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  • Translator: Yuko Niizeki Reviewer: Denise RQ

  • (Sound of airplane)

  • Do you feel it?

  • Anything on your body?

  • Sensations on your body?

  • How about if we combine image and sound together?

  • (Sound of nails scratching)

  • Most people react just like you did.

  • So quite a number of researches were made

  • on why we react the way we do

  • to nails scraping a blackboard.

  • One research found that it resembles

  • a sound of the alarm calls of apes,

  • and our ancient conditioning is reacting to it.

  • A more recent research found

  • that it has to do with our anatomy, the ear canal.

  • Our ear canal amplifies a certain frequency

  • and so nails scraping a blackboard has that range that our ear amplifies,

  • so it irritates us.

  • But we really cannot change everything

  • that causes us unpleasant sensations.

  • it's just impossible.

  • And we run into visions and sounds and smells and tastes and touch

  • everyday of our lives.

  • We cannot just wipe everything.

  • 26 centuries ago, there was a brilliant scientist, The Buddha.

  • He made a six-year research

  • and at the end of that research he found

  • that every input, every data the mind receives through the sense doors

  • the sense bases,

  • every vision, sound, taste, smell or touch

  • evokes a sensation on the body,

  • and we are blindly reacting to it.

  • The mind also brings some dramas,

  • memories, thoughts, emotions, anger, fear;

  • it always comes with a sensation on the body.

  • The remarkable thing was that he found

  • that we actually react to the sensations

  • and not to the outside object;

  • the mind receives an image, a form, a shape

  • and it will immediately recognize it:

  • a human being, man, good-looking, scary looking.

  • And a reaction will come with a sensation.

  • If it's a handsome guy, pleasant sensations,

  • scary guy, unpleasant sensations,

  • and out breath will also start pumping.

  • That scientist realized

  • that we react with craving, constantly.

  • You just saw a number of examples before

  • which were gross and intense and you felt a sensation on the body

  • but actually, every moment in your life,

  • even right now,

  • your subconscient mind keeps producing reactions.

  • You changed your posture.

  • You were not comfortable.

  • You changed to a more comfortable position

  • because you don't like the unpleasant sensations, right?

  • Or maybe one of you came with real tight pants today,

  • a tight belt;

  • soon enough you may find the speaker is annoying

  • and you really would want to get out of here,

  • but it's because you didn't come with your pajamas or anything loose

  • that would make you enjoy today.

  • So we don't even know that we keep reacting all the time

  • to sensations being evoked on our bodies.

  • The Buddha gave a mental practice

  • to come out of the blind reactions.

  • And it is called Vipassana.

  • It means to see in a special way, like insight,

  • like to realize out of experience;

  • I was lucky enough

  • to get to know about a ten-day course in Nepal 26 years ago.

  • It was a silent retreat where they taught Vipassana meditation;

  • I didn't know what exactly what meditation was,

  • but I couldn't believe it when I sat there ten hours a day for ten days

  • and discovered that I'm actually not reacting to anybody who insults me.

  • It's not to the person.

  • It's to the unpleasant sensations he evokes on my body.

  • I don't suffer because of my sadness,

  • - which I had -

  • it's the sensations that came along with that emotion.

  • And so, at the end of that course,

  • I couldn't wait to pick up the phone [and call] everybody I knew

  • and told them, "You have to go."

  • I was living in Nepal at that time, I called the whole world, whoever I knew.

  • Some took it seriously, and even went,

  • but people like my sister, for example, she was like,

  • "Eiona, you sound like a missionary!"

  • (Laughter)

  • And when she said that, it sank in, seriously,

  • - I stopped telling people about this experience -

  • but I felt I had to do something.

  • So I decided to make a film.

  • I collaborated with Ayelat Menachmi, a very talented film maker,

  • who was also a meditator, and also wanted to volunteer and serve

  • in a way that people would know about these courses.

  • And we figured, "Let's do a round-the-world tour."

  • Back then there were 25 meditation centers

  • that were teaching exactly the technique we are talking about

  • by the teacher S.N. Goenka,

  • and we decided to buy all the equipment, a commando team,

  • 150 kg of equipment, to go around the world, and to film in every center.

  • But what kind of film will come out of it?

  • I mean people are sitting there closed eyes ten hours a day.

  • What?

  • Going for lunch, drinking, sitting?

  • We started getting cold feet as we started touring

  • going from American centers, to French, German ones;

  • we came to Asia, and then it clicked:

  • [we could have a film at least in one place we knew]

  • and that was Tihar Jail in Delhi.

  • (Video) (Voice over) [For decades Tihar was notorious

  • for its inhuman conditions.

  • It was branded a veritable hell.]

  • Eilona Ariel: A horrible place,

  • but a change came to that prison with a program of Vipassana.

  • They decided to turn one of the wards into a Vipassana center

  • because they wanted most of the prisoners there

  • to go through this program.

  • And why?

  • Because they were fighting with recidivism:

  • criminals being released, committing crimes again,

  • coming back to jail; about 70% recidivism.

  • The Vipassana program brought it down finally,

  • so they really wanted it.

  • A glimpse of what it looked like is here.

  • (Video) (Voice over) [On the fourth day of the course, Vipassana is taught.

  • Students learn how to observe objectively

  • all the sensations in their bodies, whatever they may be,

  • without reacting to them.

  • They watch emotions come and go;

  • they watch pain come and go,

  • they watch pleasure come and go.

  • And they realize, not intellectually, but through their own experience

  • that nothing is permanent.

  • Hatred, passion, greed, are not abstract anymore.

  • By watching the physical sensations accompanying these emotions,

  • and by understanding their impermanent nature,

  • one can actually start changing the habit of blind reaction.

  • Between the two poles of expression and suppression,

  • lies a third option: mere observation.]

  • The film was successful, it showed on many television stations,

  • but then, it landed in the hands of Dr. Ron Cavanaugh,

  • and he was working with Donaldson Prison.

  • Ron Cavanaugh: When you introduce Vipassana,

  • then you're talking about this meditation technique

  • that starts where cognitive behavioral therapies leave off.

  • Eilona Ariel: In Donaldson, which is a high security prison,

  • most of the inmates will never go out.

  • Most are either on death row,

  • or life without parole, or lifers.

  • (Voice over) [These prisoners live inside a dangerous social world.

  • Overcrowding, deprivation, and hopelessness drive men

  • towards extreme aggression and despair.

  • In this environment,

  • self reflection and change are difficult,

  • if not impossible.

  • In January 2002, the prison undertook a radical experiment.

  • It allowed a 10-day meditation retreat

  • based on ancient Buddhist teachings

  • to be held inside this modern day maximum security prison.]

  • Man: The gymnasium had been transformed

  • from a place where people yelled and hollered;

  • there had been a lot of fights in there,

  • there had been people who were assaulted in that area

  • and it had been transformed into an area where you took off your shoes,

  • and walked to a mat to sit to meditate.

  • EA: These people are locked in for life from a very young age.

  • Some of them were so angry for years.

  • The first time that they had some relief

  • was when they were taught how to sit down

  • these 10 hours a day, for 10 days,

  • and observe the sensations coming up with their anger

  • that usually caused an immediate reaction.

  • There was a 20% reduction in disciplinary action.

  • And so they decided in Donaldson

  • to bring Vipassana in, periodically, at least four times a year,

  • so that many more prisoners can go through this program.

  • The Dhamma Brothers: I've always been angry.

  • I've always been angry.

  • I took anger management, stress management,

  • but anger management is showing me how to conceal the anger,

  • and stress teaches you basically about the same.

  • When I went to Vipassana,

  • I sat on a cushion for 10 days.

  • That showed me how to...

  • let it come up and deal with it.

  • Don't let anyone suppress it.

  • I've got to deal with it. I've done that.

  • Everyone makes a mistake. I made a mistake.

  • And everyone can change.

  • I can stay out of the change.

  • It feels good.

  • EA: If it wasn't for Vipassana,

  • I wouldn't be able to stand here and talk to you,

  • because I was a very shy child and adult,

  • painfully shy, stressfully shy,

  • that I never dared to talk in front of people;

  • and I used to get sick with high fever

  • every time I needed to go to school to face my students who were my friends.

  • I just couldn't do it.

  • It's not that it's not stressful now, it is,

  • but I'm coping.

  • So I just wanted to let you know about this opportunity

  • to bring a change to yourselves.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Yuko Niizeki Reviewer: Denise RQ

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Vipassana Meditation and Body Sensation: Eilona Ariel at TEDxJaffa 2013

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    林雲淡 posted on 2019/07/15
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