In Buddhism, there are two types of meditation; one is Samatha (Metta) Meditation and the other is VipassanÄ (Mindfulness) Meditation. Meditation mainly has two purposes. The first step is to develop mental concentration. The second is to gain ‘insight’ into the nature of things through ‘mindfulness, awareness, vigilance and observation.’ Meditation is intended ‘to purify the mind’. It cleanses the thought process of what can be called psychic irritants, things like impatience, stress, anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, depression, resentment, etc. – things that keep us snarled up in emotional bondage, and produces traits like lovingkindness, patience, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity and wisdom. ‘It brings the mind to a state of tranquility and awareness, to a state of concentration and insight’. Lovingkindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Sympathetic Joy (Mudita) and Equanimity (Upekkha) are the Four Sublime States of mind. ‘You practice Loving-kindness Meditation for the purification of your own mind, just as you practice Mindfulness Meditation for your own attainment of peace and liberation from pain and suffering’. As you practice loving-kindness within yourself, you can behave in a most friendly manner without biases, prejudices, discrimination or hate. Your noble behavior helps you to help others in a most practical manner to reduce their pain and suffering. It is compassionate people who can help others. Compassion as a manifestation of loving-kindness in action, for one who does not have loving-kindness cannot help others. Noble behavior means behaving in a most friendly and most cordial manner. ‘Behavior includes your thought speech and action’. If this triple mode of expression of your behavior is contradictory behavior cannot be noble behavior. On the other hand, pragmatically speaking, it is much better to cultivate the noble thought, “May all beings be happy minded” than the thought, “I hate him”. Our noble thought will one day express itself in noble behavior and our spiteful thought in evil behavior.
Practicing ‘basic’ Mindfulness Meditation: ‘Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on a cushion on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff. Put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present moment. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different. ‘Observation-without attachment-is an important key to mindfulness meditation’. In mindfulness meditation one is ‘an observer’ of thoughts and emotions that arise in the mind during meditation. These thoughts are not to be analyzed nor harshly judged-but are to be recognized as they simply are: thoughts and feelings. They are not to be clinged (attached) to, for clinging (attachment) causes suffering. We use the breath as an anchor. What does this mean? When a thought/feeling arises in the mind, we observe it-making a mental note of it, then gently return to the breath. If you’re observing your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them, then your on the right track. Remember not to be hard on yourself when thoughts pop-up and when your thoughts wander; be patient and gentle with the mind, and simply return to the breath.
May all beings be happy and free from suffering.