Mahasi Vipassana Insight Meditation:
I teach insight meditation (vipassana) in the tradition of the Burmese meditation teacher Mahasi Sayadaw. The Mahasi Sayadaw was a renowned teacher who began teaching vipassana insight meditation after the war near Yangon in Myanmar (Burma). He developed a series of techniques which were designed to help the meditator maintain a moment to moment awareness from the instant they awoke to the instant they fell asleep. For every activity, whether it be the sitting posture itself or eating or walking or brushing one's teeth, directions were given so that the meditator over a short period of time, could build up a one-pointed concentration needed to make spiritual insights.
The techniques included using a simple word to note, to acknowledge what is happening, noting the various stages of the step in walking meditation, doing everything very slowly and having regular interviews with the teacher. Silence is to be maintained the whole while. Although the course is challenging, there is room for meditators to modulate their practice so that each starting from their own level can slowly advance in the spiritual faculties, especially effort, concentration and mindfulness.
Note, Experience is not necessary and remember you can often stay for one, two or more weeks.
Metta Goodwill Contemplation:
Metta means love, but it stands for all the Illimitables. These are the states of love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity that can be developed indefinitely. This is a contemplative practice widely used throughout the Buddhist world and there are various techniques to help the meditator develop these qualities.
The method used is to offer love to oneself and then to those close to us, then to friends and so on to all people and eventually all sentient beings. We bring to mind all these various categories and offer them blessings and good wishes. It is a means of transforming hatred into love, cruelty into compassion, miserliness into generosity and so on. In other words, it's a skilful way to change our attitudes and so live in a more wholesome way.
Metta or loving kindness meditation is a practice that helps us to open our heart and mind, reconnecting us with our innate capacity for compassion and kindness. We develop unconditional love, and radiate this out to all living beings. Metta can be practised as a meditation practice in its own right or as a support for the vipassana practice. In this silent weekend we practise loving kindness in walking and sitting meditation, as well as in all daily activities.
The exercise begins with reflecting on unskilful ways we are attached to the body and our relationship to sickness, aging and death.
Then we turn the very same metta energy towards the body itself and it then acts as a fortifying or if necessary healing energy. This is done by visualising the various parts of the body and, as it were, pouring our love into those areas.
We then open up to 'other energy' with an exercise taken from the Tibetan Tradition and finally we share it with others in the group and onto all sentient beings.
These exercises of metta and healing are seen as highly complementary to the main practice in Buddhism of investigating ourselves through the practice of vipassana, insight meditation.
This course will introduce the full range of practices involved in MBSR, combining these with the Mahasi noting technique. The latter helps sharpen our awareness facilitating deeper insight - participants can deepen their mindfulness practice by attending Mahasi meditation retreats at Satipanya or elsewhere. Thus, the weekend helps people to take care of their physical and emotional health more wisely, as well as providing an introduction to Buddhist spiritual practice.