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Stilling the mind a healthful practice

24/01/201106:38(Xem: 2662)
Stilling the mind a healthful practice

Hoa Sen Trang
Stilling the mind a healthful practice 

  Diane Evans
The Beacon Journal, Sep. 02, 2003 
 

 Brain scans show how meditation cuts stress

 
 Akron, Ohio (USA) -- Recently, in speaking before a luncheon audience, I mentioned that I try to meditate for about 10 minutes every morning and 10 minutes before bedtime.
 
 "How do you meditate?'' a woman asked.
 
 I felt so ill equipped to answer, because I'm new to it, too, as many Westerners are.
 
 Yet, you know meditation has penetrated our culture when Time magazine devotes a cover story to it, as happened recently.
 
 Time reported that 10 million American adults now say they meditate regularly in one way or another -- twice as many as 10 years ago.
 
 "It's becoming increasingly hard to avoid meditation,'' the article said. "It's offered in schools, hospitals, law firms, government buildings, corporate offices and prisons.''
 
 Further, new research using sophisticated imaging techniques suggests that meditation can alter brain activity in a way that reduces stress.
 
 It's as if science, once again, is validating an ancient practice. East and West find common ground.
 
 Buddhist concepts
 
 The late philosopher Karl Jaspers, in writing about Buddhist teachings, described a doctrine whereby truths are reinforced and established only by meditation. In Jaspers' words, this involves the carrying of ``light into the depth'' and the creation of an awareness that ``illumines the unconscious down to the last nook and cranny.''
 
 Buddhism teaches that meditation is a cultivation of concentration, and a state of wakefulness. In the book Destructive Emotions, thought-free wakefulness is described as the mind being ``open, vast and aware, with no intentional mental activity. This mind is not focused on anything, yet totally present -- not in a focused way, just very open and undistracted.''
 
 Thus, the big challenge: How to still our thoughts, quit the mental conversations we have with ourselves, and just hush up.
 
 There are so many techniques and forms of meditation. Centering prayer, for example, is a common Christian form. It often involves repeating a mantra -- a single word or phrase over and over -- while pushing all other thoughts aside. (To be sure, the repeating of a mantra is common in other forms of meditation as well.)
 
 I first tried centering prayer nearly two years ago, after hearing about it in a scripture study class at my church. For nearly a year, I had almost no success; thoughts kept coming into my mind, and it was difficult to set them aside for more than a minute or two.
 
 Meditative process
 
 It wasn't until I read Wayne Dyer's book, There's A Spiritual Solution To Every Problem, that I started to make progress. It's not a how-to book on meditation -- but meditation is explained throughout in various passages. Dyer helped me understand that at least in part, meditation is a process of moving into the gap between your own thoughts.
 
 "When we empty our mind of our ego-driven thoughts we invite forgiveness into our hearts,'' he wrote. ``And by letting go of the lower energies of hatred, shame and revenge, we create a mind-set of problem resolution.''
 
 But, oh, it's not easy.
 

 In his book Contemplative Prayer, the late Trappist monk Thomas Merton got down to the practical difficulty of meditation.
 
 "One cannot begin to face the real difficulties of the life of prayer and meditation unless one is first perfectly content to be a beginner and really experience himself as one who knows little or nothing, and has a desperate need to learn the bare rudiments,'' Merton said. ``We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!''
 
 How to meditate?
 Practice, practice.


 
Source: http://www.buddhistnews.tv

 

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12/01/2011(Xem: 2416)
There are seven basic steps: 1. Start out with three or seven long in-&-out breaths, thinking bud- with the in-breath, and dho with the out. Keep the meditation syllable as long as the breath. 2. Be clearly aware of each in-&-out breath. 3. Observe the breath as it goes in & out, noticing whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable, broad or narrow, obstructed or free-flowing, fast or slow, short or long, warm or cool. If the breath doesn't feel comfortable, change it until it does. For instance, if breathing in long & out long is uncomfortable, try breathing in short & out short. As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body.
12/01/2011(Xem: 2652)
Unshakable deliverance of the mind is the highest goal in the Buddha's doctrine. Here, deliverance means: the freeing of the mind from all limitations, fetters, and bonds that tie it to the Wheel of Suffering, to the Circle of Rebirth. It means: the cleansing of the mind of all defilements that mar its purity; the removing of all obstacles that bar its progress from the mundane(lokiya) to the supramundane consciousness (lokuttara-citta), that is, to Arahatship.
11/01/2011(Xem: 2677)
The people are members of the Sangha of the Rio Grande Valley, a band of diverse people who meet, not always regularly, to meditate and discuss Eastern thought. Their common thread is Zen meditation and the pursuit of mindfulness. Mindfulness, the shift of focus to the present, is the path to a more peaceful living, members of the group say.
10/01/2011(Xem: 2566)
I am quite pleased to follow Rev. Thich Tam Tue after his beautiful lecture last Sunday on Amitabha Buddha. It seems so odd that Pure Land and Zen should be reconciled, since their philosophic basis and their view on life vary so much. But in China, Korea and Vietnam, these two schools did come to form a syncretic, holistic view of Buddhism. And this is the topic that I have chosen to speak on today.
08/01/2011(Xem: 3433)
All those who have come to practice Vipassana Meditation want to gain Insight very quickly. Those who have not experienced any Insight yet would like to gain Insight very quickly. Those who have experienced some Insights would like to gain further Insights very quickly. Everyone wants to gain Insights very quickly. To reach these goals, one must first listen very attentively and closely to the "Basic Exercises on Vipassana Meditation" so that one will remember each and every word of the instruction thoroughly when you practice. One must read and study them diligently. Only then will one be able to reach the goal.
07/01/2011(Xem: 2605)
I would like to say a few words in introduction about the practice of meditation. Many people throughout the world, in the West as well as the East, are very interested in meditating. They are attracted to this practice and express great interest in it. Yet, of all the many people who engage in meditation, only a few really understand its purpose.
06/01/2011(Xem: 2674)
“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.” In my last column I discussed why mindfulness is essential to spiritual practice, for no matter what spiritual tradition we follow, we must have a mind that is able to stay in the present moment if our understanding and experience is to deepen. Now I would like to talk about some aspects of the actual mindfulness practice.
05/01/2011(Xem: 2670)
An ancient maxim found in the Dhammapada sums up the practice of the Buddha's teaching in three simple guidelines to training: to abstain from all evil, to cultivate good, and to purify one's mind. These three principles form a graded sequence of steps progressing from the outward and preparatory to the inward and essential . Each step leads naturally into the one that follows it, and the culmination of the three in purification of mind makes it plain that the heart of Buddhist practice is to be found here.
05/01/2011(Xem: 3223)
In general terms, Right Concentration means establishing the mind rightly. On one level, this can apply to all the factors of the path. You have to start out by setting the mind on Right View. In other words, you use your discernment to gather together all the Dhamma you've heard. Then when you set the mind on Right Resolve, that's also a way of establishing it rightly.
05/01/2011(Xem: 2641)
For the beginning meditator I believe it would be helpful to establish an order in the various steps taken in meditation. First, then, it would be wise to establish a place of quiet to which one may retire daily and not be interrupted in his endeavors. Then wash carefully face, hands and feet. Better yet, if time permits, take a cleansing shower and put on loose, comfortable clothes.
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Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường,
nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.

May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland,
Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below,
may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma,
the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

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Tu Viện Quảng Đức | Quang Duc Monastery
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