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Lions Roar : January 2017
BEGINNER’S MIND I’m trying to start a daily sitting meditation practice, but I hear a lot of conflicting opinions on how long I should meditate for. What’s your advice? There are two different views on this: 1. Any time spent meditating is good, no matter how short. 2. The longer you meditate for, the better. The thing is, they’re both right. Even five minutes a day is better than nothing, and a longer meditation session can be more beneficial than a shorter one. Half an hour a day might be a good starting point, but the key is what works for you. The most important thing is keeping a regular meditation practice. If you practice for so long that it infringes on the rest of your life and stresses you out, or it feels like a chore and you don’t enjoy it, then you’ll be less likely to do it every day. There is one objective guideline, though. You should meditate long enough for your mind and body to settle down. Only when your thoughts have calmed down and your body is relaxed can you really start your practice. That may take the first five or ten minutes of your meditation session, so try to sit long enough to go through the settling-down phase and have enough time left to really enjoy and benefit from the practice. DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS MAHAYANA BUDDHISM breaks the mind into eight separate consciousnesses. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said the point of meditation is actually to understand how the eight conciousnesses work, because together they create our samsaric reality. They are also the working basis of enlightenment. 1 through 6: The Sense Consciousnesses The first 5 are familiar: the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body consciousnesses. They work with our sense organs and objects of perception to create our experience of the phenomenal world. The 6th sense consciousness, called mind, assembles the input from the other sense consciousnesses into a coherent whole. 7: The Klesha or Deluded Consciousness The 7th consciousness is the home of our concepts, opinions, and inner discursiveness. Sometimes called the “nuisance consciousness,” it is a source of suffer- ing and a place where we spend far too much of our mental time. 8: The Alaya-Vijnana or Base Consciousness The alaya is the basis and instigator of all our mental activity. It is where we plant our karmic seeds, so it is also called the storehouse consciousness. As the ground of our experience of dualistic reality, alaya is marked by basic ignorance, which can be trans- formed into wisdom through advanced meditation techniques. ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIERRAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 32