Meditation has been something I’ve done since 2008, so a good 8 years now. I started out with teaching myself how to meditate while living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I would lay down, with ear plugs in, and focus on one word, and then just keep going back to it it. This was effective and was a great start.
Vipassana was introduced into my world in early 2009 when I ended up staying about 2 months at the Vipassana Centre in North Fork, California. I had returned from Brazil and was seriously needing to find my own centre, funny that North Fork just happens to be the exact centre of California too. All so very fitting. In Vipassana, specifically in a 10 day silent meditation course, you think of nothing. For the first 3 days you focus only on your breath, narrowing it down the little triangle under your nose. Then for the next 7, the whole practice is scanning the body from head to toe, toe to head, and spending time on the painful/hard/heavy places before moving on. Then the very last 24 hours, Metta gets introduced which is like the salve after doing this major work. Jetta is all about loving kindness. The best way I found for practicing Metta was to focus on myself being vibrant, healthy, in a place that I have been, or an imagined state of being where I am full of happiness. After I really feel that, then I would think about others in the same way, imagining them full of health, being so vibrant, and with the biggest smiles ever. I would think about Goenka the teacher, I would think of dear friends, I would think about family, and then people I have had challenges with in the same light, then I would think of people I have seen but have never actually spoken to, because loving kindness extends to everyone always. It’s a lovely practice. When doing it all together in a single “sit” you start for a few minutes on your breath, then move to scanning the body as the bulk of the practice, then at the end a few minutes of Metta. Any time the mind wanders, just bring it back, always bring it back. We would sit like this for hours on end for days at a day. Overall I have sat more than 50 days in silence like this, and have served on courses where I have meditated 6 or more hours a day while serving others. It was the ultimate reset and what I needed. I did the majority of this kind of meditation from 2009 until 2011 when I had moved to Australia.
I have kept the scanning part of Vipassana very much with me even if I haven’t sat in the centre, it just became a way of life, even though I certainly never sat the two hours a day they recommend after leaving. That was too much for me outside of the centre world.