Mindfulness, A Short Series: Cultivating Insight

Author: Bennett Nott

Cultivating insight is the moving from building of strength of in focusing attention to the holding of attention on the mental activity of the mind.  The nonattachment to and investigation of some particular mental content.  The goal of insight practice is multifold.  We want to observe mental phenomena with detachment, without trying to hang on to or push away the thought or feeling getting our attention.  We also want to deepen our understanding of the thought or feeling.  Why is this coming to my attention now?  What is the meaning of this?  What does it mean about me?  What does it mean about what I should do or not do? 

This holds true for feelings as well as the thoughts we notice.  We become aware of the fleeting temporary nature of thoughts and feelings as a they arise to our awareness and then subside in a kind of flow, everchanging.

The key to insight practice is to recognize, accept and investigate each thought or feeling as it becomes apparent in the flow of our interior experience.  All of this is done in a context of non- judgment or non-attachment.  Not trying to hold on to or push away the thought or feeling that is noticed.  Tara Brach PhD describes this process in the acronym RAIN, Recognize, Accept,  Investigate, with Nonattachment.     

The question we can ask ourselves is who is it that is doing the watching as what we think and what we feel is not who we are.  Insight arises as we investigate the phenomena and use what we notice to inform ourselves as to who we are and what we believe to be of importance and value.  Insight practice is very much about coming in contact with things as they are, in the world and in ourselves so we may consciously make choices in the best interests of ourselves and those we love.