Meditation is a very important part of the Buddhism religion. It is the way
to find complete enlightenment. Complete enlightenment is the goal of everyone
who uses meditation.
Meditation is an art of living. Nobody can give it to you. It is something you will have to do all by yourself. Words can hardly tell you how to do it. You have to go through it all by yourself. It could be compared with using tools or driving a bicycle for instance. Everybody can tell you how to do it in words. But as soon as you step on a bike and you have to do it by yourself for the first time, all those words turn out to be no more than a little advice. You still have to learn all about cycling by yourself. Learning how to cycle turns out to take a lot of time and practice.
Learning how to meditate is even more difficult. If you are meditating no one can look into your mind. No one can see if you do it right or wrong. You will have to find out yourself if it is going the good way or not. You will have to criticize yourself thoroughly.
It is advised to meditate under the guidance of a teacher. The only thing your teacher can do is to listen to what you feel and to give you hints, but he knows what is right and what is wrong. He also knows the steps to learn to meditate and he knows the different stages of meditation and how you will feel during those periods. It is hardly possible to learn how to meditate by self education or learn meditation by reading a book.
Why would you meditate?
Meditation is, as was mentioned before, a way to find complete enlightenment. The way to get in peace with yourself and the rest of the world. I am convinced that if everybody in the whole world would use meditation in the right way there will be no more war! Buddhism is a religion where meditation is very important. Meditation gives you the understanding of the real life. Not the material life as we know it so well in the western countries, but the mental life expanding over many berths and deaths. You must know that the Buddhism religion believes in reincarnation. Meditating in this life gives the possibility to have even deeper meditation in your next live. Meditation also gives you a lot in your present life. It helps you to find the Buddha in yourself. Did you know that we all have a Buddha nature. And who doesn't want to be a Buddha? Meditation also helps you to live in peace with yourself and the rest of the world. It helps you to find your natural peace. In that way it helps you to live with less stress.
How can you meditate?
In the introduction you can read that it is very difficult to learn how to
meditate. I do not pretend to learn you how to meditate in this chapter but I
do want to spend a number of words to try to make you understand a little bit
more about meditation!!!!
Meditation is letting your thoughts go there own way and in the mean time make your mind as empty as possible!!!
In the beginning when you start meditations you will find out that your mind is busy all the time. You are having one thought after another and within these thoughts you are reacting to your own thoughts all the time and in all kinds of ways.
During meditation you will have to try to let your thoughts go there own way. Do not react to the thoughts you are having. That is a very important step in meditation.
If you do this intensively you will find out that there are (small) "moments of silence" in your mind between all the different thoughts. The second very difficult step in meditation is to get those "moments of silence" as long as possible.
Easily said! But now the practice! How do you start?
Starting meditation just like that is very difficult. I have read that there are over 8000 ways to meditate. I will describe 3 very common ways that can help you in meditation.
-1- Following your breath.
Breathing is a very important thing in life. Buddhism thinks the breath makes your body clean. With every outgoing breath bad thoughts and attitudes will leave your body. If you help the breath with your thoughts it will even be more effective than normal.
When you keep your mind as clean as possible and pay attention to your breathing , a little more attention to your breathing out and a little less attention to your breathing in, you could be on your way. Keep in mind to keep the rest of your thoughts away. Keep your mind are empty as possible. Do not pay attention 100% to the breathing. Try to give no more that 25% of attention to the breathing and think of nothing else.
-2- Using an object.
The second way of meditation that will be described here is using an object. You can use any object but it is better to use a Buddhism related object. That can be a statue or a picture of a holy person. A very popular person to use is the Padmasambhuva. The meditation form is about the same as described in -1- So keep your mind as empty as possible and look and think of the picture. Keep your eyes open during meditation. You might fall asleep if you don't. And falling asleep is not the intention of meditation.
-3-Reciting a mantra.
A very strong way to meditate is said to be by using the reciting of a mantra. A mantra is a kind of proverb and in Tibet mantra's are often used. You can find them almost everywhere. A very well known form of using a mantra is to engrave it in a stone. You can find those stone everywhere in Tibet. By placing the stone with the mantra engraved in for instance a pass between mountains (La) you can make your mantra spread by the wind. By pronouncing the mantra it will also be spread in and by the air. The best way to meditate and use a mantra is to sing it a very well known mantra is the " Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum.
How often do I meditate?
Whatever kind of meditation is used there is just one goal. Get your mind as empty as possible so you can get in peace with yourself and in that way with everybody else. How often must I meditate is a frequent asked question. Well I would say "Do it all day long". That doesn't mean you must meditate all day long, but it must be a part of everything you think or do all day long. Do not expect that you will be able to do so from the moment you start with meditation. It has to come gradually. First start with the methods that are given to you by your teacher. Try to do them as well as possible and get the feeling that belongs to the meditation situation. When you feel that everything is going well your will be able to get the feeling into small, not intensive things you do. Try to expend these practices to as much things as possible. Prolonging the meditation in that way is difficult but you will get very good results if you succeed.
When do I take a break during meditation?
It depends on the amount of experience you have. When you start meditation
it is good not to meditate in too long sessions. 5 minutes is said to be a good
time to spend. But it depends of a lot of things. What is sure is that only 5
minutes a day will not do. Do a number of 5 minutes sessions after one another.
But the break you take is also important. Never come out of meditation very
quick. Try to come out as smooth as possible.
A teacher once said to his pupil "Try to have a break during your meditation and meditate during your break"