At this same retreat with Yangthang Rinpoche that I wrote about before, we were all very impressed with the being of this amazing lama. It is quite moving to meet such a special human being, which is why I want to share it with you.
The teachings on the posture in meditation not only give instructions about our physical posture, but also include advice on our inner posture. There is a reason for this. In meditation, openness of both our body and mind and heart are very important.
I have found it very helpful for my practice to reflect on what is really meant by “inner posture”. In the teachings, this aspect of the posture is often described as the posture of our mind. Why? Because it is about our attitude. It is about how we look at ourselves, both our true nature and our relative condition. Another way of explaining the inner posture is that it is the feeling and atmosphere with which we practice.
Watch Father Laurence Freeman talking about a Christian persepctive on meditation. Father Laurence Freeman is a Benedictine monk and Catholic priest of the Benedictine Congregation of Monte Oliveto. He is the Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, a global network of Christian meditation groups that practice the way of Christian meditation.
My homage to Ajahn Lee's basic meditation to cultivate peace of mind:
1) Set an intention to put aside-if only for a little while-everything that's not happening right here and now, and take seven deep, full breaths, letting go of the events of the day with each long exhalation; so don't cut short those exhalations. Thoughts of "May i find true, lasting peace within" will help relax the mind and d rop the dramas.
While the 1950s saw the emergence of a few meditation pioneers such as Alan Watts, who only published his bestseller Psychology East and West in 1961, until the early 1960s, meditation in the West continued to remain largely the domain of spiritual seekers.
Most meditation was being taught and practised within the context of either a Hindu yogic, Sufi, Buddhist or Taoist framework.
Then came the Age of Aquarius. The Beatles went to India, met the Maharishi and brought Transcendental Meditation (TM) back to the West. Psychedelic drugs burst out of the experimental laboratories of psychiatrists and the CIA, and flooded the streets. Vietnam galvanised a generation, the counterculture flourished, and people were intent on expanding their minds. Very quickly meditation in the West was popularised, and perhaps even stigmatised to a degree, as the domain of the hippies.
Here is Khandro Rinpoche on how we can keep the mindfulness we discover on the cushion as we go about daily activity. Hearing from my friend Gabriele that Rinpoche would be teaching in Berlin, I asked Gabriele to ask Khandro Rinpoche to make another What Meditation Really Is video. Rinpoche quickly agreed!
I am currently at a retreat in Lerab Ling, where we had a visit by an amazing lama from Sikkim: Yangthang Rinpoche. One of the most penetrating teachings he gave was about renunciation. Now that may sound really scary or irrelevant for modern life, but in fact I felt it was exactly about how to be a real practitioner of meditation in today's complex and busy world. The teaching gave me a lot of things to think about, which inspired me to write this blog, as a means of reflection.
By popular request, here is the entire video, 111 minutes worth, of Sogyal Rinpoche's teaching at AWAKE 2012 in Amsterdam. It's great, don't miss it. And if you were there, see it again.
When we start to meditate, we usually use our breath as the object of our meditation, then we might make sound or a visual object the focus for our practice.
The sound could be any sound we can hear, or we could make the sound ourself using a mantra which has the added advantage of working with our energy and having a meaning that evokes our deepest nature. In the same way as singing an inspiring song lifts our spirits, so does a mantra.
This is the first in a series of 5 posts on the history of meditation, adapted from Meditation- an In-depth Guide by Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson
Meditation resided for thousands of years almost exclusively in the domain of spiritual practice. However, it is clear that meditation has much to offer that is very relevant to our modern lives, whether or not we are spiritually inclined. In a series of posts, we will explore where meditation came from, how it has evolved in the West, and how it has emerged as maybe the best, most proven self-help technique for healing body and mind.