Insight Meditation

Meditation is a process of shifting perspective, both in what we perceive and notice, and in the basis of our awareness that does the perceiving; it changes our subjective experience. While your subjective awareness and perceptions are individual and can’t be fully shared, the processes of setting up these shifts in perspective have been honed over centuries to be reproduceable, just as good science and engineering are reproduceable in the material world.

Whether you are thinking about beginning to meditate or currently meditate and want to take it further, there are a wide range of practices that you can use that fit where you are starting from, and what you want to get out of it. If you are just starting out, you may want beginning practices to help you feel happier and engage with others more effectively, or you may be looking for ways to better address stress, discomfort, or other conditions that keep you from being your best self.  Some of us have "an itch to scratch" in feeling there are secrets to life that we want to uncover, to experience deeper ways of being and perceiving. You may even have caught glimpses of this experience already, seemingly by accident, and whether fascinated or disconcerted, want to learn more of what it is and how to work with it. The good news is that there are well defined, time-tested practices for these.

Meditation practices fall into broad categories of geographic origin and approach. Most of the meditation practices originating from the Middle East (eg Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are devotional in nature, often taking the form of prayer. In contrast, some of the practices originating from Asia (particularly those derived from Buddhism) are often presented as secular, technical procedures for shifting to other states of mind or qualities of perception.

The meditation approaches we will share at Piedmont Healing and Defensive Arts begin with concentration training. Mindfulness practice builds on focused attention to quiet the mind, and from this begin to experience ourselves and our lives without reflexively evaluating and judging.  Advanced practices geared toward shifting beyond our usual perspectives begin with a deeper foundation of attention control to make the mind a reliable observer for new qualities of perception, awareness, and knowing.

Meditation is generally imagined as done while seated; but mindfulness and meditative benefits can also be pursued through walking and other meditative movements.

The "guided tour" that can start you out is called Pointing Out instruction, which is a teaching approach using interactive feedback between students and teacher so progress and difficulties are identified and instruction adjusted.  It’s well suited to modern western students, and in a seminar setting it’s very helpful to hear the experiences of other practitioners close to your own level and to learn from them. Later, as your practice advances, feedback can come at longer intervals through being followed (usually by Skype or by phone) by a qualified teacher, and you may benefit from sharing and encouragement by meeting with other local practitioners.

Classes and Events:

At Piedmont Healing and Defensive Arts we sponsor local weekend seminars in the Pointing Out style that introduce deep concentration training and some of the shifts in perspective that are taught in the Mahamudra practices of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

Pointing Out Way Weekend Seminar (date TBD).  This weekend seminar, led by John Churchill will be held at the Riversbend home studio in Warrenton, VA.  If you are interested in getting updates on this class, click here.