Lotus Vine Journeys promotes throughout our retreats, a technique known as Insight Meditation (Vipassana in the Buddhist Tradition).
This is a simple, heart-opening technique grounded in body awareness which has been practiced in Asia for over 2,500 years.
Vipassana is a word that means clear seeing. This is a simple, heart-opening technique grounded in body -centered awareness. All insight meditation begins with the focusing of attention on the breath and the body, which calms and concentrates the mind. It allows one to see through the mind's conditioning and thereby to live more fully in the present moment. There are a number of aspects of insight meditation that we practice as we develop greater levels of wisdom and compassion.
Metta is the Pali term for friendship, goodwill or loving-kindness. During our retreats we develop Metta as a meditation practice, which cultivates our natural capacity for an open and loving heart, towards ourselves and all other beings. We will also develop the practices of compassion, joy and equanimity. Metta practice leads to greater acceptance of ourselves and others, revealing our fundamental connectedness to all life.
Self- compassion Practice
The development of self -compassion is the foundation for an open and loving heart. Learning how to respond wisely to ourselves during difficult times is profound training.
Self- compassion allows us to respond to the suffering that we encounter within and in the world we live. Loving ourselves and opening to our joy and our sorrow helps us to become more caring, altruistic and loving human beings.
The 5 trainings Practice
The Five Trainings Practice is known for "Planting wholesome seeds of happiness". There are five important areas that can be helpful to point out so that we can become more aware of the seeds we are sowing.
We always want to plant the seeds of love, so remembering and reflecting on these five trainings is a very important practice. These five areas are where challenges often arise so compassion and mindfulness are helpful.
1. Non-harming/Non killing - Everything that is alive on earth be it people, animals, insects, plants and trees all seek happiness and wish to avoid pain and suffering. In time we learn to see this, and we intuitively begin to care for everything around us that’s alive. As the heart opens wider we become gentle, patient and respectful towards all living things from the tiniest insects to the largest animals. With this in mind we make protecting living things are practice and we avoid intentionally killing anything. With non-killing and non-harming as our practice we naturally begin planting the loving seeds of non-violence.
2. Non- Stealing - Another area that is important to consider is around taking anything that is not offered to us freely. This is really about cultivating the mind of generosity instead of greed. People taking things and stealing from others is a source of great suffering and we hurt ourselves when we take something belonging to another. It’s time we let go of sowing the seeds of greed and begin practicing letting go and generosity. There is so much beauty in giving and it’s the source of all of our good.
The Buddha once said, “If you knew the power of generosity you would never let one meal go by without sharing it with someone”. Planting seeds of love and abundance comes through the practice of generosity.
3. Wise Speech
Our speech and the words we use are incredibly influential inwardly and outwardly. For example, people who listen to hours a day of hate filled, talk radio are deeply influenced and affected negatively. Words used in a destructive way can cause a lot of harm and even incite people to violence. Words used in a loving way can heal and bring people together.
As we grow on the path we always want to speak honestly whenever possible so that we give others the gift of the truth. Lying and dishonesty always creates confusion for ourselves and others. Additionally, try at all times to avoid harsh, angry or abusive speech, instead develop the practice of speaking kindly using words that unite people and that is helpful to others. Working with our speech is an excellent place to observe how we sow and reap the seeds we plant. Understanding how to use our voice is a big aspect of the school of life and there is so much to learn in this area.
4. Mindfulness of sexuality
It’s good to practice mindfulness around sexual energy because when we don’t’ we can easily hurt ourselves and others. I’m sure we all have a story, some tragedy or heartbreak that occurred by not being mindful or just acting from a place of confusion. This is very common no matter what age you are. It’s very important to consider your motivations carefully before acting on sexual energy. The expression of sexual energy can be a beautiful demonstration of love and compassion or it can lead to pain and confusion. Again the seeds we plant in this area can be so powerful. Try to let your intentions stay rooted in love and compassion in this area of life.
Being honest and mindful about your relationship to drugs and alcohol is another area of important consideration. No one can tell you what the right relationship is to intoxicants it’s something you have to decide for yourself.
Some people are fine with one glass of wine, and for others it leads to three bottles—not so helpful. Most of the time people use intoxicants to escape from the present moment and to numb the mind in some way. It’s important to use wisdom and ask questions, such as, “is this truly helping my life or hurting it” and what kind of seeds am I planting? Letting go of the use of harmful intoxicants is a process that can take time being compassionate with yourself is the only wise response.