Guide for the interview with the teacher

Assuming that the modality of the interview will change according to the teacher, there are specific useful points to keep in mind for all the interviews in the Burmese tradition of Vipassana Satipatthana.

The interview is used by the teacher to understand if you have understood the method, if you can apply it and at what stage of the practice you are. Based on this, the teacher will give suggestions on how to continue and how to deal with the difficulties you are encountering. For this reason the interview is very different from a psychotherapy session and only some specific and concise information should be reported:

Report which objects you observe and if you can follow them (the movement of the abdomen, breathing at the nostrils, or any other object that becomes predominant such as pain, sleepiness, emotions, sounds, etc.)

How you observe it (how do you become aware of it: if you label it or not, if you see it appear or if you realize that it is there only after a while, if you can see the moment when it disappears, if it is clear or not clear, how long can you stay with the object.)

What experience do you have and what happens: report if you are aware of the characteristics of objects (hardness, tension, heat, movement, pleasant, unpleasant, etc. or if you see concepts of shapes, images, colors), if you notice the relationship between an object and another (with anger specific sensations arise in the body, boredom gives rise to the intention to do something else, etc.), if you identify with the phenomena or if you can see them from a little distance, if the mind seems go towards the object or if it is the object that seems to come to the mind; what reactions does the mind have and if you notice these reactions and what you do, etc.

What difficulties arise and what you do with them: thoughts, reveries, desires, aversions, laziness, sleep, boredom, agitation, anxiety, fear, doubt, etc., how you relate, how you observe them, what methods you apply to manage them.

We try to report the experience as objectively as possible, how we feel it in the body and what characteristics it has, without therefore describing the content of thoughts or why and with whom we are angry, nor to tell the teacher about our past private life, present or future, (unless necessary).

Below is an example of how an interview could be structured:

Primary object:

You can start by reporting about the primary object, the rising and falling of the abdomen or the breath at the nostrils. It is important to describe the primary object in clear and simple terms with the main details that you have observed. If you can follow it, for how long, what changes do you observe in the body or possibly also in the mind, etc.

Secondary object:

Examples of secondary objects are:

  • Physical sensations such as pain, itching, hard, cold, stiffness, etc.
  • Thoughts: ideas, reflections, plans, memories, fantasies, etc.
  • Mental states: anger, pride, joy, calm, boredom, awareness, distraction, etc.
  • Noises or other sense objects: sounds, images, smells, etc.

If, while we are observing the primary object, one of these objects becomes predominant over our object, the meditator should direct attention to this secondary object and observe it in the same way. What characteristics does it have, how it changes, how we feel it in the body, what reactions it causes, if we see the moment in which it disappears. Once it has disappeared or decreased in intensity, it is possible to return to the observation of the primary object.

We can conclude by talking about walking meditation and mindfulness in daily activities.