To learn Vipassana meditation it is necessary to take a ten-day residential course under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Students follow a demanding daily schedule, which includes approximately ten hours of sitting meditation (with numerous breaks interspersed throughout the day). They also maintain silence, not communicating with each other.
There are three steps to the training. First, students practice abstaining from actions which cause harm. They undertake five moral precepts: refraining from killing any being, stealing, lying, all sexual activity and the use of intoxicants. These precepts, as well as observing silence, allow the mind to calm down sufficiently to perform the task of self-observation.
In the second step, students develop a more stable and concentrated mind by focusing their attention on the natural breath.
The third step is to develop insight into the direct link between body and mind — through the observation of bodily sensations. By developing a balanced mind and learning not to react to these sensations, mental negativities are gradually eliminated. This direct experience has a profound, purifying effect on the mind.
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