An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

We can look at meditation practice under four different headings as follows:

1 What meditation is, 2 Methods and Posture, 3 The benefits of Meditation and 4 Integration.

1 What meditation Is

Meditation is a skilful means for working with our distracted minds. Through the practice of mindfulness and awareness, we bring our minds home and slowly are revealed the compassion and wisdom that are our true nature - who we really are. There are many images to help us to relate to this but the sky and the clouds is perhaps the most effective. Through the practice of meditation, slowly the cloud-like thoughts and emotions dissolve, revealing the sky-like nature of mind and from that shines our own true nature like the sun, with the two qualities of warmth and light = wisdom and compassion. When we discover our own true nature, that is enlightenment, freedom from suffering and true happiness.

2 Methods and Posture

Firstly the physical posture: this is the seven point posture of Buddha Vairochana

Legs crossed
Hands in the lap or on the knees
Shoulders back
Back straight
Chin tucked in slightly
Mouth slightly open, as if about to say 'ah'
Eyes open, with soft gaze, looking downward

If we can't remember all these points, we can remember 'straight and relaxed'.

The most common method of mindfulness meditation is watching the breath. Breathing naturally, we focus lightly on the out breath and let go and release our grasping. Naturally there is a gap before the in breath, we rest in that gap. But we don't focus all our attention on the breath - only 25%, another 25% is watching that we're being mindful of the breath and the greatest part is the 50% which is left spaciously remaining.

A helpful image from a famous Tibetan master, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, is:

Water, if you don't stir it becomes clear, mind left unaltered finds its own natural peace.

We are advised to start practising in short sessions, and to try to establish a regular practice. Remember that a bucket of water thrown at a rock will make no difference, yet a constant drip will eventually wear away the stone.

3 The Benefits of Meditation

As our mind settles through regular practice, we become more spacious, more in touch with ourselves and our fundamental goodness. This slowly dissolves our negativity and we become more whole and complete. As we become more at peace with ourselves, so we become more at peace with others also. Thus our good heart, our compassionate nature is revealed. The benefits can also be physical - lower blood pressure, even changes at a cellular level in our bodies.

4 Integration

We are encouraged to create a habit of practice, so that we have something to integrate. To integrate meditation in action is the whole point and purpose of meditation. Then, when we meet difficult circumstances we may find we have a greater understanding of the situation.

Learn More

If you'd like to learn about meditation or practice meditation then you may want to take an Edinburgh Meditation Class.

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