Buddhism & Meditation


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Buddhist Meditation


 

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Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference. It is recognized as a component of many religions, and has been practiced since antiquity. It is also practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and/or psychophysical practices which may emphasize different goals—from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.

 

 Forms

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Meditation has been defined as: "self regulation of attention, in the service of self-inquiry, in the here and now." The various techniques of meditation can be classified according to their focus. Some focus on the field or background perception and experience, referred to by some as "mindfulness"; others focus on a preselected specific object, and are called "concentrative" meditation. There are also techniques that shift between the field and the object.[5]
In mindfulness meditation, the meditator sits comfortably and silently, centering attention by focusing awareness on an object or process (such as the breath; a sound like a mantra, koan or riddle-like question; visualization; or an exercise). The meditator is usually encouraged to maintain an open focus:
To meditate, we need to understand two factors: evaluate the intricacies of the mind (how the mind works) and become familiar with awareness. Once we know how a thought is formulated, what triggers thoughts, what are the conditions in which mind is prone to generate thoughts, only then can we take a leap beyond the cobweb of thoughts and experience the ever-flowing bliss. To understand all this, we need to cultivate and nurture attentiveness, alertness, vigilance and have a sharp microscopic vision.
Shifting freely from one perception to the next clear your mind of all that bothers you no thoughts that can distract you from reality or your personal being... No thought, image or sensation is considered an intrusion. The meditator, with a 'no effort' attitude, is asked to remain in the here and now. Using the focus as an 'anchor'... brings the subject constantly back to the present, avoiding cognitive analysis or fantasy regarding the contents of awareness, and increasing tolerance and relaxation of secondary thought processes.
Concentration meditation is used in many religions and spiritual practices. Whereas in mindfulness meditation there is an open focus, in concentration meditation the meditator holds attention on a particular object (e.g., a repetitive prayer) while minimizing distractions; bringing the mind back to concentrate on the chosen object.
Meditation can be practiced while walking or doing simple repetitive tasks. Walking meditation involves taking step after step, being aware of the movement, the gentleness, and the grace of the human body. Walking meditation helps break down habitual automatic mental categories, "thus regaining the primary nature of perceptions and events, focusing attention on the process while disregarding its purpose or final outcome." In a form of meditation using visualization.

 

Health applications and clinical studies


A review of scientific studies identified relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness, a suspension of logical thought and the maintenance of a self-observing attitude as the behavioral components of meditation; it is accompanied by a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body that alter metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain chemistry. Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction. Meditation has also been studied specifically for its effects on stress.
In June, 2007 the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published an independent, peer-reviewed, meta-analysis of the state of meditation research, conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. The report reviewed 813 studies in five broad categories of meditation: mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong.

 

Buddhism & Meditation 


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Buddhism has been the limelight of Sri Lankan Civilization from ancient times. Everything about Sri Lankan life is related to Buddhism. Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka is called Theravada of which the main focus is to give priority to the philosophy of living a simple life.
Meditation is the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is basically a method for understanding how our mind works and learning how to develop a peaceful and positive mental status. We live in a Global community where people think they can find happiness, inner peace and harmony through wealth, power and social status. But the happiness comes through family relationships, jobs, partners, friends and sensual pleasure. By changing the physical, social and political environment in various ways, one can necessarily become happy and peaceful. True happiness can only be found through meditation.
An ordinary person may consider meditation as a form of worship or prayer. But it is not so. Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. "Watching your breath" is meditation; listening to birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation. Many years ago meditation was considered something not meant for the modern world, but now it has become very popular with most people. Published scientific and medical evidence has proved its benefits, but it still needs to be much understood. With regular practice of a balanced series of techniques, energy of the body and mind can be liberated and the quality of consciousness can be expanded. This is not a subjective claim but is now being investigated by the scientists and is an empirical fact.

What is required to Meditate?
The requisite is a suitable place to meditate, clean and peaceful, wherein to create the right kind of atmosphere

 

The Power of Meditation

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Meditation is not an escape from the world; it is not an isolating self-enclosing activity, but rather the comprehension of the world and its ways. What is important in meditation is the quality of the mind and the heart. It is not what you achieve, or what you say you attain, but rather the quality of a mind that is innocent and vulnerable. Through negation there is the positive state. Merely to gather, or to live in, experience, denies the purity of meditation. Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end. The mind can never be made innocent through experience. It is the negation of experience that brings about that positive state of innocence which cannot be cultivated by thought. Thought, is never innocent, meditation is the ending of thought, not by the meditator for the meditator is the meditation. If there is no meditation, then you are like a blind man in a world of great beauty, light and colour.
Meditation is very useful in helping a person to live peacefully despite various disturbances that are so prevalent in this modern world. Not everyone can retire to a forest or to live in ivory towers ‘far from the madding crowd.’ Through the practice of meditation we can confront and face the pressures of modern living. Meditation practiced conscientiously will help a person to face, understand and overcome every problem pertaining to life.
For meditation to proceed and progress, the mind must be completely neutralised from desire and aversion. Of course, at the beginning, one will find this extremely difficult. We cannot control the mind in a single attempt, especially by force, but should apply right effort through practice and understanding.

 

The Value of Meditation


Buddhists are never forced or compelled to meditate, but meditation can help anyone appreciate Buddhist teachings, which explain the nature of life in its proper perspective, the nature of the world and worldly conditions, the nature of suffering, and the fleeting nature of pleasures. By understanding the real nature of component things, we realize that all sensations are mind-created. We also realise that to gain happiness we must calm and control the mind. For meditation practice to produce good results we must properly attune the mind with confidence. We should recognize the value of meditation which contributes towards mental training and peace. Meditation strengthens the mind and helps it to understand things properly.
As body needs washing, feeding and medicating, we must understand that mind also needs the same things. Wash the mind through calm meditation. Feed the mind with Dhamma. Medicate the mind, rid the sickness of anger, greed and ignorance with the supreme medicine of the Dhamma. The body needs clothing to cover nakedness; in the same manner, mind also needs discipline to prevent mental nakedness.
Medical science and therapy are not so effective in helping a person to eradicate mental disturbances such as frustration and worries because they arise not as a result of organic disorders, but are mind created. The remedy for these problems is meditation.

 

Benefits of Meditation


 Today many people from all over the world, irrespective of their religions, have become aware of the benefits to be gained through meditation. The immediate purpose of meditation is to train the mind and to use it effectively and efficiently in our daily life. The ultimate aim of meditation is to seek release from the wheel of samsara-the cycle of birth and death. Even though it is a most difficult task, positive benefits are obtainable here and now, if one is serious about meditation. It is appropriate to re-iterate what was mentioned earlier: One should not be enslaved by the prospects of these benefits and lose sight of the real aim of Buddhist meditation. The benefits of meditation can be summarised as follows:-

• If you are busy person, meditation can help you to get rid of tension and to find relaxation.
• If you are a worried person, meditation can calm you and help you find peace of mind.
• If you are a person who has endless problems, meditation can help you to develop courage and strength to face and overcome them.
• If you lack self-confidence, meditation can help you to gain the self-confidence which is the secret of success in life.
• If you have fear in your heart, meditation can help you to understand the real nature of the problems that are making you afraid- then you can overcome the fear in your mind.
• If you are always dissatisfied with everything and nothing in life seems to be satisfactory - meditation can give you the chance to develop and to maintain inner contentment.
• If you are sceptical and uninterested in the religious way of life, meditation can help you to go beyond your own scepticism and to see some practical values in religious guidance.
• If you are frustrated and heart-broken due to a lack of understanding of the uncertainty of life and the world, meditation can truly guide and help you to understand the fleeting nature of worldly conditions.
• If you are a rich man, meditation can help you to realise the nature of your wealth and how to make use of it not only for your own happiness but also for others' happiness.
• If you are a poor man, meditation can help you to develop contentment and not to harbour jealousy towards those who have more than you.
• If you are a young man at the cross-roads of your life, and you do not know which way to turn, meditation can help you to the right path to reach your chosen goal.
• If you are an elderly man who is fed-up with life, meditation can bring you to a deeper understanding of life; this understanding in turn will relieve your pains and increase the joy of living.
• If you are hot-tempered, you can develop the strength to overcome the weakness of anger, hatred, and resentment to become a more calm and sober person.
• If you are jealous, you can understand that negative mental attitudes never contribute anything for your benefit.
• If you cannot reduce your craving for sense-desires, you can learn how to become the master of your sense-desires.
• If you are addicted to drinking or to drugs, you can overcome the dangerous habit which has enslaved you.
• If you are a narrow-minded person, you can develop understanding that will be beneficial both to you and your friends and family to avoid misunderstanding.
• If you are strongly influenced by emotions, your emotions will have no chance to mislead you.
• If you suffer from certain disorders such as nervous breakdowns and mental disturbances, meditation can activate the positive forces in your mind and body to regain your health, especially if they are psychosomatic problems.
• If you are a weak-minded person or one who maintains an inferiority complex, meditation can strengthen your mind to develop courage to overcome your weaknesses.
• If you are a wise person, meditation will lead you to supreme wisdom. Then you will see things as they are, and not as they appear to be.
These are some of the practical benefits that come from practicing meditation. These benefits are not for sale in any shop or departmental store. But you can develop them through your meditation. The mind is the key to happiness, and also the key to misery. To understand the mind and to use it well is a task that transcends a peaceful and contented life