We’ve talked about vipashyana/vipassana before, but let’s once again engage this vast topic, its application in life, and the freeing that results from doing so.
Vipashyana is an ancient meditation technique. It is found in all ancient Indian texts in one way or another. This practice underlies all shamanic traditions, though the Sanskrit word would never be used. A shaman’s role is precisely to perceive correctly, to have insight into a situation or someone’s body or the other-worldly reasons for circumstances. Looking correctly has enabled a shape-shifting shaman to correctly understand that the human form in which his/her consciousness dwells is merely a costume. The shaman can, therefore, put on any costume he or she likes!
In truth, the majority of a vipashyana practice has to be off the cushion in the moment to moment of one’s life. It is there that the habits of not looking correctly, not perceiving things as they are occurs repeatedly. For most people that means with every thought. This is easy to see with one’s self. Expectations are a good example. Expectations are predicated upon a past experience. The experience could be imaginary – such as an feeling or momentary reality conjured from reading or from child’s play, or the experience could have been “lived” in this life or another. Features of that experience are projected forward and, importantly, desired or feared. Like all projections, expectations are imagined. However, if an expectation were examined before allowed to run one’s emotions or mental processes, one would be able to catch the emotions as they arise and quell them because they are responding to something made up in one’s own mind.
Vipashyana is easily approached through a few lenses that the meditator would choose to wear through a period of time. It is suggested in this meditation that we acknowledge and perceive change as much as possible for today and tomorrow. Classically, change is called impermanence but that might sound stodgy or like dogma; so, change, fluid, changing, up for grabs, malleable, constantly adjusting, flow and flowing, coming and going, arising and falling, and so forth could be thoughts or observations that we hold before us and open to for a day or two.
Examples: Obama rose then subsided as president; the seasons come and go; the physical body goes through a variety of up/downs, feeling strong/feeling weak; for years one could do the same task and then one day things change: a fall or slip or twist of the a shoulder or ankle. The impermanence of youth means that we grow, grow up, grow fat or slim, grow wise or senile, grow old and die. Maybe we don’t have to “fight disease?” But, instead work with what’s going on to bring well-being forward in all stages of body functioning. Imagine how health and healing would change if the ideas of fighting, conquering, or eradicating were released from how the mechanisms of change in the body were addressed.
Examples of the practice of vipashyana are in every moment. For instance, once one starts feeding birds, they quickly have expectations! So, we are not alone. But, we human beings can observe this behavior of emotion-mind and recognize the ongoing color-commentary that is going on within.
We begin with noticing change and noticing all the ways that we think it’s not so, wish it weren’t, and plan as if it is not. Laugh with your insights. Have fun with awakening. And, remember, smile and take a long, slow, deep breath with each insight.