Right Meditation means using mental exercises, like learning to concentrate on your breathing or on your walking, so as to calm your mind down. A calmer, clearer mind can help you to respond more thoughtfully in everyday situations. Through making you more awake to what is happening all the time, it can help you practice all parts of Noble Eightfold Path.
A calmer, clearer mind leads on to another stage in Buddhist meditation when you simply watch what your mind does. This helps you to understand your mind better and notice how your mind sometimes make things up, which you then risk believing are true. This is part of waking up to the true nature of reality.
Concentration exercises on your breathing are the starting point for Buddhist meditation but not the whole thing. Buddha warned against spending too long doing concentration exercises. The latter can make your mind totally still, so that you do not feel bothered by anything. But this is not true Buddhist peacefulness, which comes from using a calm mind to understand things better.
The first example is a meditation method for increasing feelings of kindness and goodwill towards other people. The second meditation method is for increasing wisdom and your understanding of the mind.
Buddhism teaches that you need both these types of meditation. The emblem often found on top of Buddhist stupas, which are monuments to Buddhist teachers. The crescent moon shape stands for loving kindness. The sun stands for wisdom and understanding. It means that if you put these together, you get the little jewel on top of the sun shape, which stands for Enlightenment.
Meditation for increasing goodwill towards other people
This is a short, 10 minute meditation for doing at the start of each day.
You could do this sitting in a quiet place. You could also do this sitting on a bus, if you can be on your own.
- For 5 minutes, you go through in your mind the various things which you and other people want in life – for instance to be happy, to be loved, to be praised for good things you do, to have friends and company from other people, to have things to look forward to. You think about how, in general, we all want the same sort of things. You think about how you and other people affect each other and affect how each can get what they seek.
- Then for 5 minutes, as you breathe in, each time you wish kindly to yourself that you be happy. Each time you breathe out, you wish the same for various people whom you know - you wish that they have the good things which they seek. You try to extend this to as many people as possible. If you can, try to include some people whom you do not like so much.
- Afterwards, try to keep this feeling in mind all day towards everyone whom you meet, whether they’re someone you know well or not. Try to keep this feeling in mind, whatever anyone does to you.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has urged that as many people as possible practice this simple meditation. It could make the world a better place, he says. The Dalai Lama is the religious leader of Buddhists from Tibet and nearby parts of Asia.
(For more about the Dalai Lama see: http://www.dalailama.com)
You do not need to be a Buddhist to do this meditation or to value its results.
Meditation for increasing peacefulness and understanding of how the mind works
You need to do this sitting comfortably in a quiet place. For a beginner, 20 minutes is long enough. With practice, 30 minutes would be suitable.
Start by wishing that any benefits from the meditation will affect not only yourself but other people with whom you come into contact.
Then relax for some minutes.
Then sit a little straighter and put your mind on your breathing at the tip of your nose. Count up to ten your out-breaths at the tip of your nose – if you lose count, start again.
After two or three complete sets of ten breaths, just sit calmly watching your mind and let any thoughts and feelings come and go.
If restlessness or worrying thoughts come, just let them come and go. Do not either follow or try to stop them. If moments of calm come, just let these also come and go. The idea is to remain peaceful whatever goes on in your mind. Just sit back and watch what the mind does.
If you get lost in thought and distracted from this, for a little while go back to watching your out-breaths at the tip of your nose.
You need only moderate effort in concentrating on your breathing. Buddhist teachers compare calming the mind to letting muddy water settle in a glass. The water goes clear in its own time and there’s nothing you can do to hurry it up. In fact if you try to hurry it, you’ll only stir up the mud. In meditation, it’s enough just to keep sitting there and watch your mind – without trying to change anything.
Benefits of This Type of Meditation
- During meditation, a taste of a way of being which is peaceful and different from the irritations and worries of everyday life.
- After meditation, ability to handle everyday situations in a more thoughtful and generous way and to break free from following your habits.
- Both during and after meditation, noticing and understanding how your mind works.
The Dalai Lama has compared meditation to recharging your batteries for everyday life.
The Dalai Lama has also described meditation like this:
Other Methods of Meditation
“We tend to be controlled by our mind, following it along its self-centred path. Meditation is the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation may be thought of as a technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones.”
Detailed examples have been given of two common types of Buddhist meditation. There are many other methods:
‘Walking Meditation’ is very common. This means practicing keeping your mind on every footstep you take. It trains you to keep your mind calm and concentrated while you are walking around and doing everyday things.
There are meditation methods for thinking deeply about important Buddhist teachings, like that everything is changing and nothing lasts forever.
There are meditation methods for helping you forgive people whom you feel have wronged you.
Buddhist meditation and Buddhist codes for conduct go hand in hand
For meditation to give most benefit, you need also to follow the Buddhist guidance for conduct in the Noble Eightfold Path – like not telling untruths and not speaking hurtfully to people. These rules also eventually bring peacefulness to your life. For instance, not telling untruths will save you from the strain of living up to a false image and not speaking hurtfully will mean you make fewer enemies. To practice meditation but ignore such guidance is a bit like your left hand undoing what your right hand is doing.
In the Buddhist Wheel symbol, the link between meditation and everyday conduct is likened to the need for a wheel to have both a hub and a rim. It needs both parts to work.
You are what you think you are and you need to learn to guide your thoughts in positive ways. I try to start each day with thoughts on how I want to be happy and how I wish other people will find their happiness.
If I am troubled by someone or an incident during my working day, I stop and close my eyes for a moment and breathe in and out a few times and clear my head of any angry or selfish thoughts before I try to come up with a solution to the problem or answer a difficult question. Sometimes the first idea you give is just that the first idea... not a well thought out idea, a fair idea or even a good idea.
I like the walking meditation technique when I'm especially upset or concerned over a problem. It takes time and effort to learn to control your thoughts and emotions and use them in positive ways. Keep working each day and don't be discouraged.
Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.
May all these different articles I've shared with you help you on your journey through life and with your business. I'd love to hear your experiences.
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