Meditation – It’s not a Test

Interested in Meditation? Keep it simple.

There are many ways to meditate. Meditation can be the act of thinking about something very carefully and deeply for a long time. However, for the purpose of spiritual introspection, it is more about remaining in a silent, calm state.

Some people recommend you visualize an object, like a candle or the Buddha, or gaze at a picture or chant a mantra, maybe sing a prayer or affirmation, these are great for when you are looking for a specifc outcome. But this does not calm the mind – it occupies and distracts the mind.

In the Buddhist tradition meditation is quite simple.

1. First, find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed by people or too much sound and movement. We all have a special place to sleep, work or eat, so it makes sense if possible to create a special place for your Meditation practice. Then sit quietly, either in the traditional cross-legged pose or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your back and neck are straight, head upright and your body relaxed. It is important to hold this posture otherwise your mind will wander and thoughts arise easily when your back is not straight.

2. Close your eyes and simply breathe. Watch your breath enter and leave your body. That’s it! Or is it? Most of us will instantly be overwhelmed by thoughts and sensations which are very distracting. This is normal and is actually happening all the time anyway. The aim is not to stop these thoughts, sensations and emotions as they are a natural stream of activity. After time this activity becomes quieter and less intrusive. After all thoughts and emotions are like the wind; they have no substance and you cannot hold on to them. In order to help us overcome this continual distraction focus on your breath. In out, in out, in out.

Note: Don’t try to control your thought. Don’t try to stop your thought (you cannot as it arises naturally). Don’t ignore sensations. Simply continue to observe your breath. If you find yourself distracted, start again. It’s not a test. Don’t judge yourself if you find it hard to do. Everyone starts this way, even the masters.

Yes, it takes practice, thats why they call it Meditation Practice and the benefits are immense. After diligent practice you will no longer be swept away by constant worry, storms of emotion and avalanches of thoughts. Observing all of these you may find an awareness of the patterns that keep you stuck in suffering. At the least, you will become much better at concentrating on your activities outside of your meditation.

Timing: How long should you practice and how many times a day? This is up to you. Most people say they have no time! HOwever, just 10 or 15 minutes is a good start. More often and longer is more effective but it’s not a workout and you are not a Monk or Nun. Twice a day would be ideal but if that is not possible, Meditation is a great way to start your day.

It’s your time. Be gentle with yourself and watch what unfolds as you become more competent at doing nothing except breathing and being.

Source: The Venerable Jero Mangku Budhidharma Pandji

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