What is Meditation?
&
How to Meditate?

 

Contents

Quotes:

Buddha recognized that ignorance of our true nature is the root of all the torment of samsara, and the root of ignorance itself is the mind’s habitual tendency to distraction.

To end the mind’s distraction would be to end samsara itself; the key to this, he realized, is to bring the mind home to its true nature, through the practice of meditation. Sogyal Rinpoche

"Meditation is merely the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation may also be thought of as a technique by which we dimish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones. Yet the techniques themselves do not lead to enlightenment or a compassionate and open heart. That is up to you, and the effort and motivation you bring to your spiritual practice". H H 14th Dalai Lama

"Meditation is about dissolving our fixation on ourselves, on the process of meditating, and on any result we might gain from it. Through meditation, we begin to get the hang of living with a non-grasping attitude. " By Pema Chödrön

"My main point is this: although we are facing much trouble and controversy, still there is hope and tranquillity in our minds. Having a calm mind while facing difficulties is wholly profitable. It doesn't meant that by practising the Dharma (Buddha's Teaching's) we will immediately eliminate starvation and thirst or increase our available amount of food and drink. But by thinking of the Dharma we experience tranquillity and that tranquillity gives us pleasure. This is worthwhile isn't it?" - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"The best way to cure ourselves of disease is through meditation, through using our own mind. We then become our own doctor, or own psychologist, our own guru." Lama Zopa

When asked what the most important spiritual practice one can implement into his or her life, Deepak simply replies, "Meditation."

two beautiful quotes from Rumi:

"Let the water settle; you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your being." --Jelaluddin Rumi

"Out beyond the ideas of right-doing or wrong-doing there is a field- I'll meet you there." --Jelaluddin Rumi

‘Meditation is the art of entering your own unconscious. Your unconscious is inside your body. It is a place of extraordinary stillness and creativity. When you reach it you will know that learning to meditate was the most important move you ever made.’ Barry Long

Energy, breath & mind are linked. If your mind is disturbed your breath and energy (prana) - also become disturbed. So by rebalancing breathing - you rebalance your energy and your mind - leading to a higher sense of clarity and peace of mind.

'By sitting silently watching the movie of the mind, gaps of silence appear. As you get the knack of resting in the gap, flowers of consciousness start showering until finally enlightenment happens.' New Dawn

'It is the silence between the notes that makes music'. Anonymous

The answer to life is inside us, we just need to find it. Meditation techniques practices are a map /path to The Truth, enlightenment, awakening, mystical experiences, peace of mind and to the essence of true self. True meditation is resting, alert, fully awake, aware - in a state of pure awareness / attention / observation - with no distraction, agitation or laxity.


QUOTES BY SOGYAL RINPOCHE

To meditate is to make a complete break with how we “normally” operate, for it is a state free of all cares and concerns, in which there is no competition, no desire to possess or grasp at anything, no intense and anxious struggle, and no hunger to achieve: an ambitionless state where there is neither acceptance nor rejection, neither hope nor fear, a state in which we slowly begin to release all those emotions and concepts that have imprisoned us into the space of natural simplicity.


Meditation is bringing the mind back home, and this is first achieved through the practice of mindfulness.

Once an old woman came to Buddha and asked him how to meditate. He told her to remain aware of every movement of her hands as she drew water from the well, knowing that if she did, she would soon find herself in that state of alert and spacious calm that is meditation.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day www.rigpa.org Nov 9


Learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well.

Meditation is the road to enlightenment.


For meditation to happen, calm and auspicious conditions have to be created. Before we have mastery over our minds, we need first to calm their environment.

At the moment, our minds are like a candle flame: unstable, flickering, constantly changing, fanned by the violent winds of our thoughts and emotions. The flame will burn steadily only when we can calm the air around it; so we can only begin to glimpse and rest in the nature of mind when we have stilled the turbulence of our thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, once we have found a stability in our meditation, noises and disturbances of every kind will have far less impact.


Posture

Buddha sat in serene and humble dignity on the ground, with the sky above him and around him, as if to show us that in meditation you sit with open, skylike attitude of mind, yet remain present, earthed, and grounded. The sky is our absolute nature, which has no barriers and is boundless, and the ground is our reality, our relative, ordinary condition.

The posture we take when we meditate signifies that we are linking absolute and relative, sky and ground, heaven and earth, like two wings of a bird, integrating the skylike deathless nature of mind and the ground of our transient, mortal nature.



The most essential point of the meditation posture is to keep the back straight, like “an arrow” or “a pile of golden coins.” The “inner energy,” or prana , will then flow easily through the subtle channels of the body, and your mind will find its true state of rest. Don’t force anything. The lower part of the spine has a natural curve; it should be relaxed but upright. Your head should be balanced comfortably on your neck. It is your shoulders and the upper part of your torso that carry the strength and grace of the posture, and they should be held in strong poise, but without any tension.

Sit with your legs crossed. You do not have to sit in the “full-lotus” posture, which is emphasized more in advanced yoga practice. The crossed legs express the unity of life and death, good and bad, skillful means and wisdom, masculine and feminine principles, samsara and nirvana, and the humor of nonduality. Rest your hands comfortably covering your knees. This is called the “mind in comfort and ease” posture. If you prefer to sit on a chair, keep your legs relaxed, and be sure always to keep your back straight.



Gaze

In my tradition of meditation, your eyes should be kept open: This is a very important point. If you are sensitive to disturbances from outside, when you begin to practice you may find it helpful to close your eyes for a while and quietly go within.

Once you feel established in calm, gradually open your eyes, and you will find that your gaze has grown more peaceful and tranquil. Now look down, along the line of your nose, at an angle of about 45 degrees in front of you. One practical tip in general is that whenever your mind is wild, it is best to lower your gaze, and whenever it is dull and sleepy, to bring your gaze up.

Once your mind is calm and the clarity of insight begins to arise, you will feel free to bring your gaze up, opening your eyes more and looking into the space directly in front of you. This is the gaze recommended in the Dzogchen practice.


There are several reasons for keeping your eyes open when you practice meditation. With your eyes open, you are less likely to fall asleep. Then, meditation is not a means of running away from the world, or of escaping from it into a trancelike experience of an altered state of consciousness. On the contrary, it is a direct way to help us truly understand ourselves and to relate to life and the world.

Therefore, in meditation you keep your eyes open, not closed. Instead of shutting out life, you remain open and at peace with everything. You leave all your senses—hearing, seeing, feeling—just open, naturally, as they are, without grasping after their perceptions.

Whatever you see, whatever you hear, leave it as it is, without grasping. Leave the hearing in the hearing, leave the seeing in the seeing, without letting your attachment enter into the perception.


Mouth Slightly Open

When you meditate, keep your mouth slightly open as if about to say a deep, relaxing “Aaah.” By keeping the mouth slightly open and breathing mainly through the mouth, it is said that the “karmic winds” that create discursive thoughts are normally less likely to arise and create obstacles in your mind and meditation.


Environment

If you find that meditation does not come easily in your city room, be inventive and go out into nature. Nature is always an unfailing fountain of inspiration. To calm your mind, go for a walk at dawn in the park, or watch the dew on a rose in a garden. Lie on the ground and gaze up into the sky, and let your mind expand into its spaciousness. Let the sky outside awaken a sky inside your mind. Stand by a stream and mingle your mind with its rushing; become one with its ceaseless sound. Sit by a waterfall and let its healing laughter purify your spirit. Walk on a beach and take the sea wind full and sweet against your face. Celebrate and use the beauty of moonlight to poise your mind. Sit by a lake or in a garden and, breathing quietly, let your mind fall silent as the moon comes up majestically and slowly in the cloudless night.


Object of Meditation

Everything can be used as an invitation to meditation. A smile, a face in the subway, the sight of a small flower growing in the crack of cement pavement, a fall of rich cloth in a shop window, the way the sun lights up flower pots on a windowsill. Be alert for any sign of beauty or grace. Offer up every joy, be awake at all moments, to “the news that is always arriving out of silence.”

Slowly, you will become a master of your own bliss, a chemist of your own joy, with all sorts of remedies always at hand to elevate, cheer, illuminate, and inspire your every breath and movement.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day September 22nd, www.rigpa.org


One method of meditation that many people find useful is to rest the mind lightly on an object. You can use an object of natural beauty that invokes a special feeling of inspiration for you, such as a flower or a crystal. But something that embodies the truth, such as an image of Buddha, or Christ, or particularly your master, is even more powerful.

Your master is your living link with the truth, and because of your personal connection to your master, just seeing his or her face connects you to the inspiration and truth of your own nature.


Alert Yet Relaxed

One of the greatest of Tibet’s many woman masters, Ma Chik Lap Drön, said: “Alert, alert; yet relax, relax. This is a crucial point for the View in meditation.”

Alert your alertness, but at the same time be relaxed, so relaxed in fact that you don’t even hold onto an idea of relaxation.


In meditation, as in all arts, there has to be a delicate balance between relaxation and alertness. Once a monk called Shrona was studying meditation with one of Buddha’s closest disciples. He had difficulty finding the right frame of mind. He tried very hard to concentrate, and gave himself a headache. Then he relaxed his mind, but so much that he fell asleep. Finally he appealed to Buddha for help.

Knowing that Shrona had been a famous musician before he became a monk, Buddha asked him: “Weren’t you a vina player when you were a layperson?”

Shrona nodded.

“How did you get the best sound out of your vina? Was it when the strings were very tight or when they were very loose?”

“Neither. When they had just the right tension, neither too taut nor too slack.”

“Well, it’s exactly the same with your mind.”



In meditation, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible.

Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature. Think of your ordinary, emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation. Let peace work on you and enable you to gather your scattered mind into the mindfulness of Calm Abiding, and awaken in you the awareness and insight of Clear Seeing. And you will find all your negativity disarmed, your aggression dissolved, and your confusion evaporating slowly like mist into the vast and stainless sky of your absolute nature.


Take care not to impose anything on the mind. When you meditate, there should be no effort to control, and no attempt to be peaceful. Don’t be overly solemn or feel that you are taking part in some special ritual; let go even of the idea that you are meditating. Let your body remain as it is, and your breath as you find it.

Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.


What is Meditation?

My master had a student called Apa Pant, a distinguished Indian diplomat and author, who served as Indian ambassador in a number of capital cities around the world. He was also a practitioner of meditation and yoga, and each time he saw my master, he would always ask him “how to meditate.” He was following an Eastern tradition where the student keeps asking the master one simple, basic question over and over again.

One day when our master Jamyang Khyentse was watching a Lama Dance in front of the Palace Temple in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, he was chuckling at the antics of the atsara, the clown who provides light relief between dances. Apa Pant kept pestering him, asking him again and again how to meditate, so this time when my master replied, it was in such a way as to let him know that he was telling him once and for all: “Look, it’s like this: When the past thought has ceased, and the future thought has not yet risen, isn’t there a gap?”

“Yes,” said Apa Pant.

“Well, prolong it: That is meditation.”



Watching Thoughts & Emotions

Just as the ocean has waves, and the sun has rays, so the mind’s own radiance is its thoughts and emotions. The ocean has waves, yet the ocean is not particularly disturbed by them. The waves are the very nature of the ocean. Waves will rise, but where do they go? Back into the ocean. And where do the waves come from? The ocean.

In the same manner, thoughts and emotions are the radiance and expression of the very nature of the mind. They rise from the mind, but where do they dissolve? Back into the mind. Whatever rises, do not see it as a particular problem. If you do not impulsively react, if you are only patient, it will once again settle into its essential nature.

When you have this understanding, then rising thoughts only enhance your practice. But when you do not understand what they intrinsically are—the radiance of the nature of your mind—then your thoughts become the seed of confusion. So have a spacious, open, and compassionate attitude toward your thoughts and emotions, because in fact your thoughts are your family, the family of your mind. Before them, as Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: “Be like an old wise man, watching a child play.”


Quietly sitting, body still, speech silent, mind at peace, let thoughts and emotions, whatever rises, come and go, without clinging to anything.

What does this state feel like? Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: Imagine a man who comes home after a long, hard day’s work in the fields, and sinks into his favorite chair in front of the fire. He has been working all day and he knows that he has achieved what he wanted to achieve; there is nothing more to worry about, nothing left unaccomplished, and he can let go completely of all his cares and concerns, content, simply, to be.


When you practice meditation, rather than “watching” the breath, let yourself gradually identify with it, as if you were becoming it. Slowly the breath, the breather, and the breathing become one; duality and separation dissolve.

You will find that this very simple process of mindfulness filters your thoughts and emotions. Then, as if you were shedding an old skin, something is peeled off and freed. Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day


Sit quietly. From the depths of your heart, invoke in the sky in front of you the embodiment of the truth in the person of your master, a saint, or an enlightened being.

Try to visualize the master or buddha as alive and as radiant and translucent as a rainbow.

If you have difficulty visualizing the master, imagine the embodiment of truth simply as light, or try to feel his or her perfect presence there in the sky before you. Let all the inspiration, joy, and awe you then feel take the place of visualization. My master Dudjom Rinpoche used to say that it does not matter if you cannot visualize; what is more important is to feel the presence in your heart, and to know that this presence embodies the blessings, compassion, energy, and wisdom of all the buddhas.

With deep devotion, merge your mind with the master’s, then rest your mind in his or her wisdom mind.
Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day


How hard it can be to turn our attention within! How easily we allow our old habits and set patterns to dominate us! Even though they bring us suffering, we accept them with almost fatalistic resignation, for we are so used to giving in to them. We may idealize freedom, but when it comes to our habits, we are completely enslaved.

Still, reflection can slowly bring us wisdom. We may, of course, fall back into fixed repetitive patterns again and again, but slowly we can emerge from them and change.



Mental Anal-ysis

When you are practicing meditation, it’s important not to get involved in mental commentary, analysis, or internal gossip. Do not mistake the running commentary in your mind (“Now I’m breathing in, now I’m breathing out”) for mindfulness; what is important is pure presence.

Don’t concentrate too much on the breath; give it about 25 percent of your attention, with the other 75 percent quietly and spaciously relaxed. As you become more mindful of your breathing, you will find that you become more and more present, gather all your scattered aspects back into yourself, and become whole. Sogyal Rinpoche


No thoughts?!

Sometimes people think that when they meditate there should be no thoughts and emotions at all; and when thoughts and emotions do arise, they become annoyed and exasperated with themselves and think they have failed. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a Tibetan saying: “It’s a tall order to ask for meat without bones, and tea without leaves.” As long as you have a mind, you will have thoughts and emotions.


Restless Mind?

Isn’t it extraordinary that our minds cannot stay still for longer than a few moments without grasping after distraction? They are so restless and preoccupied that sometimes I think that living in a city in the modern world, we are already like the tormented beings in the intermediate state after death, where the consciousness is said to be agonizingly restless.

We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don’t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.

Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day www.rigpa.org


In the ancient meditation instructions, it is said that at the beginning, thoughts will arrive one on top of another, uninterrupted, like a steep mountain waterfall. Gradually, as you perfect meditation, thoughts become like the water in a deep, narrow gorge, then a great river slowly winding its way down to the sea, and finally the mind becomes like a still and placid ocean, ruffled by only the occasional ripple or wave.

Sogyal Rinpoche


Dreamy Dullness?

“In meditation practice, you might experience a muddy, semiconscious, drifting state, like having a hood over your head: a dreamy dullness. This is really nothing more than a kind of blurred and mindless stagnation. How do you get out of this state? Alert yourself, straighten your back, breathe the stale air out of your lungs, and direct your awareness into clear space to freshen your mind. If you remain in this stagnant state you will not evolve, so whenever this setback arises, clear it again and again. It is important to be as watchful as possible, and to stay as vigilant as you can.”

DUDJOM RINPOCHE



"If your mind is able to settle naturally of its own accord, and if you find you are inspired simply to rest in its pure awareness, then you do not need any method of meditation. However, the vast majority of us find it difficult to arrive at that state straight away. We simply do not know how to awaken it, and our minds are so wild and so distracted that we need askillful means or method to evoke it."

"By “skillful” I mean that you bring together your understanding of the essential nature of your mind, your knowledge of your various, shifting moods, and the insight you have developed through your practice into how to work with yourself, from moment to moment. By bringing these together, you learn the art of applying whatever method isappropriate to any particular situation or problem, to transform that environment of your mind." Sogyal Rinpoche, www.rigpa.org



Dudjom Rinpoche used to say that a beginner should practice meditation in short sessions. Practice for four or five minutes, then take a short break of just one minute. During the break, let go of the method, but do not let go of your mindfulness altogether.

Sometimes when you have been struggling to practice, curiously, the very moment when you take a break from the method—if you are still mindful and present—is the moment when meditation actually happens. That is why the break is just as important a part of meditation as the sitting itself. Sometimes I tell my students who are having problems with their practice to practice during the break and take a break during their meditation!


Motivation & Dedication

Each time we begin our practice of meditation, we are moved by the awareness that we and all other sentient beings fundamentally have the Buddha nature as our innermost essence, and that to realize it is to be free of ignorance and to put an end, finally, to suffering.

We are inspired with the motivation to dedicate our practice, and our life, to the enlightenment of all beings in the spirit of this prayer, which all the buddhas of the past have prayed:

By the power and the truth of this practice:
May all beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness;
May all be free from sorrow, and the causes of sorrow;
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless;
And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.


Right Environment

For meditation to happen, calm and auspicious conditions have to be created. Before we have mastery over our minds, we need first to calm their environment.

At the moment, our minds are like a candle flame: unstable, flickering, constantly changing, fanned by the violent winds of our thoughts and emotions. The flame will burn steadily only when we can calm the air around it; so we can only begin to glimpse and rest in the nature of mind when we have stilled the turbulence of our thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, once we have found a stability in our meditation, noises and disturbances of every kind will have far less impact. Sogyal Rinpoche, www.rigpa.org


Open people ask me: “How long should I meditate? And when? Should I practice twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening, or is it better to do several short practices during the day?” Yes, it is good to meditate for twenty minutes, though that is not to say that twenty minutes is the limit. I have not found in the scriptures any reference to twenty minutes; I think it is a notion that has been contrived in the West, and I call it Meditation Western Standard Time.

The point is not how long you meditate; the point is whether the practice actually brings you to a certain state of mindfulness and presence, where you are a little open and able to connect with your heart essence. And five minutes of wakeful sitting practice is of far greater value than twenty minutes of dozing!

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day November 11 , www.rigpa.org



Remember: A method is only a means, not the meditation itself. It is through practicing the method skillfully that you reach the perfection of that pure state of total presence, which is the real meditation.

There is a revealing Tibetan saying: “Gompa ma yin, kompa yin,” which means literally: “ Meditation is not; getting used to is.”

It means that meditation is nothing other than getting used to the practice of meditation. As it is said: “Meditation is not striving, but naturally becoming assimilated into it.” As you continue to practice the method, then meditation slowly arises. Meditation is not something that you can “do”; it is something that has to happen spontaneously, only when you have perfected the practice.

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day www.rigpa.org October 19


Technology of Meditation

In the West, people tend to be absorbed by what I call “the technology of meditation.” The modern world, after all, is fascinated by mechanisms and machines and addicted to purely practical formulas. But by far the most important feature of meditation is not the technique but the spirit: the skillful, inspired and creative way in which we practice, which could also be called “the posture.”

The masters say: “If you create an auspicious condition in your body and your environment, then meditation and realization will automatically arise.” Talk about posture is not esoteric pedantry; the whole point of assuming a correct posture is to create a more inspiring environment for meditation, for the awakening of Rigpa.

There is a connection between the posture of the body and the mind. Mind and body are interrelated, and meditation arises naturally once your posture and attitude are inspired.


When I teach meditation, I often begin by saying: “Bring your mind home. And release. And relax.”

To bring your mind home means to bring the mind into the state of Calm Abiding through the practice of mindfulness. In its deepest sense, to bring your mind home is to turn your mind inward and rest in the nature of mind. This itself is the highest meditation.

To release means to release the mind from its prison of grasping, since you recognize that all pain and fear and distress arise from the craving of the grasping mind. On a deeper level, the realization and confidence that arise from your growing understanding of the nature of mind inspire the profound and natural generosity that enables you to release all grasping from your heart, letting it free itself to melt away in the inspiration of meditation.

To relax means to be spacious and to relax the mind of its tensions. More deeply, you relax into the true nature of your mind, the state of Rigpa. It is like pouring a handful of sand onto a hot surface, and each grain settles of its own accord. This is how you relax into your true nature, letting all thoughts and emotions naturally subside and dissolve into the state of the nature of mind.


Take care not to impose anything on the mind. When you meditate, there should be no effort to control, and no attempt to be peaceful. Don’t be overly solemn or feel that you are taking part in some special ritual; let go even of the idea that you are meditating. Let your body remain as it is, and your breath as you find it.

Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.



Mantra

A meditation technique used a great deal in Tibetan Buddhism is uniting the mind with the sound of a mantra. The definition of mantra is “that which protects the mind.” That which protects the mind from negativity, or which protects you from your own mind, is mantra.

When you are nervous, disoriented, or emotionally fragile, inspired chanting or reciting of a mantra can change the state of your mind completely, by transforming its energy and atmosphere. How is this possible? Mantra is the essence of sound, the embodiment of the truth in the form of sound. Each syllable is impregnated with spiritual power, condenses a deep spiritual truth, and vibrates with the blessing of the speech of the buddhas. It is also said that the mind rides on the subtle energy of the breath, the prana, which moves through and purifies the subtle channels of the body. So when you chant a mantra, you are charging your breath and energy with the energy of the mantra, and so working directly on your mind and your subtle body.

The mantra I recommend to my students is:

OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM

Tibetans say: “Om Ah Hung Benza Guru Péma Siddhi Hung,” which is the mantra of Padmasambhava, the mantra of all the buddhas, masters, and realized beings, and is uniquely powerful for peace, for healing, for transformation, and for protection in this violent, chaotic age.

Recite the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let your breath, the mantra, and your awareness slowly become one. Or chant it in an inspiring way, then rest in the profound silence that sometimes follows.


I always tell my students not to come out of meditation too quickly. Allow a period of some minutes for the peace of the practice of meditation to infiltrate your life. As my master, Dudjom Rinpoche, said: “Don’t jump up and rush off, but mingle your mindfulness with everyday life. Be like a man who’s fractured his skull, always careful in case someone will touch him.”


Just as a writer learns the spontaneous freedom of expression only after years of often grueling study, and just as the simple grace of a dancer is achieved only with enormous, patient effort, so when you begin to understand where meditation will lead you, you will approach it as the greatest endeavor of your life, one that demands of you the deepest perseverance, enthusiasm, intelligence, and discipline.


Nothing to do

Sometimes when I meditate, I don’t use any particular method. I just allow my mind to rest, and I find, especially when I am inspired, that I can bring my mind home and relax very quickly. I sit quietly and rest in the nature of mind; I don’t question or doubt whether I am in the “correct” state. There is no effort, only a rich understanding, wakefulness, and unshakable certainty.

When I am in the nature of mind, the ordinary mind is no longer there. There is no need to sustain or confirm a sense of being: I simply am. A fundamental trust is present. There is nothing in particular to do. Sogyal Rinpoche


What should we “do” with the mind in meditation? Nothing at all.

Just leave it, simply, as it is.

One master described meditation as “mind, suspended in space, nowhere.”


Sit for a short time; then take a break, a very short break of about thirty seconds or a minute. But be mindful of whatever you do, and do not lose your presence and its natural ease. Then alert yourself and sit again. If you do many short sessions like this, your breaks will often make your meditation more real and more inspiring; they will take the clumsy, irksome rigidity, solemnity, and unnaturalness out of your practice and bring you more and more focus and ease.

Gradually, through this interplay of breaks and sitting, the barrier between meditation and everyday life will crumble, the contrast between them will dissolve, and you will find yourself increasingly in your natural pure presence, without distraction.

Then, as Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: “Even though the meditator may leave the meditation, the meditation will not leave the meditator.”


After meditation, it’s important not to give in to our tendency to solidify the way we perceive things.

When you do re-enter everyday life, let the wisdom, insight, compassion, humor, fluidity, spaciousness, and detachment that meditation brought you pervade your day-to-day experience. Meditation awakens in you the realization of how the nature of everything is illusory and dreamlike. Maintain that awareness even in the thick of samsara.

One great master has said: “After meditation practice, one should become a child of illusion.”

It is essential to realize now, in life, when we still have a body, that its convincing appearance of solidity is a mere illusion. The most powerful way to realize this is to learn how, after meditation, to “become a child of illusion”: to refrain from solidifying, as we are always tempted to do, the perceptions of ourselves and our world; and to go on, like the “child of illusion,” seeing directly, as we do in meditation, that all phenomena are illusory and dreamlike. The realization that this deepens the body’s illusory nature is one of the most profound and inspiring we can have to help us to let go.

Integration

To integrate meditation in action is the whole ground and point and purpose of meditation. The violence and stress and the challenges and distractions of this modem life make this integration urgently necessary.

How do we achieve this integration, this permeation of everyday life with the calm humor and spacious detachment of meditation? There is no substitute for regular practice, for only through real practice will we begin to taste unbrokenly the calm of our nature of mind and so be able to sustain the experience of it in our everyday lives.

If you really wish to achieve this, what you need to do is practice not just as occasional medicine or therapy but as if it were your daily sustenance or food.


As abiding by the flow of Rigpa becomes a reality, it begins to permeate the practitioner's everyday life and action, and breeds a deep stability and confidence.

The real glory of meditation lies not in any method but in its continual living experience of presence, in its bliss, clarity, peace, and, most important of all, complete absence of grasping.

The diminishing of your grasping is a sign that you are becoming freer of yourself. And the more you experience this freedom, the clearer the sign that the ego and the hopes and fears that keep it alive are dissolving and the closer you will come to the infinitely generous “wisdom of egolessness.” When you live in that wisdom home, you’ll no longer find a barrier between “I” and “you,” “this” and “that,” “inside” and “outside”; you’ll have come, finally, to your true home, the state of nonduality.

Dudjom Rinpoche says:

Action is being truly observant of your own thoughts, good or bad, looking into the true nature of whatever thoughts may arise, neither tracing the past nor inviting the future, neither allowing any clinging to experience of joy, nor being overcome by sad situations. In so doing, you try to reach and remain in the state of great equilibrium, where all good and bad, peace and distress are devoid of true identity.


Above Excerpts from 'Glimpse of the Day' by Sogyal Rinpoche



SD: What is the true meaning of meditation?

Manuel Schoch: If we are by nature nothing else but ob-servation, even in sleep you are in this state of observation otherwise you would wake up the next day in a state of panic wondering what has happened. Therefore, modern meditation is not based on having to observe your body, thoughts, feelings or sensation.

What you do need to observe is the action or outcome of feelings, thoughts and sensations. In meditation, you are looking at every impulse which can create an action because every action you do now will tell you more about your past than analysing your past. So meditation is nothing else than getting into a state of observation, taking care of this action.

For example, every thought has an electric input on the skin. So every thought creates an action and the same goes for feelings or body sensations. Anger is never immediately anger, it is first a tiny bit of fear, then a zero factor of nothingness and finally, a decision to act.

Meditation is about observing this impulse and modern physics has shown many times that whenever you observe something, that which is observed changes and so there is never an action. Meditation is learning to be that natural observation.


The Effects of Meditation

The effect of meditation, in the beginning, will be the gradual understanding of what is meant by tranquility, what is meant by the mind becoming tranquil. It is not something contrived or imposed or imported from outside. It is arising of what is already within us. As the mind becomes tranquil, many things begin to become clear. Things that were not formerly clear to us about ourselves, the world around us, the way we are living, relationships. We become clear about everything. So we need to generate within our minds the conditions for a preliminary mindfulness - the essence of meditation.

As tranquility arises we begin gaining insight into the state of our own minds. Insight may arise naturally with tranquility. That is the traditional teaching. We train in tranquility and insight naturally arises.

Insight is the most profound level of learning. It is learning throught direct perception which naturally gives rise to understanding. It is not learning through externally acquired information, something imported from outside. It leads to wisdom because it is learning inwardly how we are and what we are as human beings. The way to wisdom and intelligence is to understand ourselves as human beings. Not through a theory, not through a concept, but through direct experience.

Direct perception: "Ah, that's what my mind does. That's why I become angry. That's why I become depressed. That's why I become anxious." There is no theory. It's direct perception. We see through meditation, what the mind is doing, moment by moment. Why? Because we are training ourselves to become present. If we are present, we naturally bring our intelligence to bear on the moment. Therefore we have no option but to find out what is happening.

The effect of this is that the mind inevitably changes. We don't make it change. It changes. It is like giving a child food; it eats. Through eating, its body changes. We don't get the child up in the morning and say, "Right, eat your breakfast and grow big and strong." The process of eating naturally does it. The process of meditation naturally brings about tranquility, insight, and change. Through that change arises the basis for wisdom, compassion, and clarity.

Above except from 'Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation' by Rob Nairn


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((((¤))))

Benefits of Meditating

As you begin meditating you will find:

Studies in prisons have shown that meditation leads to a


How To Meditate

Basics

Then bringing Samadhi into everyday activities

threefold purity

read about these three in article by Pema Chodron, linked below


How to Do Mindfulness Meditation

By Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Mindfulness is essential to spiritual practice, for no matter what spiritual tradition we follow, we must have a mind that is able to stay in the present moment if our understanding and experience is to deepen. In mindfulness, or shamatha, meditation, we are trying to achieve a mind that is stable and calm. What we begin to discover is that this calmness or harmony is a natural aspect of the mind.

Through mindfulness practice we are just developing and strengthening it, and eventually we are able to remain peacefully in our mind without struggling. Our mind naturally feels content. An important point is that when we are in a mindful state, there is still intelligence. It's not as if we blank out. Sometimes people think that a person who is in deep meditation doesn't know what's going on-that it's like being asleep. In fact, there are meditative states where you deny sense perceptions their function, but this is not the accomplishment of shamatha practice.

Creating a Favorable Environment

There are certain conditions that are helpful for the practice of mindfulness. When we create the right environment it's easier to practice. It is good if the place where you meditate, even if it's only a small space in your apartment, has a feeling of upliftedness and sacredness. It is also said that you should meditate in a place that is not too noisy or disturbing, and you should not be in a situation where your mind is going to be easily provoked into anger or jealousy or other emotions. If you are disturbed or irritated, then your practice is going to be affected. Beginning the Practice I encourage people to meditate frequently but for short periods of time-ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. If you force it too much the practice can take on too much of a personality, and training the mind should be very, very simple.

So you could meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, and during that time you are really working with the mind. Then you just stop, get up, and go. Often we just plop ourselves down to meditate and just let the mind take us wherever it may. We have to create a personal sense of discipline. When we sit down, we can remind ourselves: "I'm here to work on my mind. I'm here to train my mind." It's okay to say that to yourself when you sit down, literally. We need that kind of inspiration as we begin to practice.

Posture

The Buddhist approach is that the mind and body are connected. The energy flows better when the body is erect, and when it's bent, the flow is changed and that directly affects your thought process. So there is a yoga of how to work with this. We're not sitting up straight because we're trying to be good schoolchildren; our posture actually affects the mind. People who need to use a chair for meditation should sit upright with their feet touching the ground. Those using a meditation cushion such as a zafu or gomden should find a comfortable position with legs crossed and hands resting palm-down on your thighs. The hips are neither rotated forward too much, which creates tension, nor tilted back so you start slouching. You should have a feeling of stability and strength.

. When we sit down the first thing we need to do is to really inhabit our body-really have a sense of our body. Often we sort of prop ourselves up and pretend we're practicing, but we can't even feel our body; we can't even feel where it is. Instead, we need to be right here. So when you begin a meditation session, you can spend some initial time settling into your posture. You can feel that your spine is being pulled up from the top of your head so your posture is elongated, and then settle. The basic principle is to keep an upright, erect posture. You are in a solid situation: your shoulders are level, your hips are level, your spine is stacked up. You can visualize putting your bones in the right order and letting your flesh hang off that structure. We use this posture in order to remain relaxed and awake. The practice we're doing is very precise: you should be very much awake even though you are calm. If you find yourself getting dull or hazy or falling asleep, you should check your posture.

Gaze

For strict mindfulness practice, the gaze should be downward focusing a couple of inches in front of your nose. The eyes are open but not staring; your gaze is soft. We are trying to reduce sensory input as much as we can. People say, "Shouldn't we have a sense of the environment?" but that's not our concern in this practice. We're just trying to work with the mind and the more we raise our gaze, the more distracted we're going to be. It's as if you had an overhead light shining over the whole room, and all of a sudden you focus it down right in front of you. You are purposefully ignoring what is going on around you. You are putting the horse of mind in a smaller corral.

Breath

When we do shamatha practice, we become more and more familiar with our mind, and in particular we learn to recognize the movement of the mind, which we experience as thoughts. We do this by using an object of meditation to provide a contrast or counterpoint to what's happening in our mind. As soon as we go off and start thinking about something, awareness of the object of meditation will bring us back. We could put a rock in front of us and use it to focus our mind, but using the breath as the object of meditation is particularly helpful because it relaxes us. As you start the practice, you have a sense of your body and a sense of where you are, and then you begin to notice the breathing. The whole feeling of the breath is very important. The breath should not be forced, obviously; you are breathing naturally. The breath is going in and out, in and out. With each breath you become relaxed.

Thoughts

No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, "That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I'm practicing meditation." It gets down to how honest we are, how true we can be to ourselves, during each session. Everyone gets lost in thought sometimes. You might think, "I can't believe I got so absorbed in something like that," but try not to make it too personal. Just try to be as unbiased as possible. Mind will be wild and we have to recognize that. We can't push ourselves. If we're trying to be completely concept-free, with no discursiveness at all, it's just not going to happen.

So through the labeling process, we simply see our discursiveness. We notice that we have been lost in thought, we mentally label it "thinking"-gently and without judgment- and we come back to the breath. When we have a thought-no matter how wild or bizarre it may be-we just let it go and come back to the breath, come back to the situation here.

Each meditation session is a journey of discovery to understand the basic truth of who we are. In the beginning the most important lesson of meditation is seeing the speed of the mind. But the meditation tradition says that mind doesn't have to be this way: it just hasn't been worked with. What we are talking about is very practical. Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. And because we are working with the mind that experiences life directly, just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is holder of the Buddhist and Shambhala lineages of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. "How to do Mindfulness Meditation appeared in the January 2000 issue of the Shambhala Sun.


Observer Consciousness and Activity Mind

The essence of meditation is training in mindfulness. This is done by resting the attention on an external meditation support, and returning to it every time it drifts away into thought. This action is possible because one part of the mind observes and identifies with thoughts and feelings as they arise. If we did not have this capacity for self-reflective awareness we would not know or realize we were thinking when thinking happens.

We call the part of mind that observes "observer consciousness," and the part that thinks and gets observed "activity mind". When we talk of the "thought", the word includes feelings and emotions.

 

Meditation Support

When we begin meditating, we need a reference point for the mind to prevent it getting lost in distraction. This is called a support. Breath is generally used. Sound is also a good support.

....Our task as meditators is to gradually create the conditions for the removal of what stands between us and the experience of the enlightened condition: the obscurations of the mind.

The obscurations are rooted in what we call mind poisons: greed, hatred, delusion, pride, an jealousy. (Lamas say that westerners have invented the sixth: guilt.)

In simple terms it means facing and becoming free from negativity. The path is neither to dwell on the negative nor deny it. It is a mature middle way of acknowledging the existence of negative and then setting out to do something about it. The path to freedom from negativity has the development of mindfulness as the foundation.

...p 24:

Mindfulness can be defined as knowing what is happening while it is happening, no matter what it is.

pp87 -89:

Let GO -

Letting go is a very highly disciplined action. It is the action of training ourselves to see and know and be present with that moment of arising (thought). Then to see the compulsive cycle of buying into the incoming thought through the three modes of grasping: grasping desire by trying to grab, grasping rejection by trying to push away, and grasping negation by trying to block it out. All three of these constitute grasping because every time we engage in one of these we get caught in whatever thought or feeling is there, because it is all reactive. Any reactive movement within the mind leads to bondage as it does in life.

Let thoughts pass, let it happen

The Buddha illustrated this point one day when he was giving a lecture and a Brahmin got up and began insulting him. He raved for while and when he had finished the Buddha said, "If somebody laid out a banquet in front of me, to whom would it belong?

"Obviously it would belong to the person who put it there," replied the Brahmin.

"And if the person offered it to me," continued the Buddha, "and I declined to accept it, whose would it be?"
"Well obviously it would remain the property of the person who put it there."
"Just so," declared the Buddha. "just so."

In our external relationships if people insult us and want to fight with us then that's their banquet, It becomes ours only if we choose to accept and engage it. It is exactly the same with all our thoughts and feelings. They are arising and passing but are problematic only because we pick them up. We make them ours, thus bringing a sense of egocentric possession to a situation that could have remained neutral. Only when the decision is made to appropriate the thought to ego-territory does grasping arise. When we don't do that then the mind relaxes, it is no longer caught up with all the thoughts and feelings and we understand what is meant by freedom. Freedom from thought.

The mind is now becoming more and more stable because it is no longer possible for the average change in thought / feeling to overwhelm the mind. The basis for this instablility is no longer there. Once again the basis for instability is our compulsive conviction that whatever arises has to be experienced in the sense of being grasped in one of the three modes. We no longer have that belief. We've learnt that we no longer have to do that.

Engaging Content

The mind is enslaved because it is continually engages content, identifying with thoughts and feelings as they arise and getting glued to them. With the development of bare attention this will change and the compulsive reactive response that causes us to pick up on thought will weaken.

The main reason we engage is that the mind carries messages which say,"it is normal", "this is how I am", "I should do this." This attitude of mind constitutes an inner authority that dominates and sometimes tyrannizes our thinking. The result is we can't observe our thoughts objectively, but are compelled to get in and change, control, get rid of (especially unwanted feelings), and so on. The basic steps are:

Until we understand this and challenge the underlying compulsive response, we remain in bondage.

above excerpts from 'Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation' by Rob Nairn


Please Note:

"A common misunderstanding is that the meditative state of mind has to be captured and then nursed and cherished. That is definitely the wrong approach. If you try to domesticate your mind through meditation-try to possess it by holding onto the meditative state-the clear result will be regression on the path, with a loss of freshness and spontaneity. If you try to hold on without lapse all the time, then maintaining your awareness will begin to become a domestic hassle. It will become like painfully going through housework. There will be an underlying sense of resentment, and the practice of meditation will become confusing. You will begin to develop a love-hate relationship toward your practice, in which your concept of it seems good, but, at the same time, the demand this rigid concept makes on you is too painful. " Chogyam Trunpa Rinponche

see page on emptiness - includes article by Donald Neale Walsch

read more like this on mindfulness page


Taking the inner peace with you

The most important moment in meditation is the instant you leave the cushion. When your practice session is over, you can jump up and drop the whole thing, or you can bring those skills with you into the rest of your activities. It is crucial for you to understand what meditation is. It is not some special posture, and it's not just a set of mental exercises. Meditation is a cultivation of mindfulness and the application of that mindfulness once cultivated. You do not have to sit to meditate.

You can meditate while washing the dishes.

the ultimate goal of practice remains: to build one's concentration and awareness to a level of strength that will remain unwavering even in the midst of the pressures of life in contemporary society. Life offers many challenges and the serious meditator is very seldom bored.

A state of mindfulness is a state of mental readiness. The mind is not burdened with preoccupations or bound in worries. Whatever comes up can be dealt with instantly. When you are truly mindful, your nervous system has a freshness and resiliency which fosters insight. A problem arises and you simply deal with it, quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of fuss. You don't stand there in a dither, and you don't run off to a quiet corner so you can sit down and meditate about it. You simply deal with it. And in those rare circumstances when no solution seems possible, you don't worry about that. You just go on to the next thing that needs your attention. Your intuition becomes a very practical faculty.

Try to stay alert and aware throughout the day. Be mindful of exactly what is taking place right now, even if it is tedious drudgery. Take advantage of moments when you are alone. Take advantage of activities that are largely mechanical. Use every spare second to be mindful. Use all the moments you can.

Meditation that is successful only when you are withdrawn in some soundproof ivory tower is still undeveloped. Insight meditation is the practice of moment-to-moment mindfulness. The meditator learns to pay bare attention to the birth, growth, and decay of all the phenomena of the mind. He turns from none of it, and he lets none of it escape. Thoughts and emotions, activities and desires, the whole show. He watches it all and he watches it continuously. It matters not whether it is lovely or horrid, beautiful or shameful. He sees the way it is and the way it changes. No aspect of experience is excluded or avoided. It is a very thoroughgoing procedure.

Above excerpt from Mindfulness in Plain English, By the Venerable Henepola Gunaratana


Over time you will find it easier to not to get distracted. Deepak says meditating is like soaking a white cloth in red dye. At first, when you wet the cloth in the dye and then put the cloth in the sun, the colour will fade. Soak the cloth a few more times and it becomes more and more colourful and resistant to the sun. Eventually the cloth will never fade when it is put in the sun again. The sun of course is the outside world.

You can mediate anytime. You can bring this stillness with you. but you have to overcome the constant chatter in your mind. Try not to judge or label anyone. When we do that we stop being offended and our inner dialogue quietens. We don't get as stressed.

"So the technique of the mindfulness of life is based on touch-and-go. You focus your attention on the object of awareness, but then, in the same moment, you disown that awareness and go on. What is needed here is some sense of confidence-confidence that you do not have to securely own your mind, but that you can tune into its process spon­taneously. " Chogyam Trunpa Rinponche

The key is not to react:

"Enlightenment is not that there is suddenly no more fear or no more feelings - that would mean to no longer be human. It simply means that we see feelings as they are but we don't react to them". Manuel Schoch

'IT IS LIKE HIS NOW' - Buddhist Law of Suchness

Accept reality as it is

 

see related pages: such as Emptiness, Dzogchen Books, Mind, Ego, dealing with emotions, 12 steps to self mastery, Becoming a master


 

related books

I find that audio CD's / MP3#s can be useful, especially for beginners

 

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when we cling to results, they're of no use at all. One of the mahamudra texts says, "Even the qualities of clarity, non-dwelling, and bliss are obstacles if you cling to them." So that's threefold purity. It provides good directions for practicing meditation-or any other activity, for that matter. Have no expectation about who you are--the generous one or the mean one or whoever-no expectation of your activity or process, no expectation of fruition. This is how we go from living by concept, freezing ourselves in time and space, to relaxing into the fluid spaciousness with which we were born. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pema Chödrön is the author of The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are and When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. "The Threefold Purity" appeared in the May 1998 issue of the Shambhala Sun.


 

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