Friday, August 20, 2010

The Experiential Platform

A large part of vipassana practice is enticing the mind into creating habitual thoughts based on some present-moment experience. Here's what that means...

We purposefully sit still and be quiet, then direct our attention to a present- moment object, usually the feeling of the breath, and returning the attention to that object whenever the mind is caught wandering. After a while, the mind is sufficiently concentrated to then move the spotlight of attention to other objects as they arise (e.g., sounds, body sensations, or thoughts). We can then perceive these objects in the same way the breath is perceived: as events that we can participate in and observe.

In this way, we are building what I call an "experiential platform" from which we can observed and participate in these events. From the perspective of this platform, we can see more clearly how the mind reacts to the events as they arise and continue. Segal, Teasdale, and Williams, in the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy manual, compare this process to a cat who is sitting, watching a mouse hole waiting for the mouse to appear. The cat is our present-moment awareness, and the mouse is the mind going through its habitual reactions to things.


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