Open Monitoring Meditation: Vipassana

Course Description

In this course, Tina gives an overview of the “Open Monitoring” category of meditation, in particular, the Vipassana practice as it is taught in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism. Vipassana is also known as Insight Meditation and utilizes our capacity to investigate, to more deeply understand phenomena so that we can develop equanimity in being with things as they are. Investigating our experience can also potentially lead to perceiving phenomena at their ultimate level. Vipassana is one of the most widely practiced types of meditation, but many people don’t know its full scope, or over-focus only on the breath—which is only one small aspect of the full Vipassana practice. In this workshop, Tina describes how Vipassana fits into the four categories of practices, she outlines the different lineages and styles of Vipassana and how they are different, and she progressively describes the different categories of objects one can focus on in Vipassana. She provides a progressive series of meditation Practice Sessions that include the different styles of Vipassana as well as objects, culminating in “choiceless awareness” that includes the many styles and objects of Vipassana, as well as Tina’s addition of the “non-doing” practice that provides a bridge to Dzogchen. She talks about how mindfulness relates to Vipassana and culminates the workshop by discussing ultimate insight into the three fundamental characteristics of existence that can lead to awakening, as well as cessation.

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Course Lessons

1. How Vipassana fits in the 4 Neuroscience categories

In this introductory lesson, Tina Rasmussen provides an overview of the open monitoring practice of Vipassana and how it fits into the four neuroscience categories of meditation.

2. Vipassana Practice Benefits

Vipassana practice allows us to see through the sense of self, brings us into the present moment, and creates the capacity to handle pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant experiences. Here, Tina sets the larger context of practice, by discussing the many aspects that are compelling about Vipassana meditation and why one would want to undertake this practice.

3. Sila, Samatha and Vipassana

Sila, Samatha, and Vipassana are the stages of Buddhist practice. Rigpa/Dzogchen, leading to self-transcendence, is the last one. Here, Tina discusses how Vipassana fits into the overall Buddhist practice path.

4. Vipassana and Mindfulness

Mindfulness just means being aware of an object of attention, which is needed in all practices. In Vipassana, or insight meditation, we are being mindful of whatever arises or is predominant in our awareness. In this lesson, Tina provides a description of Vipassana meditation and discusses how this relates to the term “mindfulness.”

5. Differences between Samatha and Vipassana

In this lesson, Tina contrasts Vipassana meditation with the focused attention meditation of Samatha, and describes the differences between them.

6. Guided Vipassana Meditation #1: Breath and Posture

In this guided vipassana meditation, Tina provides basic meditation instructions using the breath as an anchor, as well as posture instructions and gives a guided meditation on Vipassana.

7. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

There are four main categories of objects of meditation we can pay attention to in practice: Body, Mind Vedana (Feeling tone), and Dharmas. Here Tina describes these categories, including the body (breath, body sensations, sound and the other sense doors), the mind (emotions and thoughts), “vedana” (feeling tone of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral), and “dharmas” which include the many lists found in Buddhism.

8. Vipassana Styles in Various Lineages

Tina describes the many different styles of Vipassana that are taught in the various lineages, including the Burmese Goenka and Mahasi Sayadaw lineages, the Thai Forest Ajahn Chah lineage, and Tibetan Samatha with Support and theoretical Vipassana found in Vajrayana Buddhism. She places particular attention on how and when to use “noting” from the Burmese tradition versus “noticing” from the Thai Forest tradition.

9. Guided Vipassana Meditation #2: Body Awareness

In this guided meditation, Tina provides meditation instruction that includes breath and different kinds of body awareness as objects, in a guided meditation on Vipassana.

10. Working with hindrances and defilements

In this lesson, Tina describes the hindrances and defilements and how they are different, as well as how to work with them in Vipassana practice, which is different than the other categories of meditation.

11. Guided Vipassana Meditation #3: Walking Meditation

In this guided meditation, Tina provides walking meditation instruction for Vipassana.

12. Thai Forest Noticing; Bare Attention and Choiceless Awareness

Tina provides an overview of how to use the Thai Forest “noticing” style of Vipassana, and how this relates to bare attention and is supportive in leading to “choiceless awareness” that includes all possible objects that can arise in awareness.

13. Guided Vipassana Meditation #4: Mind & Vedana

Tina provides meditation instruction that builds upon breath and body awareness, to include mind (emotions and thoughts) as objects, as well as vedana (pleasant / unpleasant / neutral) in a guided meditation on Vipassana.

14. What is Insight?

While many people think “Insight” meditation refers to having psychological insights, Tina highlights that the technical description of “insight” is much deeper and more ultimate, and refers to the “Three Characteristics of Existence” in Buddhism: dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), anicca (impermanence) and anatta (no-self / not-self). She describes both the relative level of understanding of each of these, as well as the ultimate level of perception that can lead to awakening, and how these can be experienced in Vipassana.

15. Guided Vipassana Meditation #5: All Objects, Choiceless Awareness and Non-doing

In this culminating guided Vipassana meditation, Tina provides instruction that includes all objects of meditation, building to “choiceless awareness.” This includes breath and body awareness, mind (emotions and thoughts) vedana (pleasant / unpleasant / neutral), and the hindrances/defilements. She also refers to both the “noting” style and the “noticing” style in working with the various objects.

16. Cessation

Also known as “ego death”, cessation can happen when there is disidentification with self, and absorbed by the ultimate ground of reality. Tina describes the culminating possibility of Vipassana, the cessation of consciousness that can lead to the stages of awakening as it is known in Vipassana.

17. Closing

Parting words from Tina related to this Vipassana course.

Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen is a meditation teacher who leads retreats and offers spiritual guidance and mentoring to practitioners worldwide. Her mission as a teacher is to foster awakening and its embodiment in worldly life through the application of authentic, rigorous Buddhist and modern practices.

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