Burmese master Sayada U Pandita, Courtesy of Insight Meditation Society
Burmese master Sayada U Pandita, Courtesy of Insight Meditation Society

During an intensive Vipassana retreat, personal interviews are held as often as possible, ideally every day. Interviews are formally structured. After the yogi presents his or her experiences, as described below, the teacher may ask questions relating to particular details before giving a pithy comment or instruction.

The interview process is quite simple. You should be able to communicate the essence of your practice in about ten minutes. Consider that you are reporting on your research into yourself, which is what Vipassana actually is. Try to adhere to the standards used in the scientific world: brevity, accuracy, and precision.

First, report on how many hours of sitting you did and how many of walking in the most recent twenty-four-hour period. If you are quite truthful and honest about this, it will show the sincerity of your practice. Next, describe your sitting practice. It is not necessary to describe each sitting in detail. If sittings are similar, you may combine their traits together in a general report. Try using details from the clearest sitting or sittings. Begin your description with the primary object of meditation, the rise and fall of the abdomen. After this you may add other objects that arose at any of the six sense doors.

After describing the sitting, go into your walking practice. Here you must only describe experiences directly connected with your walking movements—do not include a range of objects as you might in reporting a sitting. If you use the three-part method of lifting, moving, and placing in your walking meditation, try to include each segment and the experiences you had with it.

What occurred, how you noted it, what happened to it?

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