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Meditation

There are many different forms of meditation. The one that I have found to be most beneficial to my mental state, to my life and to my spiritual growth starts from a foundation of calm mind and insight. These are often referred to through the Buddhist Pali terms of Samadhi and Vipassana. This practice allows the practitioner to integrate other practices related to any of the wisdom traditions while maintaining three key states of an equanimous mind: 

Image by Jared Rice - meditation
  1. Empty mind

    • Constantly open to new impressions, ready to change at every moment, open to all perspectives

  2. Unified mind

    • Not force the complexity of life into a coherent self serving system

  3. Calm / still mind

    • Not engaging in personal dreams and noisy fantasies that hinder true understanding

Along with the equanimous mind, true wisdom is needed to see through the conditioning that we have undergone since birth from our environment - parents, peers, teachers, carers, culture, society etc. Meditation can be seen as a form of mind training so that we can show up to life in its fullest sense. Integration of Tibetan Buddhist, Taoist and Indigenous practices can greatly enrich the foundations described on this page, but they should be laid on a solid foundation of mind training. This foundation allows us to gain mastery over the mind by becoming experientially familiar with the following processes within the mind itself:

Image by rosario janza - man breathing in the forrest
Mind action charter

Ultimately we are aiming for relaxed presence. This is something that you can work on from moment to moment. It requires you to be fully engaged with all your senses. Are you aware and present to all that is going on around you through your senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste)? Are you aware and present to all that is going on inside you? Are you able to stay relaxed and to keep relaxing more and more whatever is going on or whatever arises? This moment to moment practice is greatly supported by a daily (formal) meditation practice.

Having a daily meditation practice focused specifically on reactions to emotions is a very powerful way to shift our response to triggering situations over time. This is based on the Vipassana approach to meditation. In this approach it is important to experience reality, just as it is, as it is going on naturally within your body. This is done using the sensation of breath, and the other sensations that show up in your body, such as pain, pressure, warmth, cold, itchiness, tingling, prickling, lightness, heaviness, ease, relaxation. In this approach, it is vital to learn to notice, be with, accept and let go of every sensation – both pleasant and unpleasant – no matter how intense they are (good or bad).

 

Breath meditation:


Practice this if the mind is dull or agitated, if it is difficult to feel sensations or difficult not to react to them. You can begin with breath meditation and then switch to bodyscan meditation or, if needed, continue observing the breath for the entire session. To practice breath meditation, keep the attention in the area below the nostrils and above the upper lip. Remain aware of each breath as it enters or leaves. If the mind is very dull or very agitated, breathe deliberately and slightly harder for some time. Otherwise, the breathing should be natural.
 

Body scan meditation:


Move your attention systematically from head to feet and from feet to head, observing in order each and every part of the body by feeling all the sensations that you come across. Observe objectively; that is, remain equanimous with all the sensations that you experience, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, by appreciating their impermanent nature. Keep your attention moving. Never stay for more than a few minutes at any one place. Do not allow the practice to become mechanical. Work in different ways according to the type of sensations you experience. The objective is to develop your capacity to feel the sensations naturally arising in your body at any moment, to allow the sensations to be exactly as they are without any wish for change, to remind yourself that everything changes - sometimes quickly and sometimes extremely slowly, but always changing. At the end of the session, relax. Let any mental or physical agitation subside. Then focus your attention for a few minutes on subtle sensations in the body, and fill your mind and body with thoughts and feelings of goodwill for all beings. This will help recondition your mind.

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