Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to Meditate

Why is sitting and doing nothing the most difficult, mysterious, joyful, painful, profound, and life-changing thing we can do?

Because it is the radical opposite of what we usually do to try to make ourselves happy. Yet, it works! In this selection of articles from the Shambhala Sun, we present teachings on the various techniques of meditation from all the major schools of Buddhism.

A perfect companion to our September 2010 "How to Meditate" issue. (Click here to browse the magazine online.) Just click any article's title to start reading.


How to Meditate

Basic Buddhist mindfulness/awareness meditation instructions from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Getting Started

Norman Fischer proposes a short trial run to get your meditation practice started. Take note, beginners: it doesn't get any clearer than this! From our special 2010 "How to Meditate" issue.

Tonglen: Bad In, Good Out

Pema Chödrön teaches a practice for connecting with suffering — ours and that which is all around us — everywhere we go. From our 2010 "How to Meditate" issue.

A Mind Like Sky: Wise Attention and Open Awareness

In Buddhist meditation wise attention—mindfulness—acts like a zoom lens. Our meditation ranges from close attention to the details of our body and breath, to open awareness as vast as the sky. Jack Kornfield, presents a meditation from his book The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace.

Going at our Own Pace on the Path of Meditation

“Our mind is like hard ground that has not seen water for a long time. As meditation practitioners, we begin to till that ground so that we can grow the mind of enlightenment.” The first of three teachings from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on basic meditation.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation

“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.” The second of three teachings from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on basic meditation.

Shamatha Meditation: Training the Mind

“The process of undoing bewilderment is based on stabilizing and strengthen our mind. Shamatha meditation is how we do that.” The last of three teachings from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on basic meditation.

Returning Home

Thich Nhat Hanh offers a guided meditation to relax our body and mind and return to the here and now. Fully present, fully alive, we find we are already home.

Mindfulness, Compassion, and Wisdom: Three Means to Peace

Joseph Goldstein on how three principles of meditation can be applied to the world's conflicts. The method is mindfulness, the expression is compassion, and the essence is wisdom.

Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Thought-Free Wakefulness

The ability to dissolve thoughts is essential to attaining liberation, says renowned Dzogchen teacher Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. Devotion and Pure Perception are two principles that lie at the root of Vajrayana practice that lead beyond confusion to thought-free wakefulness.

Riding the Crest of the Wave

“In subtle and in more obvious ways, the experience of birth and death is continuous," says Judy Lief. "All that we experience arises fresh, appears for a time, and then dissolves. It is as if we were riding the crest of a wave in the middle of a vast ocean. That arising and falling of experience is our life; it is what we have to work with.”

Yoga Body, Buddha Mind

A complete spiritual practice—or even just a healthy, satisfying life—requires working with both body and mind. Cyndi Lee and David Nichtern explain why yoga practice and Buddhist meditation is the perfect mind-body combination.

The Power of Positive Karma

Rebirth and karma are the Buddhist beliefs that Westerners find hardest to accept. Yet are they really so foreign to us? If we look at our own experience, we find that thoughts, emotions, and self-images are continually arising, ending, and being reborn. We see that the seeds we plant in our consciousness in one moment will determine what we experience in the next. This is also what we experience as we go from lifetime to lifetime. Therefore, says Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, we should be concerned above all else with creating positive karma to lay the ground for our future enlightenment.

Beyond Present, Past, and Future is The Fourth Moment

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche on meditation, the spiritual path, and a sense of basic being beyond relative time

Going Nowhere

The Zen practice of just sitting, says Lewis Richmond, doesn’t help us to reach our destination. It allows us to stop having one. But how do you “go” nowhere?

Sitting Meditation Step by Step: Being in the Body, Labeling, and Opening into the Heart of Experiencing

Zen teacher Ezra Bayda discusses three aspects of the Buddhist practice of sitting meditation. Being in the body is the ground of practice. Labeling our thoughts breaks our identification with them. Opening into the heart of experience awakens us to love and compassion.

How to Practice Vipassana Insight Meditation

Step-by-Step instructions on how to do this important meditation practice, the foundation of all Buddhist meditations, from the famed Vipassana master Sayadaw U Pandita.

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana Meditation aims at personal transformation. Through understanding and awareness we retrain the mind and life becomes a glide instead of a struggle. A teaching from Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana.

Taming the Mind, Transforming Ourselves

Traleg Rinpoche describes the techniques of Buddhist meditation. Taming and transforming our wild passions involves the meditation of paying attention to the body and paying attention to our thoughts.

Building Your Mental Muscles

Meditators and musclemen don’t seem to have much in common, but Thanissaro Bhikkhu says meditators can learn a lot from the techniques of strength training.

More related articles:

Awakening in the Body, by Phillip Moffitt
The Key to Knowing Ourselves is Meditation, by Pema Chödrön
Buddhist Meditation is Relaxing with the Truth, by Pema Chödrön
Counsels from My Heart, by Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche
The Universal Meditation Technique of S.N. Goenka, by Norman Fischer
Nine Stages of Training the Mind, by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
True Stories About Sitting Meditation, with Charlotte Joko Beck, Joseph Goldstein, Sylvia Boorstein and Sharon Salzberg
How We Get Hooked and How We Get Unhooked, by Pema Chödrön
How to Live a Genuine Life, by Ezra Bayda
Loosening the Knots of Anger, by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Practice of Looking Deeply Using Three Dharma Seals: Impermanence, No-self, and Nirvana, by Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Zen Mountain MonasteryShambhala
Insight Meditation Society
Cambridge Insight Meditation CenterSan Francisco Zen Center