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Learning to Meditate -Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche -Shambhala

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So good day everyone. Today I would like to talk about how to meditate and learning to meditate and in particular just what the approach is and attitude is. A lot of people meditate in different ways today but I feel like the basics are always important. And I know that maybe some of you have never meditated. Some of you have an experienced practice; you’ve been meditating regularly. But in either case it’s always good to go back to the basics, and to understand what the principles are. What I always try to encourage is that we really know why we are meditating. That’s always important and the reasons why we are meditating. So that’s something that you have to think about. It could be just simply needing some relaxation, some stress reduction, peace. It could be all the way up to, you know, we want to attain enlightenment, and we’d like to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha and have tremendous wisdom and compassion, but in either way, learning how to meditate is important. And obviously today we can go through some very basic principles. Certainly at home and then where you are that it would be good to have someone who is experienced that shows you personally what to do. You can learn a lot from books, but the view, is what I like to call it, the attitude, knowing what we are doing. Meditation really is an interesting word; it means familiarity, and in Tibetan we say Gom, and the word really has its root in the word meaning of being familiar with or getting used to something. So in the English language we have a lot of different expressions for many things, but for meditation it seems like we only have one basic word, meditation. In Tibetan we have many, many different words for meditation. So when we use the word meditation in English, I am not sure what you think. For myself it means familiarity. So I always think that in a sense we are always meditating, meaning we are always getting familiar. Our mind is getting used to something. So we may be getting used to the thought of anxiety, worrying, anger. So our mind is getting used to something. So in a sense we are meditating. But here we are saying we are going to get used to something and to do something, familiarize our mind with something that's helpful. So that’s view, that’s why we are doing it. So here today we are saying what would be a very basic, something that is helpful to everyone, is learning how to reduce the level of anxiety, stress, calm our mind, and more importantly, I think in the beginning what is the most helpful, in terms of meditating and getting how to meditate, is making our mind useful to us, possessing our mind. So here the basic approach of meditation, is that we do something that allows our mind not to wander, not to be distracted. Conventionally-speaking many of us are thinking about a lot of things. And if we think about our mind, our mind is not always the most useful, the most sort of in tune. A lot of times we sit down and our mind wanders off. So the practice of meditation here is learning how to get familiar with something, get used to something that is helpful. For most of us in the beginning, no matter what we are doing, is having the mind cooperate, making our mind ours. And really as human beings if our mind is ours it should be able to sit quietly, enjoy the weather, enjoy what we are doing, instead of thinking about the future, worrying about our problem. Just our mind darts off here and there. So I am going to demonstrate a little bit and certainly you can do it as well, that the process of meditation and we are going to sit. I am sitting in a chair, you can sit on a cushion. You maybe sitting at your desk. Either way it's fine. So the view and attitude is "Why am I meditating?" Because it is the mind that's mediating, it is our attitude, it's ourselves. Meditation by just posture is not going to work, the attitude is important. So we think maybe here today it's just breathing, slowing down, stress reduction, bringing a sense of peace, being present, is very helpful and from there we can lead our life. So let's sit comfortably and we can put our body in a posture that is awake, so that we are not falling asleep. We are not too anxious by standing up. Our hands can be on our thighs. Our mind is thinking about "Oh, I am about to meditate so I am not going to worry about other things right now, I am going to bring it back to what's important". And what's really important is the present moment. And what signifies the present moment? Our breathing. So here, in a very basic way, we are going to learn how to meditate by breathing. Breathing makes us realize how fragile we are, how human we are, and how precious things are. Body in a decent posture. Head relaxed. Gaze is slightly down. Eyes slightly open. So we sit like this (hands on thighs). Some people sit like this (hands together). But here let's just sit like this (hands on thighs), and begin to pay attention to our breathing. So we are breathing out and in. Out and in. And as we take our mind from a busy world and put in on the breathing, automatically we slow down. Automatically we strengthen our mind. Automatically our mind becomes more useful, more ours. The mind is paying attention to the breathing; we are not thinking about the future or the past, or worrying. This is our little break; this our little relaxation; it’s our mini-holiday. We are beginning to pay attention to the mind. Just like the body, just like the body needs exercise and good food, mind needs to be taken care of. Now we are doing that. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. When thoughts come we say, "Oh, I shouldn't be thinking right now, because I don't want to be thinking about that. "I want to be paying attention to my breathing, because I know that's helpful. This is what I want to be doing". Just bring some calmness and feel peace and the relaxation. Simply breathing. Thought comes up, say "Oh I am thinking. Right now I don’t want to be thinking about that". Paying attention to the breathing, we feel some peace. So why don’t you try that, and good luck with it.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 39 seconds
Year: 2008
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Centre Productions and James Hoagland.
Views: 14,075
Posted by: hmaclaren on May 5, 2010

The Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche. Shambhala. From -Archive –Video, at January 2008. The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche guides viewers in basic meditation practice. See also at
© Copyright 2008 Mipham J. Mukpo.
Produced By Centre Productions and James Hoagland.

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