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Samatha meditation and vipassana – 2 Buddhist practices to quiet the mind

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What is Samatha meditation? How vipassana allows us to become aware of many things within and outside of ourselves.

What are Vipassana and Samatha meditation? Very often we hear the term vipassana mentioned in different fields, from spiritual gurus to yoga and meditation teachers, to coaches and NPL professionals.

Let’s start to talk about Samatha meditation and Vipassana meditation, and specifically how the Vipassana meditation techniques work, what Samatha meditation is, and why it is easy to do it.

Sometimes it allows us to realise aspects otherwise rooted in the remote depths of our consciousness.

“Realizing” does not mean simply “understanding” mentally or cognitively, but also to realize them with our whole being.

What is vipassana?

Vipassana is a Pali term, an ancient language closely related to Sanskrit, which means “to see clearly” or “to look within.”

The cardinal principle of this meditation is “to see things as they really are” and the rise and fall of everything.

Vipassana meditation techniques focus primarily on the body and many aspects of it, from posture to the breath to the sensations, and also on the mind through contemplative actions.

But how do vipassana meditation techniques work? You may ask.
Well, technically speaking, if you’ve never done it before, it might seem complex, but it’s not at all: it’s only the technical descriptions that make it seem so.

So, if you’re just starting out, I suggest you simply begin to practice vipassana instead of continuing to listen to the description that follows.
On the other hand, if you have been practising it for a while, you might be curious to know how it is done.

Anyway, it is a double technique: when you practice Samatha meditation you naturally practice both the Samatha meditation at the beginning, and you come back to it many other times. In fact, many people, when they talk about the Vipassana technique, like to specify and combine the two words calling it Samatha Vipassana meditation.

samatha meditation
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WHAT IS SAMATHA VIPASSANA MEDITATION?

Samatha, or samadhi, is another word in the ancient Pali language that I like to translate as the meditation of “tranquillity”. Samatha meditation is called so because it is used to reach a state of perfect physical and mental calm, while Vipassana is the “insight meditation”.

Samatha is a kind of meditation practice that bring calmness and tranquility into the mind.

The word means “slowing down” or “pacification of the mind”, and samatha may be understood to mean the calming and slowing of the mind and its mental objects.

I guess at this point you are with a head full of question marks? Don’t worry, it’s not difficult!

The distinction between one and the other is more technical than factual.

While you are doing Samatha vipassana meditation, don’t think too much about whether it’s one or the other or analyse too much: simply, when you realise that your thoughts have taken your attention away too much, gently, without chasing or rejecting the thoughts, go back to observing the breath.

Samatha vipassana meditation helps to concentrate: not in the sense of straining ourselves, but to gather our attention and our energies in order to root ourselves in the “here and now”.

Samatha vipassana meditation is used to reach Samadhi – it means to be in a state of stillness and total calm. That’s why we start with this technique, because as opposed to the thousands of stimuli of everyday life, we gather a bit and find ourselves, we find calm and peace.

Technically it works in a very simple way: we observe the body and its sensations: a very classic way is to observe the breath.

Ok then, with Samadhi (Samatha meditation) we anchor the ship of our mind that otherwise would find itself tossed about by the waves.
Or, as some masters say: in Samadhi we collect the batteries that we put in the flashlight. And with Vipassana, we use that flashlight to observe, with its beam of light, all the sensations that enter our field of experience.

We observe and bring to awareness all that is there: things “as they are”.
Or, in the example of the ship, once anchored, we plumb the depths and pause to understand what is going on inside and around us… Thus allowing us to consciously “wander” with our minds and without becoming distracted again.
When we realize that we are distracted, we return to our anchor, to our breath, to Samadhi.

See how simple it is: first we collect ourselves, then we observe everything that happens and every time we get distracted, we return to collect ourselves.

It also happens spontaneously to pass from Samatha meditation to Vipassana and vice versa.
For example, if I have been observing the breath for a while and I am in a mental presence, it is easy for my perceptions to become more perceptive. It is therefore simple that I allow my mind to extend the field of perception to other phenomena in addition to the breath.

In the same way, if by extending the mind I am distracted, the moment I notice it, it will be natural for me to return to collect myself by anchoring myself to the body or to the breath.
This is why Vipassana is linked to Samatha meditation, and why we use samatha vipassana meditation both at the beginning and several times during a Vipassana meditation.

We observe and bring to awareness all that is there: things “as they are”.
Or, in the example of the ship, once anchored, we plumb the depths and pause to understand what is going on inside and around us… Thus allowing us to consciously “wander” with our minds and without becoming distracted again.
When we realise that we are distracted, we return to our anchor, to our breath, to Samadhi.

Vipassana meditation is precisely that part of meditation that really allows us to bring light into every corner of our existence that we can be aware of at that moment.

Practising Vipassana meditation, therefore, helps us to continuously monitor ourselves and enjoy our “Presence” more, in other words… it helps us to be more alive!

If you want to know more, on yoganda.yoga you can find excerpts from a vipassana meditation course in addition to our courses in live streamcentrate: not in the sense of straining ourselves, but to gather our attention and our energies in order to root ourselves in the “here and now”.

To be in Samadhi means to be in a state of stillness and total calm. That’s why we start with this technique, because compared to the thousands of stimuli of everyday life, we gather a bit and find ourselves, we find calm and peace.

Technically it works in a very simple way: we observe the body and its sensations: a very classic way is to observe the breath.

Ok then, with Samadhi (Samatha meditation) we anchor the ship of our mind that otherwise would find itself tossed about by the waves.
Or, as some masters say: in Samadhi we collect the batteries that we put in the flashlight. And with Vipassana, we use that flashlight to observe, with its beam of light, all the sensations that enter our field of experience.

See how simple it is: first we collect ourselves, then we observe everything that happens and every time we get distracted, we return to collect ourselves.

Vipassana meditation is precisely that part of meditation that really allows us to bring light into every corner of our existence that we can be aware of at that moment.

Practising Samatha Vipassana meditation helps us to continuously monitor ourselves and enjoy our “presence” more, in other words… it helps us to be more alive!

If you want to know more, on yoganda.yoga you can find excerpts from a vipassana meditation course in addition to our courses in live stream.

RESOURCES:

http://www.abhidhamma.com/Samatha_and_Vipassana_ebook.pdf

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