During a recent retreat, the teacher said something that really hit me: every time you practise, it is like meeting a buddha. He encouraged us to make the place where we practise a really special place where the environment would be a sacred place where we get to meet with our true selves. When I went back home, this really stayed with me. Every time I sit down to practise I now try to consciously remember how special it is in fact to practise and to get to meet a buddha. What a great gift to myself to take the space and time and really be. This is probably the only time during the day that I get to really hang out in the spaciousness and enjoy.
Someone asked me the other day whether I thought meditation could help Lindsay Lohan. I guess ‘help’ here means something like ‘support’. The short, immediate reply was ‘yes’, but then I started wondering why that is the answer. Here’s what I thought about it…
Imagine for 8 days you have no mobile, no television, no email, no mp3 player, no radio, no newspaper, no Internet and you are not supposed to talk at all except once a day. You spend these 8 days in a retreat place sorrounded by a lovely countryside together with a few others in complete silence.
Would you be willing to participate in such an experiment, to see what effect silence or more precisely a full week spent in silent contemplation and meditation has on you?
Sogyal Rinpoche offers advice on how to find inner peace and contentment.
Many times I have heard my meditation teachers talk about how the mind we discover through meditation is like the sky. All kinds of clouds can cover up the sky, but the sky itself is never harmed by them. In the same way, although all kinds of thoughts and emotions appear in the mind, and cover it up, ultimately the true essence of our mind can never be harmed by them. Furthermore through the practice of meditation, we can begin to see that our mind (or its essential nature) is really free of all the emotions that arise within it and find true and lasting contentment as a result.
It was on a bright summer afternoon that I tried it for the first time. I was a teenager looking for states of rapture and mystical revelations, self-assured that those were within my reach.
I still remember it vividly: The family had gone out and I found myself a quiet spot on the living room carpet. I placed my new book in front of me and got ready to pick a method and finally do it.
It had taken me a few years to actually find instruction on how to do it, and just today I had stumbled upon this book in the bookshop. I had bought it, rushed home with it and had read the introduction. Getting more excited by the minute, I had skipped ahead to the second part which included a variety of methods that one can try. Meditation methods, that is.
So now I was ready: I picked the simplest method, got in position and… well…
It´s not any brick wall, it´s the one outside my window. It not only limits the little backyard, it limits my view. And, although I sometimes maybe tend to be a little strange, I would be lying if I would say that this is the most fantastic view I can think of. I would definitely prefer the view on a nice landscape, preferably some nice gentle hills with the ocean or a big lake behind.
Of course, in the beginning my mind told me “what an ugly, limiting wall, what a miserable person you are that you cannot afford a flat with a nicer view!” But then, with time, being confronted with that wall anyway when sitting on my sofa, I made peace with it. And it became a teacher for me.
I was sitting in a café having lunch with a friend I had not seen for a long time. By the time our desserts arrived we had updated each other on all the usual facts of our lives. He knew that I had been practicing meditation for a few years and suddenly, just as we received a warm fondant au chocolat he sprung on me the big ‘WHY?
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” - Aristotle
There are times when my mind seems to turn against me. It brews up a tumultuous storm. Gnarly emotions trying to get my goat and succeeding from time to time - or so it seems. Even meditation seems like a Herculean feat.
Does that ever happen to you?
One day, as my mind was bombarded by an onslaught of strong emotions, I wandered down to the ocean’s shore. Sitting on the firm black sand, watching the waves roll in again and again, this is what came into my mind.