What Is Meditation?

“It seems we all agree that training the body through exercise, diet, and relaxation is a good idea, but why don’t we think about training our mind?”

-Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

 

Meditation is a way to experience the natural state of the human mind: at rest, open, alert. The basic meditation technique predates all religious traditions, though it is used in one way or another by each of them. The practice of meditation has been taught for over 2,500 years as a vehicle for realizing the beauty and magic of the ordinary world without aggression or manipulation.

Meditation is a practice that anyone can do. Undertaken as a steady practice, meditation allows the mind to relax and settle. It encourages our inherent qualities of stability, clarity and mental strength to emerge. On a deeper level, meditation is a system for deeply familiarizing yourself with how the mind works in general, and for developing a more authentic and compassionate outlook on life.

Depending on a student’s interest and experience, meditation instruction might include:

Introducing the practice of meditation – Introductory meditation instruction presents the basic meditation techniques taught in the Shambhala community.

Clarifying the view of meditation – In our tradition, meditation instruction involves more than the communication of a technique; it is, at heart, about the transmission of the revolutionary view that unconditional wisdom and compassion are the very ground of our being, and that by learning to relax more and more fully, we allow this fundamental nature to flower.

Instruction on working with obstacles to meditation – Common obstacles to meditation include disheartenment, resistance, procrastination, discursiveness and spacing out. The obstacles are well documented in the Shambhala Buddhist teachings—and so are their antidotes.

Guidance on the path of practice and study – Shambhala presents many opportunities for students to deepen their practice and study—public meditation sessions, weeknight classes, weekend programs, retreats and seminaries, to name a few. A meditation instructor can help you decide what to do next and when to do it.

Guidance on joining meditation and daily life – The workaday world is where the rubber meets the road. Getting the tools to meet life’s ups and downs with a strong and pliable mind and an open heart is another potential benefit of working with a meditation instructor.