Learning Vipassana: My First Guided Meditation on Methods Podcast

I voice this podcast episode for Methods Podcast, which introduces the vipassana method of meditation.

Vipassana is my primary and preferred method of meditation. But that’s a strange and unfamiliar word for many people. It is a word from the Pali language that means something like “insight” or “clear seeing,” or seeing the “true nature of reality.”

It comes through the Buddhist tradition, and dates back millennia. I learned it first primarily through some books, such as Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana, Waking Up by Sam Harris, and 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I also attended a couple 10-day silent meditation retreats, one at the beautiful Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center, and the second with the Goenka Vipassana organization, which was more like an austere monastic course of instruction and initiation into vipassana, but was quite transformative for me. I believe Goenka was also a teacher of Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Dan Goleman, and Sharon Salzberg, who all helped bring this meditation technique to the West. Through this, and many hundreds of hours of meditation, I have come to deeply value this technique or “method” of meditation, which I do believe brings real insight into the Divine nature, even of God.

Which is why I was thrilled when my good friend Jory Pryor asked me if I would like to be the voice for a podcast episode on vipassana in a new podcast he helps produce called Methods. This podcast introduces many different contemplative practices from many different traditions in the style of a guided meditation, one method per episode, so you get direct practice of that style as you listen. It’s a great idea for a podcast, because there really are hundreds of different practices, and becoming familiar with them and finding one that works for you can be a gargantuan task.

I’m honored to be able to voice this episode on vipassana, which is the first guided meditation I have recorded. I’m not sure I have the voice for such guidings, but I gave it a go. The text was provided by Jory and Methods, which I reviewed. The episode is only 15 minutes long, and I think it is a great introduction to this traditional and popular form of meditation.

If you like this episode, I invite you to subscribe to the Methods podcast on Stitcher, Google Play Music, Apple Podcasts, or even in the Insight Timer app, if you use that for timing, logging, courses, and guided meditations. You may also follow Methods on Facebook.

Have a listen, and let me know what you think. Of course, this is only an introduction to vipassana, but really the instruction is quite simple, it is the practice that takes much time to master. I am far from mastering it myself. What questions or comments do you have about vipassana?

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6 thoughts on “Learning Vipassana: My First Guided Meditation on Methods Podcast

  1. Very interesting! Vipassana was my introduction as well, and I learned it from Mindfulness in Plain English, too. That’s a beautiful book, although I must admit that for a newcomer, you really have to read it twice. At least I did, anyway. And it made much more sense on the second go round, after I’d been practicing for awhile. I’ve since moved on to Self-Inquiry, as taught by Ramana Maharshi and others like him. I think that’s a better a fit for me, personally, but I’m glad mindfulness is becoming mainstream in the West. We need it.

    1. We’ve walked similar paths! I should probably go back and read it now that it’s been a few years, and my experience has deepened considerably since I first read it. I have great respect for Ramana Maharshi, and his teachings. I’m currently reading the Collected Works, which I’m borrowing from a friend. Very wise words.

      I do worry that mindfulness may be becoming Big Mac’ified in the West. I like this exchange with Karen Armstrong in an interview:

      “P: Often, in our culture, people treat yoga and meditation like a kind of spa treatment. Our practice of the precepts doesn’t keep pace with our practice of various techniques.
      Karen Armstrong: Absolutely. I saw a place in Toronto called the yoga lounge, next to a nail parlor. You could do a little yoga or meditation and hop in to have your nails done. This is not what yoga is.”

      Will this taint it, or is it an introduction point, an entry way, a “gateway drug,” to deeper realization? What do you think, Walt?

      1. Well, I would say we need mindfulness, there’s no doubt about that. But as Sadhguru says, when new things come to America, America tends to make those new things American. That means that we tend to extract from those new things what we like about them and disregard the rest. In my opinion, we don’t need an Americanized version of Eastern traditions, where we extract the pieces that agree with us, such as reduced stress, for example, and disregard the rest. We need to go beyond that into full blown awakening, and God-realization. As I understand it, that is what your blog is about. Gateway drugs, in this context at least, are good, but the deeper realization is what’s needed, I’d say.

        1. Well said, Walt! Yes, we are after full blown awakening, God-realization, Self-realization, the beatific vision, cosmic vision, the all-seeing eye, nirvana, moksha, salvation, exaltation, enlightenment, resurrection, liberation, redemption, rebirth, the apocalypse, seeing beyond the veil, ego death, theophany, Christophany, realization of Buddha-nature, non-symbolic experience, mystical experience, nonduality, oneness, at-one-ment, unitive consciousness, extraordinary well-being, transpersonal experience, self-transcendence, stage 6 faith, devekut, fana, calling & election, second comforter, etc. This is what we are after here. This is what I believe all the spiritual and mystical traditions and contemplative practices are guiding us towards, and which I believe I have glimpsed and tasted. I drink from these living waters, and eat of this living bread. I think we should strive for nothing less in life, for it is the culmination and meaning of Life of Love itself. Hopefully the popularization of mindfulness in the West will help lead many to these ends. That is my prayer.

      2. Thank you for this meditation, Bryce, and for introducing me to methods. I found it very helpful.
        As to the above comments, I always remember Richard Rohr’s statement: “Everything is sacred, everything belongs.” When something becomes a movement, it definitely loses its sacred foundation, but I think that’s just part of the evolutionary process moving mankind to higher consciousness. It gives people a place to start, and an awareness of something good. Many are just not ready to take it to the next level.

        1. You’re welcome, Amy. 🙂 I’m glad it was helpful.

          Good point. I love Rohr’s statement about how everything is included. Sometimes, or oft times, we can’t see the reason for things, but it all belongs in one way or another, as hard as that is for us to understand. Sometimes deeper awareness of spirit and divine consciousness may start from very simple beginnings, and grow from there. The seed is planted.

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