« As there is a myriad of individuals, there is a multitude of meditation techniques».
Indeed, each one of us is unique, with different inclinations and needs. In this spirit, Indigourlaub offers a selection of meditation retreats which introduce to different approaches, all taking roots in Zen tradition, Vipassana/Insight tradition, or more recently in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction).
« We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains » – Li Po We find the first trace of Zen in China, and later in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. For this reason, different schools exist. In the west the most well knowns are the japanese Soto Zen, and the Rinzai Zen. Although the word « zen » is very often used for advertizing all sorts of things in our modern world, its real essence is about meeting the present moment without concepts in its simple true nature. That is why words can hardly describe the nature of Zen. At the heart of it, we find sitting meditation with emphasis on the posture. Zen meditation is really about simplicity, and does not require too much instruction. As a matter of fact, it is more about letting sensations, thoughts, emotions coming and going without doing anything. It is about letting the body and the mind settle. Another aspect of Zen, is the koan practice. A simple short sentence given to the practitioner in order to provoke a great sense of existencial doubt, which leads to awakening. A sense of aestheticism and beauty is greatly represented in zen japanese gardens, but also with the tea ceremony, poetry (Haiku) or the Ikebana flower compositions.
VIPASSANA / INSIGHT
“By simply observing and allowing, we are working with ourselves, rather than resisting what is beyond our ability to control” – E.Rosenbaum Vipassana is a Pali word meaning « see things as they are ». Its practice is central in Theravada buddhism, and is probably one of the most ancient indian meditation practices. We can find many different schools in most south asian countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos. Vipassana teaches us how to pay attention to what is happening in every moment of our experience. We learn to become familiar, with physical sensations, thoughts, emotions. We discover how we tend to grasp to what we like or react to what we dislike. And in doing so, we learn how to let go. Traditionally, when practicing Vipassana, we learn to cultivate two qualities – concentration and enquiry. Concentration leads the mind to be more focused, open and stable. The object of focus is usually the breath, but it can be extended to sound, or body for example. Enquiry is the act of looking deeply to the nature of our experience. It allows us to see with more clarity what is happening within the body, the mind. These two qualities combined together, help us to respond to whatever we experience in a more spacious, compassionate and wise way. It slowly leads us to not always be taken by the flow of automatic responses, reactions, and patterns that usually are painful.
MBSR – MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION
« Just by relaxing our minds, creativity can surface. We get a new angle on the people and problems in our life » – Cheryl Wilfong Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program founded by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It was first developed in the medical field in order to regulate stress and difficult emotions. It is based on the training of mindfulness meditation, yoga, body scanning, and its integration in the everyday life. During retreats, participants will learn to explore mental, physical and emotional mechanisms that lead to stress. This training helps to establish oneself in the present moment, to develop inner resources, to be more grounded. It helps to see with more clarity what are the conditions that make stress arise. In this case, meditation leads to enlarge the view we have on things, situations, and about ourselves. It teaches us to engage with life in a different way. Although MBSR is born out of buddhist traditions, it remains free from any religious beliefs and dogmas.