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 to 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.
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.
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 just 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 the 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
ungenuineness and unnaturalness to disolve, 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
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
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 then 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.
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 and and
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 both good and bad. Good and bad are simply apparations,
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 lighthearted.