Learning to meditate is one of the best things that we can do for our body, mind and spirit.
In this short essay, we will look at how to begin with a simple breathing meditation and also learn about two other meditations that everyone can practice.
In Buddhism, meditation is an important tool for changing our mind. We can listen to spiritual advice countless times, but until we take the time and space to become still and let this advice sink into our heart, our habits will likely remain unchanged.
Meditation enables us to derive deep benefit from the spiritual teachings we have have already learned.
One goal of meditation is to calm our mind and reduce distractions. This can be accomplished by practicing a simple breathing meditation.
We first find a quiet place to meditate, and sit with a straight back. We can sit in a chair, or cross-legged on the front edge of a cushion.
We place our right hand in the palm of our left hand, and gently close our eyes.
Then we turn our attention to the sensation of our breath as it enters and leaves our nostrils.
Each time our mind wanders, we return to the sensation of the breath.
If we practice in this way, for only 10 or 15 minutes a few times a week, we will discover amazing benefits:
* Experience a calm, spacious feeling in our mind,
* Find it easier to deal with difficult situations.
*Naturally feel more warm and friendly toward other people.
In Buddhism, the main meditations on the path to enlightenment are meditations on compassion and wisdom.
We begin by calming our mind with the breathing meditation described above. Then we turn our mind in a positive direction by meditating single-pointedly on a mind of compassion, or on a mind of wisdom.
To generate compassion we can first recall our mind of love towards others, and then proceed to contemplate their suffering. This will naturally give rise to a wish to release others from their suffering. This wish is compassion, and we hold it single- pointedly for as long as possible.
In a famous Buddhist text by Nagarjuna, called Commentary on Bodhichitta it says:
Even if we are not able to help others directly
We should still try to develop a beneficial intention.
If we develop this intention more and more strongly,
We will naturally find ways to help others.
To generate wisdom we can consider profound topics such as our own death and impermanence, or the ultimate nature of phenomena: their lack of inherent existence. Then we. hold this profound understanding single- pointedly.
Everyone can benefit from meditation. It is simple and easy to learn. Treat yourself to some peace of mind; it is only a breath away.
References and Resources:
1. Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
2. Meditations for Relaxation (a CD with three simple types of breathing meditation)
Both are available from KMC Washington at Kadampa Meditation Center or from Tharpa Publication
Gen Kelsang Khedrub is the Resident Teacher at Kadampa Meditation Center Washington, a Buddhist Temple in Ballard. Ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1995, he teaches introductory and advanced classes around the Seattle area.