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Insight Meditation

Keeps Us in the NOW

There are many types of prayer practices, but with all the interest in living in the present moment, insight meditation is particularly timely.

Awareness

Insight meditation has two key elements. The first is that of awareness. This means being continuously aware of one’s experience in every moment. In other words: we are aware and we know that we are aware.

Each moment, we each have a variety of internal experiences—thinking, feeling, sensing, judging, etc. We pay close attention to these experiences. And much of the time we are also engaged in some external activity—walking, talking, eating, driving, etc. W e pay attention to this as well.

Usually our awareness is filtered through our thoughts, judgments and memory associations. Almost everything we see or hear immediately conjures up a whole parade of memories, thoughts, and judgments.

Attention

In this meditation practice, we cultivate something called bare attention. This means being aware of “what is”, apart from our thoughts and judgments about what is. We practice distinguishing that which is experienced directly from the meaning that we give to these experiences.

We practice this bare attention as continuously and precisely as we are able. And we are always practicing. We are not setting continuous awareness as a goal to be achieved, but rather an intention to apply in each moment.

Acceptance

The second key element of this practice is that of acceptance. This means acceptance of our internal experiences—our thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. It means opening to and allowing each experience to arise within us without clinging to any of it and without resisting any of it. Practicing acceptance means that we recognize our clinging and resistance and let it go, if we can. And if we can’t let it go, then we accept the resistance itself as part of what is here.

All of this is very difficult to immediately implement in the midst of our daily lives, so we begin with the practice of sitting quietly for a period of time. In this quiet time, we may focus on one small aspect of our experience— such as a body sensation—and work with awareness and acceptance of that small piece of our reality. If we attend a meditation retreat where we can engage the practice for several consecutive days, then we gradually deepen and broaden our practice to include other experiences in our lives. Over time, we begin to integrate more and more of this practice into our everyday life.

by Robert J Brumet,