Monday - Preparation and Walking
1. Preparation and Walking
time we set aside for formal meditation practice is precious. We know
that by committing to regular sessions our concentration and
tranquillity will increase and that this will bring benefits far beyond
the actual time engaged in the activity of meditation.
careful to bring consistency to the time and place in which we have
chosen to meditate can strengthen our commitment. The mind initially
settles more easily if we are familiar with our surroundings and the
conditions we have created. If our character tends toward the visual and
devotional, it can be helpful to set up a small shrine that becomes the
focus for our regular sittings. The shrine could contain things which
are important to us, and which reinforce the values we are bringing to
our meditation practice. If we consider ourselves Buddhists then a small
statue or image of the Buddha may reconnect us with the gratitude we
feel for His teachings. Traditional accoutrements such as incense,
candles, flowers, and offerings may help us to acknowledge how very
special is the opportunity to learn about and practise the Dhamma. If we
are of a different spiritual tradition then items which evoke similar
themes and feelings may be more appropriate.
we are of a more sceptical or analytical bent then a cleared area free
from visual stimuli may help us to settle more quickly. Some find that
facing a blank wall for a few moments before closing their eyes helps to
quieten the mind. Whatever the style of the place we choose, using it
regularly will enable us to reduce the external distractions to our
practice. Obviously if we are away from home we must use whatever space
find it useful to rededicate their meditation practice each day by
engaging in some sort of small ceremony or puja. This usually consists
of words of gratitude and homage followed by verses of aspiration and an
undertaking to follow the precepts. It can be a very useful way of
beginning each day anew with a dedication to living it with integrity.
If you would like to incorporate something like this into your practice
guidance can be given on request. Whilst beneficial for many it is not
required by others: some may even find such cultural accretions to be a
way in which we can rededicate our practice is to use the common tactic
of setting aside one day each week on which we will make an extra
special effort. This is common to many religions and Buddhism
traditionally uses the four phases of the lunar cycle to calculate these
days. The uposatha (or observance) days fall on different days of the
week because of the moon’s cycle. The full moon day is deemed
particularly auspicious and is usually a time when particular incidents
(e.g. in the Buddha’s life) are remembered. The details of the
commemorations vary depending on which Theravada sect and country one is
associated. If you are based in a Western country you may wish to use
Sundays as a day of dedicated practice instead. Take the time on your
observance day to practice and read about the Dhamma.
you find that you are doing a lot of sitting meditation, perhaps
several consecutive sessions for example, it can be useful to have an
alternative activity that will allow you to maintain a high degree of
mindfulness between these sittings. Walking meditation is recommended in
the Pāli Canon and can be a beautiful complement to the sitting
are, broadly speaking, two methods of walking meditation. What is
popularly known as the Burmese method involves slowing down the pace of
walking in order that concentration can be maximised. The Thai approach
is to walk at normal pace thus facilitating easier integration with the
concept of mindfulness in daily life.
than focusing on a particular meditation object, in both methods the
idea is to be wholly mindful of the activity of walking. Noting each
aspect of the movement of the foot as it lifts, stretches, is placed,
and lifts again. Normally one marks a path several metres long and walk
it, turn mindfully, and walk back. This is repeated for the duration of
the session. It is useful to use the same pathway regularly so that you
are free from the novelty of visual distraction. The path you choose can
be either indoors or outdoors. Your eyes should look at the ground a
few paces ahead and be lightly focused. Be totally with the process of
walking. When used in this way the meditation would be a samatha
practice. If instead we focused on whatever arose whilst walking rather
than one-pointedness upon the mechanics of the movement it would be
possible to practice this as a vipassanā technique. Walking meditation
can be an excellent way in which to break up long periods of sitting
meditation. It is often alternated with the sitting forms of meditation
on retreats. Standing meditation is another variant that can prove
useful respite from long periods of sitting.
Contemplation - Day 66
should devoutly revere a person
whom one learned the Dhamma,
taught by the Fully Enlightened One;
a brahmin reveres the sacrificial fire.
by matted hair, lineage or birth
one become a brahmin.
whom exists truth and righteousness -
is pure, he a brahmin.
use your matted hair, O witless one?
use your antelope skin clothes?
you are entangled;
without, you appear groomed.
lean, with veins protruding -
alone in the forest,
I call a brahmin.
do not call him a brahmin
he is born of a womb
delivered from his mother.
is just a commoner if still defiled.
free from defilements and clinging,
I call a brahmin.
Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 7:11 pm