Please correct me if I'm wrong.

From what I read, the purpose of Vipassana meditation is to get insight, and wisdom about one self, in order to achieve a better life and eventually nibanna.

The way I have been taught to practice Vipassana, is to focus on the present moment, feeling the sensations or emotions as they appear and disappear, observe the changes in the mind, and so on.

However, in order to get insight, am I not supposed to analyse what is going on, looking for answers ? In order to think in that way, isnt'it necessary to break the focus on the present moment and therefore break the meditation ? Maybe it is part of the meditation ?

As an example, suppose that I am meditating. Suddently a feeling of anxiety arises. I turn my focus to this feeling, gathering informations, feeling it for what it is, seeing the impermanence in it, etc. Then the anxiety disappears or some other thing arises, so I need to switch my focus in order to stay in the present moment.

Instead, I would like to investigate this feeling, trying to guess why it happened, seeing if there is a way I can prevent myself from feeling it again, or if there is a way to prevent myself from the suffering I create by repeling this feeling.

Experience as shown that I can get to great insight by interrupting the focus on the present moment to investigate the feeling. However on some other occasions it distracted me. In addition I imagine that the insights I get may be sometimes incomplete or false views ?

How I am supposed to go about this ?

3 Answers 3


All in all, the boundaries between thinking and not thinking are more conventional than real. The brain is a machine that is always at work doing its thing, whether we create narratives like "I'm thinking", "I'm meditating" or not. It's a machine that can see patterns and connections between the things it sees -- so as you keep looking, seeing happens (semi-)automatically. As long as you look with clear attention, that is. Learning some dharma theory does help with seeing things in the right perspective, but it sounds like you already have that. So in some sense it doesn't really matter what you do - as long as you keep looking with right attention your mind will almost "enlighten itself".

Anything you do is fine, there are no hard rules. You can interleave analytical meditation and introspection if you want. You can read a paragraph of a book, put it down, think about it. Or you can watch your mind in parallel with reading a book. As you become more advanced all boundaries between different types of meditation begin to melt and look obviously contrived. As my Zen master used to say, regular thinking is not different from meditation. Regular mind is not different from the Diamond Samadhi.

However, there is virtue in formal meditation that is pure introspection. In this approach we don't discursively reason about things we see. We engage attention in looking inside and let the pattern-seeing machine of our brain do it's work connecting the dots on autopilot. Makes sense? So you just look and stare at that emotion, trying to go deeper into it, and then boom, you see it's root in some sort of childhood event, that created a preconception that now manifests as attachment. You don't "calculate" this insight analytically, it happens by itself through deep looking.

Similarly, there are other, deeper, types of insights that are only accessible through this sort of intuitive staring, informed by dharma theory. For example, you can stare at your mindstream and then suddenly realize you now know what they meant by suffering and attachment. Or what they meant when they said everything is empty. The bottom line is that meditation is not entirely non-analytical, but it's not your regular thinking either.


I believe that it is natural. However, when you feel like you are losing your focus, try to get it back by focusing on the strongest feeling of breath. That means, when you breathe you can feel your stomach going up and down or the warm air touching the edge of your nostrils... observe a bit and understand what you feel the most and try to focus on that.

I know it can be harder when you practically do it rather than typing here. But it is worth to give it a try.


You appear to be trying to mix two methods of insight in one sitting, and by doing that you are getting confused.

Try this. Release (for the moment) what you know or have studied. In your sitting, engage in monitoring your mental processes - the subject (monitoring mind) and the object (monitoring mind) are the same. The framework is that of an eager and scientist watching the events of a fascinating experiment. Don't push it, and don't relax too much, otherwise you will sleep! Just remain engaged and alert, and basically comfortable - even playful.

You are engaging in monitoring your mind, so always go back to that. Don't get caught up in thinking about thinking, thinking about meditating, or anything like that.

Very quickly you will notice the mental nature of the experiential narrative of 'sitting doing meditation', and that's okay - you are just monitoring - but these experiences begin to lose their concreteness, as we see them for what they are.

This is an experiential wisdom method.

It differs from (but is very well augmented by) an conceptual wisdom method, such as using the anti-philosophy of Nagarjuna's madhyamaka - which, through understanding that substance ontologies (ie. a biological conviction in essential, or objective truth) are mistaken leads us to a powerful understanding of how we keep buying into something (essence) which isn't really there.

In the end the strong understanding (wisdom) of the nature of reality will become manifest from either (or both) - one through experiencing how what we take to be 'hard fact' is merely a conceptual narrative - the other through determining that the objects of fascination and abhorrance that we dress our universe in are not efficacious in the way that we believe them to be.

When we perceive that we are conflating objects as being the causes of our pleasure rather than merely the circumstances against which our pleasure arises, then we are able to see clearly how ignorance is the cause of suffering - and then we are able to develop renunciation and compassion.

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