WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Insight meditation (vipassana) is the practice of paying attention to our present-moment experience with kindness and without judgment. By gently and continually directing our attention to what is happening now, we cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom.
There are numerous benefits to meditation, from a simple calming of the mind and stress relief to complete liberation of the heart and freedom from suffering. Human beings have practiced meditation in different forms for millennia.
In recent years, researchers have confirmed many benefits from meditation – from decreasing reactivity and negative emotions, to increasing creativity and concentration. There is also growing evidence that the practice of meditation can help people manage physical challenges, such as chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep issues, cancer, and asthma, among many others. It may also boost immune function.
“The whole path of mindfulness is this: Whatever you are doing, be aware of it.”
In Buddhism, Dharma has three meanings. It refers to (1) the ultimate truth, (2) phenomena in our experience and the world and (3) the teachings of the Buddha that lead to awakening and enlightenment.
While the practice of mindfulness is enjoying great popularity in our world today, many mindfulness programs are not centered within Buddha’s teachings on liberation. As our dharma elder, Katherine Barr says, “secular mindfulness is wonderful—but there’s so much more!” We are committed to offering the liberating teachings of Buddhism.
The Buddha was intent on offering practices that decrease suffering in our lives, help us cultivate wholesome, healthy mind states and happiness, and ultimately awaken us to the realization of liberation—a mind free from suffering and an understanding of the nature of reality. Through practices such as dana (generosity), sila (ethical conduct), and bhavana (concentration of mind and heart), we begin to see the world more clearly, developing wisdom and compassion right in the midst of our busy lives.
The Dharma is known and recognized through experiential practice. It is not a belief system. As practitioners, we deepen our understanding of Dharma through our own direct investigation and experience through the example of the Buddha, the teachings of Dharma, and the support of our community, the Sangha. In this way, the “triple jewels” (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) strengthen our practice of awakening.