How to meditate
A quick guide to some of the meditation tips and tricks on Kadampa Life, useful for getting started and for more seasoned meditators:
Extract: Now there are only 2 things to do for the next 5 minutes:
(1) We don’t forget the sensation of the breath, our object of meditation – resisting the temptation to follow other thoughts; (2) When we do forget the breath and find our mind has wandered to another object, we gently but firmly bring it straight back to the breath.
Here are two meditations you can practice at home. All you need is a comfortable chair or cushion and five to ten minutes’ free time.
Meditation means becoming familiar with positivity and wisdom, both on the meditation seat and off it in our normal daily lives; and it is a powerful way to become a happier, more fulfilled person.
Extract: To begin with, the meditator’s main task is to keep bringing the mind back to the breath. Our main task is not so much staying on the breath but reminding ourselves, “Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be meditating. I forgot.” And then we bring the mind back. We do this over and over again. (Luckily, this is training in mindfulness and concentration.)
There are many breathing meditations, and one popular version involves breathing out our disturbing thoughts, distractions, problems etc. in the form of thick smoke and breathing into our heart happiness and blessings in the form of light.
Extract: Buddha Shakyamuni said:
“If you realize your own mind you will become a Buddha; you should not seek Buddhahood elsewhere.”
I thought I would introduce this meditation practically and simply in the way that I have often done it with the hope that you’ll come to love it too.
Extract: “On a daily basis, how much time do I spend identifying with my pure potential for happiness and freedom? And how much time do I spend identifying with being deluded e.g. irritated, worried, diseased, insecure, lonely, ugly, unhappy, addicted? When I do meditation or prayers or go to a teaching or remember spiritual advice in my daily life, where am I starting from? From the standpoint of being a limited, dark cloudy being who is a million miles away from where I want to be, or from the standpoint of being right now a spacious-sky-like blissful Buddha orBodhisattva or good person, just temporarily obscured by the clouds of delusions? Am I slogging away at this because I know it is supposed to be good for me, or am I enjoying myself every step of the way?”
Extract: The main point here is that we don’t need to be great meditator to discover our potential. In truth, even if we are just able to stay with the breath for three consecutive rounds, our mind will become slightly more peaceful than it was. If we give ourselves permission and a few moments to abide with that slight peace, to savor it with a still mind, to enjoy it, we will discover that the actual nature of our mind is peaceful. It is only the delusions that produce agitation.
Extract: The Tibetan word for meditation, “gom”, literally means “to familiarize” – so meditation is familiarizing our mind with positive, beneficial ways of looking at the world and other people. We can do formal meditation sessions on our meditation seats, and — luckily for us in our crazy time-consumed lives — we can also learn to stay positive all day long whatever we are doing.
The other day an old friend dating back to the early years of the New Kadampa Tradition came to visit me. She told me that in the last couple of years her meditations had improved exponentially, and we discussed why. She volunteered all the things she had been doing “wrong” over the years and, with her permission, I thought I’d share this with you.
Extract: One reason meditation works is because it helps us control our mind such that we don’t have to think the thoughts we don’t want to think. Mindfulness overcomes distractions — which are all those thoughts we don’t want to think but can’t help thinking if we have a distracted mind. And having to think negative and depressed thoughts all day is clearly no fun.
Extract: Mindfulness is the ability to remember what we are doing without forgetting. If you check, when you forget something, it is because you’ve remembered something else — these are called “distractions”, and the job of mindfulness is to overcome distractions. Concentration is the ability to focus single-pointedly on what we are doing. These two qualities of mind enable us to stay in the here and now, and enjoy it, as opposed to missing out on it. Meditation uses both mindfulness and concentration and improves them both very effectively.
Extract: Meditation involves two parts, analytical meditation (contemplation) and placement meditation (single-pointed concentration.) In brief, during analytical meditation we bring to mind the object of placement meditation through reasoning, analogies, and checking the teachings in our own experience. When the object appears clearly we stop analyzing and concentrate on it single-pointedly.
Tantra: Transforming enjoyments aka “The Bliss Boost”
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