An Introduction to Meditation | Thubten Chodron The Thubten Chodron Teaching Archive Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:43:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Deepening your meditation practice Fri, 15 Sep 2017 23:45:40 +0000

Want to dive more deeply into meditation? This video series addresses strengthening meditative concentration and broadening the range of topics for analytic mediation, such as attachment, mindfulness of the mind, and the three characteristics of existence. Learn how to deepen your concentration by visualizing the Buddha, focusing on the breath, and cultivating serenity and insight. Also included are videos on the preliminary meditation practices and how to structure a meditation session as outlined in the classic Buddhist text, the Gomchen Lamrim.

Meditation on the Buddha

Venerable Chodron instructs on visualizing a detailed image of the Buddha, followed by a guided meditation. How ethical conduct helps us develop the mental factors of mindfulness and introspective awareness, which are key to developing meditative concentration, is discussed, and an oral transmission of the 35 Buddhas purification practice is given.

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Introduction to breathing meditation

Venerable Chodron leads us through a body scan, adjusting the posture, releasing tension, and placing attention on the breath. A silent meditation is followed by a description of different kinds of walking meditation. Also included are tips on dealing with discomfort, distraction, and drowsiness.

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How to focus and calm the mind

Developing concentration temporarily suppresses manifest afflictions. Concentration is perfected by renouncing the five desires (the five sense objects), eliminating the five hindrances (sensual desire, ill will or malice, dullness and drowsiness, anxiety and regret, and deluded doubt), and adopting the five practices (course engagement, refined engagement, rapture, bliss, and one-pointedness).

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Guided meditation: Three characteristics

Meditating on the three characteristics of existence (impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness) attunes the mind more closely to reality, overcoming the misconceptions that are the source of our problems. We can overcome the misconception that things are permanent by meditating on transience and impermanence. Meditating on the three types of unsatisfactory conditions counteracts the belief that objects bring us pleasure. Meditating on selflessness and the dependent nature of phenomena overcomes clinging to the misconception of an inherently-existent self, the root of our suffering.

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Establishment of mindfulness: Three ways to meditate on the mind

After a short quiz on the four establishments of mindfulness, ways to meditate on the mind are discussed, including observing its subtle impermanence and searching for the past, present, and future mind. Does the mind have any color, shape, or location. What are thoughts, and what about “our” mind and body make them “ours”? Is the mind a process, noun, or agent? When not occupied with external events and internal objects, we might get a glimpse of the clear and aware nature of the mind. As concentration deepens, each moment of the mind arising and ceasing can be observed.

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Taking the ache out of attachment

In Buddhism, attachment is a mental attitude that superimposes good qualities onto something and then clings to it as a source of happiness. To understand how this causes suffering in our lives, we make an inventory of things we’re attached to and select one to examine in detail. We investigate whether our stories about the object are accurate or contain exaggerations and unrealistic expectations. Next we reflect on how we change our behavior to get what we want, even manipulating others or undermining our ethical standards. Recognizing attachment as our enemy, we determine to counteract it because it destroys our peace of mind.

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Guided meditation: Transforming attachment

Discusses ways to let go of attachment: imagining having the object, person, or situation we crave and asking whether it will fully satisfy us forever; imagining being separated from it and reflecting on what internal and external resources we have to deal with the situation; and mentally offering the object of attachment to others in need or the Buddha. These methods allow us to let go, experience calm, and enjoy people and things much more.

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Gomchen Lamrim: Preparing to meditate

Venerable Chodron reviews the stricture of a meditation session and discusses the six preliminary practices: 1. Cleaning the room and setting up the altar, 2. Making offerings, 3. Preparing the body and mind, 4. Visualizing the merit field, 5. The Seven-limb prayer, and 6. Making requests to the spiritual mentors. Try these practices with the understanding that their purpose is to change the mind. Follow-up instructions are provided in “Gomchen Lamrim: How to Meditate.”

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Gomchen Lamrim: How to meditate

A follow-up to the six preliminary practices discussed in “Gomchen Lamrim: Preparing to Meditate.” Venerable Chodron reviews guidance from the Gomchen Lamrim on what to do before and after the meditation session, how many times a day to meditate and for how long, and how to create merit and purify the mind between sessions. During meditation, one must be sure of the number and order of topics while applying mindfulness and introspective awareness. The analytic meditation on relying on a spiritual mentor is used as an example. Also reviewed are the four causes for the arousal of serenity and insight: guarding the senses to avoid attachment and aversion, eating in moderation, turning sleep into a virtuous activity, and keeping mindful and introspective behavior throughout the day. The need to develop stability and analysis for all meditation topics is explored.

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More advice for beginner meditators Fri, 15 Sep 2017 23:30:47 +0000

Helpful advice on dealing with critical thoughts, thoughts about the past or future, balancing concentration with letting go, making time for solitude, and celebrating whatever abilities we already have.

Stilling the critical mind

We tend to have an overactive, critical mind, and it’s good to push the pause button when this arises. In meditation we try to develop a sense of contentment with who we are without needing to be, do, or have something else. This provides a real sense of happiness and peace.

Stilling the critical mind

Advice for Dharma practice

  • Be in the moment

    A mind thinking about the past or the future conceptualizes but does not directly perceive. Conceptual minds can be troublesome because they mistake objects for real things. Awareness of when the conceptual mind starts inventing stories and bringing ourselves back to the present makes managing our minds easier so that every moment can be good.

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  • Not too Tight, not too loose

    Venerable Yeshe discusses how balancing effort and surrender is key to successful meditation. Focusing too much on results doesn’t allow a sense of joy to arise, and being too loose means we avoid going out of our comfort zone. Taking walks can help loosen the mind.

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  • Making time for solitude

    Long-time Abbey resident Zopa talks about the importance of spending part of each day in as quiet and peaceful a place as possible to observe what’s going on in the mind. We can’t train our mind if we don’t know what’s happening in there.

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  • Persistence

    Practicing at home without the support of a group requires joyous effort and persistence. Abbey resident Zopa advises focusing on what we can do, instead of what we can’t, creating the causes for transformation without worrying about the results.

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Advice for beginner meditators Fri, 15 Sep 2017 23:06:57 +0000

Interested in starting a meditation practice? Meditation habituates us to positive thinking while providing many physical and mental benefits. Part one of this video series covers the basics of Tibetan Buddhist meditation: setting a good motivation, body posture, creating a schedule, session length, dealing with distractions, and the difference between stabilizing and analytic meditation. For off-the-cushion practices, check out the videos on walking meditation, prostrations, and altar setup. It’s important to have a curious and positive approach to exploring these techniques!

Meditation 101

These talks cover all the basics: stabilizing and analytic meditation, posture, releasing tension, and setting proper motivations. The best motivations are to secure a good rebirth, liberation from cyclic existence, and the bodhicitta motivation seeking buddhahood for leading all sentient beings to liberation and enlightenment.

Meditation 101: Preparing physically and mentally for a meditation session

Setting Up a daily practice

Discusses the importance of setting up a daily meditation practice, including recommendations on schedule, session length, reflecting on what’s important in life, benefiting from our human potential, and rejoicing in our success.

Setting up a daily practice

How to sit in meditation

Venerable Chodron demonstrates all the key aspects of meditation: posture, cushion choice, leg positions, what to do with the hands, eyes, and mouth, and developing flexibility.

How to sit in meditation

Dealing with distractions

Talks on dealing with the most common meditation challenges, including physical pain, discontent, restless energy, internal and external distractions, and drowsiness.

Dealing with distractions

Advice for Dharma practice: Analytical meditation

Venerable Tarpa reviews using analytic meditation to bring the teachings into our experience and our heart while avoiding over-intellectualizing. These meditation topics help us consider recurring patterns in our lives from different angles leading to an inside understanding.

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More on walking meditation

Part one discusses two types of walking meditation: developing awareness of bodily sensations and visualizing the Buddha or Kwan Yin at the heart, radiating light and loving-kindness to all beings. Part two discusses a third type: offering all beautiful objects encountered to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas or to sentient beings living in environments lacking beauty.

Walking meditation and its benefits

Questions and answers on meditation

A Q&A session with Venerable Chodron covering topics such as meditation vs. watching TV, kids and meditation, eyes closed or open, experiencing unusual colors and sensations, session length, visualization, the relationship between stabilizing and analytic meditation, meditation and attention deficit disorder, meditating while lying down, forgetfulness and mindfulness, use of music, guarding the senses, and observing thoughts.

Questions and answers on meditation

How to make prostrations

Venerable Chodron demonstrates how to do a full prostration and explains the hand gestures, visualizations, and the 35 Buddhas practice. We prostrate to help purify our negative karma and inspire ourselves to develop the qualities of the Triple Gem.

Instruction videos on prostrations

Setting up your altar

Part one provides guidance on how to set up a personal altar, explaining the purpose and meaning of each object. Part two explains how to make water bowl offerings, generate the bodhicitta motivation, and make offerings to the Three Jewels. Part three describes how to take down the offerings and water bowls at the end of the day.

Series: Setting up an altar

Making progress in meditation Wed, 30 Nov 2016 20:48:27 +0000

  • The differences between Buddhist meditation and secular meditation
  • Stabilizing meditation and analytical meditation
  • Practicing meditation without expectation or grasping at a result
  • Dharma practice involves every aspect of our life
  • Building a strong foundation in the Dharma before doing a long retreat
  • Constructing a daily meditation practice
  • The difference between contentment and complacency

Making progress in meditation (download)

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How to sit in meditation Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:55:41 +0000

  • Finding a suitable cushion
  • Different cross-legged positions
  • Position of back, head, eyes, hands
  • Importance of keeping a straight back, sitting up straight

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Walking meditation techniques Sat, 21 Mar 2009 17:19:21 +0000

  • Explanation on how to do walking meditation
  • Descriptions of several walking meditation techniques

Walking meditation (download)

Enlightening the path in our hearts Sun, 16 Mar 2008 02:49:32 +0000

Setting a proper motivation

  • What is meditation and its purpose?
  • What is a proper motivation for meditating?
  • Importance of learning about meditation from somebody who knows how to meditate

Meditation on Enlightening the Path in Our Hearts 01 (download)

Developing a meditation practice

  • Developing the three wisdoms of hearing, thinking and meditating
  • Establishing a daily meditation practice
  • Types of meditation

Meditation on Enlightening the Path in Our Hearts 02 (download)

Questions and answers

  • What is the meaning of taking refuge and the five precepts?
  • From a spiritual perspective, what are the karmic causes for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and how do we solve this issue?
  • I have just broken up with my partner. When meditating, I’m distracted by thoughts of my partner, sadness, etc. What should I do?
  • How do you deal with difficult colleagues and bosses at the workplace?
  • Could you explain why life sometimes does not turn out the way we want it to? Is it related to our karma?

Meditation on Enlightening the Path in Our Hearts 03 (download)

Walking meditation and its benefits Mon, 25 Jun 2007 17:20:20 +0000

Part one

  • The three phases of walking
  • Visualizing and meditating on Buddha Shakyamuni

Walking meditation 01 (download)

Part two

  • Daily tasks as Dharma
  • Mantra and offerings
  • Different walking techniques

Walking meditation 02 (download)

Excerpt from part two

Each Buddhist tradition has different ways of doing [walking meditation]. I’ll explain to you each one in some detail.

  1. Meditation walking at a normal pace. You can imagine Chenrezig at your heart, inside your body or Chenrezig on your head. Those people who have taken the Chenrezig initiation can do the self-generation . As you walk around then say the mantra om mani padme hum and then imagine the light flowing from Chenrezig’s heart going out into the environment and touching all the sentient beings and freeing them from all the sufferings and their causes, afflictions and karma. Start with the beings in the area around you and then spread out to your city and then to your country and gradually to the universe.
  2. Meditation walking at a normal pace. Offer all the beautiful things that you see around you to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. This helps you with the practice of generosity. Then you can also offer all of the beautiful things to the sentient beings that are suffering with different situations such as people in prisons and in hospitals.
  3. Walking slower than normal between two points back and forth. Observe the body while you are walking. Be aware of your gait, slowing down a little bit and be focused on all the parts of the body and how they are co-dependent in the three different phases of the stepping, lifting, swinging and placing. When you get very fairly focused on what is happening in every step, fining tuning even more every single part of your body during the gait, you become more aware as you are walking. This is very good for slowing down your mind before beginning any meditation. You must align your breathing with your walking. When you pay attention to the process of walking and how your steps are and how your breathing is it helps to settle the mind in a very beautiful way. Breathing and walking coincide in a very different way than when you are in a hurry.
  4. Quick walk. In the Zen tradition, they walk in circles. Thoughts keep going around in our minds whenever we think about the past or the future. We are not here in the present. It is a mind of attachment; we are wasting our time ruminating about things. It is interesting how people’s minds work.
Stilling the critical mind Wed, 14 Sep 2005 13:54:37 +0000

  • Guided breathing meditation
  • Working with the dissatisfied mind

Breathing meditation (download)

Meditation 101 Tue, 17 May 2005 14:44:08 +0000

Two main types of meditation

  • Familiarizing with positive thinking
  • Benefits of stabilization and analytical methods
  • Virtuous and nonvirtuous states of mind

Introduction to meditation (download)

Meditation posture

  • Sitting position
  • Hand placement
  • Head and eye position

Meditation posture (download)

Importance of keeping the back straight

  • Keeping the posture in check
  • The benefits of a good posture

Keeping the back straight (download)

Preparing the body and mind

  • Scanning the body
  • Cultivating a good motivation
  • Balancing one’s mind

Preparing the body and mind (download)

The importance of setting a proper motivation

  • Familiarizing one’s mind with a positive state
  • Having a long-term perspective
  • Transformation and the effects

The importance of setting a proper motivation (download)

Three levels of motivation: part one

  • Action and motivation
  • Virtuous and non­virtuous motivations
  • Preparation and awareness for the right results

Three levels of motivation 01 (download)

Three levels of motivation: part two

  • Benefits of keeping precepts
  • Attachment and its karmic results
  • Attaining a state of peace, good rebirth, and nirvana
  • Cultivating bodhicitta—­the cause of enlightenment

Three levels of motivation 02 (download)

Joyous effort

  • Diligence and joyous effort
  • Long-term view

Meditation and effort (download)