– Tranquility is invited with a Smile and a long, slow, deep breath (shamatha).
– Tip of the Nose is the first step toward unwavering steadfastness in meditation. For the beginner practitioner, putting the attention on the tip of the nose starts the training of meditative focus.
– Flow invites our senses to do what they do: sense, feel, experience, delight, and report. This introduces the qualities of vipassana. How so? Vipassana is clear perception, a use of the senses together with logic and the reasoning capacity of mind. The senses are used to gather a wide variety of information. With that, the practitioner can begin the deductive process of ascertaining what brings benefit, what induces stability, what is light and how many different ways can it be experienced? Each of these questions (and many more) leads the meditator deeper into the sensations, the qualities being experienced, and thus into the experience itself. Direct experience is the best teacher for a human being, whether that is about the taste of a strawberry, the qualities of fire, or the nature of Awareness and Reality. The step “Flow” is pivotal in all of the above and more.
Additionally, there is flow itself. Flow is the experience of ease, coming and going expressing through the breath but describing the impermanence and changeable nature (the coming and going) of everything. Thus Flow trains the practitioner in how to dance with the natural arisings that occur within a meditation session as well as in life.
– Soften and Open begins to blend the two skills of tranquil abiding – shamatha and clear perceiving – vipassana, long before they are skills and before the beginning practitioner can actually hold a state of concentration. Nonetheless, the incremental training of The Practice through its steps brings forward the refined capacities of mind-Awareness and states of well-being through using the qualities represented by Samantabhadri (she) and Samantabhadra (he).
The rest of the steps continue as this, enhancing these foundational skills in meditation practice, and helping the meditator integrate the benefits of shamatha and vipassana into everyday life.