At the time, I learnt the Vipassana/Insight meditation practice, it was taught, with all good intentions, to be the cure to suffering. The experience is in the affirmative primarily due to silencing the mind, seeing and learning to be through meditation. This leads to plain and simple seeing and knowing. Add to this mix intention and one is on one’s way. Experience also gives the understanding that much foreknowledge as well as a healthy ego and psychological development are prerequisites for this undertaking.
When this is not the case, the development is not in balance. We have to experience the vicissitudes of life in order to understand those and develop healthy defence mechanisms that allow us to be able to face the world and achieve some success in negotiating our way through life. In others, have a strong and healthy sense of self and success on many psychological and social levels is a prerequisite for further development and maturity.
A child needs to know it will be protected and not harmed does not mean that a parent will not protect its child under all circumstances. We have to meet the relative reality on its own terms while doing the least amount of harm as possible. We play different roles at different times with the awareness that we are playing a necessary role at this point in time. There are times when it is inevitable to do some harm for protection. The child needs to grow up in the womb of safety and not through a paralysis that a novice in Vipassana may experience in the name of not harming. A parent with a healthy ego would know this and therefore a person with a fragile sense of self is not psychologically equipped to expect Vipassana to do the trick.
In the absence of viable and strong networks, most of us are on our own. The wisdom of traditions and cultural bonds are enfeebled in the United Sates. We rely on our own understanding. And if we are not an active learner and negotiator in the world, Vipassana can be used as a bypass and therefore accomplishing very little. Suffice it to say that healthy development is essential prior to undertaking this work. This has not been underlined in the Vipassana work I encountered at various centers.
In this culture, psychologists and therapists have become essential to bridge the gap of extended wise family members. In the Vipassana tradition of Theravada Buddhism, teachers are often finding themselves in the multiroles of being a therapist and a teacher or and as well as an elder. There is a deep seated need for all of this in the face of the false myth of individualism.
Somatic experiencing is an ancient teaching, its roots lie in the First Foundation of Mindfulness, i.e. the body. Regular retreats and especially long term retreats assist in releasing the trauma in the body slowly but surely. Somatic experiencing expedites the process through the use of a skilled clinician.
Vipassana is also not just a sitting practice. It asks of us to engage on a multimodality level through establishing a discipline that includes a routine of retreat work, some amount of psychological work, journaling with the aim of unlayering, physical exercise, learning self care, proper nutrition, fasting, essential medicines including antidepressants if needed, doing some body work be it yoga or qigong or something akin, lectio divino, honoring our true non-commercialized elders in this tradition, honoring our fallible and just human parents, listening, forgiving, bearing witness, creating sacred ceremony, visualizing and improvising as well as engaging in assisting the world and mother earth with a deep sense of the perception of the divine in all of life.
Honoring, reverence and virtue are at the core of this tradition. This is not fully intuitive. These qualities have to be cultivated in all its dimensions. Understanding and absorbing divinity in one’s bones and approaching all of life with reverence is to be embodied. And in its finality, the qualities asks of us to go beyond the small sense and infuse them into all the other spheres of our life so that we can truly surrender to growth, maturity and freedom. It is all here, are you open to receiving it now?