Meditation

“The point of Buddhist meditation is not to stop thinking,
for cultivation of insight clearly requires intelligent use of thought and discrimination.
What needs to be stopped is conceptualisation that is
compulsive, mechanical and unintelligent,
that is, activity that is always fatiguing, usually pointless, and at times seriously harmful”

Allan Wallace
 

Introduction

Before starting a meditation practice, it is very advisable to have visited a group or center where meditation instructions are given, and follow some guided meditations. In this way, it is easy to discover the basics of the actual practice. The various traditions teach slightly different methods, usually related to the emphasis of their main practices. It is strongly advised to start any meditation session with setting one’s motivation and concluding by dedicating the positive energy, for this, verses as given below can be a good guideline.

REFUGE

 I go for refuge to the Buddha,
I go for refuge to the Dharma,
I go for refuge to the Sangha. (3x)

GENERATING BODHICITTA

By virtue of giving and so forth,
may I become a Buddha for the benefit of all sentient beings. (3x)

THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES

May all sentient beings have equanimity, free from attachment, aggression and prejudice.
May they be happy, and have the causes for happiness.
May they be free from suffering and causes for suffering.
May they never be separated from the happiness that is free from suffering. (3x)

THE SEVEN-LIMBED PRAYER

 Respectfully I prostrate with body, speech and mind;
I present clouds of every type of offerings, actual and imagined;
I declare all the negative actions I have done since beginningless time,
and rejoice in the merit of all Aryas and ordinary beings.
Please teacher, remain until cyclic existence ends
and turn the wheel of Dharma for all sentient beings.
I dedicate the virtues of myself and others to the great Enlightenment.

SHORT MANDALA OFFERING

 This ground I offer, as Buddha-fields,
Resplendent with flowers, incense and perfume
In the center Mount Meru, four lands, sun and moon,
May all sentient beings enjoy this Pure Land.

IDAM GURU RATNA-MANDALAKAM NIRYATAYAMI

DEDICATION PRAYERS

 May all sentient beings have equanimity, free from attachment, aggression and prejudice.
May they be happy, and have the causes for happiness.
May they be free from suffering and causes for suffering.
May they never be separated from the happiness that is free from suffering. (3x)
By this virtue may I soon
reach a Guru-Buddha-state,
and lead each and every being
to that state of Buddhahood.
May the precious Bodhicitta
not yet born, arise and grow
may that born have no decline
but increase forever more.
In all my rebirths may I never be separated from perfect spiritual masters
and enjoy the magnificent Dharma.
Completing all qualities of the stages and paths,
May I quickly achieve the state of Vajradhara.
May anyone who merely sees or hears,
remembers, touches or talks to me,
be instantly freed from all sufferings
and abide in happiness forever.
It is only from the kindness of my Guru
that I have met the peerless teachings of the Buddha.
Thus, I dedicate all merit so that all sentient beings in the future
may be guided by kind and holy Gurus.
Until cyclic existence ends,
may the beneficial teachings not be blown away by the wind of superstitions.
May the entire world be filled
with people who have undersdtood and found firm faith in the true teachings.
Day and night, may I pass the time
thinking and examining by what means
these teachings can spread
in the minds of myself and others.
May all sentient beings – who have all been my mother and father – be completely happy,
and may the lower realms be forever empty.
May all the prayers of the bodhisattvas, wherever they live,
be immediately fulfilled.
May the glorious gurus live long,
and may all beings throughout limitless space have happiness.
By purifying our defilements and accumulating positive potential,
may I and all others be inspired to attain Buddhahood quickly.
May I never develop, even a moment,
wrong views towards the deeds of my glorious Gurus.
With respect and devotion, by seeing whatever actions they do as pure,
may the guru’s inspiration flow into my mind.
In whatever way you appear, O glorious Guru,whatever your retinue, ifespan and pure-land,
whatever your name, most noble and holy,
may I and all others attain only these.
In order to follow the excellent examples
set by the wisdom of the bodhisattva Manjushri
and the always sublime Samantabhadra,
I dedicate all virtues to their peerless ideals.
All conquerors of the three times
have praised this peerless dedication as sublime.
Therefore, I also surrender all roots of my activities
to the sublime goals of a bodhisattva.

BASICS

WATCHING THE BREATH – THE REAL BASICS

After the preliminaries, concentrate on the tip of your nose, and feel the breath going in and out.
To help your concentration, you can count every out-breath as one, and count from 1 to 10. When you arrived at 10, simply start at 1 again. All the attention is with the feeling of the nose and the counting, nothing more, nothing less.
Regularly check yourself if you are still concentrated, do not get angry when distracted, simply return to counting from 1.
Just before the end of the session, release the concentration on the counting and the tip of your nose, and simply be aware of how you feel for a minute or so.
Then dedicate the positive energy of the session to whichever goal you like, use for example above prayers.
 

BUTTER ON THE HEAD

Imagine on the crown of your head a lump of gold-coloured butter.– It slowly melts, and wherever it runs down over your body, all stress and tension in the body disappears.
– Very slowly the butter flows over your forehead, all muscles relax…
– It runs down over your eyes and cheeks…, your whole face relaxes.
– Along the back of your head… your neck… shoulders; feel how much tension is there and let it go….
– Arms and hands…. the chest.. belly….
– Along the spine, the entire back relaxes…your legs and feet…
– The entire body is covered in golden butter and you radiate health.
– Go over the whole body again and breathe out all the remaining stress.

RELAXING BY STRESSING

A very effective method to relax the body by stressing all the muscles, holding that 5 to 10 seconds, and then releasing the tension.– Sit or lie in a relaxed way.
– Put an extremely tense expression on the face, straining as many face muscles as possible. Take a deep breath and forcefully hold it. ……
– Now slowly release the breath and the tension of all the face muscles, feel as if you breathe out all stress.
– Inhale deeply again and stress all neck and shoulder muscles…. then let go
– Inhale, make fists and stress the arms… let go
– Inhale, stress chest, belly and back…. let go
– Inhale, stress buttocks, legs and feet… let go
– If you still feel tension at some places, just stay relaxed, don’t hold the breath now, but release all the tension while breathing out.
– Enjoy your relaxed body

ELIMINATING PAST AND FUTURE

Rest the hands, palms down on the legs and watch the breath
– When the mind wanders off to thoughts of the past, gently tap your left leg
– When the mind wanders off to thoughts of the future, gently tap your right leg
– Whenever a thought arises, mentally note “memory” or “fantasy”, then return to the breath. 
 

WATCHING THE SENSES

Focus the attention to your breath and sensory experiences
– Whenever you notice something, mentally note: “feeling”, “hearing”, “tasting”, “smelling”, “touching”.
– Note the senses, but do not start talking with yourself, only note the experience and go back to the breath.

WATCHING EMOTIONS

Focus the attention mainly to the breath and sensory experiences; in addition, note your emotional experiences. – Whenever a particular feeling comes up, mentally note it; as “liking”, “dis-liking”, “anger”, “sad”, “fear”, “resentment”, “anxiety”, “guilt” etc. and let it go
– Do not get involved with the emotions, only note them and return to awareness of the breath.

SMOKE OUT, LIGHT IN

– While breathing out, imagine that all your negative energies, mistakes, misunderstanding and emotions leave your body with the breath. Visualise this energy as black smoke, which goes out into space and completely disappears.
– While breathing in, imagine that all the positive energy of the universe enters your body with the breath. Visualise this positive energy as pure white light which enters all the parts of your body, it pervades every cell and atom. Enjoy this clear white light.
– If you feel comfortable, use every breath to inhale light and to exhale black smoke and problems.
– When distracted by other thoughts, simply observe them without getting involved; transform them into black smoke and breathe them out.

BODY OF LIGHT

– Visualise above the crown of your head a white ball of light, somewhat smaller than your head. It has no real form and is pure white energy. Do not concentrate on details, just try to feel it is there.
– Imagine that the light embodies all the pure love of the universe, the accomplishment of the highest potential of living beings.
– Visualise the ball becomes smaller, about the size of your thumb, and it enters the crown of your head, and descends to the level of your heart.
– Now the light expands and fills your entire body. All the material of the body dissolves into light. What remains is a body of light without shape.
– Concentrate on the feeling this light-body gives, all problems and negativities are gone, only peace and happiness is left.
– When distracting thoughts arise, simply dissolve them in the light.

9-ROUND BREATHING

This is a pre-tantric purification practice in which you visualise the main 3 energy channels in the body. It is used in the beginning of a meditation session (after the prayers of refuge etc.) to calm and clear the mind in only a minute or so.
Make your breath somewhat longer and deeper, but don’t exaggerate, if possible one should not hear the breathing. If you have a cold and one or both nostrils are clogged, just imagine breathing through the different nostrils.
Visualise the body as being completely empty and transparent, then inside it appears the Central Channel.
The Central Channel starts between the eyebrows, continues back just under the skull, and from the crown of the head it goes straight down to the level of four finger-widths under the navel, it stays a little in front of the spine. It is like a transparent blue tube, about the thickness of a thick drinking straw.
To the left and to the right are two side-channels, both transparent and the thickness of only a drinking-straw. The right channel is red, the left is white.
The three channels are flexible and just below the navel they connect with each other.
During the first round of breathing, INHALE through the LEFT nostril, keeping the right nostril closed with a finger. We imagine the air going from the left nostril into the left channel, up near the crown and way down to under the navel. There, the left channel is connected to the right channel, and we BREATHE OUT through the RIGHT CHANNEL by closing the left nostril with the same finger. Imagine breathing in pure white light, and when exhaling, imagine that all DESIRE AND ATTACHMENT which pollutes the left channel collects at the navel and leaves via the right channel as black smoke. The black smoke disappears beyond the universe. Repeat this 3 times.
Then the next round we INHALE white light via the RIGHT nostril, and all ANGER AND HATRED which pollutes the right channel collects below the navel and is EXHALED via the LEFT channel as black smoke. Again, do this 3 times.
The third round we INHALE white light via the LEFT AND RIGHT channel together and imagine them both being connected to the central channel below the navel. This CENTRAL CHANNEL is polluted by IGNORANCE AND CONFUSION which is breathed out as black smoke. Imagine that you BREATHE OUT via the POINT BETWEEN the EYEBROWS.
Normally do this not more than 2 or 3 rounds.    

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1 Comment

  1. Scribbler said,

    October 30, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    A very nice selection of practices, some of which I must try out. It’s amazing that people search the world for things to do to improve their lives and to find peace, and so few of them believe that they will make quick progress toward their goals if they only sat down and meditated daily.


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