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Lions Roar : September 2016
So you could meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, and during that time you are really working with the mind. Then you just stop, get up, and go. When you sit down, you can remind yourself, “I’m here to work on my mind. I’m here to train my mind.” It’s okay to say that to yourself when you sit down, literally. We need that kind of inspiration as we begin to practice. Posture The Buddhist approach is that the mind and body are connected. The energy flows better when the body is erect, and when it’s bent, the flow is changed and that directly affects your thought process. We’re not sitting up straight because we’re trying to be good schoolchildren; our posture actually affects the mind. People who need to use a chair for meditation should sit upright with their feet touching the ground. Those using a meditation cushion should find a comfortable position with legs crossed and hands resting palm-down on your thighs. The hips are neither rotated forward too much, which creates tension, nor tilted back so you start slouch- ing. You should have a feeling of stability and strength. When you begin a meditation session, you can spend some initial time settling into your posture. You can feel that your spine is being pulled up from the top of your head so your posture is elongated, and then settle. We use this posture in order to remain relaxed and awake. Gaze For strict mindfulness practice, the gaze should be downward and focusing a couple of inches in front of your nose. The eyes are open but not staring; your gaze is soft. You are purposefully ignoring what is going on around you. You are putting the horse of mind in a smaller corral. Breath When we do mindful practice, we learn to recognize the movement of the mind, which we experience as thoughts. We do this by using an object of meditation to provide a contrast or counterpoint to what’s hap- pening in our mind. Using the breath as the object of meditation is particularly helpful because it relaxes us. The feeling of the breath is very important. The breath should not be forced; you are breathing naturally. The breath is going in and out, in and out. With each breath you become relaxed. Thoughts No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, “That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.” It gets down to how honest we are, how true we can be to ourselves, during each session. Through the labeling process, we see our discursiveness. We notice that we have been lost in thought, we mentally label it “thinking”—gently and without judgment—and we come back to the breath. When we have a thought, we just let it go and come back to the breath, come back to the situation here. What we are talking about is very practical. Mindfulness meditation practice is simple and completely feasible. And because we are working with the mind that experiences life dir- ectly, just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremen- dous amount. ♦ SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE is holder of the Buddhist and Shambhala lineages of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and author of several books, including Ruling Your World. PHOTOBYMAERYAN LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 50