@Arthur Jacomelli, what I write here is what Vipassana is like in mindfulness of in and out breathing (anapanasati), as in the earlier post @Dhammadhatu has touched on what the scriptures say on this. What I write is what I have learnt from my teacher. Before getting into the subject proper, firstly it is very important to remember that the truth and meaning of Dhamma becomes a private experience by the wise only when there is insight or Vipassana. But Vipassana depends on ones level of concentration (Samadhi). And samadhi depends on Samma-ditthi (acceptance of the Four Noble Truths). Thus, everything in Dhamma is connected. The Buddha spoke in diverse ways, only of one thing and one thing alone – dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.
The Blessed One regularly repeated the phrase, “Atapi – sampajano satima vineyya loke abijjha domanassam.” Satipatthana means the setting up of mindfulness. There are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled in establishing mindfulness.
Atapi is ardent and continuous exertion and perseverance for the development of concentration and deliverance from defilements.
Sampajana means clear comprehension for deliverance from defilements, wrong views and perceptions.
Satima is mindfulness to focus the mind on the anapanasati, to the exclusion of all other thoughts and to fix the mind there.
Vineyya loke abijjha domanassam - Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind are the world. The world as experienced from these faculties, is continually correlating with the world of form, sound, smell, taste, tangibles, and mental objects. Interaction with the external world normally creates defilements like greed and distress. Therefore, we must tame and restrain this greed and distress,
Vipassana is a method to investigate with insight, by analyzing aggregates, material elements, sense spheres, etc. In Supreme Buddha’s Dhamma (Ananda Sutta, Girimananda Sutta), it is clearly explained how mindfulness of in and out breathing is developed and pursued so as to bring the four foundations of mindfulness to their culmination. When first developing mindfulness of in and out breathing, the meditator discerns the differences of his breathing, and remains focused on the breath. This is kayanupassana. Anapanasati (mindfulness of in and out breathing) is a form of kayanupassana (contemplation of the body).
Thereafter, he discerns the differences of the mind as he trains himself to breathe in and out sensitive to rapture and pleasure. Thus, he is experiencing feeling and perception. Further, perceiving the differences (of feeling and perception in his mind), he trains himself to breathe in and out calming mental formations. At that point, he remains focused on feelings (vedananupassana) – ardent, alert, and mindful, with continuous exertion for deliverance from mental defilements (atapi) and from clear comprehension (sampajano). Some people become elated when they get the feeling of happiness and bliss to the body and mind. A mind that is obsessed by elation cannot concentrate. Concentration, rapturous joy, calm, and peace of mind and body, are causally dependent; they are conditioned results.
This is how mindfulness of in and out breathing brings the contemplation of body and contemplation of feeling to their culmination. Once he trained himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure, he will now develop equanimity – the result of a calm concentrated mind. Without clinging to the gladdening of the mind by calming; without being scattered; and without being obsessed by sense desire, ill will or sloth and torpor, he trains himself. . By concentrating on anapanasati to a higher degree, he brings the cittanupassana to its culmination. He will now develop dhammanupassana (contemplation of mind objects).
Dhammanupassana (contemplation of mind objects) needs time and regular practice. We cannot properly analyze ourselves without first practising a meditation. Other meditations that will help in this regard is the meditation on repulsiveness (asubha), the meditation on loving kindness (metta), the concentration of reflection on material elements (dhatumanasikara), meditation on the extraordinary qualities of the Supreme Buddha (Buddhanussati).
Now, he trains himself to breathe in contemplating impermanence, and he trains himself to breathe out contemplating impermanence. His effort, mindfulness and concentration are now being directed towards focusing on impermanence. He is contemplating on impermanence within anapanasati. He can see the impermanent nature of his own breath in its rise and fall; the impermanence of his body; and the impermanent nature of the pleasant feeling and perception that he experienced. The recognition of perception is called sañña (perception) which is also subject to change as it is conditioned by contact. Perception changes due to impermanence of contact.
Perception is followed by sankhara (mental formations). If the mental factor was directed to a certain matter, on that occasion there is volitional activity, and this is called sankhara. Here, he observes the impermanence of the mental formation with the change of contact. All these are based on the activities of the mind. Now he understands every aspect in this life process which was considered as self (form, feeling, perception and formation); or anything pertaining to a self. He has real wisdom to see things as they really are.
Finally, he sees the impermanent nature of all that has been cognized (the rise and fall of breath, rapture, joy, feelings, and perceptions). It is through this insight that the true nature of the five aggregates of clinging is understood and seen in the light of impermanence:
material form (rupa) derived from the four great elements,
feeling (vedana) that is conditioned by contact,
perception (sañña) that is conditioned by contact,
mental formations (sankhara) that is conditioned by contact, and
consciousness (viññana) that is conditioned by mentality-materiality (nama-rupa)
Now, based on the impermanent breath, he understands the impermanent nature of the five aggregates of clinging. He realizes that whatever is impermanent and subject to change, is suffering (dukkha). And, whatever is impermanent is without self (anatta). It is through this insight that the true nature of the aggregates is clearly seen; in the light of three signs (ti-lakkhana): impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and without self (anatta). With this realization, he understands clearly that what is impermanent is not worth clinging to. If his mind was obsessed by the five hindrances, he would not be able to concentrate successfully on an object of a wholesome nature, and he would not be able to avoid clinging.
Now, he focuses on cessation. It is the cessation of what? It is not the cessation of material form, feeling, perception, mental formations or consciousness. It is the cessation of the wrong view of personality-belief, which he held with regards to the five aggregates of clinging, as this is ‘mine’, this ‘I am’, and this is ‘my self’. He understands the non-substantial (non-self) nature of the five aggregates of clinging.
Now, the seven factors of enlightenment (satta bojjhanga) should be cultivated in the mind. The Pali term ‘bojjhanga’ is composed of bodhi and anga. ’Bodhi’ is the realization of the Four Noble Truths and ’anga’ means ‘conducing factors’.