to Buddhism, ‘Mind is the forerunner of all states’*. Everything we experience
in life is through our mind.
In Buddhist practice, two forms of meditation are prescribed. One is the development of mental concentration (samatha or samadhi) which leads to one-pointedness of mind by various methods described in the texts. These practices may lead to the highest mystic states (jhana), and were known to Yogis even before the time of the Buddha. All these states are subject to the laws of cause and effect, hence they do not last.
The Buddha taught a unique way of meditation known as vipassana, which develops insight into the true nature of things, leading to the complete liberation of mind and the ultimate truth, Nibbana. This is described in one of the most important discourses given by the Buddha, the Satipatthana Sutta, 'The Setting Up of Mindfulness'. The Buddha said that this practise is the 'only direct path to liberation' (Ekayano maggo).
meditation involves focussing the mind on a single object in order to
develop stillness of mind. There are a number of suitable objects (kasina)
described in the texts. In general, the object should be plain, which
should not arouse any attachment or evoke any emotions as it will not
be helpful to calm the mind. One type of traditional kasina
is a clay disc about the size of a dinner plate, with or without colouring
added. A suitable object would be selected by the teacher to suit the
personality of the meditator. In the Buddhist practice, the recommended
object is the breath as it is readily available at all times. With practice,
the mind will cease to wander and a state of calmness will be experienced.
( mindfulness) on the other hand is a form of contemplation, or investigation
into the nature of the mind and involves observation of things such
as parts of the body, feelings, thoughts and emotions (mental objects)
etc in a detached manner. The objective is to develop pure awareness
of the processes that takes place in the body and mind which leads to
the realisation of their impermanent (anicca, not permanent,
subject to continual change) nature.
now the flow of water in the streams is controlled and reduced, the turbulence
will cease and the mud will slowly settle, leaving the water still and
clear. This is similar to the state of calmness experienced in Samatha meditation. However mud and rotten debris are still present, and will
make the water muddy when the streams start to flow again: the mental defilements becomes active again in the normal state.
The Buddha has stated five clear objectives
Samatha meditation is usually done in the sitting posture in a quiet environment, away from distractions as stillness of the body and mind is essential. Vipassana, the practice of developing mindfulness, can be done anytime, anywhere even while engaging in daily tasks - one could be mindful while eating, walking, or sweeping the floor etc
contemplation of the body is one aspect of vipassana. One then
goes on to contemplate the feelings, thoughts and conciousness that
arises in the body and mind**. The mind is trained to be aware of defilements
that arise (negative states such as greed, hatred, and delusion). Similarly,
one is aware when the mind is free from such states.
'Buddhist way' is a very effective form of meditation taught by the
Buddha, the 'Mindfulness or Awareness of in-and-out Breathing' (Anapanasati).
Note that the breath itself is of no importance and it is only used as an object of meditation. No effort should be made to follow the passsage of the breath into the body, control or interfere with its free flow: it must flow naturally. It is not a breathing excercise as in some yoga practice.
start, select a quiet place, away from distractions. Set aside a period
of time for the meditation with the firm determination not to be distracted
during this time. Use a meditation posture
that is most appropriate, comfortable, but not too comfortable which
may cause sleepiness. A mat or a cushion may be used to sit comfortably
on the floor, with the spine upright, allowing for the natural curvature
of the spine. The seat should be at the level of the knees or a little
above which helps to keep a good balance and the mind alert. Avoid leaning
against a wall or some other object. Rest the hands on the lap with
the palms turned upwards, right over left. Keep the eyes closed lightly.
Relax the body by taking a couple of deep breaths and exhaling slowly,
with a feeling of 'letting go'.Continuing to breathe
normally, bring the attention to the point where sensation is felt when
the breath enters or leaves the body (nostrils). This is the
object of meditation. The mind may wander
off, which is the nature of the mind. As soon as you realise that the
mind has wandered, gently (without being annoyed) bring the attention
back to the object (breath). This may require repeated effort many times.
At the start, this may seem very difficult and will require some patience
and effort. Be assured that after some practise, the wandering mind
(termed the 'monkey mind'-like the monkey who keeps jumping from one
branch to another) will settle down and focus on the object of meditation.
The essential technique in Vipassana is to observe the object of meditation in a completely detached manner, without allowing the mind to get involved in the process. One should not push away or suppress emotions as they arise because this may be psychologically harmful. The changes that takes place with practice are very subtle and may only be noticeable over a long period of time, hence one should not expect quick results.
Regular practise for about twenty minutes a day is highly recommended at the start, which can be extended as one progresses. Beginners may find frequent short sessions of say 10 minutes helpful to improve concentration. A little skill aquired at each session will add up over a period of time.The best time of the day might be first thing in the morning, when the mind is free from the day's worries, but this will depend on the individual.
It is very beneficial when sitting meditation is followed by walking meditation. Alternatively, try starting with walking meditation if the mind is restless.
Sitting down on a cusion and meditating may be regarded as a training excercise. The most important excercise is to apply mindfulness to daily life: physical activities such as eating or walking can all be done with mindfulness, being aware of any attachments or other negative states that may arise. One could take the opportunity of watching the breath while seated in a bus or a train.
do standing meditation, get up slowly and mindfully, holding the concentration.
Stand with the feet apart at shoulder length, keeping the spine straight
and knees bent slightly in a relaxed manner. The hands can be either
hanging loosely at the sides or held together in front. Bring
awareness to the point of contact between the feet and the ground.
walking meditation, the awareness is directed at the movement of the
feet, allowing breathing to continue normally.
Metta has been translated as 'loving-kindness'. A more appropriate meaning is 'loving-friendliness'. It is also known as unconditional love or universal love. This is a mindfulness meditation on metta based on the Karaniya Metta Sutta. The practise of metta meditation leads to the alleviation of ill-will, anger, unpleasantness and improve human relationships. The word 'love' here does not imply any attachment as it is commonly understood. Loving-kindness is an altruistic and friendly feeling without expecting anything in return (unconditional love) and entirely free from any lustful or selfish desires.
could spend ten minutes or so preferably after Samatha or Vipassana
meditation to generate thoughts of Metta. It is prescribed that
metta should be first practised towards oneself, by bringing into
mind positive thoughts of peace and happiness. If the mind is restless,
some may find it beneficial to start meditation with the practise of
I be well, happy, and peaceful
is important to realise that it is not just a repetition of words that
matter. What is important is the development of
the appropriate positive thoughts associated with the words.
you have sufficiently developed this state of mind, free from anger
and hatred, it is easy to radiate thoughts of metta towards others.
After some practise when the technique is well developed, metta could be directed towards a person whom you have some difficulty or dislike.
concept can be gradually widened to include whole groups and even all
beings in the entire world: