Category Archives: Mindfulness

The Goal of Meditation

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

The original word for becoming enlightened is Bodhi, which means “awakened”. The words the Buddha uttered involuntarily at the moment of enlightenment were: 

“Wonder of wonders! Intrinsically all living beings are Buddhas, endowed with wisdom and virtue, but because men’s minds have become inverted through delusive thinking, they fail to perceive this.”

A human being, whether clever or stupid, male or female, ugly or beautiful, is capable of being awakened to the fact that he is naturally endowed with wisdom and virtue. There is no perfection other than this state of being awakened.

At the moment of enlightenment, the person is suddenly out of the trap of his deluded thinking that is preventing him from perceiving his true nature.

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The Enlightened Individual

An enlighten individual is not absolutely free of flaws, but he is cleared of his deluded thinking. He has a mind in which perceptions continually break down into fine discriminative elements and get freely associated and assimilated into an orderly mental matrix providing rational solutions.

The cleared individual does not avoid, resist, suppress or deny any thoughts, emotions, and sensations when thinking; and so, he perceives things objectively with clarity. He is able to examine and overcome all prejudices, biases and fixations. He is keenly perceptive and knowledgeable and continues to explore new areas of knowledge.

The cleared individual is universal in his outlook. He rises above any idea of self or individuality. He is not subjective, self-centric, or human-centric. There are no conflicts within him. He would not hesitate to sacrifice himself if need be.

The cleared individual can look from the viewpoint of others as well as objectively from the viewpoint of all life and the environment. He continues to expand his understanding of the physical and spiritual aspects of the universe without resorting to superstitions.

The cleared individual is the first to realize his error and correct himself. Whenever he senses resistance or observes some oddity, he follows it up until it is cleared. If he suffers a painful experience, heavy loss, or confusion he is able to sort it out quietly in his mind.

The cleared individual is in good health and has no psychosomatic illnesses. He is purposeful in his demeanor, and graceful in his movements. He is strong and calm even in adversity. In no way is he trying to win or dominate, but he is passionately engaged in bringing order to his environment.

Above all, he is compassionate.

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The Goal of Meditation

The goal of meditation is to become enlightened. When you start practicing meditation, its immediate effect is to reduce the turbulence in your mind so you can become more aware. With increased awareness you can start spotting your deluded thinking and make it disappear.

At first you may be in doubt about your true nature. But as you make progress through meditation there comes a point when you awake suddenly to your true nature. You now have a certainty that harbors no doubt. It is a unique moment that fills you completely with joy and happiness.

The following chapters guide you step by step on the path to enlightenment through meditation.

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Posture in Meditation

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

In the Satipatthana Sutta Buddha instructs:

Herein, monks, a monk, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree or to an empty place, sits down with his legs crossed, keeps his body erect and his mindfulness alert.

The ancient statues of Buddha show him sitting in this posture.

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali describes this asana as a “steady and comfortable posture.” So, a meditative posture, besides being stable must also be natural and comfortable so that it could be maintained for a long time without causing any stress or discomfort.

The condition of body in deep meditation is very similar to the condition in deep sleep. When sitting, the body may slump if not propped up properly. Crossing the legs and locking them in full-lotus position keeps the body erect even in deep meditation. An erect posture imparts the alertness of mindfulness.

The purpose of the posture in meditation is to keep the body erect and comfortable even in deep meditation.

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Niceties of Posture

In the ancient culture people were used to sitting with their legs crossed. This posture was natural and comfortable to them. So, this became the natural posture in meditation. Over time, however, other details got added that are not essential to meditation.

Zen Buddhism goes into incredible details about how to sit in meditation. It provides the size and shape of cushions to sit on, and the kinds of clothes that should be worn. It specifies how to place legs and knees on the mat, and hands and fingers in the lap. It dictates how ears should be lined up with the shoulders, and nose with the navel. It even directs the position of tip of the tongue, and the angle of the gaze. If you give importance to such niceties you can waste much time worrying about the correct posture during meditation.

Once the purpose of meditative posture is met, additional details prescribed for the posture are inessential.

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Sitting in a Chair

In many cultures people are not used to sitting with their legs crossed. In European cultures people would rather sit in a chair than in the lotus posture. They are not comfortable otherwise.

As long as body can be kept stably erect, sitting in a chair is okay. One may sit in a straight-backed chair to keep the body erect. Additional cushions may be used to ensure the immobility of the body, when the person goes in deep meditation.

To be comfortable the posture should be well-balanced. It may help if the knees are parallel to the shoulders and feet are flat on the ground. The arms may rest in the lap. The hands, fingers and tongue may assume natural and relaxed positions. The eyes may be open, half open or closed according to natural tendency. The attention may focus or not focus on anything in particular. The gaze may become directed or peripheral. These variations may occur naturally during meditation.

One may meditate sitting in a chair as an alternative to the lotus position.

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The First Step in Meditation

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

Twenty-six hundred years ago Buddha launched a grass-root movement of spiritual awakening, which was so successful that it civilized three-quarters of the world. The effectiveness of that movement seems to have been lost today due to the turmoil of day-to-day life.

That ancient movement was based on the concept of meditation. Wikipedia states:

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.

When you look up meditation in a dictionary, it provides synonyms, such as, concentration, contemplation and reflection. Meditation seems to have become difficult to practice today by most people because it is so difficult to define.

The process of meditation seems to have become complex and confusing for most people.

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The Problem of Meditation

In meditation, a person is using concentration, contemplation and reflection to settle the mind. But the fact is that none of these actions can be accomplished until the mind is already in a settled state. This is a catch-22. Therefore, one must understand why the mind is in a turmoil in the first place.

We all have heard the analogy that the muddy water in a bucket will remain muddy if it keeps on getting stirred. One must stop stirring the water to give mud a chance to settle down at the bottom. The same thing is happening with an agitated mind.

The mind is in a state of agitation because it is continually being interfered with.

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The First Step

The mind is in a state of agitation because it is being interfered with continually. To let the mind settle down into a quiet state, one must stop interfering with it. The mind will then settle down naturally by itself.

The first step in meditation is to stop interfering with the mind, so it has a chance to settle down naturally.

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Research in Meditation

R = REVIEWED

Basic Meditation

Private: Introduction to Meditation (R)

Mindfulness in Mental Objects (Enlightenment) (R)

A View on Enlightenment (R)

Private: The Meaning of Enlightenment (R)

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Private: Posture in Meditation (Old) (R)

Private: Posture in Mindfulness Meditation (R)

KHTK 5B: POSTURES OF THE BODY (R)

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Exercise: Walking Meditation on Environment

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

This is the second part of walking meditation. Make sure you are walking in a pleasant and safe place while doing this exercise.

In this walking meditation, one observes one’s physical perceptions until they become clear and sharp.

Meditation Exercise:

Observing physical perceptions.

Purpose:

To train the student to BE there and observe the physical perceptions. The idea is to get the student to BE there while walking and not do anything else but BE there and observe.

Pre-requisites:

Complete the exercises up to Exercise: Suppressed Memories

Study Walking Meditation

Instructions:

Find a safe and pleasant environment, such as, a farm, park or a garden where you may spend half an hour. Start walking leisurely.  Become aware of your natural breathing. Start noticing the environment around you. Notice the size, shape and color of the things and their overall visual pattern. Look as far as you can see.

Next focus on the perception of touch. Touch the bench, the swing, the bark of the trees, the leaves of the plants, the flowers, and other surfaces. Feel the different textures, the hot and cold temperatures, the bulkiness of objects, etc. Experience as much as you can.

Then start putting attention on the perception of hearing also. Notice the quality, tone and loudness of sounds. Do this until your perception of hearing start to become sharper.

All this while, you use your breathing as the stabilizing factor. In other words, whenever your attention strays you bring it back to your breathing and then start noticing the environment again through the perceptions of sight, touch and hearing.

Continue this exercise for at least 20 minute. At the end of your walk you may go to a coffee or tea place. There you observe the perceptions of taste and smell in addition to the perceptions above.

You may repeat this exercise as often as you wish.

End of Exercise:

When there is a significant increase in the clarity of perceptions, this exercise is passed.

NOTE: At any point you may return to a previous exercise if you feel that you need to complete it.

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