Buddhist meditation is a complicated discipline that aims to cleanse the mind and elevate it to the point when it discovers the higher wisdom and attains an ability to see the true nature of things. At this point, the mind realizes the final of the Four Noble Truths and reaches Nirvana.
In a way, Buddhist meditation can be described as a process of developing a special kind of mental culture that leads to complete self-awareness. There are many kinds of meditation, but the two bases of it have remained unchanged for many centuries. They are:
The translation of this word is “peacefulness” and this practice is focused on achieving this state of consciousness. No further progress in Buddhist meditation is possible before one learns to put his or her mind in a state of complete tranquility obtained through shamatha.
This word means “special insight” or “clear seeing”. It is believed that this method of meditation was developed by Buddha himself and some practitioners of this religion dismiss shamatha as an unnecessary step, focusing their efforts on vipashyana. It’s an analytical method of meditation based on observation, awareness, and mindfulness.
Once you perfect these two practices, you can move on to the more focused “heavy-duty” forms of meditation, samadhi. Samadhi is based on intense focusing of one’s consciousness.
A Basic Guide to Buddhist Meditation
The most basic meditation practice starts with controlling your breath. Sit down comfortably and keep your back straight. Traditional position for Buddhist meditation is lotus, but it’s OK if you can’t cross your legs this way yet. Try kneeling, using a meditation bench, lying on the floor, or even standing. The most important consideration you need to make when choosing the position is your personal comfort as even the simplest meditation should last for about 15 minutes and you will need to feel comfortable enough not to shift constantly during this time.
Hold your head upright but relax your neck so that it doesn’t feel rigid. Place your hands however you feel comfortable. Basic meditating hand position is called cosmic mudra, if you want to try it, put your hands palms up (one on top of the other) with your thumbs touching slightly.
After you position yourself, start counting your breaths on the exhale. Count to ten and start over. If you lose count, just go back to one and start again. Try to breathe naturally to prevent getting lightheaded.
Gradually, as your experience with meditation grows, you should start introducing more aspects to it. Instead of counting, focus on the way the air moves through your body and clear your mind. This will allow you to reach the state of peace and awareness necessary to progress your mental practices further.
At first, you will be distracted by sounds, smells, and other external and internal factors but regular practices will help you keep your attention focused. Eventually, you will be able to master shikantaza (emptiness meditation) a more advanced form of meditation. At this point, no sounds, aches, urges, or smells will be able to disrupt your state of quiet mindfulness.
It’s possible to master Buddhist meditation without a teacher, but this approach will make the already difficult road even more complex. Guidance from an experienced specialist will help you become self-aware, realize what’s hindering your progress, and deal with these issues.
Advantages of Meditation
Meditation has numerous benefits, although these are not the main focus of the Buddhist tradition. On a practical level, meditation helps with relaxation and stress relief, improves sleep patterns, and has even been found to Increase Immunity.
No matter whether you’re interested in following a Buddhist lifestyle, to improve your yoga or other practice, or for better health, Buddhist meditation is a great option.