September 9, 2008

Chogyam Trungpa’s Obstacles and Antidotes to Meditation (not Medication)

The below is a sidebar to Frank Berliner’s column in elephant journal’s Winter 07/08 issue.

The classical Buddhist approach, workshopped for 2,500 years through meditation and study, holds that depression, aggression and other neuroses are part of the human condition. They are not merely sicknesses to be treated with pills-they are a workable part of our brilliant, confused mind.

Meditation Obstacle: Laziness. A feeling of heaviness; having no appreciation for your existence. Your enthusiasm and joy is undermined.
Antidotes: Faith (Trust, sense of forward vision), Respect (Regard everything as sacred), Effort (Exert yourself as much as you can), Shinjang (Cultivate a sense of how to ride your own mind)

Meditation Obstacle: Forgetfulness. Even on the meditation cushion, you indulge in discursive thoughts, daydreams and fantasies, forgetting all about the practice and the technique.
Antidote: Develop a folksy attitude. Make returning to the meditation technique an ordinary behavior pattern.

Meditation Obstacle: Drowsiness and Depression. In Buddhism, these are connected with the lower realms of existence, namely the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. (For more, see Frank Berliner’s Six Realms column in Autumn ‘07 issue.) Respectively, you might feel tortured, poverty-stricken or unwilling to relate to anything.
Antidote: A “light-handed warning system.” Develop a natural sense of alertness, like a fire drill, to warn you each time your drowsiness or wildness start to take over.

Meditation Obstacle: Wildness. Your fantasies of lust, hatred and regret spin out of control.
Antidote: Same as for depression.
Meditation Obstacle: Carelessness. You know how you should be practicing, but you can’t be bothered.
Antidote: Mindfulness, or workability Shape your mind by bringing yourself back to the notion of mindfulness. Remember your situation is not all that bad; it’s workable.

Meditation Obstacle: No Coordination. Unable to coordinate the whole thing, you become like a baby, sensitive to any distractions.
Antidote: Equilibrium Cultivating a sense of discipline that’s not too strict, and not too loose.

For more: shambhala.org, or read the full article on Meditation as an antidote to depression and anxiety here.

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