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16459ESSENTIAL ADVICE ON MEDITATION (long but excellent teaching)

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Dec 19, 2008
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      ESSENTIAL ADVICE ON MEDITATION
      excerpts from Teachings by Sogyal Rinpoche

      When you read books about meditation, or often
      when meditation is presented by different
      groups, much of the emphasis falls on
      the techniques. In the West, people tend to
      be very interested in the "technology" of
      meditation. However, by far the most
      important feature of meditation is not technique,
      but the way of being, the spirit,
      which is called the "posture", a posture
      which is not so much physical, but more to
      do with spirit or attitude.

      It is well to recognize that when you
      start on a meditation practice, you are
      entering a totally different dimension of
      reality. Normally in life we put a great
      deal of effort into achieving things, a
      nd there is a lot of struggle involved,
      whereas meditation is just the opposite, it
      is a break from how we normally operate.

      Meditation is simply a question of being,
      of melting, like a piece of butter
      left in the sun. It has nothing to do with
      whether or not you "know" anything about it,
      in fact, each time you practice meditation
      it should be fresh, as if it were
      happening for the very first time. You just
      quietly sit, your body still, your speech
      silent, your mind at ease, and allow
      thoughts to come and go, without letting them
      play havoc on you. If you need something to do,
      then watch the breathing. This is a
      very simple process. When you are breathing out,
      know that you are breathing out. When
      you breath in, know that you are
      breathing in, without supplying any kind of
      extra commentary or internalized mental gossip,
      but just identifying with the breath.
      That very simple process of mindfulness
      processes your thoughts and emotions, and then,
      like an old skin being shed, something is
      peeled off and freed.

      Usually people tend to relax the body
      by concentrating on different parts.
      Real relaxation comes when you relax from
      within, for then everything else will ease
      itself out quite naturally.

      When you begin to practice, you center
      yourself, in touch with your "soft spot",
      and just remain there. You need not focus on
      anything in particular to begin with. Just
      be spacious, and allow thoughts and emotions
      to settle. If you do so, then later, when
      you use a method such as watching the breath,
      your attention will more easily be on
      your breathing. There is no particular point on
      the breath on which you need to focus, it
      is simply the process of breathing.
      Twenty-five percent of your attention is on the
      breath, and seventy-five percent is relaxed.
      Try to actually identify with the breathing,
      rather than just watching it. You
      may choose an object, like a flower, for
      example,to focus upon. Sometimes you are taught
      to visualize a light on the forehead, or
      in the heart. Sometimes a sound or a mantra
      can be used. But at the beginning it is
      best to simply be spacious, like the sky.
      Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.

      When you sit, let things settle and allow
      all your discordant self with its un-genuineness and unnaturalness
      to dissolve, out of that
      rises your real being. You experience an
      aspect of yourself which is more genuine and
      more authentic-the "real" you.
      As you go deeper, you begin to discover
      and connect with your fundamental goodness.

      The whole point of meditation is to get used
      to the that aspect which you have forgotten.
      In Tibetan "meditation" means "getting
      used to". Getting used to what? to your
      true nature, your Buddha nature. This
      is why, in the highest teaching of Buddhism,
      Dzogchen, you are told to "rest in the nature
      of mind". You just quietly sit and let
      all thoughts and concepts dissolve. It is
      like when the clouds dissolve or the mist
      evaporates, to reveal the clear sky and the
      sun shining down. When everything dissolves
      like this, you begin to experience your true
      nature, to "live". Then you know it, and at
      that moment, you feel really good. It is
      unlike any other feeling of well being
      that you might have experienced. This
      is a real and genuine goodness, in which you
      feel a deep sense of peace, contentment
      and confidence about yourself.

      It is good to meditate when you feel inspired.
      Early mornings can bring that inspiration,
      as the best moments of the mind are early
      in the day, when the mind is calmer
      and fresher (the time traditionaly recommended
      is before dawn). It is more appropriate
      to sit when you are inspired, for not only
      is it easier then as you are in a better
      frame of mind for meditation, but you will
      also be more encouraged by the very practice
      that you do. This in turn will bring more
      confidence in the practice, and later on you
      will be able to practice when you are not
      inspired. There is no need to meditate
      for a long time: just remain quietly until you
      are a little open and able to connect with
      your heart essence. That is the main point.

      After that, some integration, or meditation
      in action. Once your mindfulness has been
      awakened by your meditation, your mind is
      calm and your perception a little more coherent.
      Then, whatever you do, you are present,
      right there. As in the famous Zen
      master's saying: "When I eat, I eat; when
      I sleep, I sleep". Whatever you do, you
      are fully present in the act. Even washing
      dishes, if it is done one-pointedly, can
      be very energizing, freeing, cleansing.
      You are more peaceful, so you are more "you".
      You assume the "Universal You".

      One of the fundamental points of the spiritual
      journey is to persevere along the path.
      Though one's meditation may be good one
      day and and not so good the next, like
      changes in scenery, essentially it is not
      the experiences, good or bad which count so
      much, but rather that when you persevere, the
      real practice rubs off on you and comes
      through both good and bad. Good and bad are
      simply apparations, just as there may be good
      or bad weather, yet the sky is always unchanging.
      If you persevere and have that sky
      like attitude of spaciousness, without
      being perturbed by emotions and experiences,
      you will develop stability and the real
      profoundness of meditation will take effect.
      You will find that gradually and almost
      unnoticed, your attitude begins to change.
      You do not hold on to things as solidly
      as before, or grasp at them so strongly,
      and though crisis will still happen, you can
      handle them a bit better with more humor and
      ease. You will even be able to laugh at
      difficulties a little, since there is more
      space between you and them, and you are freer
      of yourself. Things become less solid,
      slightly ridiculous, and you become more
      light-hearted.

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