I encourage you to develop a practice that helps you to keep balanced, calm and able to cope with the stresses of modern day living. This could be meditation, yoga, Pilates, journaling, exercising, walking, gardening etc. Whatever it is, make sure it keeps you present and able to focus in the now.
~ Buddhist Meditation Techniques for Beginners ~
What is Buddhist Meditation? Buddhist meditation, simply put, is the meditation technique that is associated with the teachings and philosophy of the Buddha.
This is a brilliant article and well worth reading if you want to be able to find peace in your life.
The crux of Buddhist meditation techniques have been handed down from teachers to students. And they vigorously promote and cultivate concentration, precision, positive thoughts and perception.
If you are interested in exploring the varied avenues and patterns of your own mind, Buddhist meditation is your best bet as it creates a means to nurture a better & more positive way to exist. Regular practise of Buddhist meditation helps to create an intensely focused yet peaceful state of mind. These meditation techniques help you find a new focus and meaning in your life.
Why Meditate? For a Buddhist, meditation really is a disciplined form of prayer. It is a path that leads him/ her towards awareness, concentration, psychic power, tranquillity, perception and finally, towards “Nirvana”. Through the silence and stillness that emanate from these meditation techniques, it is possible to attain mental and physical peace.
Emotional upheavals often manifest themselves as physical ailments and vice -versa. Whatever be the cause of one’s mood swings, depression or frustration, the walls of the protective cocoon that one calls one’s comfort zone crumble and fall apart. It is at this juncture that one should take the help of Buddhist meditation techniques which act as an antidote to all the negativity that exists in one’s lives. These meditation techniques don’t just soothe our frayed nerves and calm our disturbed spirits, but also help us transcend barriers and enter into a world of peace & heightened awareness.
Types of Meditation
Buddhist meditation can’t be practised without mindfulness. But, what afterall is mindfulness? Right mindfulness is knowing what motivates you, the nature of your reactions and feelings, and being in touch with what you are thinking.
Buddhist meditation simply can not be practised with out knowing the self, which means taking stock of yourself and answering basic questions like, Who am I, What is happening in my body right now, and what are my emotions shouting and screaming about?
Mindfulness in Buddhist meditation has three purposes and these are to know, train and free the mind. Let’s take a look at how one can attain these:
Knowing the Mind:
The humdrum of day to day activities keeps us so preoccupied that we tend to go about performing our activities in a purely mechanical manner . Knowing your mind frees one to journey towards the self . You also begin to observe your mind in a detached manner in order to find out its source of motivation. But knowing the mind stops at that. You don’t really do anything to change the mind’s course of action at this stage.
Training the Mind:
The mind is dynamic, it is supple and flexible hence, it can be trained and shaped to behave in new ways. But, it has the tendency to waver due to outside influences. These influences may not always be of the positive kind. The purpose of this part of the exercise is to train the mind to take responsibility for its own activities and inclinations so that it can function in ways that are beneficial to us.
Freeing the Mind:
Of prime importance in Buddhism is the capacity to let go. Giving up all that is material & worldly is the best way to free the mind.
So in short, mindfulness meditation techniques teach you to know the mind and once you have achieved that and you know your mind, you are able to discover what exactly binds it and prevents it from letting go. With the help of this meditation technique, you can then train your mind to free itself of a number of chains.
Right Concentration :
Right Concentration and meditation are so intertwined that they cannot be separated from one another. In both Sanskrit and Pali, meditation translates into “bhavana”. In Buddhist meditation “bhavana” is not a relaxation technique nor is it a practise which prepares you for out-of- the-body experiences. In fact, it is aimed at purifying the mind and cleansing it of negative emotions such as worries, doubts, hatred, ill will, lust, restlessness & indolence. It nurtures qualities such as awareness, confidence, happiness, precision & intelligence.
This meditation technique teaches you to focus your mind on a mental object such as a candle flame and observing your breath with your eyes closed or looking into a candle flame, chanting a mantra and listening only to the sound produced by it. You could also observe the flow of energy with your eyes shut. With the help of this technique you learn to calm down, to live in the present & to let go of the past that binds you.
Right view :
A really important part of any meditation technique that you perform is that it should lead you to self introspection so that you become aware of your own behaviour. Hey, but take note that it might take years for you to be able to control your habits and behaviour. The trick is to be patient and to persist.
Right View is about observing your surroundings and the natural phenomena that influence your life. It is about realising that you cannot influence their behaviour or change them in any way since you have no control over them. So, you become rooted in the fact that your mind is the only thing over which you have any real control . Right view is about observing all phenomena and absorbing only their positive aspects.
Benefits of Buddhist meditation: Buddhist meditation techniques have a large number of benefits. They can help you in controlling stress, anger management, pain management, blood pressure, increase peace, make you calmer, improve immune function and it has also been known to work as psychotherapy! Over the centuries meditation as taught by the Buddha, has served as a means of attaining a better understanding of the self and has been able to lead to insightful spiritual experiences.
These benefits mostly come about due to the direct influence that meditation techniques have over the nervous system, both autonomous & well as parasympathetic. There are studies that show that the calming effect of Buddhist meditation techniques acts as a balm for the nerves.
Buddhist Meditation techniques improve your health. Since the immune system bears the brunt of all stress disorders, meditation can help in various ways to bring about a feeling of overall well being. Research has shown that meditation helps to reduce chronic pain. Buddhist meditation techniques and relaxation therapies have a significant effect as far as the reduction of headaches, low back pain & arthritis, chronic pain & hypertension are concerned. Buddhist meditation also reduces insomnia. An insomniac who practises these Buddhist meditation techniques is able to sleep within 20 minutes of meditation.
Buddhist Meditation is known to reduce stress and studies show that Buddhist meditation techniques help in reducing anxiety disorders including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They also reduce the recurrence of depression. Buddhist meditation techniques also have a direct effect on the mental health of a patient as it has been known to cut down psychiatric problems by half. Meditation is also an excellent stress buster as it is effective in reducing anxiety & depression.
Buddhist meditation helps to improve your focus. During the meditation, you are taught how to meditate in a manner that helps you to concentrate on your breath and the rise and fall of your abdomen. Calming your mind and training it to focus on a single object creates an awareness about your daily activities, that you would have otherwise carried out in a mechanical manner.
Posture is of utmost importance as it has a direct connection with the mind and the breath of a person. We consider the body, breath & mind to be separate entities but while meditating they all unite.
Buddhism has been witness to centuries of evolution, but no matter what the changes or assimilations were, all practitioners of this religion & the Buddhist meditation techniques have maintained that the most effective position of the body for sitting meditation is the posture of the seated Buddha.
Here are some tips about sitting in this posture:
Ideally you should spread out a mat on the floor and seat yourself on it. You could place a small cushion at the rear so that your knees can touch the ground. With your bottom resting on the pillow and your knees touching the ground you are able to maintain a triangle (tripod) formation. This position will give you stability and firmness.
Sitting cross legged with your knees touching the ground is the is the most effective way of performing Buddhist meditation.
But it is challenging for most of us to maintain a straight posture. For doing so, you could imagine that the top of your head is pushing upward towards the ceiling and by stretching your body in that direction it will be possible for you to straighten your spine and let those sore muscles relax. If you are able to raise your rear slightly your stomach automatically pushes out and the lower region of the back will curve slightly. After that, it becomes fairly easy to maintain an upright position.
Apart from maintaing an upright position, you need to take care that you keep your mouth closed so that you breathe only through your nose. The tongue should press lightly against the upper palate. This will help you keep your mouth moist and prevent excess saliva formation. Lower your eyes so that your gaze rests on the ground in front of you, since this keeps a major part of your eyes covered it reduces the need to blink repeatedly.
Also make sure that while sitting, your muscles are relaxed and there is no tautness in the body. The hands should ideally be held in the cosmic mudra. The dominant hand should cradle the other hand, with both palms facing upwards. The tips of the thumbs should touch each other, forming an oval shape with the palms.
One of the most simple yet important techniques of Buddhist meditation is to concentrate on the breath. The breath is always present with us right from our first wail to our last gasp. It is the vital force and is the activity around which the rest of our body functions are carried out. The breath works in tandem with our mind. We all know that agitated, shallow breathing represents a restless mind but when your mind is calm, your breathing becomes deep and effortless. So, focus on the breath, watch it and consciously make it deeper and more rhythmic.
Looking for results can be counterproductive. One shouldn’t do meditation expecting to gain something. Much of the suffering that we experience is created by our own expectations. We are caught in an never-ending cycle of desire and attachment which oppress us and undermines our hopes, possibilities & even our activities. Expectations cause nothing but anxiety & disillusionment if they remain unfulfilled. The sinister persistence of your desires plagues you even when you realize that most of them are unrealistic. Free yourself from your expectations with the help of Buddhist meditation techniques and do not allow them to enslave you. Start living in the present.
Unshackle yourself from your past and open up your mind to the various possibilities that exist all around you. Draw your strength from your past set-backs & stop looking towards the future, but live in the present & just take one day at a time.
Once you are able to clear your mind of desires, you become more positive in your approach towards change. You are able to respond rather than react to changes. Your mind is now calm and ready to respond to life as and when it unravels its mysterious self to you.
From Urban Wired
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