An interesting and articulate article today via Huffington Post. An interview with Paul R. Fleischman, a practicing psychiatrist for 30+ years, and a Vipassana meditation teacher under the guidance of S.N. Goenka.
I always enjoy reading about different meditation practices and hearing practitioners talk of their own unique experiences. Those new to meditation are often quite anxious to 'understand' the meditation experience. But we can get so bogged down with thinking about our meditation, unaware that all we need to do is 'do it' and observe our own experience. Meditation is not a member of the 'thinking' party .. it tends to arrive at the 'sensing' party when you least expect it to show.
But that is another story.
"I sit to anchor my life in certain moods, organize my life around my heart and mind, and to radiate out to others what I find. Though I shake in strong winds, I return to this basic way of living."
Paul R. Fleischman
In this article, Meditation : A Compass and a Path Paul speaks of his experience with Vipassana, a tradition that provides a wonderful framework for cultivating the capacity for self-observation.
There are Vipassana centers around the globe (and many in Australia) .. often better known by the 'meditation boot camp' ten-day silent retreats. Why ten days I am always asked? In part, because it takes us that long to slow down and get rid of the noise and random thinking we seemed to be filled with .. to get to the point where we can actually observe the present moment.
As Paul says, 'the emphasis is very much on direct experience. And that takes time'.
When people seek to learn meditation they so often assume they can pick up a book, attend a class and occasionally do some practice .. and voila! This rarely provides any fruit and then they claim 'it doesn't work' or 'they can't do it' .. if we listen to the many ancient meditative traditions, their view is that it takes time to have that direct experience.
What do you observe when you meditate today? What do you observe yesterday? What was your meditation like when your life was calm and fluid? and then, when life got troublesome and a challenge? What about when you were bored? these observations and inner learnings are only available to us when we commit to a regular meditation practice.
“At its root, meditation is a compass and a path
that gives you internal guidance about how to live.”
Paul tries (quite eloquently) to explain how his meditation practice helps him enage more effectively with life. In fact he see's meditation as preparation for life, 'a self education and one that you want to renew everyday'.
“I would like to know myself. It is remarkable that while orginarily we spend most of our lives studying, contemplating, observing, and manipulating the world around us, the structured gaze of the thoughtful mind is so rarely turned inward”