What happens for me in meditation you ask? It is not easy to write about… or even to analyse.
In the first minutes a curious thing happens. First concentrating on the breath, back and forth sharpening the focus. In the beginning it is a “grind” but it is a grind I know, a strange place that depending where I am and the intention, can last quite a long time. I am the person sitting in meditation standing back from myself looking at the person sitting in meditation. After a while all that remains is the energy of the person sitting in meditation, being inside the flow of meditation. The breath breathes itself. A special place of unhindered oxygenation is what you are seeking. Imperfect breath patterns cause stress even if you are oblivious to this.
Let everything drift into soft awareness.
Then comes clarity, you get deeper and deeper into the soul of meditation. The concept of “I” is gone and all that exists is blissful engagement with the process, absolute flow. You know what is happening but you experience it from inside what is happening.
As I have said many times, by systematically training yourself you can drop into this meditative state at will and avoid distractions. Even from children. If you are tense, trying not to listen, straining to be calm… this is a contradiction, and you will snap. The harder you try to blanket it out, the louder if becomes.
Most of us are TRAPPED in a “mind bubble”. The alternative is to be quietly focussed, relaxed, your face in the Buddhist half smile, integrating what comes into the experience, and detaching. Be at peace with the distraction. If music is in the background integrate it, not denying the sound, or your emotion. If your knees ache, if your back is sore… Integrate it, channel it into higher focus, sorting your way through the chaos. The mind is just like any other muscle, it needs to be trained and Vipassana meditation is the best training. Concentrating on the breath, always coming back to the breath expecting NOTHING.
Read and understand the TaoTeChing. Laotses’s focus is inward, understanding the essence of things rather than the physical outward manifestations. Some of his verses comprise the last modules in our course, but few understand beyond the physical. The Tao’s wisdom centres on overcoming obstructions to our natural insight, seeing false obstructions for what they are and releasing them.
As in TaiChi and YOGA, the aim is not winning – the aim is BEING.
Like Chancy the Gardener, Have a great “*BEING THERE” day… (*A Peter Sellers movie from a book written by Jerzy Kosinski).
NAMASTE – JAHNE
(Watch this space for new take on small, small space, high nutrition gardening, coming soon…)
In this time of change, “a time of two worlds”,nothing can be more important than meditation.
Even if you feel rested, there is so much anxiety and fear in the air you can’t help but expect some transference. In this atmosphere, even a night of sleep will not provide the total rest you are looking for. I know that you may have tried sitting up, but have not been comfortable, and have given in to lying down, next comes the pillow, after that the bolster under the knees and then SLEEP. It is possible to find rest in a sitting position and a deeper. Children, as in this photograph, take some time to come to sitting meditation – lying down is just fine when they enjoy the time as much as these children do. Notice a couple of mums with the children (about mid frame). What a lovely thing, sitting or lying down, meditating together.
Some folk can sit in full lotus, some in half lotus and some in the Japanese way, the knees bent, kneeling, sitting on the legs. In this position with a cushion under the feet it is it is possible to sit for a long time… I began doing meditations in this position and find it easier to keep my back straight when kneeling. The most important thing in lotus or cobbler, is to bring the hips higher than the knees by sitting on a stool or cushion, the knees on the floor. In this way, stability is achieved. In the end, it where the mind is that counts, not where your bottom us, however, undisciplined sitting will not get you far. (By the way. This kind of meditation, this depth cannot be achieved gardening, swimming, or walking. It is different).
Keep your back straight. I find this difficult, made easier by making it part of the meditation. Feeling the spine erect, and following the breath. As for everything else, let it go. Place your left hand palm side up in your right hand. Let all the muscles in the arms, legs, fingers, palms – everything let go. Imagine that you are a water plant gently swaying with the current, the river bed solid beneath you. Calm.
You can start with three minutes. A good time span if you are starting with husband and children. For yourself, work towards 15 minutes. It is possible to find peace and calm in the position of sitting. Some people need to visualise and the image of the gentle swaying of the reeds in the stream is a calming one.
Some students look on meditation as WORKand want the three minutes to go as quickly as possible so they can have a rest at the end. Perhaps they are not comfortable in sitting, don’t have the patience to sit and breathe. To expand on the visual of the river, as you settle into the meditation you could imagine a pebble or a crystal tossed into a river. See it gently sinking down, down, down into the water, finally reaching the bottom to the place of perfect rest you are looking for.
The river bed is the beginning, not the goal. When you have reached the riverbed this is where you BEGIN to find your own rest and are no longer troubled or influenced by the current of the river around you, moving, enjoying, knowing where you are, when you are. Find joy in the moment.
Joy and peace are available to you in this time of sitting, if you can’t find it here, it is unlikely you will experience it anywhere. Enlightenment is available to you.
The Zen Master Thuong Chieu wrote: “If the practitioner knows his own mind clearly he will obtain results with little effort. But if he does not know his own mind, all of his effort will be wasted”.
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NAMASTE – JAHNE
Now we will come to yoga. You have read about actions and non actions and the results of both. To learn how to control the mind you must learn how to control the mind.
“Meditation” the word is used for all kinds of practice. When people talk to me about how they meditate I tend to glaze over as mostly it is apparent that they have confused meditation with contemplation or just thinking. As my teacher said to me “Are you a warrior? to meditate this is what you must be”. It was not an easy thing and it was not to be treated lightly. Meditation is the first step on the road to Enlightenment.
In order to meditate you must prepare. First watch the breath. Now I am breathing in, now I am breathing out. I challenge you to do more than a few breaths without your mind wandering away. If you are honest, about ten breaths. That’s OK. The whole point of this exercise is to bring the mind to neutral. Watching the breath is not the act which will set you free, but knowing what is happening when it is happening will be helpful.
Ask yourself why you want to meditate. Why are you here? I believe it is because you want to answer the questions you have never been able to ask or answer. The questions children ask. Why are we here? Why do we die? Why do we get old and sick? We teach them not to ask, and they in turn become adults who tell their children “these questions have no answers”. The Church tells them these questions will be answered when you die. Do you want to wait that long?
Decide here and now that you will meditate with a goal in mind – to find the answers to these questions. Do not waste your life playing with lesser objectives.
To begin ask The Enlightened Ones and your Heart Teacher to join you. They will come. You bowed to them before you sat, bow to them again, and then imagining the glorious Beings in front of you, bow down deeply in gratitude, happiness and awe, as you will when the time comes that you actually see them.. your head and hands touching their heavenly feet. Sit. Imagine the most beautiful flowers in all the world and shower your Guides with these flowers in gratitude, and ask gently for their help.
Now, clean your conscience. You cannot take this journey with a heavy heart. As in the 12 Step program, remember those you have wronged and beg their forgiveness vowing to keep to the the narrow path. Just doing this one thing will expand the beauty of your meditation beyond what you could ever imagine.
Now do the opposite. Think of all the good things you have done, all the good thoughts, words and deeds.when you do this your heart will be bursting with joy to overflowing.
Now, ask your Guides here present for their guidance. Ask them to continue to appear to you in all the ways and places that they can (and they can astound you). Ask them to appear as teachers even as people around you – the people in the street, at the supermarket, on the TV. That they will continue to teach you and continue to guide you along the Path. Ask then from your heart, to always be near you, to never leave you, always teaching, always guiding. When you do this, a great quiet will fall over you.
Now understand this – silence is not the goal. The silence is not the meditation. Chickens can sit quietly and produce nothing more than an egg, as beautiful as that is, it is still an egg. The truth is IN THE SILENCE of meditation. Meditation is the tool, it is not the goal. Ultimate wisdom is the heart of the path. Meditating for the sake of meditation would be like having an axe and burning it for warmth instead of using it to cut down a tree for greater warmth. If you sat for months without thought would that be helpful?Not really, eventually you would get ill and die.
To enter the serious path to meditation you really do need to learn from a teacher. It is more difficult to learn from a DVD, or zoom, because a teacher must disturb you in order to help you to understand where your mind is along the path at any time.
Laziness is the greatest enemy in meditation. Many meditators waste their time in useless fog. They tell themselves their mind is empty and this is good, and it is what they aim for. It is not useful. Mental dullness has become a drug to these students. They are addicted to the excuse of inaction and nothingness. They feel nothing.
In the beginning bring the face of your Heart Teacher to your mind and keep it there, bright and real. To deal with agitation, bring your thoughts back to your heart. Slow the breaths, count them if you must. Think of your meditation experience however it is, as a large flock of birds, swirling and dipping as the wind changes – but always a flock of birds.
When you have mastered these steps, and are able to keep the picture clearly in your mind you must watch for the monkey telling you that adjustment is necessary when no adjustment is necessary. That is the final trap. Only when you have mastered the basics, can you begin to use the meditation for problem solving. When you meditate regularly and correctly, it will seem as if one meditation attaches seamlessly to the last no matter the time that has passed in between sessions. You will find yourself growing in insight.
Think lastly of the way to end your meditation. Think of a pond, and imagine a drop of water entering that pond, see the ripples going outwards from the drop of water – the sacred event of your meditation. Imagine these ripples getting longer and stronger, waves of happiness touching every living thing around you.
Are you asking yourself what to meditate on? As my teacher said, begin where you must begin. Your heart teacher is there to teach you. Ask for help, have faith and trust and the answer will come. Please log on to this short video. It may help.