Friday, 18 June 2010

Meditation - It's More Than You Think (Part-2)

So last time we talked about my friend and his search for health through 8 minutes of meditation a day.  You might as well try to dig the Panama canal with a teaspoon! 

A couple of things on that score before we actually get into today’s topic.  If your time is limited, you can still do meditation, but sessions of less than 20 minutes will, in the end, not likely generate the results you want.  Keep in mind that the actual sitting practice is not the be-all and end-all.  In fact, their real purpose is to enable you to transform all of life, every waking moment, into meditation, meaning you learn how to remain in such a state effortlessly, no matter what’s going on around you.

In the words of the great Chinese physician, Sun Simiao (d. 682 AD):

"The mind is totally oriented towards purity and tranquility.  Whether you're involved in affairs or free from them, there is no agitation either way.  With a powerfully focused mind, you put an end to all mental scattering and enter into deep concentration." 

Phase-2: "Downloading" Superior Content for Your Mind

Today we’re actually hear to talk about Phase 2 of the meditative process – where you “download” superior content to your mental continuum in order to replace the old, inaccurate and often neurotic content you’ve been working at “deleting” during Phase 1. 

In Tibetan Buddhism, this phase is called “placement meditation", because you focus on a particular idea, image and action that has the power to transform your life in some way and "place" your mind firmly within that idea / image.  In the Tibetan Lamrim sytems, these “objects” of meditation include cultivating compassion, controlling delusional mental and emotional states and increasing your ability to focus on one thing for long periods of time without distraction. 

Strangely enough, the two phase process of meditation is not entirely linear and sequential.  In other words, you don’t have to be anywhere near perfect at Phase 1 in order to start Phase 2.  In fact, Phase 2 actually helps you complete Phase 1 because “downloading” this new emotional / spiritual content helps you to erase your pre-existing programming. 

The Tibetan Lamrim system includes specific instructions for meditating on the preciousness of your human life, impermanence, developing equanimity, remembering the kindness of others, equalizing self and others, the disadvantages of self-cherishing, the advantages of cherishing others, cultivating compassion, wishing love, tranquil abiding (concentration) and much more.*

For those of you who have a copy of The 5 Pillars of Life, you'll notice that Appendix A is a series of 21 placement meditations! 
Meditation and its close cousin, noetic prayer, have more transformational power than any other spiritual practice.  And it’s not just your “spiritual” aspect they transform – your physical, mental and emotional aspects get a complete makeover in the process too.  Now that's a resilience practice that's hard to refuse!

So next time you think about meditation, remember... it's about more than just your physical health. 
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

* To learn more about the Lamrim meditations, I highly recommend Lama Kelsang Gyatso's "The Meditation Handbook", by Tharpa Publications in the UK

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