For a long time, I’ve avoided writing much about the meditation practice as part of the Buddha’s path. My original reason was that it seemed to me there was a plethora of information available about meditation practices (Buddhist and otherwise) and not much about the Buddha’s trainings regarding our actions and interactions.
However, I’ve overcome my own resistance; I’ve relinquished the idea that meditation necessarily means sitting cross-legged, silently, for an hour a day.
The article quoted below is from the Business section(!) of the Sydney Morning Herald. I think it’s worth reading (it’s short).
Three to five minutes of meditation and I almost feel like I’ve had a morning nap. The glow may wear off after an hour or two, but that hour or so post a mini-meditation break is hard to beat.
Secondly, the feeling improves the longer I stick with the practice. Within a couple of weeks, calm translates into increased mental clarity. The days seem easier. Problems seem simpler to solve. People around me seem less annoying.
Remember, “longer” doesn’t mean “more time in each session”.
It means: more days in a row of consistently doing those two short five-minute sessions. This is one of the frustrating realities about meditation – you can’t just save it all up and get the benefits from one-hour long blast fitting neatly into a Sunday afternoon. Instead, the pay off comes from consistency: five minutes twice a day is way more effective than once a week. If you’re at all curious, try it for a fortnight.
In the 8-fold path the Buddha doesn’t give a definition of right mindfulness (“do X and Y will be the result”); he gives instructions and hopes you’ll try it for yourself. In a nutshell, the instruction is to direct your awareness to a few specific objects (body, feeling, mind states, and a category called mind objects) FROM THE INSIDE. With mindfulness we are not analyzing, not discussing, not evaluating and not narrating; we are directly knowing (not observing from a distance) our own experience. We are not trying to create a particular outcome, but to simply know what our moment-to-moment experience is, in an intimate and non-judgmental way. We open ourselves to the immediate truth of this moment, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the strong and the subtle.
So, to start with the body, we position the body in a posture that’s upright and alert, but also (this is essential) relaxed. These two energies (relaxed and alert) come into balance as a set-up for mindfulness. We investigate our immediate experience – e.g., hot/cold, heaviness/lightness, stillness/(internal) motion, wetness/dryness. We discover our sensory world at the most basic level — we discover: this is how it is.
It’s simple but not easy, as you’ll discover if you try it. More next time…