Ringu Tulku talks about what meditation really is.
When Ringu Tulku Rinpoche came to visit Lerab Ling for a few days this summer, I had a chance to show him this website. He really liked it. I asked him if he would share a few thoughts on meditation practice that we could share. He agreed and fortunately, I quickly found someone who could make the video. This is what he said spontaneously, no rehearsal, straight and direct from the wisdom of experience to you. Sorry it took so long to get this one up. But it was worth the wait!
So much of our consumerist society’s ability to sell us things is based on how easy it is to capture our attention. We are almost trained to be easily distracted. Speaking to this point is part one of an interview I did with Dan Goleman from the Wisdom of Awareness retreat in June. Here he describes what meditation really is: Attentional Retraining System.
Recently, I've been writing a lot on using meditation within the field of nursing and healthcare. Really, besides the setting, which is important since as a nurse I am interacting with people who are suffering and really need my attention and compassion, there is no time like the present moment - wherever we find ourselves - to work with our mind.
Minding the bedside mindfully, aware, and compassionately comes from realizing the changing nature of our thoughts and from turning and returning the mind inward, transforming the stormy arisings of thoughts, emotions, and feelings and recognizing them to be impermanent phenomena like passing clouds in the sky.
Recently I was watching a movie called, “The Peaceful Warrior” about a young athlete at a California University who happens upon a spiritual mystic and teacher in the guise of an old mechanic working at the neighborhood gas station. One of his mysterious guru’s most pointed messages is that we completely miss out on life because we’re always distracted by thoughts of past and future. At one point he takes his student to a park and asks him to take a look around. The student replies, “There’s nothing going on here,” At which point the teacher takes the student by the shoulder and miraculously transforms his perception.
Researchers used biofeedback for many years to help people improve their health or mood. Some of these used different brain imaging techniques, such as EEG. Now there is a new way to see what kinda thoughts you are having, and correct them on the spot. Researchers at the University of British Columbia resently published their research on how to eventually help people combat depression or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The general idea is not at all different from meditation: watch your thoughts, and realise they are just thoughts. Then let them go. But the tools to help this process is something that yogis in the Himalaya perhaps never even dreamt of - an MRI machine connected to a screen.
Read more in the Vancuver Sun
Sogyal Rinpoche explains how we can integrate meditation into our everyday lives.
When I started meditating several years ago, it became pretty obvious after a while that meditation had a very positive effect on my general well-being, health and management skills at work. But I had little idea why it really worked. As a scientist (I specialised in theoretical Quantum Physics), that was quite some problem for me. After all, meditation is a subjective experience, whereas science is focused on objective measurements and reproducible results, so I was naturally running into a clash of paradigms.
People told me that meditation was a way to train or tame my mind, to finally gain control over my busy monkey mind, rather than being a victim of patterns and habits and always falling prey to what I thought and felt. But what is this mind after all? Buddhism and other spiritual traditions provide lots of answers, yet my scientific appetite was not yet satisfied. To cut a long story short, I couldn't find any convincing scientific explanation of what mind really is. The best I read was about a ‘non-local coherent superposition of quantum states in the brain’ (ok, I liked that as it sounded somewhat familiar to me).
Unsurprisingly, most scientific approaches indicate a connection between the physical brain, which can be measured and experimentally investigated by neuroscience, with the non-physical mind (have you ever seen, tasted or smelled your mind?), so they claim that it should be possible to get at least some idea of how meditation works if you study its effects on the brain.
There is a wide range of articles on experiments that have been carried out on people while they are meditating. One of the most prominent and fascinating people who have been wired up in the laboratory so far is Mingyur Rinpoche, a young Tibetan meditation master whose readings when he was meditating were off the charts. The following interview is taken from View magazine, Rigpa’s online journal.
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.