Buddhist meditation is a practice that has been a central element of Buddhism for thousands of years. It is a mental and spiritual discipline aimed at cultivating mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
It is the practice of working with the mind, intentionally. There are different Asian words that translate to “Meditation”. Those words include Bhavana- which means “to cultivate” and “meditation”, both, in Sanskrit, along with the word “gom” which is a Tibetan word that translates to “to become familiar with”. In reality, basic Buddhist Meditation begins with practices that tend to calm as well as concentrate the mind. From that point forward, you can easily start to observe as well as investigate the overall nature of the entire reality and even develop insight.
Breath Meditation Prior Buddhist Meditation:
It is the most popular as well as the common form of Meditation where the practitioner rests the entire attention on the breath. First, let’s look at the steps to perform this Meditation.
You need to find an uplifted and quiet place where you can easily do your practice.
How to do Breath Meditation
- Take a comfortable seat- Sit straight on a meditation chair or a cushion with your feet flat on the floor. Make sure you don’t lean back.
- Place the hands, palms down the thighs, and straighten your back in an upright position while remaining relaxed. While keeping the eyes open, make sure your gaze rests comfortably while looking downward, slightly, almost six feet in front.
- Now, start paying attention to the breath while exhaling and focus on getting aware of the environment. With each breath you exhale through your mouth as well as nostrils, you start to dissolve into the entire space around you.
- In case you notice any type of thought, perception, or just a feeling which takes away the attention from your breathing, then say “thinking” within your mind, to yourself and return patients to the breath that follows. You don’t have to judge yourself whenever this particular sensation happens. Simply note its occurrence and then attend to your posture and back.
- After you have done this for five minutes or the time you have allotted for yourself, you can now stop this practice. However, you don’t have to give up the sense of Mindfulness, calmness or openness that you are experiencing at that moment. Try to consciously allow yourself to maintain in the present during the rest of the day.
A lot of Buddhist traditions have different instructions when it comes to breathing meditation. Vipassana meditation is a particular form of Meditation that is considered to be practiced as well as taught by the Buddha. Then there is Zazen which is actually a stripped-down version of Zen meditation.
Buddhist meditation techniques are diverse and can vary based on different traditions and schools of Buddhism. However, there are several common forms of meditation that are widely practiced.
It is actually Mindfulness that is among the most popular Buddhist practices which focus on the development of calmness, equanimity, and clarity. With the proper commitment and guidance, the cultivation of the previously mentioned qualities can take the practitioner to deep inner peace, ultimately. When it is combined with Vipassana or awareness practices, it can take you to a spiritual awakening along with profound insights. Also, the initial stages of this practice can easily be practiced by anyone, regardless of faith and tradition.
How to do Samatha
- Sit in a comfortable position to meditate. Make sure you don’t hurt your knees or back. Keep the back straight and focus on finding a happy medium that is in between too relaxed and too rigid.
- Now start observing the breath. You don’t need to manipulate your breath, or do deep inhalation or exhalation or use abdominal breathing. Simply breathe normally and try to pay attention to the breathing process, focusing on each breath. Try to keep your awareness focused and make sure it’s gentle. Have an attitude to discover as well as make friends with your own self.
- Acknowledge any thought that pops into your mind but doesn’t engage with it. Simply observe all of the thoughts in a similar fashion and let them go. Now, come back to the breathing process. It’s called “touch and goes”. Just let the thought arise, gently touch and then let it go.
2. Loving-kindness Meditation (Metta):
Metta meditation involves cultivating feelings of love, kindness, and compassion towards oneself and others. Practitioners repeat specific phrases or visualize people and extend well-wishes and positive intentions to all beings.
In one such technique, you have to start directing all of your wishes for lovingkindness and well-being toward yourself. Then open it out and direct the same towards the people you love. Then move on to the people that you feel neutral about and in the same way, move your circle outwards, move to people with whom you have problems or are your enemies. Finally, your flow flows towards everyone equally, everywhere, regardless of your feelings toward them.
3. Contemplative Meditation
There are some fundamental beliefs that are shared with the Buddhist teachings. The practitioners of these teachings are often encouraged to pursue and reflect on them in a particularly contemplative manner. This sort of contemplation may even be integrated into your practice session. One of the most popular contemplation is known as “The Four Thoughts Which Transform Your Mind”. Their aim is to provide a good reason to practice and meditate instead of spending hours on social media or browsing through an e-commerce website. These four thoughts are succinctly put as:
- Choose to devote the energy to develop compassion, wisdom as well as the power to benefit all of the people.
- Think of how long this precious life of ours is. Everything that we know change. Your entire existence depends on exhalation and inhalation. There isn’t any time to waste.
- Everything which exists around us has a cause, and each action that we take has consequences. It reflects the truth of interdependence and signifies that your actions have much more impact than we actually think.
- Also, at any moment, we will get separated from all of these material things that we are actually quite attached to. So, all this effort we make is for gaining something which lasts so little. It’s better to focus your energy on developing various precious qualities of compassion, wisdom and spiritual skills.
4. Walking Meditation
In walking meditation, the practice is extended to walking slowly and mindfully, paying attention to each step and the sensations involved. It can be practiced indoors or outdoors.
5. Body Scan Meditation
This form of meditation involves systematically scanning and bringing awareness to different parts of the body, starting from the head and moving downwards. It helps develop a deep connection with the physical body and can promote relaxation and self-awareness.
The ultimate goal of Buddhist meditation is to develop wisdom and insight into the true nature of existence, leading to liberation from suffering and the realization of enlightenment or awakening. Meditation is often practiced in conjunction with other aspects of Buddhist teachings, such as ethical conduct and the cultivation of wisdom through studying Buddhist scriptures and receiving guidance from teachers.
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