Speedy? Privileged, but somehow still unhappy? Wanting more, wanting less, wanting? Depressed, ill at ease, don’t know who you are? Self-involved, wonderful, better than everyone else? You just described most Americans…and “Professor” or should I call him “Doctor,” Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche—who is in fact the head of Shambhala Buddhism—prescribes just say 10 minutes a day of meditation, mind training, and in much the same way as you bring your body to the gym or yoga class or it falls apart, he teaches that meditation will shape your mind stream up and make you happy, genuine, sane and stable. Sound good? Then read on. Not for you? Then go back to your miserable, hamster-wheeling, samsaric haze of a life.
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. I would like to talk about some aspects of the actual mindfulness practice.
In mindfulness, or shamatha, meditation, we are trying to achieve a mind that is stable and calm. What we begin to discover is that this calmness or harmony is a natural aspect of the mind. Through mindfulness practice we are just developing and strengthening it, and eventually we are able to remain peacefully in our mind without struggling. Our mind naturally feels content.
An important point is that when we are in a mindful state, there is still intelligence. It’s not as if we blank out. Sometimes people think that a person who is in deep meditation doesn’t know what’s going on-that it’s like being asleep. In fact, there are meditative states where you deny sense perceptions their function, but this is not the accomplishment of shamatha practice.
Creating a Favorable Environment
There are certain conditions that are helpful for the practice of mindfulness. When we create the right environment it’s easier to practice.
It is good if the place where you meditate, even if it’s only a small space in your apartment, has a feeling of upliftedness and sacredness. It is also said that you should meditate in a place that is not too noisy or disturbing, and you should not be in a situation where your mind is going to be easily provoked into anger or jealousy or other emotions. If you are disturbed or irritated, then your practice is going to be affected.
Beginning the Practice
I encourage people to meditate frequently but for short periods of time-ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. If you force it too much the practice can take on too much of a personality, and training the mind should be very, very simple. So you could meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, and during that time you are really working with the mind. Then you just stop, get up, and go.
Often we just plop…
,,,For the rest, go to Shambhala Sun Space, run by the lovely, charming, witty, hard-working Molly De Shong.
Photo caption: “The Naropa University seal was designed by Naropa’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, on whose teachings the school’s philosophies are based; thus, its meaning speaks to the Naropa experience with simultaneous relevance to the school’s history and its present-day form. The Sanskrit words written in Tibetan on the ribbon at the bottom of the seal—”prajna garbha”—literally mean “womb of wisdom,” but translate more loosely as “place where wisdom is nurtured.” The word “prajna,” meaning wisdom, differs from the traditional academic view of knowledge. Often defined by Trungpa Rinpoche as “knowingness,” prajna encompasses greater insight, independent of accumulation of facts or information. The wheel of dharma, or wheel of the teachings, appears at the center of the seal and signifies the power, communication and reach of Buddhist-based teachings. At the center of the wheel of dharma is the “coil of joy,” which symbolizes…” For the rest, click here.