Venue and time: Sunday February 26, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (Meditation and Discussion), Moksha Yoga, London Ontario, Canada. Half hour drop-in meditation on Tuesday February 28, 8 – 8:30 pm.
Schedule: Drop-in Meditation 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Sunday February 26. Break for chat and tea 7:30 – 7:40 pm roughly; 7:40 – 8:30 pm – Discussion on the topic: Exploring Stabilizing and Insight Meditation. Participants are welcome to either or both of these events. Attendance is free, and donations are accepted. For insurance requirements you need to sign in at the front desk of Moksha.
We explore two major features of mindfulness meditation: Stabilizing and Insight. The goal here is to give a jargon-free and concise description of these main aspects, in a way that helps us to understand the different uses of meditations that are predominantly stabilizing, or predominantly insight focused, or most commonly mixtures.
Stabilizes or anchors the mind, by focusing on some activity often by bringing attention to sensations in the body and breath. In this way it avoids overthinking, and using body sensations as a focus. Other stabilizing meditations include, repeating mantras, listening to sounds or music, or any repetitive activity that helps us to focus. We spend so much time in our heads, thinking planning, worrying about the future, or regretting the past. Bringing attention to body, breath, sounds etc helps stabilize us in the present moment. For this reason meditations that are predominantly stabilizing are usually emphasized for those new to meditation. Here we take care not to use such confusing (and incorrect) phrases as emptying or calming the mind. Contrary to the popular idea that meditation is a way of emptying the mind, the mind is never empty, and its always thinking (as verified by brain scans, although often online Guru’s dispute this!).
The aim of (mindfulness) insight meditation, is not peace or even happiness. It is to see the world as it really is, to see it clearly at a deeper level, accepting and whole heartedly embracing it in the present moment. By-products, are often deeper happiness, based on the reality of the here and now, and not some pollyanna view of the world. A particular aspect of insight is non-judgmentally observing, not trying to force or change anything, just exploring it as it is.
In reality no meditation is purely stabilizing or purely insight, but a mixture. Usually meditation (or mind) training focuses initially on stabilizing meditation. This builds a platform for deeper insight meditation. There are even ancient arguments among various meditation (Buddhist communities) about which should be given prominence. Since insight meditation, often more closely deals with thoughts, it is easier to become trapped in what Tara Brach calls the trance of thinking, a kind of addictive doing, or over-thinking, while practising it. Our mind mistakes insight for trying to solve the problem or issue we are meditating on.
The author thanks Lin Ong for stimulating discussions that led to this post. However my goal for making this concise has clearly failed! 🙁
Suggested Preparation for the evening
The London Mindfulness Community (LMC) : is a community of mindfulness enthusiasts. Our meditations are designed to be accessible to those who drop in occasionally. Those wanting to know more about integrating mindfulness into daily life, can benefit from our Sunday Discussions. These topics are presented in a self-contained way and will be posted on our website (usually by the previous Thursday):
http://londonmindfulnesscommunity.org (and its associated FB page, search London Mindfulness Community on FB). Attendance at our meditations and events is free (donations are accepted which go towards buy materials for the studio, training and learning resources).