No conditions are permanent;
No conditions are reliable;
Nothing is self
Insight is translated from the Pali word Vipassana, which means clear gazing. As Dr. Muesse explains in lecture 13 of his mindfulness series, through the practice of mindfulness, and meditation specifically, our minds become less attached to thoughts and beliefs, which makes room for us to see things as they really are. This may mean we see things for the first time that were in front of us all along.
Insight can be characterized by a shift in perception that one experiences momentarily. In Buddhism the main characteristics of Insight are 1) Impermanence, 2) Non-Self or Illusion of Self and 3) Dukkha (suffering). In lecture 13, Dr. Muesse explains Impermanence.
We can lay the groundwork for Insight by relaxing our need to know everything with certainty and our ego’s need to appear knowledgeable. We can consciously adopt an attitude of ‘not knowing’ and humility which can change our old habits of thought. Such habits of thought can be shifted in more sudden ways as well; through life events such as illness, divorce or acknowledgement of addiction.
Insight when treated with wisdom and care, can help us on our path to awakening and radically change the way we live our lives.
Unnoticed, thoughts have great power. – Joseph Goldstein.
In our path of practice, after cultivating the ability to notice thoughts, we can start to examine their content. Often, when we start to look more closely at them, we see our propensity for unwholesome thoughts based on our conditioning ie. those thoughts we have most often.
In lecture 9 of his mindfulness series, Dr. Muesse, provides techniques to work with thoughts, particularly unwholesome thoughts, which are rooted in the three poisons of:
1.Greed (attachment, selfish desire)
2.Hatred (aversion to things we don’t want /like, aggression) and
3.Delusion (inflated views of one’s importance/unimportance, immunity to nature of reality)
Next time you meditate, see if you can examine the content of your thought before you let it go. Are you able to identify the root cause of some of your thoughts as Greed, Hatred or Delusion?
Do you identify one more than the others?
We can learn to disempower unwholesome thoughts by using 4 ‘R’s: Replace, Redirect attention, Reflect on results & Reconstruction which Dr. Muesse outlines.
These techniques can help us pluck the weeds that are unwholesome thoughts from the garden of our minds, creating a more hospitable climate for the wholesome ones.
As one of my teachers has quipped – “We don’t want to only be mindful when we’re sitting still! It would be like being trapped to your seat your whole life!”
This week we’ll explore how to be mindful when we’re walking, or mindful of the body when we’re in different positions than just seated. Walking practice in particular is a great ‘bridge’ to taking mindfulness into your daily life. We’ll listen to what Dr. Muesse has to say on the topic, and then do some practice there in the room.
In other news, I’m excited to share that we are running a Day of Mindfulness on January 30th. It is a day long workshop. This is a great opportunity to deepen your practice, taking the time to settle, explore themes in greater detail, and practice in community. Full details are on the webpage – look on the menu bar – Day of Mindfulness.