Your Guide to Buddhist Meditation...Zen Meditation Visualization Walking Meditation Dzogchen and...

BUDDHISM CULTURE MEDITATION LIFE JULY 2014 Insight Meditation Loving-Kindness Zen Meditation Visualization Walking Meditation Dzogchen and more… Your Guide to Buddhist Meditation Learn a wealth of meditation techniques to develop calm, awareness, wisdom & love LET YOUR CONFIDENCE SHINE A PUNK LOOKS AT FIFTY THE BUDDHAS OF WEST 17TH S HAMBHALA S UN

Transcript of Your Guide to Buddhist Meditation...Zen Meditation Visualization Walking Meditation Dzogchen and...

  • B u d d h i s m c u lt u r e m e d i tat i o n l i f e j u lY 2 0 1 4

    Insight MeditationLoving-KindnessZen MeditationVisualizationWalking MeditationDzogchenand more…

    Your Guide to

    Buddhist MeditationLearn a wealth of meditation techniques to develop calm, awareness, wisdom & love

    L e t Y o u r C o n f i d e n C e S h i n e • A P u n k L o o k S At f i f t Y • t h e B u d d h A S o f W e S t 1 7 t h

    shambhala sun

  • We a l l l o n g f o r deeper connection with ourselves and others,

    less stress, and a better understanding of what is really happen-

    ing in our lives. Through the practice of Vipassana, or Insight

    Meditation, we find that peace and awakening are found right

    here in the present.

    Insight Meditation is a way to hack the mind and heart, to reboot how we inter-

    face with the world. We see our old programs and habits and, through kindness

    and dedication, they unwind. We open to what is happening in each moment and

    discover how we prevent life from being fluid and flexible.

    We sit and we notice where our attention lands. What catches it? Where does it

    cling? Is there grasping? We learn to direct our attention, moving it toward and away

    from objects. This kind of focus brings insight into how we shut down the flow of

    experience and cause ourselves suffering. We learn to open to greater freedom.

    For me, questioning started at a young age. I grew up in the South, where people

    packed churches and listened to Bible stories. As I watched the news and saw the

    wars of the world, I began to question the distance between people’s values and their

    actions. These painful human divisions didn’t make sense to me.

    This kicked off a journey to find freedom beyond the conditioned walls of ignorance.

    What I have found is that peace and awakening are not found in some other place, or an

    Insight Meditation Present, Open & Aware

    emily Horn on how to discover the peace and awakening

    in every moment

    p h o t o s b y M i c h a e l k r a s s SHAMBHALA SUN JULy 2014 43

  • In t H e f i l m G r av i t y , after hurtling through outer space, Sandra Bullock’s character takes slow, delicious steps on the Earth. For me, this simple scene was the most impactful of the whole movie. It reminded me of a teaching by the ninth-century Zen master Rinzai: “The great miracle is not to walk on the

    air or to walk on water or fire, but to be able to walk on the Earth.” When I started to ask what it meant to walk on the “Earth” of

    my own life, I realized that I spent most of my time walking on

    the “air” and “water” of the past, the future, my plans, fears, and

    hopes. In fact, it was rare for me to take steps on the “Earth” of

    my embodied experience.

    An authentic practice life isn’t about seeking peak experiences

    but rather touching the wonder of the ordinary. This is made

    clear in a conversation that the Buddha is said to have had with

    a prince. The prince asked, “What do you and your monastics

    practice every day?” The Buddha replied, “We sit, we walk, and

    we eat.” The prince said, “We also do these things every day, so

    how are you different?” The Buddha responded, “When we sit,

    we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking.

    When we eat, we know we are eating.”

    We can practice walking meditation throughout the day, even

    when we only need to take a few steps. Usually in our daily lives,

    we’re habituated to physically and mentally going somewhere

    that’s not here. We’re sitting and we decide to open the window.

    The next thing we’re aware of is that we’re at the window; we

    haven’t been present for the time in-between. Walking medita-

    tion is an opportunity to bring awareness to the transition mo-

    ments, which in fact make up the majority of our life.

    Whenever I practice walking meditation, it’s new and differ-

    ent. At times I walk slowly, taking perhaps three steps for every

    in-breath and three steps for every out-breath, and at other times

    the situation is such that I need to move more quickly, but in any

    case I bring the same awareness to my steps. As I walk, I feel my

    feet on the Earth and bring my awareness to my breath. I become

    rooted in my body, established in time and place.

    Walking meditation is a gift you offer yourself. When you

    walk, relax your whole body. Notice how many steps you take

    for each in-breath and out-breath. If you find that your mind

    is wandering, silently repeating a word or two can be helpful.

    One suggestion is to say, “Arrived, arrived” on the in-breath and

    “Home, home” on the out-breath.

    The practice of meditation is about arriving with every

    breath, every step. When we settle into our lived experience, we

    have truly arrived. ♦

    imaginary better world. They are found only in the present.

    Mindfulness became my gateway to an unending process of

    discovery. What is this mind and heart? How can I live a life worth

    living? My life became a fertile ground for investigation, accep-

    tance, and discovery.

    Becoming open to experience isn’t always easy. Sometimes we

    face unpleasant aspects of our body and mind. But this too is

    insight, and when we approach our difficulties with kind attention,

    they lose their power over us. It all comes down to the simple act of

    returning to the breath and the body, and then using our embodied

    presence to notice what is happening right now. Certainly it can

    be difficult, but reminding ourselves that we are on a path that has

    been trusted and traveled for more than 2,600 years can help.

    We all struggle: with sickness, raising children, aging parents,

    death of loved ones, and violent boundary violations. But in each

    moment we can call on our ability as human beings to open,

    even when it doesn’t feel pleasant.

    I remember crying while listening to Insight teacher Trudy

    Goodman explain to a woman who had just lost her husband

    that we sit again and again in the crucible of meditation. We sit

    for ourselves, for those we love, and for the next time we venture

    into the depths. She told the students, “Don’t worry that you will

    miss out. If you aren’t in the crucible now, you will be. Let’s prac-

    tice now so that we can open even amidst the storms.”

    I remember being on a meditation retreat and falling into a

    pit of despair and frustration. Memories flashed from my past,

    my body burned, and I just wanted to get out of, fix, and change

    my experience.

    I asked my teacher, Jack Kornfield, if the bombardment of

    unpleasantness ever stopped. He smiled big with love and care.

    “Relax and you will know,” he said.

    It can be counterintuitive to relax when there is chaos. Yet

    learning to recognize, accept, investigate, and not identify with

    our experience—think of the mnemonic device “RAIN”—helps

    free us from the false realities our thoughts, emotions, and body

    sensations create. We usually feel that our experience is solid and

    will never change, but with insight it all breaks down into a mil-

    lion different aspects. We open so that all experience is a flowing

    stream, and when debris floats by, it is held with loving, non-

    judgmental, mindful awareness.

    The Buddha taught that we free ourselves from our stormy

    struggles by noticing their causes and by understanding the pat-

    terns of our mind, or programming. We are able to recognize

    which parts are useful and which are hindering us from freely

    experiencing the ebb and flow of life. Let’s call this “mind hack-

    ing,” because mindfulness gives us the ability to reprogram the

    inner operating system and become more fluid in our identity.

    As you practice Insight Meditation, you’ll become more com-

    fortable with this continual shifting of identity, and you’ll come to

    trust the unfolding of life itself. It provides the soil for a deep joy

    and connection in both solitude and in relationship. With mind-

    fulness you can extend your inward learning and begin to deeply

    love the whole network of humanity. Here’s how to get started.

    How to Practice Insight MeditationYou can practice Insight Meditation in a number of situations.

    You can practice in a quiet place in your home, in your car, or

    even during a break at work. You may want to surround yourself

    with objects that remind you of the sacred quality of life, perhaps

    a flower or candles. Allow the space to be uniquely yours.

    Begin by taking a meditation posture either in a chair or on

    a meditation cushion. Allowing your posture to be upright and

    stable, take a few deep breaths in and out, exhaling fully and

    inhaling fully.

    As your breath becomes simple and natural, allow your sit-

    ting bones to fall toward the earth and your spine to straighten

    toward the sky. Feel the weight of your body and the space it

    takes up. Soften your attention by relaxing into the posture and

    allowing a simple smile to appear on your face.

    Now direct your attention to the natural rhythm of your

    breath, noticing the sensations as you breathe in and out. Notice

    the space between your inhalations and exhalations. You may

    make a gentle mental note: in with the in-breath and out with

    the out-breath. Allow the multitude of sensations to arise and

    pass around the breath.

    When you notice your attention wandering, gently bring it

    back to the breath. It takes time to be able to stay with the breath

    for very long. It is like going to the gym: with practice, your

    “attention muscles” will become stronger and you will be able to

    see more and more clearly what is happening in your experience.

    To deepen attention, notice if the breath is warm, cool, hot,

    slow, or fast. Is it tingling, stuffy, gentle? Investigate what is hap-

    pening. Usually we take this mysterious process of breathing for

    granted. Use it to become present.

    When thoughts come, acknowledge them gently and return to

    the breath. Stepping outside the story, we can begin to non-iden-

    tify and simply be with what’s happening. One moment at a time,

    gradually open to the whole range of sensations and the flow of life.

    As you become more present using the breath, ask yourself,

    what else is happening right now? Allow the experience to be as

    it is without pushing it away, grasping toward it, or numbing out.

    Become gracious, accepting, fully present, and wise. This is the

    art of mindfulness.

    Focusing on the movement of the breath softens our iden-

    tification with the stories we tell ourselves so we can simply be

    with what’s happening. With gentleness and insight, your sense

    of freedom grows and you open to the flow of life. ♦

    Walking Meditation in MotionWith every step, says BrotHer PHaP Hai , you can touch the Earth and the wonder of life.


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