In the recent Oklahoma meditation retreat, I taught a technique that will result in tranquility and presence. In other words, it will bring about the foundational meditation experience of shamatha (tranquil or peaceful abiding).
Patanjali and Buddha Shakyamuni, the two great sources of meditation training, agree that the foundation of all states and levels of meditation is shamatha. Unto itself, shamatha is delicious and vibrant. The experience is a state of peace, stability, and ease. For the beginner meditator, this state might last only seconds at first, but the experience is unmistakable and is the carrot that keeps the person coming back to the cushion. For the middle-range meditator, once shamatha arises it can be sustained for minutes before thoughts float through the peaceful mindstream like clouds in the sky. Like a child chasing bubbles, however, the middle-range practitioner will follow the clouds without realizing it, and … poof … the state disappears.
With practice, the state of contented mind at ease in the moment and present can be elongated. The time and space expands between the coalescing of cloud-like arising thoughts in the sky-like mind, and peaceful stability – vibrant, radiant, and pure – will remain so until the personal mind interrupts it.
Shamatha is the ground upon which all meditative states and levels of meditation are built and thus all samadhis and all emptinesses are born from. Without shamatha, there is no meditation. In The Practice of Living Awareness, the first seven steps break down how to establish oneself in this necessary and potentially profound ground. Here in this Intermediate meditation, the essential instruction is given.
Downloadable: Intermediate: a technique for all levels