Deep in the heart of wisdom rests a message of love and compassion for all of us. A true mystery; a true grace; a presence in everyday life, this message is all-too-often unrecognized.
Through meditation we are able to reach a deep and penetrating calmness as well as a merciful reduction of stress. By focusing our attention on the natural aspects of breath, body sensation and deep tranquility, we liberate ourselves from the clutching grip of our own habitual, compulsive thinking process. In this way mental calmness becomes the gateway to the liberated self.
In his book Thoughts Without a Thinker, Mark Epstein, M.D., explains it in these terms, “Much of what happens through meditation is therapeutic, in that it promotes the usual therapeutic goals of integration, humility, stability, and self-awareness. Yet there is something in the scope of Buddhist meditation that reaches beyond therapy, toward a farther horizon of self-understanding that is not ordinarily accessible through psychotherapy alone. Whereas psychoanalysis takes the therapeutic relationship and cultivates it through the power of the therapist’s analytic attitude, meditation takes actual qualities of mind and cultivates them internally so that the person’s powers of observation are increased. With these increased contemplative powers, the meditator is then able to scan and to hold what can best be described as the building blocks of self-experience, the basic cravings that give rise to the sense of self. In so doing, one’s deeply ingrained sense of self is profoundly and irrevocably transformed.”
Insight meditation, or Vipassana, is perhaps the Buddha’s most important teaching in self-liberation. It is the practice of mindfulness – cultivating a clear, stable and non-judgmental awareness of all experiences in life. While most forms of meditation reduce stress and bring calmness and clarity of mind, Insight meditation also extends our deeper awareness to all aspects of life and dissolves the barriers to a full development of wisdom and compassion.
During this class (Insight meditation) we engage in the basic practices of insight meditation. We first focus on the basics of meditation and on mindfulness of breathing. We then explore mindfulness of the body and expand our focus to include all our physical experiences. We will introduce mindfulness of feelings and emotions. During the latter stages of the class we explore mindfulness of the mind and thinking. Ultimately, we focus on the role of mindfulness in daily life and in deepening one’s spiritual life.