January 1, 2012

About Meditation

A piece of wisdom from Tenzin Palmo.

"Our minds are like junk yards.  What we put into them is mostly rubbish!  The conversations, the newspapers, the entertainment, we just pile it all in.  There's a jam session going on in there.  And the problem is it makes us very tired.

When we normally think of resting we switch on the TV, or go out, or have a drink.  But that does not give us real rest.  It's just putting more stuff in.  Even sleep is not true rest for the mind.  To get genuine relaxation we need to give ourselves some inner space.  We need to clear out the junk yard, quieten the inner noise.  And the way to do that is to keep the mind in the moment.  That's the most perfect rest for the mind.  That's meditation.  Awareness.  The mind relaxed and alert.  Five minutes of that and you'll feel refreshed, and wide awake.

People say they don't have time for "meditation".  It's not true!  You can meditate walking down the corridor, waiting for the computer to change, at the traffic lights, standing in a queue, going to the bathroom, combing your hair.  Just be there in the present, without the mental commentary.  Start by choosing one action during the day and decide to be entrirely present for one action.  Drinking the tea in the morning.  Shaving.  Determine, for this action I will really be there.  It's all habit.  At the moment we've got the habit of being unaware.  We have to develop the habit of being present.  Once we start to be present in the moment everything opens up.  When we are mindful there is no commentary - it's a very naked experience, wakeful, vivid.

Meditation is not about sitting in a cave for twelve years.  It's everyday life.  Where else do you practice generosity, patience, ethics?  How much patience did I have to have sitting up in my cave listening to the wolves howl?  Ultimately the Buddha dharma is about transforming the mind, which in Buddhist parlance includes the heart.  The transformation of the heart/mind cannot be achieved if we only sit in meditation and ignore the dharma of our everyday life."

Yesterday, I tried to be fully present while putting away the dishes.  It's difficult.  I work everyday at being present in my yoga practice but in my mind, my practice is where I allow myself to practice awareness.  Doing the dishes is often where I allow my mind to wander, to follow crazy paths, to get worked up or get sad.  

Bringing awareness and becoming present in all of our tasks is the challenge.  To quiet the mind and the garbage, to feel with our hearts.

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