Changing one habit for another is an ongoing human endeavor. The goal is to have the new habit be a better one, better determined by the benefits it provides. Transforming habitual patterns for in-the-moment Awareness and recognition is a process that can be powerful unto itself, however, the results are where the lasting benefits lie. … More Intermediate: Creating the habit of Awareness
We are beings that perceive through the lens of duality. Even if a person says that he or she believes in soul or higher nature, that same person will most likely live from the habits of the personality through the day. One of the benefits of meditation is that is cuts through the various ways … More Intermediate: Using duality in one’s practice
In Wild Awakenings, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche writes, “Pointing out may also be understood as being introduced to the reality of mind’s nature. …. In all of the Buddha’s instructions from beginning to end, the basic techniques are shamatha and vipashyana.” … “Shamatha is sometimes translated as ‘tranquility’ or ‘calm abiding’ … In (the) context … More Intermediate: Supporting presence
Meditation is such a science, and the components of meditation are revealed through the insights born from experiencing the ripening one’s practice. Through the diligent practice of meditative techniques, consistency of application, and the enriching experiences of the results of doing so does one’s meditation practice evolve and mature. As a teacher of meditation for … More Intermediate: sustaining the quality
Each moment is the experience of myriad energies collecting, combining, demonstrating, and always present. For example, the experience of craving is actually a hint of the energy quality of voidness. We experience a desire for something because the energy quality of voidness is unfamiliar, therefore it is experienced as a lack or as discontent. Yet, … More Intermediate: Shamatha – Alert Openness
This round of the Intermediate practice will engage the practice of recognizing energies as they arise and as they present through out one’s day. In truth, energy has always been a core facet of the Intermediate practice. Yet, becoming ever more clear about all being energy empowers one’s clarity in meditation and refines one’s livingness … More Intermediate: Shamatha and recognizing energy
The ground is underneath our feet. It is there all the time. The ground of being is like this: already present, there all the time. This inner presence is always inside. Thus, if one has practiced one’s practice – off the cushion in one’s life as well as on the cushion faithfully – then the … More 11a. Indestructible
The importance of shamatha cannot be understated in regards to one’s meditation practice or one’s life. On the cushion or off, shamatha is the capacity of a human being to abide in a state of calm, serenity, or composure, tranquility, equipoise, or steadfastness such that distractions are non-effective to pull one away from stability and … More 7c. Shamatha: Inner peace and harmony
Tranquility. People and animals love it. Tranquility expresses in many ways, in a variety of forms: serenity, peace, ease, composure, patience, flow, and tranquility itself. Within tranquility is the feeling of integral and integrity. When we are with another person sharing harmony, ease, peace, and serenity, there is a feeling that each person is integral … More 7b. Serenity
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If shamatha is the foundation for all levels of meditation, then what is the foundation of shamatha? The great sage Patanjali states that it is “to still the patterning of the consciousness.” (Sutra 1 of Book I) He furthermore states: “Then, pure awareness can abide in its very nature. Otherwise, awareness takes itself to be … More Intermediate: Liberation from the ego
We are alive because we breathe. Our whole existence is because lungs breathe in and lungs breathe out. Family, friends, the particular quality of being that you are is here only because we breathe. Without breath, there is no heart beat, no brain functioning, no you, no me. But we do breathe, we are alive. … More 4b. The experience of tranquility is soft and open.
This Intermediate meditation focuses on a breathing technique (pranayama) that is very simple. That does not mean that it is easy to do! Breath underlies all meditation practices. Breath also leads to shamatha, or peaceful abiding. This state of ease in concentration, of stability of meditative equipoise and altitude is part of the full body, … More A pranayama that produces shamatha
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 … More Intermediate: a technique for all levels
The waves on the ocean are born from the ocean and fall back into it only to rise up again and return once more. The waves of the ocean are like human emotions and thoughts. Those arise out of the full potential of relatedness and of wisdom and then, after a few seconds (a fleeting … More 9c: Like the waves of the sea
To understand causation is important in life. With it one understands that to make a baby requires sperm and egg, to harvest a potato or watermelon requires seed, soil, water, and sun, to drink water requires that water be accessible, to have peace in one’s life or the world requires that all people live peaceably … More 6c: Causation: Heart-Mind
Tantric meditation training reveals, and then works with, sets of two which are one and that also produce a new one. For example, two factors within the process of alignment are the quality of penetration and the quality of receptivity. Penetrating is another word for the reach or stretch of consciousness that brings two points … More Intermediate: Two factors in Alignment
Children live from natural awareness. Every moment is inquisitive, wonder-full, and new. The textures are fresh, sounds are interesting, words are gaining meaning. Children live the already-present awareness of Presence, and adults can too. Doing so is called meditation. True meditation has one goal: Presence. The word Presence signifies a combination of qualities: Aware, freed, … More 5b: Like a child
Sitting by a swift flowing river in meditation has been a meditation training for many millennia. Ultimately, the training is not about the roar of the water or its splash but of the river itself. The river is expressing its nature. Meditation, in time, allows one to also experience the inner beingness that one’s outer … More 3c: The flow of Presence and Awareness
The sky is the sky. It is unconditioned by the clouds that pass through it. The clouds produce effects that condition life on the ground, but the sky remains the sky regardless of clouds or not. The ocean is the ocean. It seems to be unaffected by that which is put into it or that … More 7c: The sky and the ocean
Interlude is center. Being the space between in and out, over and under, the space in front of you or in any other direction, interlude is the center of itself. It is the between. When we get centered, we, too, are between. We are between action and the next action, between thoughts or feelings. Instead … More 7b: Breathe from the center. Experience yourself deeply.
Interlude is the space between, between in-breath and out-breath, between out-breath and in, it is the space between thoughts. Interlude is the space – the empty non-action – before action is engaged. Often action is engaged robotically, habitually. Just as often, action is the result of chasing a desire or running away from something, avoiding … More 7a: Interlude – experience space
This image means something to us because of heart-mind. Friendship does, peace in the world as an aspiration does, creative ways to bring forward goodness for others and oneself all are possible and make sense to us as human beings because of heart-mind. Heart is not one thing and mind another. They are not really … More 6c: … because of heart-mind
Meditation brings the continuity of awareness forefront for any practitioner. As that happens, one realizes that several seeming polarities or dichotomies or paradoxes simply are not. Opposites are never really opposites, separate or separated is actually impossible energetically, psychically, telepathically. Little by little, meditation erodes the walls that, due to cultural or societal programming, have … More 6a. Heart-Mind
We are a field of Presence and Being. This, like the vibration of an emotion or the energy of a thought, can be felt. Our field is palpable – when and if – we take note of it. I love the image used for this meditation because, like the transparent Buddha who pervades his field … More Field of Presence
“Our lungs lead us to our heart. Our heart has opened our mind.” The first number of steps in The Practice of Living Awareness have led to discoveries of qualities of Being that are innate: lightness of being (smile) clarity and light (tip of the nose) perspective and relation (tip of the nose) flow, ease, … More 6a: We discover Heart-Mind.
Spirit Fire’s World Service meditation focuses on Earth, and how we – as members of planet Earth – can subjectively through gratitude and awareness and objectively through right choices and actions support a thriving Mother Earth. One way that that is cultivated is through equanimity: through learning that, in truth, all aspects and manifestations of … More Profound Equality
If you want to ski, you need snow; and you need skis, poles, a warm jacket and gloves. If you want a hard boiled egg, you need an egg, water, a way to boil water, and a pot to boil it in. Necessity goes hand in hand with a desired outcome. Softening and opening is … More 4c: Necessary
The flow of the breath is the flow of awareness into life. Learning to consciously breathe provides that the deeper flow of one’s being is present to and through daily circumstances and events. This is key to peace of mind, less anxiety, more patience, as well as a clearer mind, calmer emotions, and an overall … More 3a. The flow of it
“I breathe in. I breathe out.” Siddharta sat under a tree and, after six years of harsh ascetic practices, realized that the simplicity of conscious breathing was the key to awareness. One might ask why is this so? One is best off experiencing the answer for oneself, however the short answer is this: through the … More Profound simplicity
Dharana is a Sanskrit word. In meditation training, it means concentration, attention, or right focus. The concept and original teaching about it comes from the great rishi, Patanjali and his Yoga Sutras. Buddha Shakyamuni then took this teaching, used it, and achieved enlightenment. Both of these great beings, then, used this aspect of meditation training … More 2b: Dharana (concentration/attention)
In The Practice of Living Awareness, step 2 matures into vipassana: pure perception. Vipassana also brings about penetrating insight. In the Intermediate practice, we engage that maturing process. Step 2 has many layers of meaning, instruction, and application within one’s meditation practice and life. The beginning of this podcast gives some of that fullness. Intrinsic … More Pure perception
Lift up your eyes. If there is window, look out it. The world is all around us. Meditation invites us to simply be …. for a moment, and maybe a few more. Meditation is about space, neutrality, emptiness, and the infinite potential that is the very fabric of every moment. Settling is most important in … More 1c: making room
Choice. The choice to incarnate, the choices in our life, the choice for awareness. Choice is an interesting contemplation, one best engaged throughout one’s day as choices from the most mundane and habitual to the sublime and spontaneous arise, float through, and call us every day. Awareness is a choice. Or maybe, non-awareness is? Either … More The Perfect Journey, the perfect play
Do you live in New England or New York? Join me at Spirit Fire in Massachusetts for a three-day meditation retreat on training the mind. We will use this thangka for its instruction. September 10-13. Register now. In classical Asian meditation training, the mind is equated with an elephant. Seemingly large and uncontrolled, it can … More Training the elephant of the mind
During incarnation, mind seems to function largely through the quality of activity. This is why a quiet or calm mind can require significant effort when learning to meditate. However, Mind is a wave of cognition, a wave of awareness and, as such, behaves like a wave of light. Reacting mind functions as a quick oscillating … More Waves of Mind series
A meditation practice has one true goal: Awareness. If the practice is bringing forward results, these might be some of them: more clarity in a general sense. We might or might not act upon the clarity, but it arises more easily and frequently. more honesty with oneself. Again, we might choose to stay with habits … More Simple Awareness
The meditation is poetic Our life is the ground of our practice. Life is where one’s practice must find ground, and it does as one brings the metaphor of the tree, the roots, and the ground into one’s day. There is so much simple truth to consider with this step (maybe each step of The … More Yes! Still growing.
Learning to meditate is essentially learning to abide within the fullness of the moment. Awareness is this simplicity. Mindfulness is used to describe this common in-one’s-day abiding because training in meditation engenders recognition of how we do or do not use the three qualities of mind. Through sitting, breathing, and simply being with one’s mind repeatedly … More A little space and perspective
The experiences of each day are vibration. We are pulsing with vibrations. Our words, thoughts, feelings, and actions are vibrations. Yes, I will be teaching a new online course tonight focused on just this – but Step 9 of Mind also is about vibration. The three qualities or states of mind (contracting, expanding, and spacious) … More Vibrations of Mind
There’s nothing theoretical about meditation. Do it, and the benefits result – pretty quickly too. We are in Step 9 wherein we observe and experience three fundamental qualities of mind: contracting, expanding, and spacious. We are encouraged to notice these off-the-cushion during our day as well as use them during our meditation sitting. All three … More You have options!
The first several steps of The Practice of Living Awareness give us the tools and techniques to learn Peaceful Abiding (shamatha). Just as important is the constant encouragement to take each of those techniques or tools into one’s life. Smile – lighten up Breathe – you are alive. Celebrate life. Flow – set your own … More Choose your state of mind
Meditation training combines two factors: feminine and masculine. Within The Practice of Living Awareness, feminine energy is within the first several steps: Flow, Soften and Open, Receive-Release as examples. Masculine energy is within the next several steps beginning with Asana. Asana brings an acuity to one’s practice: straighten up, hold the attitude and altitude, command … More Ahhh, Composure!
There are many reasons to learn to meditate, but one is inner quiet. The interlude between the breaths is an excellent example of this. The interlude after breathing in is the point of “just enough” registered by the body/lungs. The interlude after breathing out also is a point of “just enough” once again registered by … More Peace and Quiet
This week is Step 7 of The Practice of Living Awareness: Interlude. “Meditation is an experience, not a thought process.” Spirit Fire’s website speaks of this Step well: We pause for step 7 to allow steps 1 through 6 to find their productive connectedness in the whole of our meditation practice. We begin to experience … More Mountain-like Shamatha (peaceful abiding)
Everything you could ask for about meditation is in this blog. 2013 posts are now refreshed and culled through. There are many amazing meditations, as well as excellent short or longer articles on every aspect of meditation so that you, the practitioner can fully engage and get results from meditating with The Practice of Living … More Everything you could ask for about meditation