Meditation – Tibetan Buddhist Style
In the teaching of Buddha, it is said that we are all naturally endowed with boundless wisdom, immeasurable compassion and infinite power or capability. Yet, because we have lost touch with these inner qualities, we rarely scratch beneath the surface of the potential that we possess. Only when we come in touch with our true nature, can we truly be of service and benefit — not only to ourselves, but also to others.
We can begin, first of all, by getting to know our own mind. Most of us think that thoughts and emotions are the mind. But thoughts and emotions are merely the appearance of mind, not the nature of mind. When we are lost in the appearance of mind, we have no idea what the essence of mind really is. So the crucial point is the direction in which our mind is turned: whether it is outwardly looking, lost in thoughts and emotions; or inwardly seeing, recognizing its true nature.
If you tame, transform and conquer your mind, then you will transform your own perceptions and your experience. Thereby even circumstances and outer appearances will begin to change and appear differently. One of the best ways to tame our mind is through the unique and profound approach of meditation in the Buddhist tradition of Tibet.
The first and most basic practice of meditation is to allow the mind to settle into a state of “calm abiding,” where it will find peace and stability, and can rest in the state of non-distraction, which is what meditation really is. When you first begin to meditate, you may use a support: for example, looking at an object or an image of Buddha, or Christ if you are a Christian practitioner; or lightly, mindfully watching the breath, which is common to many spiritual traditions.
Gradually, as you are able to rest your mind naturally in a state of non-distraction, you will not need the support of an image or the breath. Even though you are not particularly focusing on anything, there is still some presence of mind, that may be loosely described as a “centre of awareness.”
This undistracted presence of mind is the best way of integrating meditation into everyday life. When you bring conscious awareness to your activities, distractions and anxieties will gradually disappear, and your mind will become more peaceful. It will also bring you stability within yourself and a certain confidence with which you can face life and the complexity of the world with composure, ease and humour.
As we connect with the purity of our inherent nature through meditation practice, what is revealed is our fundamental goodness, our good heart. And the more we integrate the practice mindfully in our lives, the more we will find that not only are we in touch with ourselves, but completely in touch with others. Negativity is defused, there comes a self-forgiveness, and all the harm in us is removed, so that we become truly useful and able to be of service to others.
Rigpa offers introductory courses in Tibetan Buddhist meditation in Edinburgh city centre. There are three terms per year, and courses are divided into 5 week blocks. Classes are held in Healthy Life Centre, 35-37 Bread Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AL. If you want to talk to someone about classes, email your number to Andrew firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to read about meditation in more depth, see Chapter 5 of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. For an online taster of the style of meditation, click here to watch steps 1 to 10 of ‘Dare to Meditate’. This site offers an introduction to meditation, video advice from different meditation teachers, as well as a blog and forum where you can discuss everything to do with meditation.