Insight Meditation (known as vipassana in the Buddhist tradition) is a simple technique which has been practiced in Asia for over 2,500 years. Beginning with the focusing of attention on the breath, the practice concentrates and calms the mind. It allows one to see through the mind's conditioning and thereby to live more fully present in the moment. Its presentation through Spirit Rock Meditation Center is non-sectarian, although the ethics and traditions of Buddhist psychology are included for guidance.
The taking of the precepts of harmlessness is the beginning of Buddhist life generally and the retreat experience particularly. This creates an atmosphere of safety in which each person can explore her/his own inner states and mental processes. The practice develops clarity of seeing which allows grasping, judgment, and fear to fall away. One discovers and cultivates qualities such as compassion, equanimity, wisdom, joy, and moral integrity.
The ultimate aim of the practice is the ending of suffering in the discovery of an unconditioned and complete freedom. Insight meditation retreats are designed for both beginning and experienced meditators. Daily dharma talks and instruction in meditation are given, and individual and group interviews are arranged with the teachers at regular intervals. A typical daily schedule starts at 5am and ends at 10pm. The entire day is spent in silent meditation practice with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation. Meals are vegetarian and are prepared with health and nutrition in mind. Lunch is the main meal of the day, and a light tea is served in the late afternoon. The combination of this regular schedule, group support, silence, and instruction provides a beneficial environment for developing and deepening meditation practice.