Sunday, April 19, 2015

Meditation and the Art of Beginning Again [AUDIO]

Too often in our meditations we strive towards some self-imposed picture of progress, and in doing so we miss the point of simply sitting and being present in the moment. Clinging to 'results' and 'achievement' in meditation is just as problematic as clinging to material things.

Instead, if we recognize that 'beginning again' is a natural part of our practice then we can calm our minds and stay present. Sharon Salzberg puts it like this:
The moment you realize you’ve been distracted is the magic moment. It’s a chance to be really different, to try a new response. Rather than tell yourself you’re weak or undisciplined, or give up in frustration, simply let go and begin again. In fact, instead of chastising yourself, you might thank yourself for recognizing that you’ve been distracted, and for returning to your breath. This act of beginning again is the essential art of the meditation practice.
So, rather than feeling that you are somehow 'doing it wrong' when you get distracted or wander off, instead recognize that this is the meditation, and gently bring your attention back to the breath.

You can read the full article by Sharon Salzberg here.

This meditation was recorded on Easter Sunday, 2015.

 The full audio, including a 30 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Meditation on The Four Foundations of Mindfulness [AUDIO]

Mindfulness as a concept has become very trendy, with self-help gurus proclaiming it as the next big thing in Management Training. Certainly mindfulness as a technique is highly valuable and can have many benefits. I do worry, however, that thinking that mindfulness is all about personal material gain is completely missing the point.

What mindfulness really does for us is open our eyes (and hearts) to the way the world really is, to see beyond the delusions of our ego and to see things as they actually are.

In this meditation we get a brief taster of what it means to practice the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The Four Foundations were taught by the Buddha as a sure way to attain enlightenment. I would highly recommend before listening to the meditation reading the excerpt from the original teachings in our previous post.

 The full audio, including a 30 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reading: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness (The Satipatthana Sutta)

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. This evening we meditated on Mindfulness of the Body*.

In introducing it I read the following passages from The Satipatthana Sutta. The full sutta can be found here. I highly recommend reading through it all.

“Bhikkhus, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realisation of Nibbāna—namely, the four foundations of mindfulness.  
“What are the four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.
[...] 
“Again, bhikkhus, when walking, a bhikkhu understands: ‘I am walking’; when standing, he understands: ‘I am standing’; when sitting, [57] he understands: ‘I am sitting’; when lying down, he understands: ‘I am lying down’; or he understands accordingly however his body is disposed. 7. “In this way he abides contemplating the body as a body internally, externally, and both internally and externally … And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

Passages © Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2009)

(*) Unfortunately the audio for the meditation for that evening is not available.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Metta Letter: Happiness

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Generating Metta (Lovingkindness) for a Benefactor [AUDIO]

In this meditation we focus on generating lovingkindness (Metta) for a 'benefactor' - someone who we feel deep gratitude towards.

When we do the full Metta Bhavana (Cultivation of Lovingkindness) practice we usually just use four specific people to practice with:

  • Our self
  • A friend
  • A 'neutral' person
  • An 'enemy', or difficult person
We have covered these all in detail in previous posts. However, traditionally there was an extra person introduced. This person was the 'benefactor' - someone who you had a deep feeling of gratitude towards. When the meditation was originally taught it was within a monastic tradition, and the monks would have taken a brave step of depending on the kindness of others to live. Thus the importance of the benefactor.

For us we still have many people who we owe gratitude towards. Whether it be our parents who gave us life, our teachers along the path or even those who did things to us we disliked but we learned from. Whoever they are, we introduce them in this meditation and practice both gratitude and deep, unconditional love.


The full audio, including a 30 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.