All 84,000 Dhammakkhandha (84,000 articles of Dharma) are already in oneself. Arahantship (the state of enlightenment) is also in oneself. Buddhahood is also in oneself. Thus, one who tries to seek Dharma (truth) in external things will not discover the Triple Gem. He will only waste his efforts and will only suffer forever. --Saying of the Buddha

Advanced Guide to Meditation

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How to Meditate
  3. Step-By-Step Instructions
  4. Daily Meditation
  5. The Benefits of Meditation



Introduction

In modern society, most people are striving for worldly perfection, happiness and success. Many of them strain themselves to gain material desires. These uncontrollable desires cause suffering, for when the desires are being fulfilled people are contented, but if not, they despair, or can even, become insane. Thus, people can easily become the victims of failure simply because they cannot realize that success and happiness lie within themselves.

According to the teaching of the Lord Buddha, the real cause of our suffering is the lack of skill in utilizing our minds. The Buddha taught that the mind is the place where both happiness and suffering are stored. It is also the only means by which we can release ourselves from our own suffering through the practice of meditation.

Meditation is the most direct method by which we can start to diminish our suffering. Meditation improves the mind from the unhealthy condition suffered by most people who have not yet discovered the "secret" of meditation. From a state vulnerable to distraction and superficiality, the meditator will begin to recover the still and shining mind which lies beneath the chaos of mundane thought. Far from being something mysterious or supernatural, this shining mind is the most healthy and natural mental condition which can be attained by human beings. It can be enjoyed by anybody who is willing to practice meditation.

The benefits of meditation are many-fold for the individual willing to practice and for the friends and society surrounding them. With a secure mind, the meditator can rise above the superficiality of everyday problems. With a penetrating and creative wisdom, the meditator can understand the root causes of his suffering and thereby has the chance to shed this burden. The meditator will also understand the causes of the problems affecting the people and environment that surrounds him. With the confidence borne of a secure and healthy mind, the meditator will find that he can genuinely help anybody who is in need of assistance. As more and more people learn to practice meditation, the self-discipline which arises naturally from the practice will produce effects which spread to improve the quality of life for society as a whole.

The meditator's ultimate benefit is to be able to really penetrate and understand for himself, the source of his religion or philosophy. The human lifespan is short one. Surely the best that any human can achieve, is to find the source of True Happiness; and to allow True Wisdom and Compassion to reflect in the dealings of his everyday life.


How to Meditate

We should first explain the principles of meditation as a whole. Some will think of meditation as a miserable practice; as a kind of spiritual lesson, a religious act or some kind of asceticism. Conversely, meditation is in fact a way to train the mind to focus clearly, and can also be an effective way, whenever you so wish, to relax your body and mind.

In the beginning, one should learn to practice meditation skillfully while sitting. Later, you can apply the principles learned during sitting meditation to the practice of meditation in any other position; walking, standing or lying down. When you sit for meditation, you should sit in a posture which will help you to achieve tranquility quickly.

You can sit cross-legged on the floor, or try sitting on a chair if you find the floor too uncomfortable. The important thing is to keep your body relaxed, finding the best position that allows you to sit still for a long time without the risk of falling asleep! Taking care of your sitting position at first, can greatly improve your ability to meditate effectively.

Some people, when they first start to meditate, are so keen to make rapid progress, that they meditate with too much force. As a result they make very poor progress and often suffer discomforts such as headaches! When you first start to meditate, it is worthwhile to remind yourself that seven year old children are some of the most successful meditators in this technique, because of their playful and innocent attitude towards the meditation. Therefore don't be too serious or try too hard: maintain a light attention and a happy mind.


Step-By-Step Instructions for the Meditation Technique

1. The sitting posture which has been found most effective for attaining tranquility quickly, is the half-lotus position. This position (with some practice) allows you to sit still for a long time without aches or pain. Rest your right leg on the left one, with your back erect. Your hands should rest palms-upward on your lap. The tip of your right index finger should be in gentle contact with the tip of your left thumb. This hand position serves as an alarm: if you should suddenly get drowsy, finger and thumb will push together, warning you to avoid falling into a mindless slumber! If the half-lotus position is really to uncomfortable for you, it is better to choose another more comfortable position. The important thing is to make sure, whatever position that you adopt, that your back is straight and that your body is relaxed without feeling sleepy.

2. Keep your consciousness steady and softly close your eyes. Relax every part of your body, beginning with the muscles of your face. Then relax the muscles of your neck, your shoulders, and your arms-right down to the tips of your fingers. Relax your chest, your abdomen and your legs-right down to the tips of your toes. Make sure all parts of your body are relaxed.

3. Feel as if you are sitting alone in the world, and the air around your body is made-up of tiny particles of happiness and joy. Slowly inhale into your body a full and gentle breath. As you breath-in, feel that you are breathing-in those tiny particles of happiness and joy. Feel that inside your body, there is just an empty space, with no muscles, no organs, no tissues. Feel that the breath is filling your body with happiness and joy. As you breath-out, feel that the out-breath is carrying away all troubles, all worries, all thoughts. Inside your body is just an empty space filled with happiness and joy. Relax your mind from every thought and continue to maintain this state for as long as you can. With your eyes closed, you will find that your mind travels from one idea to another, and when it wanders, the ideas upon which the mind dwells, will influence the feelings, the emotions and the state of happiness in the mind. Meditation means the way by which we take control of our mind to stop our thoughts from wandering. The basis of all methods of meditation is to concentrate the mind upon a single object of a single idea and it is the inherent qualities of this object or idea that will lead you to success in meditation. We will use a crystal ball as an object of meditation because it has the inherent qualities of brightness and clarity, and will encourage the mind to be bright and clear too. Simultaneously, to keep the mind flowing towards a state of happiness and calm, we repeat in our mind the word "Samma-Araham" which means the "righteous Absolute of Attainment which a human being can achieve".

4. Open your eyes slowly. Look carefully at a crystal ball. Notice the shape, the purity, the clarity and the brightness of the crystal ball as if you are taking a photograph of it into the deepest part of your mind. Then close your eyes again and relax.

5. Slowly visualize the crystal ball floating in front of your face. If you have no crystal ball available, you can visualize instead, the bright, clear image of the full moon, floating in front of your face. Reduce the size of the crystal ball (or full moon disc) until its size is equal to the tip of your little finger. Imagine that the crystal ball is floating in front of your nostril, the right nostril for men, and the left one for women.

6. Visualize that the crystal ball moves inside your nostril. It moves along inside your nostril. and when it reaches the bridge of your nose it stops still, suspended in silence. Make the crystal ball as bright as you can and as clear as you can. Listen to the sound of "Samma-Araham" as you repeat it three times in your mind.

7. Now, slowly move the crystal ball backwards until it arrives at the point in the very center of your head. Here, the crystal ball stops still, suspended in silence. Make the crystal ball as bright as you can and as clear as you can. Listen to the sound of "Samma-Araham" as you repeat it three times in your mind.

8. Now slowly, the crystal ball is floating downwards until it reaches the back part of the roof of your mouth. Here, the crystal ball pauses. Make the crystal ball as bright as you can and as clear as you can. Listen to the sound of "Samma-Araham" three times, a soothing sound that seems to come from the very center of your body.

9. Now, slowly move the crystal ball further downwards until it reaches the central part of your throat. Again, the crystal ball pauses in silence. Make the crystal ball as bright as you can and as clear as you can. Again, listen to the sound of "Samma-Araham" three times.

10. Now, slowly move the crystal ball deep down into your body. It floats slowly and gently downwards, like a bubble, deeper into your throat, deeper into your chest, deeper into your body. In the central part of your body, you imagine two lines. The first one runs from your navel directly through your back. The second line runs from the right side to the left side. The two lines intersect at a point no larger than the eye of a needle. The crystal ball moves downwards until the point of intersection is at the center of the crystal ball. Make the crystal ball as bright as you can and as clear as you can. Again, you listen to the sound of "Samma-Araham" three times.

11. Move the crystal ball upwards a distance equal to two finger breadths, to a point called the very "center of the body". We will not move the crystal ball any where else. Allow it to remain here in calm and peace. Constantly observe the clarity, purity and brightness of the crystal ball. Always make the crystal ball as bright as you can and as clear as you can. Listen to the sound of "Samma-Araham" over and over again, as if the sound is coming from deep in the center of the crystal ball. The crystal ball will become brighter and brighter, clearer and clearer until it is as if you see it with your own eyes. At this stage you will soon find the crystal ball sparkling and shining like a diamond. This stage is called "Pathama magga" (the Initial Path). At this stage, the mind is firmly established on the shining crystal ball, which in turn is firmly seated at the center of the body. You will touch upon happiness. After continuously paying attention at the center of the crystal ball, it will give way into a succession of increasingly pure bodily sheaths, until it reaches the Ultimate One, called "Dhammakaya"; the highest level of supreme happiness forever and ever.


Daily Meditation

Meditation in one respect is like many other activities; sports, crafts and skills of all kinds. For all these things, you will never master a skill by talking about it or reading about it. For any skill, you gain the expertise by actually doing it!

Meditation will only be of limited benefit to you if you practice it on-and-off. The key to success in meditation is the commitment to meditate once or twice every day. Like embarking on a new career with a new employer: if you turn up for work only when you feel like it, you are unlikely to go very far in your career!

Everybody has the same difficulty in the first few months of practicing meditation. Therefore those who are interested to progress in meditation should follow the formula, which has been found successful by meditators who are still progressing in the meditation practice after many years of experience:

You should meditate at least twice a day, picking times when you know you will be free each day. In the morning is a very good time; just after waking-up. You should do a little exercise to refresh your body, and then sit down to meditate for 30-60 minutes. You will find that this gives you a perfect and refreshing start to your day. Again, in the evening, just before going to bed, is another key time for meditation. If you meditate just before going to bed, it will relax your mind and allow you to make the most efficient use of your time of sleep.

Set start-times for these two periods of meditation and stick to them. When it is time to meditate, just stop what you are doing, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and meditate. Don't make a time limit for it. Be happy when you meditate and just let the time go. If you are happy meditating for half-and-hour, then just practice for half-and-hour. If you are only happy for 20 minutes, then just be content with 20 minutes of meditation. The most important thing is to fix the habit of meditation in your daily life and meditate in that period of time every day.


Summary of the Benefits of Meditation

1. Personal Benefits for the Meditator

  • The mind: the mind feel at ease, calm and peaceful. Memory will also improve.
  • Personality: self-confidence will be improved. The true nature of calm will be apparent. Anger will diminish, leaving only the feeling of kindness towards others.
  • Daily life: will be increased in quality in the new-found absence of stress. The results of work or study will be much more successful. The meditator can enjoy health of both body and mind.
  • Ethics & Decision-Making: a right understanding of that which is good and that which is bad, will be clearly seen for any given situation. Important decisions will cause less worry because the meditator understands the outcome of his actions. The meditator can refrain from harmful actions and decisions, instead being content and confident about choices he makes.

2. Benefits for the Meditator's Family

  • Peace and Success: Family life will be more peaceful, through the increased ability of each member to maintain self-discipline and respect towards each other. Parents will be better able to lead the family success fully.
  • Problem-Solving: Family members will be more successful in worldly ways: learning to honor their duties. Whenever problems arise, everyone can calmly co-operate to towards solving them.

3. National Benefits

  • Peaceful Society: Most grave social problems originate from mind degeneration. If everybody learns to meditate and live peacefully, "endemic" problems like crime and drug abuse will be diminished.
  • National benefits of self-discipline: The ability of individuals to be self-disciplined is improved simply through keeping to the routine of meditation and following moral precepts. Honesty will improve the atmosphere of trust and the life of the community will be of a better quality.
  • Progress towards a caring society: As a result of meditation, the peacefulness of life can be more widely enjoyed and there will be a more widespread willingness to participate in social work for the benefit of others.

4. Spiritual Benefits

  • Understanding Eternity: All people, with or without their own faith can deepen the understanding of their own spirituality through meditation. Meditators of all faiths, through the practice of meditation, can explore their own faith in depth, particularly with reference to the understanding of eternity in their chosen faith.
  • Inspiration: Inspiration in your own spiritual tradition is strengthened as the meditator comes to realize the profound happiness that can be found through meditation.
  • Moral Support: The meditator's own spiritual tradition will be maintained as newcomers have a better under standing of moral conduct and self-discipline.

Also Read:

Meditation Handbook 

Meditation FAQ

Benefits of Meditation

Technology Facilitated Meditation

Meditation in a Box

 

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