiving yourself, that’s right. You’ve also caused pain in this world and even appear cruel and hateful to others.
- The final step: living with compassion. Be aware that before actually living with compassion, you’ll be it’s student. Which means you’ll make mistakes as old patterns will appear especially at the beginning. Keep in mind that yanking your thoughts from that old familiar and comfortable spot will take practice. When ever hatred or anger arises, simply observe the emotion. Then think of the 2 previous steps. Deconstruct the emotion and simply observe it’s parts. Observe what happens in your body when you do feel these negative emotions. This cycle will dissolve them and with time the process will become easier. After several months of this, you’ll feel compassion as the central code of conduct of your life.
February 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
I admire people who live their lives with the conscious certainty of what they are doing is right for them. When they get sick, they recuperate quickly. When they’re employment disappears, they turn around with freelance work. When they loose something, they brush it off with a smile. In other words, they don’t get attached to things they can’t control.
Sadly, most people, specially the ones living in modern societies, have developed a form of addiction to the concepts of “must hold on to” and “must have”.
But sadly, many of us thread along life, holding on so dearly to stuff, people and feelings, ever so scared of being naked and perpetually feeding on poison. Why? Because that’s all we know and we can be so terrified of the unknown.
Consequently, we become under stress, continuously forcing our souls in a state of depravation. After all, own can feel satisfied if we always feel hunger?
Imagine a life long gruge for a certain person because he or she did something which hurt you in your past. In this particular case, we could say that this holding on to this negative feeling gives the “victim” (you) an illusion of power: “you’ve hurt me in the past and I’ll never forgive you for that… So there, take that!”. Meanwhile, the feeling will have eaten at the you… Slowly, but surely, the gruge will have fermented and will have managed to create all sorts of offshoots. If the “perpetrator” happened to be a blond girl for example, you could possibly have lived all your life with a constant distrust of women with the same appearance.
Another common example are cases where someone is living a relationship which is terribly toxic for them. They hold on again so dearly since that’s what they know. It’s part of their comfort zone. In the case of a marital bond, letting go would be to end the relationship in order for you and your former spouse to find suitable partners. Often, holding on will blind us. We get so tied up in that one thing we think we need to keep so badly that it prevents us from seeing the better option.
I very funny thing happened to me recently. I was in a small town in Thailand and had to catch a cross-Pacific flight in Bangkok. I had asked a friend of mine to drive me to the bus station in order for me to hope on a bus, get to Bangkok, take a cab and ultimately reach the airport. So I get to my friends house with a bit of spare time on my hands and proceeded to load his car with my luggage. When the time came to leave, my friend couldn’t find his keys! I waited in the car for 20 minutes as he frantically looked for them. As the clock kept ticking, I came to realize that this was just not going to happen. Instead of getting nervous, I remained calm and opted for a cab ride all the way to Bangkok airport. Now the really strange thing is that IF my friend would have found his keys, I would have missed my flight. The traffic that afternoon being really bad.
Ultimately, letting go is the neutral equivalent of one of the most positive words in the human language: TRUST. Trust yourself, trust the universe (or God if your wish), trust life. It liberates us from the anguish and the hate as well as creating the space within our soul in order to enjoy the moment and direct our energy towards the important aspects of our life. Trusting life allows us to bathe in the mystery of the universe and enjoy it’s infinite wisdom.
July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
To stop thinking… What a bliss. What an extraordinary gift everyone can give to his or herself everyday, at any moment, may it be only for a short time.
Meditation has truly changed my life. It made me realize that we have so much more power than we believe.
The simple act of quieting the mind will bring powerful changes to your life, ones that you may not even had suspected as possible. You will start to perceive yourself and the outside world in a completely different way. Your universe becomes peaceful and it seems that nothing could bother you. At least, this is what to me after months of practice.
Like most of you, my life was driven by moments of fear and stress. Even if my native Thailand is a country with a long tradition of meditation, I still ran around and regularly fell victim to my own thoughts. That’s right, I was my own worst enemy; after all, we are the ones in charge.
I’ve met some people who strongly suspected that meditation numbs the mind; being a replacement to alcohol or a drug. That it makes you dull, weak and naive. But nothing could be further from the truth. Meditation releases the person who practices it regularly. It makes you shift your energy and focus from the time and energy wasters in your life to the constructive purposes. You become sharp as well as incredibly focused as all the energy you use to spread and squander on trivialities is now under your control. You stop running after all the red balls which come in your direction.
Meditation has also been extremely beneficial in my massage practice. When I give a Thai massage class, I always prepare my students by teaching them own to meditate. The reason for this is that massage is so much more than a simple physical act. An expert therapist can feel where are the trouble spots in a person’s body, and that, by simple touching.
I would love to hear about the experiences of others and discuss techniques with like-minded individuals.