Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pay attention to the chain saw

Last night Trev and I went to the second of five classes on insight meditation taught by Gil Fronsdal. This one was on mindfulness of the body. The idea in this form of Vipassana meditation is that nothing is a distraction--neither noise nor pain. So if you feel pain while you're sitting you pay attention to the pain and try to distinguish the feeling itself from your reaction to or commentary on the feeling. Similarly, Gil said that if you're meditating and suddenly your neighbor fires up the chainsaw (he must live in our building), you pay attention to the sound, rather than fighting to ignore it. I guess this explains why there are more than a few noisy meditators at the Insight Meditation Center--they have permission. Whereas at the Green Gulch Zendo, they might not be hit with a paddle, but they would feel shame. Still I think the mindfulness way is better unless you live on a mountaintop (and even then you'd have the howling wind). This way teaches you how to handle pain and discomfort in all parts of your life, and it frees you from getting so irritated with the neighbors, though that part remains to be tested.

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