Vipassana Meditation

Lectures on Insight Meditation

by Chanmyay Sayadaw | 22,042 words

Vipassana Meditation: English lectures on Insight Meditation By venerable Chanmyay Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa....

Part 4 - Sitting Meditation

When sitting the body of the meditator should be balanced.

Do not sit leaning against a wall or other support. This weakens right effort (samma vayama) and you will feel sleepy.

Sitting on raised and compressed cushions causes the body to bend forward. This will make you feel sleepy. Sariputta and Mogallana did not use any cushion to meditate.

Every sitting must be preceded by an hour of walking meditation (this may be reduced when not in retreat and the time available is limited).

When changing from walking to sitting practice, mindfulness and concentration should not be disrupted.

In the beginning of the practice, a beginner may be confused as to what to note. The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw instructed that a yogi may start observing the rising and falling movement of the abdomen, mentally noting rising when observing the outward movement and falling when observing the inward movement.

This is in accordance with the chapter on the four elements in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta. The movement of the abdomen is vayo dhatu (wind element).

Each element has its individual or specific characteristics.

  • The Earth element (pathavi dhatu) has hardness and softness as its specific characteristics.
  • The water element (apo dhatu) has fluidity and cohesion as its specific characteristics.
  • The Fire element (tejo dhatu) has heat and cold as its specific characteristics.
  • The Wind element (vayo dhatu) has motion, support and vibration as its specific characteristics.

When one is mindful of and realizes the movement of the abdomen, then one can be said to rightly understand the real nature of the wind element and destroy the false view of a self.

In the beginning you may put your hand on the abdomen if you are unable to feel the movement otherwise.

Breathing must be normal. Do not take quick or deep breaths, you will get tired. Relax the mind and body as much as possible.

When the abdominal movements are more gradual and clear, you may increase the frequency of the noting: - "rising...rising...rising", "falling...falling...falling". If the movements are complicated, just note them generally.

Although the yogi is taught to begin with the watching of the rise and fall of the abdomen, he must not be attached to it. This is not the only object, but only one of the many varieties of objects of Vipassana meditation.

If sounds are heard, note hearing. At first it is not easy, but has to note as much as possible. Only when mindfulness is sufficient, may one return to the primary object of meditation (e.g. rising and falling). If there is a gap between rising and falling, fill it with the noting sitting and/or touching'.

  • Do not open your eyes while sitting meditation. If you do, concentration is broken.
  • Do not be contented with one hour sitting. Sit as long as you can.
  • Do not shift your posture.


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