Interview instructions - Gavesi

General Guidelines for Vipassana Retreat Interview

An interview is when a yogi/meditator relates to a competent teacher or guide by reporting one’s meditation experiences and thus receiving instructions or guidance during a suitable time.

Sincerity and straight forwardness are important criteria when reporting one’s personal experiences. These criteria will reflect upon the yogi’s true nature of practice and his/her mental states.

Due to limited amount of time, it is good that the yogi reports precisely, to the point, so that the teacher can understand the yogi’s practice. Then the teacher will be able to give the relevant instructions.

Brief notes are helpful, although optional, to remind one’s experiences. A yogi should not be writing long-winded or very detailed essay as this action will make a yogi fall into unnecessary restlessness.

To make an interview effective and systematic, the reporting is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Walking Meditation
  2. Sitting Meditation
  3. Daily Activities/Chores

These are not absolute but these general guidelines will help the yogi to make a clear interview.

Walking Meditation

You need to report 1 or 2 of your clearest walking sessions. Begin by describing the 1-phase, then 2-phase, 3-phase, and then other objects (e.g. seeing, hearing) which occur during the walking meditation.

  1. During the 1-phase walking, did you notice sensations of each of right and left step? Did you label them? Can the noticing mind follow the steps? Were the steps hot, cold, rough, smooth, heavy, etc.? Did you notice the body – heavy, imbalance, tight. Etc.
  2. During the 2-phase walking, were you able to notice the lifting and stepping processes? How is the lifting? How is the stepping? Heavy, smooth, pressure, light, tight? Were you distracted or calm? Etc.
  3. During the 3-phase walking, lifting-pushing-stepping/dropping processes, were you able to notice them precisely? What are the sensations can be observed during each of these processes? Can you be aware of e.g. the movement of lifting process and can you notice pushing, pulling, heaviness, lightness, tightness, vibrations etc.? Was the mind and body tense or calm? Etc.
  4. During the one hour walking practice, did the mind drawn into thoughts? Did the eyes/ears caught into looking or hearing external things? Did you notice them? Did you label them? Did you notice the intentions when you want to turn or start your walking? Etc.

Sitting Meditation

You need to report 1 or 2 of your clearest sitting sessions. Begin by describing the rising and falling of the abdomen, then the secondary objects like thinking, sitting-touching, pain, itchiness, emotions, boredom, joy, etc.

  1. Were you able to notice the movement or other sensations of the rising and falling of the abdomen? Were they fast, slow, clear, vague, tight, tense, smooth, rough, strong/weak pressure, hard, soft etc? Did you label them? Were you able to distinguish between the rising and falling? Any difference or the same in characteristics between the both of them? Etc.
  2. Were you able to follow the sitting and touching sensations? How did you do it? Which point did you use? Were they clear or not? Etc.
  3. Did you notice the thoughts that arisen? Did you catch it in the beginning when it arises or a bit later? Did you notice the process of the thoughts or were you drawn into thinking, imagining or planning etc? Were you totally forgetful or heedless? Were the thoughts connected with desire, expectation, liking, anger, discomfort, unpleasantness, confusion, lethargy, etc? How did you label them? What did you note after they have disappeared? Etc.
  4. Did you notice any other sensation or phenomena like hearing, itchiness, tightness of the body, sleepiness, drowsiness, etc?
  5. Did you able to notice the painful/unpleasant feelings of the body? Could you describe the pain? Were they hot, cold, numbing, sawing, bending, cracking, tightening, heavy, slicing, pointed, wide spread, twisting, cramps, vibrating, pulsating etc.? Did the pain increase or decrease? Did the pain change from one type to another? Any expectation for it to decrease? Were there any aversion, dislike, trying-to-escape mind etc? Did you note these negative emotions? Were there patience, acceptance, and openness towards the pain or the opposite? Etc.

Daily Activities

You need to describe 1 or 2 of your clearest daily activities.

  1. Could you describe a single activity like eating, combing the hair, bowing down, opening/closing the door, washing the dishes/hands, getting down to the seat, etc. with precision and clarity?
  2. Was the mind mindful and alert continuous throughout the day?
  3. Did you note the intentions between major activities like sitting down and start eating or getting up from the seat and start walking etc? Etc.
  4. Were there thoughts of laziness, boredom, joy, delight, wanting, fear, anger, loneliness, etc. during the day? Etc.

After reporting your experiences and receiving of instructions, you may wish to ask a few questions regarding the practice. It is good to limit to 1 or 2 questions. Too many questions may distract a yogi into restlessness. Moreover, time is limited. Usually a yogi will usually be able to answer his/her questions by deepening and furthering the practice.

In brief, your reporting should be:

  1. sincere
  2. precise
  3. systematic