whymatt

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Understanding vipassana meditation

1) Slowing the flood

The ability to calm the mind and concentrate is essential. Without this, one remains involved in the rushing pattern of affect perception and judgment, and there is no possibility of seeing the process and ultimately changing it. This ability is trained by having one maintain awareness of a neutral mental process, which serves as an anchor that one continually returns to. Gradually one becomes aware of the subtle pattern of affective judgments and can distinctly observe them.

Is this true? Do we need to "slow the flood"? I would contend that slowing the flood does not necessarily allow us to become aware of our thoughts and the judgments we have of them. Awareness is not dependent upon speed. Furthermore, attempts to slow our mind create an artificial mind - a mind that is being 'observed' and therefore behaves as though 'under observation. So, even if we do become aware of this 'observed' mind, we aren't becoming aware of how our mind actually functions, so we aren't developing a useful awareness - an awareness that allows us to see how we actually operate.

Instead, a more effective strategy may be to meditate without any need for all this self-censorship, this anchoring or slowing. Rather, we simply spend some time in a kind of reverie, just letting out attention move quite naturally, from thought, to emotion, to sound, to feeling, to thought and so on. Then, after some time, we see what we can recall. What happened? What do you remember? In this way we get to recollect what 'actually' goes on in our mind. Then, because we've reflected upon this, we are able to see more clearly our judgments and affective states, in real time.