advancing meditation: why?

Advancing meditation techniques include methods that foster neutrality and equanimity of mind. This is necessary because since birth, we have been instructed identifying characteristics such as red/blue, tall/short, as well as personalizing such as like/dislike, hope/fear, and more. Robotically and without thought, these color and thereby condition a human being’s response to anything, anyone, and any moment. From a meditation point of view, all of this is delusion and part of the dream-state of being that we humans call life.

Neutrality, impartiality, and disinterestedness are developed on the meditation cushion through:

  1. watching the breath and truly being present to breathing. One would not count the length of the breath in or out, nor describe breathing to oneself. Instead, the effort applied is to be the breathing, to experience breathing as it is without commentary. The effort is two-fold until this practice is stabilized – which is its own neutrality: a) the effort to stay with the breath as the only object of meditation, and b) the effort to let go and let be, so that one becomes the breathing. This sounds like an oxymoron and it is. With practice and in time, effort releases into the gentle perfection of breathing. A smile at any point will ease the efforting.
  2. using the idea of the mirror of the mind, which includes that a mirror has no perception of what parades in front of it or appears due to it. This practice requires the effort of attention. In this case, attention is on nothing but the inner space of mind. Whatever is occurring within the mind-space is considered as a reflection in a mirror. This practice is more contemplation than meditation for quite some time (months or years). One might even remind oneself that a mirror has not sense of perception. The mirror sees nothing. This practice slowly erodes the autonomic mind-less habit of reacting overall. One begins to feel the blankness of the mirror within one’s mind. Thus disengages the hyper-time “normal” response to this and that and everything else.

Now, one might ask, “Why do this? Why unravel the way we perceive? Life is beautiful, love is joyous, perceiving is how one navigates and engages life.”

One will never know the moreness within any moment, or person, sunset, or flower as long as the hair-trigger of emotion/perception is how that moment is lived. For all the beauty, joy, and delight that one experiences, the labeling and identifying creates just as much disappointment, projection, craving, clinging, sense of loss, self-criticism, and judgement of others.

In time, such techniques reveal the natural clarity and purity of Awareness-mind and, at the same time, incrementally divests daily reality of the smallness that the personal mind creates about reality.

As Tilopa said to Naropa, “Look into the mirror of the mind.”

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advancing meditation: gratitude and light

The training in vipashyana is an interesting blend of equanimity and attention. Equanimity is evenness. In meditation training, impartiality is the attitude cultivated toward the body, emotions, thoughts, and distractions. One does not negate the body, but also does not immediately respond to it. For instance, thee are layers of teaching and training in the experience of the desire the scratch an itch. Similarly, emotions or thoughts that arise.

Attention is equally cultivated. The shift from preliminary practices to advancing ones entails understanding what attention is as well as what one is paying attention to.

Gratitude is a point of attention within many advancing meditation practices. The practice of gratitude is forefront within guru yoga, deity yoga, having a relationship with a spiritual teacher, as well as the many simple things or people that gratitude arises in relation to. One might mentally hold the guru on one’s head or in one’s heart, for example. The interesting thing about gratitude is that it seems adverse to equanimity. Yet, gratitude’s lightness of heart and flooding of the mind with delight engenders joy toward everything and everyone in that moment.

Vipashyana practice penetrates to the real. The real is that Beingness is always in a state of delight. All events, people, and circumstances are equally delightful. They are also equally emptiness.

Mystery upon mystery. Such is the path of meditation.

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advancing meditation: Remain

Life is the supreme multi-faceted environment for one’s meditation practice. Every skill that one is learning to apply on the cushion is immediately tested off the cushion.

In this yin-yang way, we are tamed, trained, and learn to remain true to Presence, clarity, heartfulness, and Awareness. How perfect!

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advancing meditation: spacious like the sky, deep like the ocean

Milarepa sang, “The mind is omnipresent like space …” Our challenge is that the cognitive faculties are interested in the clouds, rainbows, birds, planes, and stars that are in the sky rather than the plain, vast sky. To let the mind be, to simply notice its unadorned, expansive nature and experience the contentment of just that, is boring at first, elusive secondly, and hard to fathom overall.

Milarepa then speaks of the common experience of practitioners. “In the beginning nothing comes; in the middle, nothing stays; at the end nothing goes.”

The last statement means that Awareness doe not go away from itself and there is only stable samadhi.

We invite spacious Awareness with this meditation.

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