Step 2 has many layers of meaning, instruction, and application within one’s meditation practice and life. The beginning of this podcast gives some of that fullness. Intrinsic to it all is that the tip of the nose engenders focus.
A maturing meditation practice requires the foundation of shamatha. Why? because shamatha is the experienced combination of having withdrawn adequately from external stimuli as well as from thoughts and emotions based upon that which is external. Examples of the latter include one’s to do list that rolls ceaselessly in one’s mind, the “remember” notes that arise, various distractions from the past (even five minutes before the sitting), and the projections into the non-existent future that also arise in the mind (planning, scheming). In The Practice of Living Awareness, the foundation of shamatha is set with step 1: the settling. All that has been mentioned provides that maybe, just maybe, the mind can now be brought into a state of meditative focus.
Classically, vipassana is the cultivation of meditative focus. But one needs to ask, “what is the distinction – if there is one – between meditative focus and common focus required to accomplish tasks? In some ways, no difference. Focus is focus. Attention is to be attentive. However, meditation is ultimately not interested in one’s accounting, or ability to be safe and attentive when driving, or such. Meditation is interested in developing a full range of Being and then the expression of that through one’s day. As such, vipassana is not only a training in meditative focus, but in meditative awareness overall. In other words, shamatha brings one inside. Then vipassana asks, “from the inside, how does one view reality?, because what one focuses upon is what is real to one or is given reality.
Downloadable podcast: Pure perception