Walking and sitting, and walking and sitting, and...

On the surface the practice of meditation might look like something monotonous and rigid: just walking and sitting still for long periods of time, but under the surface it's really quite illuminating and exciting!

First of all it's not easy to train the body and mind in this way, especially for young children. Since the beginning of term one, our Intensive English Programme ​(IEP​)​ students have been working diligently at perfecting their meditation skills, and that work has been paying off big time. All you need to do is ask any one of them, or take a peek in their meditation journals, the responses are all the same, student's report:

  • A greater sense of calm
  • Restfulness 
  • Stress-reduction
  • Being able to sleep better
  • Improved levels of concentration…and more.

The insights into their world doesn't stop here, the list of positive benefits only goes on. Students are able to perceive their own actions in a light previously unavailable to them, because they never had a platform to observe their thoughts and feelings in this way. 

Allow me to explain in greater detail the exact style of meditation practices we've been working on, it's called Vipassana, and it literally means 'insight'. 

In this style of meditation, practitioners develop walking and sitting meditation practices; we also learn how to note sensations as they arise, these sensations are based on the six senses: hearing, smelling, seeing, tasting, feeling, and the ever so present 'thinking'. Students are encouraged to acknowledge these senses as they arise in the form of mental noting, for example when thinking distracts a practitioner away from their object of concentration, the practitioner notes "thinking, thinking, thinking", and then continues on with the practice. Through this practice of observing one point while walking or sitting, and noting distractions as they arise, we become more attuned to what is going on in the body and the mind, and through close observation insight into the nature of mind begins to arise.

It's impossible to concentrate and cultivate mindfulness so long as distractions are there. So what's the remedy? Give the mind only one task at a time to focus on, in other words the exact opposite of multi-tasking, which is what most of us are training our minds to do most of the time nowadays. 

This very specific method of Vipassana Meditation focuses on six walking steps in total, and twenty-eight touching points while sitting. Practitioners start with the basics in walking, acknowledging "right goes thus, left goes thus" as they slowly, gracefully, and silently walk. During seated practice we begin by observing the "rising, falling" sensations in the solar-plexus area, this phenomenon occurs naturally each time we breathe in and breathe out, our only job is to observe this action, uninterrupted.

At present our junior students are working on three step walking, and two touching points while sitting. Our grade seven to nine students are working on five step walking and two touching points while sitting. For anyone that knows this practice, you'll easily be able to understand that this is a remarkable success for young people to practice in this way, this type of discipline is challenging for even the most steadfast adult!

If you are a parent and would like to learn more about our meditation classes in the IEP department, please feel free to drop by and discuss these practices in greater detail with Ajarn Casey, better yet please come and join us the next time we have one of our meditation sessions!

Casey Gramaglia
Intensive English Programme Teacher

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