The practice of Vipassana or Insight Meditation
is the effort made by the meditator to understand
correctly the nature of the psycho-physical
phenomena taking place in his own body. Physical
phenomena are the things or objects which one
clearly perceives around one. The whole of one's
body that one clearly perceives constitutes a
group of material qualities (rupa). Psychical or
mental phenomena are acts of consciousness or
awareness (nama). These (nama-rupas) are clearly
perceived to be happening whenever they are seen,
heard, smelt, tasted, touched or thought of. We
must make ourselves aware of them by observing them
and noting thus: 'Seeing, seeing', 'hearing, hearing',
'smelling, smelling', 'tasting, tasting', 'touching,
touching', or 'thinking, thinking.'
Every time one sees. hears. smells. tastes,
touches, or thinks, one should make a note of the fact.
But in the beginning of one's practice, one cannot
make a note of every one of these happenings.
One should, therefore, begin with noting those
happenings which are conspicuous and easily perceivable.
With every act of breathing, the abdomen rises
and falls, which movement is always evident.
This is the material quality known as
vayodhatu (the element of motion). One should begin
by noting this movement, which may be done by
the mind intently observing the abdomen.
You will find the abdomen rising when you breathe
in, and falling when you breathe out. The rising
should be noted mentally as 'rising', and
the falling as 'falling'. If the movement is not
evident by just noting it mentally, keep touching
the abdomen with the palm of your hand. Do not
alter the manner of your breathing. Neither slow
it down, nor make it faster. Do not breathe
too vigorously, either. You will tire if you
change the manner of your breathing. Breathe
steadily as usual and note the rising and falling
of the abdomen as they occur. Note it mentally,
In vipassana meditation, what you name or say
doesn't matter. What really matters is to know
or perceive. While noting the rising of the
abdomen, do so from the beginning to the end of the
movement just as if you are seeing it with your eyes.
Do the same with the falling movement. Note
the rising movement in such a way that your
awareness of it is concurrent with the movement itself.
The movement and the mental awareness of it
should coincide in the same way as a stone thrown
hits the target. Similarly with the falling movement.
Your mind may wander elsewhere while you
are noting the abdominal movement. This must
also be noted by mentally saying 'wandering,
wandering.' When this has been noted once or twice,
the mind stops wandering, in which case you go
back to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen.
If the mind reaches somewhere, note as 'reaching,
reaching.' Then go back to the rising and
falling of the abdomen. If you imagine meeting
somebody, note as 'meeting, meeting.' Then back
to the rising and falling. If you imagine meeting
and talking to somebody, note as 'talking, talking.'
In short, whatever thought or reflection
occurs should be noted. If you imagine,
note as 'imagining'. If you think, 'thinking'.
If you plan, 'planning'. If you perceive,
'perceiving'. If you reflect, 'reflecting'.
If you feel happy,'happy'. If you feel bored,
'bored'. If you feel glad, 'glad'. If you feel
disheartened, 'disheartened'. Noting all these
acts of consciousness is called cittanupassana.
Because we fail to note these acts of consciousness,
we tend to identify them with a person or individual.
We tend to think that it is 'I' who is imagining,
thinking, planning, knowing (or perceiving).
We think that there is a person who from childhood
onwards has been living and thinking. Actually,
no such person exists. There are instead only
these continuing and successive acts of consciousness.
That is why we have to note these acts of
consciousness and know them for what they are.
That is why we have to note each and every act
of consciousness as it arises. When so noted, it
tends to disappear. We then go back to noting the rising
and falling of the abdomen.
This is an excerpt from:
PRACTICAL VIPASSANA MEDITATIONAL EXERCISES
by Ven Mahasi Sayadaw Agga Mahapandita U Sobhana
Buddhasasananuggaha Association, Rangoon, Myanmar.
First Printed December, 1978
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