Essential Advice on Meditation

There are always  questions about Meditation and techniques. This is something I read and wanted to share.  Enjoy!

ESSENTIAL ADVICE ON MEDITATION   excerpts from Teachings by Sogyal Rinpoche

When you read books about meditation, or often when meditation is is  presented by different groups, much of the emphasis falls  on the techniques. In the West, people tend images-25to be very interested in the  “technology”  of  meditation.  However,  by  far  the   most important feature of meditation is not technique, but the way  of being,  the  spirit, which is called the  “posture”,  a  posture which  is  not so much physical, but more to do  with  spirit  or attitude.

It  is  well  to recognize that when you start  on  a  meditation practice,  you  are  entering a totally  different  dimension  of reality.  Normally  in life we put a great deal  of  effort  into achieving  things,  and  there is a  lot  of  struggle  involved, whereas  meditation is just the opposite, it is a break from  how we normally operate.

Meditation  is  simply a question of being, of  melting,  like  a piece  of  butter  left in the sun. It has  nothing  to  do  with whether  or not you “know” anything about it, in fact, each  time you  practice  meditation  it  should be fresh,  as  if  it  were happening  for  the very first time. You just quietly  sit,  your body  still,  your speech silent, your mind at  ease,  and  allow thoughts to come and go, without letting them play havoc on  you.

If you need something to do, then watch the breathing. This is  a very  simple process. When you are breathing out, know  that  you are  breathing  out.  When  you breath  in,  know  that  you  are breathing  in, without supplying any kind of extra commentary  or internalized mental gossip, but just identifying with the breath. That  very simple process of mindfulness processes your  thoughts and emotions, and then, like an old skin being shed, something is peeled off and freed.

Usually  people  tend  to  relax the  body  by  concentrating  on different  parts.  Real  relaxation comes  when  you  relax  from within,  for  then  everything else will ease  itself  out  quite naturally.

When  you begin to practice, you center yourself, in  touch  with  your  “soft spot”, and a298962fbbaed17bed11296d59c324b4--buddha-meditation-meditation-quotesjust remain there. You need not  focus  on  anything in particular to begin with. Just be spacious, and allow  thoughts  and emotions to settle. If you do so, then later,  when you use a method such as watching the breath, your attention will  more easily be on your breathing. There is no particular point on the  breath on which you need to focus, it is simply the  process  of  breathing.  Twenty-five percent of your attention is  on  the breath,  and  seventy-five percent is relaxed.  Try  to  actually identify  with the breathing, rather than just watching  it.  You may choose an object, like a flower, for example, to focus  upon.

Sometimes you are taught to visualize a light on the forehead, or in  the heart. Sometimes a sound or a mantra can be used. But  at  he  beginning  it is best to simply be spacious, like  the  sky.  Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.

When  you  sit, let things settle and allow all  your  discordant self  with  its genuineness and unnaturalness to  dissolve,  out  of  that  rises  your real being. You  experience  an  aspect  of yourself which is more genuine and more authentic-the “real” you.

As  you  go deeper, you begin to discover and connect  with  your fundamental goodness.  The  whole point of meditation is to get used to the that  aspect which you have forgotten. In Tibetan “meditation” means  “getting used to”. Getting used to what? to your true nature, your  Buddha nature.  This  is  why,  in the  highest  teaching  of  Buddhism, Dzogchen, you are told to “rest in the nature of mind”. You  just quietly  sit  and let all thoughts and concepts dissolve.  It  is like  when the clouds dissolve or the mist evaporates, to  reveal the clear sky and the sun shining down. When everything dissolves like  this, you begin to experience your true nature, to  “live”.

Then you know it, and at that moment, you feel really good. It is unlike  any  other  feeling of well-being  that  you  might  have experienced.  This is a real and genuine goodness, in  which  you  feel  a  deep sense of peace, contentment  and  confidence  about yourself.

It is good to meditate when you feel inspired. Early mornings can bring that inspiration, as the best moments of the mind are early in  the  day,  when  the mind is calmer  and  fresher  (the  time traditionally recommended is before dawn). It is more  appropriate to  sit when you are inspired, for not only is it easier than  as you  are in a better frame of mind for meditation, but  you  will also be more encouraged by the very practice that you do. This in turn will bring more confidence in the practice, and later on you will  be able to practice when you are not inspired. There is  no need  to meditate for a long time: just remain quietly until  you are  a little open and able to connect with your  heart  essence. That is the main point.

After that, some integration, or meditation in action. Once  your mindfulness  has been awakened by your meditation, your  mind  is calm  and your perception a little more coherent. Then,  whatever you  do,  you  are present, right there. As  in  the  famous  Zen master’s  saying:  “When I eat, I eat; when I  sleep,  I  sleep”.   Whatever  you do, you are fully present in the act. Even  washing dishes,  if  it is done one-pointedly, can  be  very  energizing, freeing, cleansing. You are more peaceful, so you are more “you”.  You assume the “Universal You”.

One  of  the fundamental points of the spiritual  journey  is  to persevere along the path. Though one’s meditation may be good one day, not so good the next,  like  changes  in  scenery, essentially it is not the experiences, good or bad which count so much, but rather that when you persevere, the real practice  rubs off on you and comes through person-meditatingboth good and bad. Good and bad  are simply apparitions, just as there may be good or bad weather, yet the sky is always unchanging. If you persevere and have that  sky like  attitude  of  spaciousness,  without  being  perturbed   by emotions and experiences, you will develop stability and the real profoundness  of meditation will take effect. You will find  that gradually  and almost unnoticed, your attitude begins to  change.

You  do not hold on to things as solidly as before, or  grasp  at them  so strongly, and though crisis will still happen,  you  can handle them a bit better with more humor and ease. You will  even be  able to laugh at difficulties a little, since there  is  more space between you and them, and you are freer of yourself. Things become  less  solid,  slightly ridiculous, and  you  become  more light-hearted.

 

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