The practice of mindfulness, of bringing the scattered mind home, and so of bringing the different aspects of our being into focus, is called Peacefully Remaining or Calm Abiding.
All the fragmented aspects of ourselves, which had been at war, settle and dissolve and become friends. In that settling we begin to understand ourselves more, and sometimes even have glimpses of the radiance of our fundamental nature.
Gradually, as you remain open and mindful, and use a technique to focus your mind more and more, your negativity will slowly be defused; you begin to feel well in your own skin, or, as the French say, être bien dans sa peau (well in your own skin). From this comes release and a profound ease. I think of this practice as the most effective form of therapy and self-healing.
When you have learned, through discipline, to simplify your life, and so practiced the mindfulness of meditation, and through it loosened the hold of aggression, clinging, and negativity on your whole being, the wisdom of insight can slowly dawn. And in the all-revealing clarity of its sunlight, this insight can show you, distinctly and directly, both the subtlest workings of your own mind and the nature of reality.
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
The practice of mindfulness unveils and reveals your essential Good Heart, because it dissolves and removes the unkindness or the harm in you. Only when you have removed the harm in yourself do you become truly useful to others. Through the practice, by slowly removing the unkindness and harm from yourself, you allow your true Good Heart, the fundamental goodness and kindness that are your real nature, to shine out and become the warm climate in which your true being flowers.
This is why I call meditation the true practice of peace, the true practice of nonaggression and nonviolence, and the real and greatest disarmament.
The practice of mindfulness defuses our negativity, aggression, and turbulent emotions, which may have been gathering power over many lifetimes. Rather than suppressing emotions or indulging in them, here it is important to view themyour thoughts and whatever ariseswith an acceptance and generosity that are as open and spacious as possible. Tibetan masters say that this wise generosity has the flavor of boundless space, so warm and cozy that you feel enveloped and protected by it, as if by a blanket of sunlight.
Mindfulness in Plain English
Vipassana is the oldest of Buddhist meditation practices. The method comes directly from the Sitipatthana Sutta, a discourse attributed to Buddha himself. Vipassana is a direct and gradual cultivation of mindfulness or awareness. It proceeds piece by piece over a period of years. The student's attention is carefully directed to an intense examination of certain aspects of his own existence. The meditator is trained to notice more and more of his own flowing life experience.
Vipassana is a gentle technique. But it also is very , very thorough. It is an ancient and codified system of sensitivity training, a set of exercises dedicated to becoming more and more receptive to your own life experience. It is attentive listening, total seeing and careful testing. We learn to smell acutely, to touch fully and really pay attention to what we feel. We learn to listen to our own thoughts without being caught up in them. The object of Vipassana practice is to learn to pay attention. We think we are doing this already, but that is an illusion. It comes from the fact that we are paying so little attention to the ongoing surge of our own life experiences that we might just as well be asleep. We are simply not paying enough attention to notice that we are not paying attention. It is another Catch-22. Through the process of mindfulness, we slowly become aware of what we really are down below the ego image. We wake up to what life really is. It is not just a parade of ups and downs, lollipops and smacks on the wrist. That is an illusion. Life has a much deeper texture than that if we bother to look, and if we look in the right way.
Vipassana is a form of mental training that will teach you to experience the world in an entirely new way. You will learn for the first time what is truly happening to you, around you and within you. It is a process of self discovery, a participatory investigation in which you observe your own experiences while participating in them, and as they occur. The practice must be approached with this attitude. "Never mind what I have been taught. Forget about theories and prejudgments and stereotypes. I want to understand the true nature of life. I want to know what this experience of being alive really is. I want to apprehend the true and deepest qualities of life, and I don't want to just accept somebody else's explanation. I want to see it for myself." If you pursue your meditation practice with this attitude, you will succeed. You'll find yourself observing things objectively, exactly as they are--flowing and changing from moment to moment. Life then takes on an unbelievable richness which cannot be described. It has to be experienced.
The more concentration power you have, the less chance there is of launching off on a long chain of analysis about the distraction.
Just about the only rule you need to follow at this point is to put your effort on concentration at the beginning, until the monkey mind phenomenon has cooled down a bit. After that, emphasize mindfulness. If you find yourself getting frantic, emphasize concentration. If you find yourself going into a stupor, emphasize mindfulness. Overall, mindfulness is the one to emphasize.
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.
Thus, as genuine mindfulness is built up, the walls of the ego itself are broken down, craving diminishes, defensiveness and rigidity lessen, you become more open, accepting and flexible. You learn to share your loving-kindness.
Traditionally, Buddhists are reluctant to talk about the ultimate nature of human beings. But those who are willing to make descriptive statements at all usually say that our ultimate essence or Buddha nature is pure, holy and inherently good. The only reason that human beings appear otherwise is that their experience of that ultimate essence has been hindered; it has been blocked like water behind a dam. The hindrances are the bricks of which the dam is built. As mindfulness dissolves the bricks, holes are punched in the dam and compassion and sympathetic joy come flooding forward. As meditative mindfulness develops, your whole experience of life changes. Your experience of being alive, the very sensation of being conscious, becomes lucid and precise, no longer just an unnoticed background for your preoccupations. It becomes a thing consistently perceived.
Each passing moment stands out as itself; the moments no longer blend together in an unnoticed blur. Nothing is glossed over or taken for granted, no experiences labeled as merely 'ordinary'. Everything looks bright and special. You refrain from categorizing your experiences into mental pigeonholes. Descriptions and interpretations are chucked aside and each moment of time is allowed to speak for itself.
You actually listen to what it has to say, and you listen as if it were being heard for the very first time. When your meditation becomes really powerful, it also becomes constant. You consistently observe with bare attention both the breath and every mental phenomenon.
You feel increasingly stable, increasingly moored in the stark and simple experience of moment-to-moment existence. Once your mind is free from thought, it becomes clearly wakeful and at rest in an utterly simple awareness. This awareness cannot be described adequately. Words are not enough. It can only be experienced. Breath ceases to be just breath; it is no longer limited to the static and familiar concept you once held. You no longer see it as a succession of just inhalations and exhalations; it is no longer some insignificant monotonous experience. Breath becomes a living, changing process, something alive and fascinating. It is no longer something that takes place in time; it is perceived as the present moment itself. Time is seen as a concept, not an experienced reality. This is simplified, rudimentary awareness which is stripped of all extraneous detail. It is grounded in a living flow of the present, and it is marked by a pronounced sense of reality. You know absolutely that this is real, more real than anything you have ever experienced.
Once you have gained this perception with absolute certainty, you have a fresh vantage point, a new criterion against which to gauge all of your experience. After this perception, you see clearly those moments when you are participating in bare phenomena alone, and those moments when you are disturbing phenomena with mental attitudes. You watch yourself twisting reality with mental comments, with stale images and personal opinions. You know what you are doing, when you are doing it. You become increasingly sensitive to the ways in which you miss the true reality, and you gravitate towards the simple objective perspective which does not add to or subtract from what is. You become a very perceptive individual. From this vantage point, all is seen with clarity.
The innumerable activities of mind and body stand out in glaring detail. You mindfully observe the incessant rise and fall of breath; you watch an endless stream of bodily sensations and movements; you scan a rapid succession of thoughts and feelings, and you sense the rhythm that echoes from the steady march of time. And in the midst of all this ceaseless movement, there is no watcher, there is only watching. In this state of perception, nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. Everything is seen to be in constant transformation. All things are born, all things grow old and die. There are no exceptions. You awaken to the unceasing changes of your own life. You look around and see everything in flux, everything, everything, everything. It is all rising and falling, intensifying and diminishing, coming into existence and passing away. All of life, every bit of it from the infinitesimal to the Indian Ocean, is in motion constantly. You perceive the universe as a great flowing river of experience. Your most cherished possessions are slipping away, and so is your very life. Yet this impermanence is no reason for grief. You stand there transfixed, staring at this incessant activity, and your response is wondrous joy. It's all moving, dancing and full of life.
As you continue to observe these changes and you see how it all fits together, you become aware of the intimate connectedness of all mental, sensory and affective phenomena. You watch one thought leading to another, you see destruction giving rise to emotional reactions and feelings giving rise to more thoughts. Actions, thoughts, feelings, desires--you see all of them intimately linked together in a delicate fabric of cause and effect. You watch pleasurable experiences arise and fall and you see that they never last; you watch pain come uninvited and you watch yourself anxiously struggling to throw it off; you see yourself fail. It all happens over and over while you stand back quietly and just watch it all work.
Out of this living laboratory itself comes an inner and unassailable conclusion. You see that your life is marked by disappointment and frustration, and you clearly see the source. These reactions arise out of your own inability to get what you want, your fear of losing what you have already gained and your habit of never being satisfied with what you have. These are no longer theoretical concepts--you have seen these things for yourself and you know that they are real. You perceive your own fear, your own basic insecurity in the face of life and death. It is a profound tension that goes all the way down to the root of thought and makes all of life a struggle. You watch yourself anxiously groping about, fearfully grasping for something, anything, to hold onto in the midst of all these shifting sands, and you see that there is nothing to hold onto, nothing that doesn't change.
A meditator keeps his mind open every second. He is constantly investigating life, inspecting his own experience, viewing existence in a detached and inquisitive way. Thus he is constantly open to truth in any form, from any source, and at any time. This is the state of mind you need for Liberation. It is said that one may attain enlightenment at any moment if the mind is kept in a state of meditative readiness. The tiniest, most ordinary perception can be the stimulus: a view of the moon, the cry of a bird, the sound of the wind in the trees. it's not so important what is perceived as the way in which you attend to that perception. The state of open readiness is essential. It could happen to you right now if you are ready. The tactile sensation of this book in your fingers could be the cue. the sound of these words in your head might be enough. You could attain enlightenment right now, if you are ready._
You find nothing. In all that collection of mental hardware in this endless stream of ever-shifting experience all you can find is innumerable impersonal processes which have been caused and conditioned by previous processes. There is no static self to be found; it is all process. You find thoughts but no thinker, you find emotions and desires, but nobody doing them. The house itself is empty. There is nobody home. Your whole view of self changes at this point. You begin to look upon yourself as if you were a newspaper photograph. When viewed with the naked eyes, the photograph you see is a definite image. When viewed through a magnifying glass, it all breaks down into an intricate configuration of dots.
Similarly, under the penetrating gaze of mindfulness, the feeling of self, an 'I' or 'being' anything, loses its solidity and dissolves. There comes a point in insight meditation where the three characteristics of existence--impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness-- come rushing home with concept-searing force. You vividly experience the impermanence of life, the suffering nature of human existence, and the truth of no self. You experience these things so graphically that you suddenly awake to the utter futility of craving, grasping and resistance. In the clarity and purity of this profound moment, our consciousness is transformed. The entity of self evaporates. All that is left is an infinity of interrelated non-personal phenomena which are conditioned and ever changing. Craving is extinguished and a great burden is lifted. There remains only an effortless flow, without a trace of resistance or tension. There remains only peace, and blessed Nibbana, the uncreated, is realized.
Abridged from 'Mindfulness in Plain English' By the Venerable Henepola Gunaratana
More Excerpts from 'Mindfulness in Plain English' by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana
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.
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.
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 imput 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.
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.
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.
Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation by Rob Nairn
Happiness, compassion, wisdom, and clarity are inherent qualities within all human beings. The true nature of the mind is gentle, peaceful and clear. This seems difficult to believe because most of the time our minds are in a state of anxiety, agitation, desire, passion, anger, or grief - all clouds that obscure the bright pure quality of what we truly are. We ourselves are creating obscurations and thus keeping our innate qualities inaacessible within our minds.
Through understanding the psychology of meditation we can reverse our perspective, and recognize these obscurations, how they came about, and how to release and dissolve them. The innate brilliance of the mind then naturally manifests.
Meditation is inherently simple. We do not need to import anything new into the mind. There are no complex, intellectual mechanisms involved. We don't have to understand profound philosophical systems. What is necessary is to learn the very basic simplicity of being - and in this way discover the diamond mind.
"What is presented here is like a map; it is an entirely different experience to actually make this journey. It requires a guide to make this journey, and as well, we must make the proper preparations; our minds must be tamed and trained through the practice of meditation. Only then can we see the vajra world."
Chogyam Trunpa, Journey Without Goal
What is meditation?
It is you and me, it is us! our inner journey, our business, our effort. Nobody can do it for us. Meditation is a method of gaining access to the inner wisdom and compassion - and resolving our inner problems in the process.
As soo as we are in the success/failure dimension in meditation, we're in trouble, because there is no success in the normal sense.
So, in meditation, we are not working with the success/ failure paradigm at all. We are simply training ourselves to be present in the moment with exactly what is there. For most people the big suprise is that what is there is a bewildering stranger. One of the greatest strangers in the world is this one in the heart. We don't know much about ourselves.
When we start looking, we discover there is a great deal we don't want to be with, don't want to know about, don't want to feel. Meditation reveals a paradoxical situation. We are travelling through life with a stranger who at some level is trying to communicate with us, yet we want to know only a very limited aspect of communication. We want to know only the nice things about ourselves: whether we are happy, good-looking, enjoying things. If we experience anxiety, anger, guilt, depression, jealousy, and other unpleasant emotions (which we mostly know as a sinking feeling that gets pushed down into the pit of teh stomach) then we definitely don't want to know.
Towards a description:
To attempt a loose description rather than a definition of meditation, one could say it is a training based on mindfulness. This entails being present in the moment, which is the ground out of which tranquility arises. One comes face to face with the mind and learns about it at a deep level. This leads to inner understanding and penetrating insight into the illusion we have created about ourselves and the nature of life. Hence Buddhist meditation is often loosely termed "insight meditation", which describes the result of training in mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the founding cause of both tranquility and penetrating insight. When the mind is established in these two, we experience liberation from suffering and a co-emergent manifestation of compassion and wisdom. But the reslut is not the goal. We let go of goals and focus on the action of meditation. If we fixate on a goal, we block the arising of the meditative condition.
Meditation, then, involves being present with what is here.
External / Internal Surveillance
This external surveillance method also operates inwardly. We conduct surveillance in relation to our inner environment.
We refer to this as subjective because we are a subject and it is within us. Objective is concerned with external objects. The one form of surveillance is objectective and directed externally. The other is subjective and directed internally. The level and intensity of inner surveillance exceeds the external because there are no outer forces to change it.
When meditating we need to take account of this sensitive inner situation. Meditation first trains us to be present with what is there, with this inner environment. If we don't, we buy into the internal criticism, the repression, and the not wanting to know. This leads us away from meditation into morbid introspection. Our way of observing ourselves, becomes harmful because it can lead to self-rejection, repression, and paranoia instead of clarity and freedom. Then people say, "Stop dwelling on your faults and neuroses. You're always dwelling on your miseries." That's morbid introspection.
The second thing we do is train ourselves to develop an attitude towards ourselves which won't precipitate that condition. An attitude where we say, "Whatever arises is ok." Not OK in the sense that it's what we want, but that we can be with it. We don't have to try to get rid of it. Internally we cannot get rid of mindstates. If anxiety arises in the mind, we can't get rid of it any more than if the liver has a problem, we can tear it out and get rid of the problem. So it's extremely important that we really understand this attitude of self-acceptance: this is me, at this moment. It doesn't mean it's always going to be me. It means it's me now and the first thing I can do as a human being is come to terms with myself as a human being.
Beyond Ambition: No Goals
There are no goals. If we think, "I'll now develop the attitude of acceptance because then I will have an amazing mind," we have fallen into the third hole: that of forming a goal. As soon as there is a goal, there is a potential problem because it brings with it the idea of achievement and failure. We need to understand the general principle, that change will come about if we learn to work skillfully with the mind but we don't make change the goal. That's not our job. The change will arise in its way and in its own time due to the effect of meditation. Our job is to train ourselves through mindfulness, increasingly to be simply present in the moment and to come to terms with what is there. If we do that, everything else falls into place.
This is the order of things then: First training ourselves to be present in the moment with what is there. Second, developing the attitude of self-acceptance so that whatever airises is OK, thus coming to terms with ourselves. Third abandoning goals.
Having no goals bewilders most people in the beginning because in life we are obsessed with goals. "How can we get anywhere if we don't get a goal?" The answer is that if we let go of any idea of getting anywhere we come to see that we are already there. There is nowhere to go. We are sitting where we need to be, but just haven't realized it. Once we've understood that, we can relax, let go of the terrible strain of striving to achieve, to get there, to accomplish, to win. We can also let go of the accompanying fear of losing and failing. Wherever there is hope there is going to be fear in this context. So having no goals, we just learn to relax, be fully with ourselves, and OK about ourselves.
These are the reasons why we meditate: so that we can develop our inner potential, and actualize our own peak experiences without making them into goals. But most of all, so that we can really equip ourselves to help other beings. Our being in the world then becomes a natural, beneficial force so that simply being is beneficial instead of harmful. Without continually thinking, "Oh, I must do good things," the way the mind is becomes beneficial. By freeing our mind from its negative and neurotic patterns and liberating our inner potential, we experience a spontaneous response which will be helpful and beneficial to others. It's not contrived. We don't have to kepp thinking about it or fabricating it.
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 prelinary mindfulness - the essence of meditation.
As tranquility arises we began 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.
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.
Mindfulness can be defined as knowing what is happening while it is happening, no matter what it is.
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.
Mindfulness is the systematic training in knowing what is happening, while it is happening. So if I'm standing here waving my right arm around I'm mindful, I know I am doing it. If I'm not mindful, only you know I'm doing it. Mindfulness is this moment-to-moment precision about your consciousness in relation to your body, mind, and environment.....
Awareness is a quality of knowing which develops out of that, encompassing of whatever is happening around you without directing attention specifically to it. if I become mindful, I become more aware of things both within and without. So awareness develops out of mindfulness.
Wakefulness is a term that is used in a number of different contexts. In Buddhism, the term of wakefulness is applied to that quality of mind which is no longer lost in not wanting to know. It is a quality of mind that is spontaneously present and alert and therefore picking up what's going on. So it is a sharpening of awareness. It is also applied to somebody who has woken to the true nature of his or her own mind in which case it has a much more extended meaning. That means that you are beginning to move into the area where you are enlightened. The Buddha was often referred to as the Awakened One. Awakened to all the illusions and freed from them. The analogy that is often used is that the non-enlightened state is like being asleep. This is because your Buddha-nature, your enlightened awareness, is masked by a the sleep of ignorance, greed, and hatred. When you awake to the fact that that all is part of the illusion of egocentricity, you are free from that illusion. So you are awakened from the ego-illusion and all that goes with it.
These three terms are useful to look at because they describe the different stages we experience. It's quite useful to see meditation as a growth process, rather than a mystical or magical experience. As a growth process, it has its own systematic order. It's graduated within the Kagyu Lineage.
Source: Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation by Rob Nairn, Shambhalla Publications
THE KAGYU LINEAGE OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM traces its origins to Shakyamuni Buddha through Marpa the Great Translator, who three times traveled to India to bring back authentic Buddhist teachings to Tibet. His teacher, Naropa, received the lineage transmission from Tilopa and so on, back to the Buddha himself. Marpa's most famous student was the greatest yogi in all of Tibet, the renowned Jetsun Milarepa, who passed the teachings on to Gampopa, who in turn transmitted the teachings to the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Since then, the Kagyu Lineage has been headed by a succession of reincarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa. The line of the Karmapas is said to be self-announced, because each incarnation leaves a letter predicting his next rebirth. All great Kagyu teachers regard His Holiness Karmapa as the embodiment and source of all of the blessings of the lineage.
continued from mind page:
Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation"
by Chogyam Trunpa Rinponche
We come to this in the second foundation of mindfulness, which is mindfulness of life, or survival. Since we are dealing with the context of meditation, we encounter this tendency in the form of clinging to the meditative state. We experience the meditative state and it is momentarily tangible, but in that same moment it is also dissolving. Going along with this process means developing a sense of letting go of awareness as well as of contacting it. This basic technique of the second foundation of mindfulness could be described as touch-and-go. you are there-present, mindful-and then you let go.
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.
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.
Mindfulness of life relates to the clinging tendency not only in connection with the meditative state, but, even more importantly, in connection with the level of raw anxiety about survival that manifests in us constantly, second by second, minute by minute. You breathe for survival; you lead your life for survival. The feeling is constantly present that you are trying to protect yourself from death.
For the practical purposes of the second foundation, instead of regarding this survival mentality as something negative, instead of relating to it as ego-clinging as is done in the abstract philosophical overview of Buddhism, this particular practice switches logic around. In the second foundation, the survival struggle is regarded as a steppingstone in the practice of meditation. Whenever you have the sense of the survival instinct functioning, that can be transmuted into a sense of being, a sense of having already survived. Mindfulness becomes a basic acknowledgment of existing. This does not have the flavor of "Thank God, I have survived." Instead, it is more objective, impartial: "I am alive, I am here, so be it."
In this way, meditation becomes an actual part of life, rather than just a practice or exercise. It becomes inseparable from the instinct to live that accompanies all one's existence. That instinct to live can be seen as containing awareness, meditation, mindfulness. It constantly tunes us in to what is happening. So the life force that keeps us alive and that manifests itself continually in our stream of consciousness itself becomes the practice of mindfulness.
Such mindfulness brings clarity, skill, and intelligence. You are here; you are living; let it be that way-that is mindfulness. Your heart pulsates and you breathe. All kinds of things are happening in you at once. Let mindfulness work with that, let that be mindfulness, let every beat of your heart, every breath, be mindfulness itself. You do not have to breathe specially; your breath is an expression of mindfulness. If you approach meditation in this way, it becomes very personal and very direct.
But again it is necessary to say, once you have that experience of the presence of life, don't hang onto it. Just touch and go. Touch that presence of life being lived, then go. You do not have to ignore it. "Go" does not mean that we have to turn our backs on the experience and shut ourselves off from it; it means just being in it without further analysis and without further reinforcement.
Mindfulness of Effort
"The sudden flash is a key to all Buddhist meditation, from the level of basic mindfulness to the highest levels of tantra. But it is not enough just to hope that a flash will come to us; there must be a background of discipline."
The next foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of effort. The idea of effort is apparently problematical. Effort would seem to be at odds with the sense of being that arises from mindfulness of body. Also, pushing of any kind does not have an obvious place in the touch-and-go technique of the mindfulness of life.
In either case, deliberate, heavy-handed effort would seem to endanger the open precision of the process of mindfulness. Still we cannot expect proper mindfulness to develop without some kind of exertion on our part. Effort is necessary. But the Buddhist notion of right effort is quite different from conventional definitions of effort.
The traditional Buddhist analogy for right effort is the walk of an elephant or tortoise. The elephant moves along surely, unstoppably, with great dignity. Like the worm, it is not excitable, but unlike the worm, it has a panoramic view of the ground it is treading on. Though it is serious and slow, because of the elephant's ability to survey the ground there is a sense of playfulness and intelligence in its movement.
In the case of meditation, trying to develop an inspiration that is based on wanting to forget one's pain and on trying to make one's practice thrive on a sense of continual accomplishment is quite immature. On the other hand, too much solemnity and dutifulness creates a lifeless and narrow outlook and a stale psychological environment. The style of right effort, as taught by the Buddha, is serious but not too serious. It takes advantage of the natural flow of instinct to bring the wandering mind constantly back to the mindfulness of breathing.
The crucial point in the bringing-back process is that it is not necessary to go through deliberate stages. It is not a question of forcing the mind back to some particular object, but of bringing it back down from the dream world into reality. We are breathing, we are sitting. That is what we are doing, and we should be doing it completely, fully, wholeheartedly.
There is a kind of technique, or trick, here that is extremely effective and useful, not only for sitting meditation, but also in daily life, or meditation-in-action. The way of coming back is through what we might call the abstract watcher. This watcher is just simple self-consciousness, without aim or goal. When we encounter anything, the first flash that takes place is the bare sense of duality, of separateness. On that basis, we begin to evaluate, pick and choose, make decisions, execute our will. The abstract watcher is just the basic sense of separateness-the plain cognition of being there before any of the rest develops.
Instead of condemning this self-consciousness as dualistic, we take advantage of this tendency in our psychological system and use it as the basis of the mindfulness of effort.
The experience is just a sudden flash of the watcher's being there. At that point we don't think, "I must get back to the breath" or "I must try and get away from these thoughts." We don't have to entertain a deliberate and logical movement of mind that repeats to itself the purpose of sitting practice. There is just suddenly a general sense that something is happening here and now, and we are brought back. Abruptly, immediately, without a name, without the application of any kind of concept, we have a quick glimpse of changing the tone. That is the core of the mindfulness of effort practice.
Mindfulness of Mind
"Mind functions singly. Once. And once. One thing at a time. Things always happen one at a time, in a direct, simple movement of mind. Mindfulness of mind is to be there with that one-shot perception, constantly." Often mindfulness is referred to as watchfulness. But that should not give the impression that mindfulness means watching something happening.
Mindfulness means being watchful, rather than watching some thing.
This implies a process of intelligent alertness, rather than the mechanical business of simply observing what happens. Particularly the fourth foundation-mindfulness of mind-has qualities of an aroused intelligence operating. The intelligence of the fourth foundation is a sense of light-handedness. If you open the windows and doors of a room the right amount, you can maintain the interior feeling of roomness and, at the same time, have freshness from outside. Mindfulness of mind brings that same kind of intelligent balance.
Mindfulness of mind means being with one's mind. When you sit and meditate, you are there: you are being with your body, with your sense of life or survival, with your sense of effort, and at the same time, you are being with your mind. You are being there. Mindfulness of mind suggests a sense of presence and a sense of accuracy in terms of being there. You are there, therefore you can't miss yourself. If you are not there, then you might miss yourself. But that also would be a doubletake: if you realize you are not there, that means you are there. That brings you back to where you are-back to square one.
The whole process is very simple, actually. Unfortunately, explaining the simplicity takes a lot of vocabulary, a lot of grammar. However, it is a very simple matter. And that matter concerns you and your world. Nothing else. It does not particularly concern enlightenment, and it does not particularly concern metaphysical comprehension. In fact, this simple matter does not particularly concern the next minute, or the minute before this one. It only concerns the very small area where we are now.
Really we operate on a very small basis. We think we are great, broadly significant, and that we cover a whole large area. We see ourselves as having a history and a future, and here we are in our big-deal present. But if we look at ourselves clearly in this very moment, we see we are just grains of sand-just little people concerned only with this little dot which is called nowness.
We can only operate on one dot at a time, and mindfulness of mind approaches our experience in that way. We are there and we approach ourselves on the very simple basis of that. That does not particularly have many dimensions, many perspectives; it is just a simple thing. Relating directly to this little dot of nowness is the right understanding of austerity. And if we work on this basis, it is possible to begin to see the truth of the matter, so to speak-to begin to see what nowness really means.
These teachings are abridged from The Heart of the Buddha, published by Shambhala Publications. ©1991 by Diana J. Mukpo. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was founder of Shambhala International, a worldwide association of meditation centers; Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and the Shambhala Sun. "The Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation" appeared in the March 2001 issue of the Shambhala Sun.
Or read free excerpts online - http://www.realization.org/page/namedoc0/mipe/mipe_2.htm
Mindfulness For Dummies Shamash Alidina - Highly recommended reading (free Mindfulness cheatsheet and free Mindfulness audio meditations links below)
The Heart of the Buddha, published by Shambhala Publications. ©1991 by Diana J. Mukpo
****Diamond Mind : A Psychology of Meditation Rob Nairn - This guide is concerned with relieving the anxiety, desire and anger that obscure inherent happiness. Eight specific practices explained in the book divulge how our minds work when we meditate and direct us to how we might dissolve the conditioning and unresolved issues in our way. (UK
The Miracle of Mindfulness ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Is Every Step : The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life; Paperback ~Thich Nhat Hanh read more
Living Buddha, Living Christ; Paperback ~ Thich Nhat Hanh Peace Is Every Step; Paperback ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment : Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living; Paperback ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Mayumi Oda
The Miracle of Mindfulness : A Manual on Meditation; Hardcover ~ Thich Nhat Hanh read mroe
The Blooming of a Lotus; Paperback ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Insight Meditation : An In-Depth Correspondence Course ~Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein - Audio - read more
Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There You Are : Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Essential Chogyam Trungpa by Chogyam Trungpa, Carolyn Rose Gimian
Insight & Wisdom - & Mind Training
Crazy Wisdom Author : Chogyam Trungpa Book, Publishers Price : £14.99, Wisdom Price : £14.24, Save : 5 %, Paperback, 214 pages, Currently in stock Uses the life of Padmasambhava and his eight manifestations to illustrate the principle of `crazy wisdom', which begins with the process of ruthlessly cutting through layers of psychological deception in order to uncover basic sanity.
Diamond Mind : A Psychology of Meditation Rob Nairn - This guide is concerned with relieving the anxiety, desire and anger that obscure inherent happiness. Eight specific practices explained in the book divulge how our minds work when we meditate and direct us to how we might dissolve the conditioning and unresolved issues in our way. (UK
Journey Without Goal : The Tantric Wisdom of the Buddha (Dharma Ocean Series) by Chogyam Trungpa (US
The Path Is the Goal : A Basic Handbook of Buddhist Meditation (Dharma Ocean) by Chogyam Trungpa, Sherab Chodzin (Editor) read some pages
Training the Mind Author : Chogyam Trungpa Book, Publishers Price : £8.99, Wisdom Price : £8.09, Save : 10 %, Paperback, 280 pages, Currently in stock A series of traditional Buddhist thoughts to be used as a study aid for practitioners of meditation.
The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation (Shambhala Dragon Editions) by Chogyam Trungpa, et al Training the Mind & Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa, Judith L. Lief (Editor) Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (Shambhala Dragon Editions) by Chogyam Trungpa, et al
Meditation in Action Author : Chogyam Trungpa Book, Publishers Price : £7.99, Wisdom Price : £7.19, Save : 10 %, Paperback, 104 pages, Currently in stock Trungpa shows that meditation extends beyond the formal practice of sitting.
Shambhala Author : Chogyam Trungpa Audio, Publishers Price : £16.99, Wisdom Price : £16.14, Save : 5 %, 120 mins, Usually available in 14 day(s) Chogyam Trungpa's classic guide to enlightened living presents the ancient code of the warrior.
Zen Essence, The Science of Freedom - Translated & Edited by Thomas Cleary
Mastery of Mind by Tan Kwan Seng, Student of Mind (Listmania - amazon.com)
1. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation : Satipatthna : A Handbook of Mental Training Based on the Buddha's Way of Mindfulness, With an Anthology of Relevant by Nyanaponika, Nyanaponika Thera ; Paperback
Tan Kwan Seng's comments: Mental training based on the Buddha's way of mindfulness (Satipatthna)
2. Concentration a Guide to Mental Mastery by Mouni Sadhu ; Paperback
* Tan Kwan Seng's comments: Should be considered a classic. Anyone who wants to learn how to concentrate should read this book.
3. Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran ; Paperback
* Tan Kwan Seng's comments: A book on how to achieve control of our minds and also improve our character. Includes an "8-point Program"---for meditation and day-to-day living.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn (Video - Seminar / Workshop)
an exceptional textbook on meditation by Buddhist monk, H. Gunaratana Mahathera. It explains in clear detail the type of meditation called Vipissana, usually translated into English as Insight.
Alternative link / edition: http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/mindfulness_in_plain_english.php
http://www.buddhanet.net/insight.htm Worldwide Insight meditation Centres & Links
Mindfullness for Dummies by Shamash Alidina
Here's a 3 minute mindfulness video that teaches you mindfulness of breath. Click here.
Try a short guided body scan meditation here - it's 10 minutes long.
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/mindfulness-audio-tracks.html Mindfulness Audio Meditations
http://www.shamashalidina.com/ Shamash Alidina - Mindfullness Teacher, Trainer, Author
More Excerpts from 'Mindfulness in Plain English' by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana
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