We blunder through our days asleep, our lives a dream, the true nature of reality obscured. And why not? It seems so hard to pierce the veil of everyday life to get to something sublime. Where would you even start?

The beginning is simple. You notice how you walk. You notice your breath. 

That’s how you start Vipassana meditation. Also called insight meditation, Vipassana meditation trains the mind to notice sensations. From the simple act of observing your breath and your thoughts, your understanding can deepen. The idea is to get to the true nature of reality in which the self dissolves. And while that goal seems heady, it all begins with the basic act of breathing. Interested? The 2007 Utne Independent Press Award-winning Shambhala Sun is featuring a helpful step-by-step introduction from its archives by master Sayadaw U Pandita to get you started.

Brendan Mackie

1/2/2008 10:59:09 AM

Thank you! Other practices I find helpful: Sahaja yoga meditation, Iyengar yoga, tai chi, collaging, writing. I realize each is not the same as the other, but find certain 'doings' can focus my attention on being, and center me and before I know it I am breathing! And my head is clear! I also love walking, and must be outside a little bit each day...need the air and sunshine or rainshine or snowshine or whatever...My sister swears by gardening also. What I find most intriguing and important about these centering practices is that the world often looks fresher and I feel lighter when I finish.

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