Training in Meditation to See, Recognise, Maintain & Increase One's Enlightening Potential
MEDITATION: Abandoning the strangle hold of suffering and worry.
This was written by the late Karma Tashi Thundrup. It is a highly effective meditational technique which helps to restore the natural balance of the mind and body.
We shall begin by creating a quiet place to sit, cross-legged if we can or on a low stool or straight-backed chair if we cannot. A firm cushion will help to provide a comfortable and stable seat. We sit completely relaxed with our back and neck straight, the spine balanced nicely on the pelvis. A straight back is necessary for the unobstructed passage of spinal energies when they arise.
The hands can be placed on the lap, palms upward, the right hand resting in the left and the tips of the thumbs touching. We can meditate with our eyes shut or open, but outer distractions are more easily avoided with the eyes closed. The eyeballs should be perfectly relaxed as in sleep, just gazing, to the mind's eye down the length of the nose.
Some teachers insist that one should focus the closed eyes sharply upon the point between the eyebrows where the Ajna chakra manifests but I should warn against this. The muscular strain of such a procedure creates the nervous illusion of flashing lights before the eyes which can easily lead one into a fantasy of meditational success. If you wish to put this sort of thing to the test, sit quietly in a darkened room, close your eyes and watch the fireworks as you push your eyeballs back and forth with your fingers.
In sitting meditation, we aim at a profound relaxation, any internal tension will defeat the object of the exercise. All we have to do is to watch our breath. Breathing through the nose we calmly concentrate upon our breathing and just watch the breath moving to and fro.
As our concentration deepens we will find our mind, in a manner of speaking becoming one with our breathing.
Our concentration must be absolutely calm and without effort. Absorption is the best word I can find to describe the required state of mind.
Thoughts will constantly arise to distract the attention. We do not try to block them off or shut them out in any way, but we observe them dispassionately from over our shoulder as it were, leading the mind, on a loose rein, gently back to the breath each time.
That is all we have to do.
There is no need here for a lengthy dissertation on the manifold subjective results of our meditations for that would arouse a vicarious anticipation of events which is most undesirable. Suffice to say that gradually our awareness of being will become more detached from our thoughts.
During our sitting sessions the grasping egotistical nature of our thoughts will become clearer to us, irrespective of whether these thoughts be considered good or bad. As our consciousness becomes finely tuned to the movement of the breath we shall in time develop an awareness of the currents of Pran Energy within the body. This meditation is natural Pranayama (the Way of Pran).
If the simple Buddhist practice of watching the breath is persevered with, we will discover that as our concentration deepens and thoughts fall away, the breath will quieten and slow down quite spontaneously. Then we should begin to experience a true meditative state of mind.
If at this stage we should begin to congratulate ourselves our meditation will simply go for a diffuse. We shall be exchanging Unconditioned Being for the delusion of achievement. Beware of the "How am I doing?" syndrome. It is a monstrous stumbling block on the path of meditation.
Our approach to meditation is as important as the meditation itself. One Tibetan teacher has this to say: "Do not be consistent".
There are many Eastern Gurus who encourage their devotees to rise at 6 a.m. every day to do an hour's sitting before breakfast and another obligatory hour before retiring every night. For some of these teachers these obligatory hours are not enough and disciples are urged to spend more and more hours in sitting meditation. We are human beings however and not limpets. If we insist upon sitting cross-legged and cross-eyed for hours at a stretch we need have no surprise to find ourselves being used as a doorstop by one of our more active brethren.
Routines can easily condition and enslave us. We practice meditation to restore a quota of spontaneous being into our lives. Rigid routine in meditation is hardly the path to spontaneity. We should meditate when we feel like it. That is all.
All kinds of internal happenings arise during sitting meditation of a paranormal or astral nature. It is your own psyche unfolding. Do not talk about them or you will inevitably become confused. We can become attached to these events, the side effects, so to speak, of meditation and tend to evaluate these events as good, bad or indifferent according to our expectations.
The Yogin who has realised his goal, however, places no great value upon these events which he recognises as mere projections of his own mind. Therefore we should not leave our sitting reflecting upon how good or bad it was, for the man of meditative power has long gone beyond ideas of good or bad. By the same token we shall not approach our sitting with great anticipation or apprehension. I shall not pontificate further about this for there are no words adequate enough for what I am trying to convey.
To summarise our meditation practice:
A comfortable seat, a straight back, hands on lap, palms up, tips of thumbs touching. Eyes closed and relaxed, "gazing down the nose". Breathe through the nose.
Watch the breath.
Calmly concentrate, the reins held loose.
When thoughts arise do not resist them or block them off. Witness them from "over your shoulder",
and gently lead the attention back to the breath.
When you have done enough, rise calmly and slowly and go about your business. There you have it, a simple and very effective meditation technique.
A few words of warning which, like Government anti-tobacco warnings should be, by law, printed on the spine of every book about Meditation:
MEDITATION IS NOT A BIG DEAL
BIG DEALS CAN LEAD TO MENTAL ILLNESS AND SPIRITUAL DEATH