November 25, 2015

Basic Approaches to Meditation: Creating Foundational Spaciousness in the Dharma Ocean of Life.

courtesy of author, Peter DeHaas

Life can be challenging every day. We’re on the move. Energy output. Working. Relationships. Finances. Families. Exercise. We are constantly pushing ourselves, and not slowing down to create space.

Meditation is a foundational way to bring sanity to our lives.

What is meditation? Meditation is breath. Meditation is discipline to embrace moment by moment. Meditation is emptiness. Meditation is spaciousness.

By creating space through our practice, we liberate ourselves. We can detach from the day-to-day VHS tape playing in our head and simply focus on our breath. Our breath brings us back to our center. Our breath can calm us down if we are wound up, or it can lift us up if we are down.

Set your intention for your practice, but don’t have any agendas. The objective is really letting go—not continuing to think about things that are happening to you or things that you are stuck on (left brain), which is having an “agenda” and can be counterproductive to your practice.

1. Light some incense (if you’re not allergic to incense and you are able to burn it where you live…I prefer Nag Champa)

2. Stack pillows or sit on meditation cushion. If that hurts, sit upright in a chair.

3. Put phone on airplane mode and set timer for 15 minutes.

4. Sit upright with legs crossed.

5. Keep your eyes open and soften your gaze.

6. Inhale deeply through your nose, deep into your belly.

7. Exhale.

8. Repeat.

Intention for our practice can be as simple as envisioning our breath coming in the tip of the nose, folding back into consciousness. We can approach our breath one of two ways. We can either breathe in cleansing, positive energy and exhale the stale air, or breath in all of the suffering in the world and breath out compassion.

When I say don’t bring an “agenda” to your practice, I am simply saying try to keep the active mind out of the process. In Somatic Meditation, the right side of the brain is used, and the objective is to reach emptiness or nothingness through our breath, inhaling and exhaling moment by moment.

Meditation can be healing; it allows us to create a spaciousness that creates an awareness in our day to day interactions. Meditation helps to retrain the mind and stop the enormously boring  VHS tapes playing over and over again in our head.

I usually set the timer for 15 minutes in the morning before I get on with my day and 15 minutes at night before bed. Both are really beneficial time frames, as they allow us to settle into things with a clear, calm state of being. If 15 minutes is too much and you’re running late, simply set a timer for 5 minutes and make the most of it. Sometimes I will position myself in the bus or the train in a way that I can fulfill my meditation commitment there if need be. It is a good exercise.

Dharma refers to the path, and Dharmakaya is the essence of the universe and the unity of all things. By creating space and releasing ourselves to the elemental spirits in the Universe, we can find balance, equilibrium, selfhood and sometimes the face of suffering or Samsara.

In Buddhist teachings, Samsara or suffering is a great source of transformation in our lives, however hard it may be. In the Tibetan lineage, light and dark are the same. So, if dark patches arise during your practice, try to look deeply in the corners of your consciousness to find the light, because it is there. Similarly, our loneliness at times can be a great point of self-guidance and discovery.

Through our consistent practice we create pathways. Pathways that retrain our conscious selves to stop negative thought processes and live more balanced lives.

In my practice I will sometimes envision that I am riding on a wave on the Dharma Ocean, the breath representing the ocean (elemental spirit) breathing in and out.

Dharma Ocean also refers to the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism upheld and taught by Reggie Ray. Dharma Ocean teaches meditation, and there are weekly podcasts posted on this site for intriguing weekly meditation instruction, question and answer and direct teachings of the lineage.

Many of my writings were inspired by Reggie’s teachings. Here is one poem:

Dharma Poem

Elemental Spirits
a Tantric view of the Cosmos
Everything in the Universe
and charged with Dharmakaya
Rooted in the ultimate reality
powerful intelligences in the universe—
Sacred fire, earth, wind, water, space
All alive and full of wisdom
of emptiness
Fundamental reality expresses itself
in communion with the Universe
Active spirits
All *that is* expresses itself
Powers of the Cosmos
in relation with the Universe—
Creating pathways
to the vastness of being

between your consciousness
and what your body knows—
Accept everything
in your life
and touch eternity.
An enlightened state,
heart open—
Dharma Ocean.
Ride the currents without resistance.
Currents flow together.
Sit upright.
Breath deep belly breaths.
Rhythmical waves.
Basic Goodness.
Rooted in the earth.
Light source enters
Crown Chakra—
from the illusion.
Curtain opens,
Envision (exhale) free falling
dissolving into


Relephant Read:

The Dharma of Liberating Intelligence through Meditation.


Author: Peter DeHaas

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Author’s Own


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