Focus your entire attention – your entire attention – on the area, the area above the upper lip below the nostrils.
Observe. Observe the sensations caused by the breath moving over this area as you breathe in and out, calmly.
Calmly, patiently and persistently. Patiently and persistently.
A ten-day vipassana course starts out with the teaching of anapana-meditation, a technique which allows one to gain control over the mind, and sharpen its attention to enable observation on a more subtle yet purely physical level.
My own mind, as I experienced, is extremely wild and stubborn, only interested in doing what it wants to be doing, regardless of whether or not that works towards my own wellbeing. As the course moved on to teach the actual vipassana technique – in which you have to sit still for at least an hour while you let your attention move through your entire body in a systematic way – I would still get incredibly distracted. I would have to plea with my mind to please shut the fuck up, and was amazed to realise that it was devising the most insane tricks to keep me from making progress as much as possible. I figured that my mind does not actually belong to me; I have to make it mine, tame it, shape it. I’m afraid I will need much more practice in that…
Vipassana meditation is commendable. It was developed by the Buddha Gotama, but it is strictly non-religious. I cannot stress this point enough: any person from any background is able to learn the technique and gain from it. Gain an understanding – if not through experience than at least on a deeper intellectual level – that everything is constantly changing, and that is simply the way it is.
My sole remaining regret in all of this, is that I chose to take the course this year instead of last year. Perhaps I would’ve been able to share this knowledge with my friend J before he had to die with a face twisted in pain and frustration. And anger. Anger that he had to die, when there are so many other people out there wasting away their lives while he was so ready to take on his. And wasn’t allowed to, for some strange reason no one could comprehend nor explain. I could’ve told him his only option was to live until he’d die, instead I was clueless in the face of his desperation.
But then again, what do I know about living with the knowledge and the full, actual realisation that my life is going to end?
But even that will also change one day.
If you want to know more about vipassana meditation / where to take courses: www.dhamma.org. All courses are free of charge, including food and accommodation, and are run by volunteers + donations.