Meditation simplified – Lesson 8 – The mind before, during and after sitting meditation
When we sit in meditation we may feel happy because through constant practice and perseverance we have managed to quiet our mind that contributes to this happiness. Yet within this joy in meditation, we do not cling to the notion that we are happy; the reason being it creates anxiety in wanting to have the same happiness in every future sits. This desire for happiness may eventually turn into anxiety and frustrations.
Conversely, when we hear that practitioners of meditation do attain dhyana bliss or bliss in stillness but when we don’t attain it, it turns into a source of afflictions and even causes us to retreat.
What should we do then? We should not put any expectations in our mind. Neither do we seek or expect to become wiser and healthier when we practice meditation. As such practitioners of meditation are cultivators without a mind. The mind does not dwell in a single thought of expectation before, during and after meditation. What happens after sitting meditation? After sitting meditation, we forget about the bliss or frustrations of sitting.
This is the principle of practicing equanimity so that our minds don’t become like a roller coaster. Also, this is the practice of prajna wisdom. The wisdom lies in the mind without attachment to expectation or the bliss of stillness.
This is the mind of not thinking of joy or frustrations; this is your true mind.
Meditation simplified – lesson 7 – The mind during sitting meditation
The Chan practitioner should be mindful that when he sits in the meditation hall, he is present ‘here and now’. That is, he should be mindful of his presence in the meditation hall and not let it stray elsewhere in ‘Never Never Land.’
The practitioner should be mindful that he is present in the meditation hall and not ponder on matters or events pertaining to the past or the future.
At all times, the practitioner should be alert to his presence in the meditation hall; otherwise he has to ask himself why is he sitting there and wasting his time and suffering the discomfort of sitting there and just shortchanging his own self.
Being aware of ‘here and now’ is not a practice per se but merely an expedient for beginners to be mindful of his practice and to recognize his wandering thoughts.
If the practitioner still finds that he keeps on straying away from his practice, then he should slowly and deeply inhale and exhale as an expedient to freshen up and ‘reset’ his motivation for sitting in the hall.
There is another expedient method of purposefully thinking and writing down all the outstanding matters before he sits in meditation. This expedient allows the practitioner to
search and exhaust all his wandering and false thinking and penned it down just before he sits. In doing so, he will have some measure of comfort that he has thought what he needs to think and do prior to his sitting.
Meditation simplified – lesson 6 – the mind (issue 9) The mind during meditation
Chan meditation is about stilling the thoughts or quieting the mind. There are many methods to tie down the restless and scattered mind. However, it will be covered in separate lessons.
The six sense organs comprising the eye, ear, nose tongue, body and mind should be turned inwards and not go out chasing after the sense objects of form, sounds, smells, taste, touch and thought. That is the eyes don’t go looking out but focus on the tip on your nose or close. Hearing should not follow after external sounds, and knowing should be on the meditation practice and not run to the ten directions and thinking of the past and the future.
When a random thought does arise, we do not follow through it, that is to say we do not build upon the first random thoughts that arise. By ignoring it, the random thought by itself will fizzle away. The reason why this random thought arises is because either we have the habit of using the intellectual mind or because the thought randomly come out of our storehouse consciousness or the eighth consciousness.
The objective is not to purposely suppress this random thoughts but simply do not engage with further thoughts. When we suppress the random thoughts, it is like putting a brick on top of the weeds. The roots of the weeds are still intact. By allowing the random thought to come out and yet not engage in it is liken to allowing the weed to quickly grow and die out.
Meditation simplified – lesson 4 Sitting posture
What about the two hands? Put the hands naturally down in front; pulling towards your body with the back of the right hand resting on top of the palms of the left hand.
The tongue should be curled upwards with the tip of the tongue resting on the top of the mouth just like when we say the alphabet ‘L’. When the saliva gathers at the base of the tongue you may swallow it. The mouth should be closed as we do not want saliva to trickle down.
What about the eyes? The eyes should be half closed focusing on the tip of the nose. Alternatively, the eyes can be closed but there is higher risk of falling asleep when the eyes are closed.
Breathe normally through the nostrils. When sitting meditation begins, the breathing will be noticeably coarse but over time the breath will become subtle until you don’t notice it. Do not breathe through the mouth.
What about the ears? Don’t follow external sounds; listen within. The idea of meditation is to be focused and not be distracted by environment such as the sound of a truck passing by or people talking nearby. Listen within.
During meditation, the practitioner should remain still and avoid fidgeting, scratching, swaying, twitching, blinking, grinding of teeth; any movements even on the subtlest level. These physical movements are signs of scatteredness when the practitioner should be focused in the work of meditating.