If you can do something with the breath, you will suddenly turn to the present. If you can do something with breath, you will attain to the source of life. If you can do something with breath, you can transcend time and space. If you can do something with breath, you will be in the world and also beyond it.
Vipassana is the meditation that has made more people in the world enlightened than any other, because it is the very essence. All other meditations have the same essence, but in different forms; something non-essential is also joined with them. But vipassana is pure essence. You cannot drop anything out of it and you cannot add anything to improve it. Vipassana is such a simple thing that even a small child can do it. In fact, the smallest child can do it better than you, because he is not yet filled with the garbage of the mind; he is still clean and innocent. Vipassana can be done in three ways—you can choose which one suits you the best. The first is: awareness of your actions, your body, your mind, your heart. Walking, you should walk with awareness. Moving your hand, you should move with awareness, knowing perfectly that you are moving the hand. You can move it without any consciousness, like a mechanical thing you are on a morning walk; you can go on walking without being aware of your feet. Be alert of the movements of your body. While eating, be alert to the movements that are needed for eating. Taking a shower, be alert to the coolness that is coming to you, the water falling on you and the tremendous joy of it—just be alert. It should not go on happening in an unconscious state. And the same about your mind. Whatever thought passes on the screen of your mind, just be a watcher. Whatever emotion passes on the screen of your heart, just remain a witness—don’t get involved, don’t get identified, don’t evaluate what is good, what is bad; that is not part of your meditation. The second form is breathing, becoming aware of breathing. As the breath goes in, your belly starts rising up, and as the breath goes out, your belly starts settling down again. So the second method is to be aware of the belly: its rising and falling. Just the very awareness of the belly rising and falling…and the belly is very close to the life sources because the child is joined with the mother’s life through the navel. Behind the navel is his life’s source. So, when the belly rises up, it is really the life-energy, the spring of life that is rising up and falling down with each breath. That too is not difficult, and perhaps may be even easier because it is a single technique. In the first, you have to be aware of the body, you have to be aware of the mind, you have to be aware of your emotions, moods. So it has three steps. The second approach has a single step: just the belly, moving up and down. And the result is the same. As you become more aware of the belly, the mind becomes silent, the heart becomes silent, the moods disappear. And the third is to be aware of the breath at the entrance, when the breath goes in through your nostrils. Feel it at that extreme—the other polarity from the belly—feel it from the nose. The breath going in gives a certain coolness to your nostrils. Then the breath going out breath going in, breath going out. That too is possible. It is easier for men than for women. The woman is more aware of the belly. Most of the men don’t even breathe as deep as the belly. Their chest rises up and falls down, because a wrong kind of athletics prevails over the world. Certainly it gives a more beautiful form to the body if your chest is high and your belly is almost non-existent. Man has chosen to breathe only up to the chest, so the chest becomes bigger and bigger and the belly shrinks down. That appears to him to be more athletic. Around the world, except in Japan, all athletes and teachers of athletes emphasize to breathe by filling your lungs, expanding your chest, and pulling the belly in. The ideal is the lion whose chest is big and whose belly is very small. So be like a lion; that has become the rule for athletic gymnasts, and the people who have been working with the body. Japan is the only exception where they don’t care that the chest should be broad and the belly should be pulled in. It needs a certain discipline to pull the belly in; it is not natural. Japan has chosen the natural way, hence you will be surprised to see a Japanese statue of Buddha. That is the way you can immediately discriminate whether the statue is Indian or Japanese. The Indian statues of Gautam Buddha have a very athletic body; the belly is very small and the chest is very broad. But the Japanese Buddha is totally different; his chest is almost silent, because he breathes from the belly, but his belly is bigger. It doesn’t look very good—because the idea prevalent in the world is so old, but breathing from the belly is more natural, more relaxed. In the night it happens when you sleep; you don’t breathe from the chest, you breathe from the belly. That’s why the night is such a relaxed experience. After your sleep, in the morning you feel so fresh, so young, because the whole night you were breathing naturally…you were in Japan These are the two points: if you are afraid that breathing from the belly and being attentive to its rising and falling will destroy your athletic form…men may be more interested in that athletic form. Then for them it is easier to watch near the nostrils where the breath enters. Watch, and when the breath goes out, watch. These are the three forms. Any one will do. And if you want to do two forms together, you can do two forms together; then the effort will become more intense. If you want to do all three forms together, you can do all three forms together. Then the possibilities will be quicker. But it all depends on you, whatever feels easy. Remember: easy is right. As meditation becomes settled and mind silent, the ego will disappear. You will be there, but there will be no feeling of ‘I.’ Then the doors are open. Just wait with a loving longing, with a welcome in the heart for that great moment—the greatest moment in anybody’s life—of enlightenment. It comes… it certainly comes. It has never delayed for a single moment. Once you are in the right tuning, it suddenly explodes in you, transforms you. The old man is dead and the new man has arrived.
Find a reasonably comfortable and alert position to sit for 40 to 60 minutes. Back and head should be straight, eyes closed and breathing normal. Stay as still as possible, only changing position if it is really necessary. While sitting, the primary object is to be watching the rise and fall of the belly, slightly above the navel, caused by breathing in and out. It is not a concentration technique, so while watching the breath, many other things will take your attention away. Nothing is a distraction in vipassana, so when something else comes up, stop watching the breath, pay attention to whatever is happening until it’s possible to go back to your breath. This may include thoughts, feelings, judgments, body sensations, impressions from the outside world, etc. It is the process of watching that is significant, not so much what you are watching, so remember not to become identified with whatever comes up; questions or problems may just be seen as mysteries to be enjoyed!
This is a slow, ordinary walk based on the awareness of the feet touching the ground. You can walk in a circle or a line of 10 to 15 steps going back and forth, inside or out of doors. Eyes should be lowered to the ground a few steps ahead. While walking, the attention should go to the contact of each foot as it touches the ground. If other things arise, stop paying attention to the feet, notice what else took your attention and then return to the feet. It is the same technique as in sitting—but watching a different primary object. You can walk for 20 to 30 minutes.
Throwing things out
Whenever you feel that the mind is not tranquil—tense, worried, chattering, anxious, constantly dreaming—do one thing: first exhale deeply. Always start by exhaling. Exhale deeply; as much as you can, throw the air out. Throwing out the air, the mood will be thrown out too, because breathing is everything. And then expel the breath as far as possible. Pull the belly in and retain for a few seconds; don’t inhale. Let the air be out, and don’t inhale for a few seconds. Then allow the body to inhale. Inhale deeply, as much as you can. Again stop for a few seconds. The gap should be the same as when you retain the breath out—if you retain it out for three seconds, retain the breath in for three seconds. Throw it out and hold for three seconds; take it in and hold for three seconds. But it has to be thrown out completely. Exhale totally and inhale totally, and make a rhythm. Breathe in, hold; breathe out, hold. Breathe in, hold; breathe out, hold. Immediately you will feel a change coming into your whole being. The mood will go; a new climate will enter into you.