Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ashram Bliss

It's been two months now since I came to Samaya Ashram, and it has been the most rewarding and enjoyable time of my life.  It hasn't been all pleasure and easy going though.  I've let go of bad habits and cultural conditioning, released emotions that I had been holding inside, and overcome barriers of the mind which hold us back from seeing our full potential and doing what is difficult.  Through the technique of Vipassana meditation, I have gone deeply inward, becoming aware of my true essence and profound stillness.  I have seen how we are distracted by the constant chatter of the mind, and through all of this, experienced pure joy and eternal bliss from truly knowing myself.

I want to share with all of you some of the techniques of meditation that have really helped me, in the hope that you will do them yourselves and experience the same joys and freedom that I am experiencing.  They are not difficult at all and many do not require much time commitment.  The key in all of them is "Awareness", being aware or "watching" what is going on inside you or inside your mind.  For example, as you are reading this or thinking about meditating, your mind may be saying, "I can't do that" or "That sounds silly or stupid".  Be a witness.  Don't judge it or become frustrated.  Just watch, and let it be.  Also, with these mediations, do not "try" to do anything, just let it happen, it is already inside you, and you will see just how easy it is.

a winter's sunrise over the hills of Rosebank, NSW

Dancing Meditation (5 Minutes - One Hour)

Put on your favorite song to dance to.  If you want to dance for longer set up a playlist that you will not have to attend to.  This can be done by ones self or in a group, both can be equally powerful.  The key here is: not to do the dancing, but to let the dancing happen.  Move to the music.  Do what comes naturally, and be aware of everything that is happening to you and inside you.  For example, if you are doing some dance "moves" you may become aware that this is the mind telling you how to dance.  Be totally free.  Dance to your fullest.  Do not mind what the dance looks like or who is watching.  You will see that the way in which you dance will change, it will become more free, you will become more open.  Try this meditation in the evenings to let go of your day, or in the mornings as a beautiful celebration to the day.  This is my favorite active mediation.  I use the sound and my attention to the music to remain present, and I find that when I am dancing "totally", I am fully there, and nothing else matters.

Awareness Meditation (1 Minute - 10 Minutes)

This can be done sitting or standing; doing or not doing.  All it is, is to become aware.  First, be aware of what you are doing; then what it feels like; then what is happening inside you; and then become aware that you are aware.  For example, you are sitting in a chair.  Become aware that you are sitting, or rather that sitting is happening.  What does it feel like? How do you know that you are sitting? Is there a sensation on the back of you legs and butt?  What about a sensation in you back?  What else do you feel?  What else is going on inside you?  Is there emotion?  Is there no emotion?  Now, grab hold of that awareness.  Know that you are aware.  "I know that I am aware that I am sitting".  Practice this throughout your day, continually become aware of sensations, feelings, and emotions that arise in the body.  And also become aware or thoughts that arise in your mind.  When watching your thoughts, do not become attached, do not be the thoughts, remain The Watcher.  And do not judge, good or bad, it is just the mind.

full moon's brilliance

Seated Meditation (10 Minutes - One Hour)

This is similar to Vipassana meditation, but I am explaining it, so I cannot say that it is exactly Vipassana meditation as was discovered and practiced by Gautama Buddha some 2500 years ago.  In a quiet place, find a comfortable and reasonable position to sit for the meditation.  I prefer to sit cross-legged on a cushion with my back against a wall.  Sitting cross-legged can be painful for westerners as we are accustomed to sitting in chairs and not on the ground.  Although, the more frequently you sit this way, the less painful it becomes, and additionally, the pain of sitting can be a great tool as something to watch.  It is also possible to meditate sitting in a chair, only to make sure that the back is straight and that you are not so relaxed that you begin to fall asleep, which is very common when learning to meditate.  It can also be helpful to wear some type of blindfold, or just gently close the eyes.

In this meditation, you will be bringing the awareness to the breath.  This can be done in two ways or in two places.  One is not better than the other, and it is possible to do both at the same time.  The first place to watch the breath is at the nostrils.  Feel the sensation of the breath as it enters the nose.  The second place to watch the breath is at the belly.  Watch the rise and fall of the belly as the breath comes in and out.  Third, watch what is going on inside the body and inside the mind.  Nothing is a distraction in this meditation, so if something arises, just watch, do not become attached, remain separate, remain The Watcher, and let it be.

Meditation is most accurately described as a state of "No-Mind".  So, while there are no goals in meditation, look for this.  At first, you will encounter a noisy and chattering mind, and because of this, it may seem difficult to keep the awareness on the breath.  At this point I tend to go in one of two directions.  The first is to get into a rhythm of "thought and breath" or "thought and no-thought".  With your awareness on the breath, a thought will arise, watch it for a moment, and then return to the breath.  Another thought will soon arise, and again, briefly watch it and return to the breath.  This will become the rhythm. With practice, see if you can speed up the rhythm, see if you can slow it down.  Slowing it down brings us in the other direction, moving closer to this state of "No-Mind".

Buddha stated that "thought and breath are directly related", so to slow down the thought or the mind, we must slow down the breath.  Notice the words used when we say that we are "watching the breath".  This does not suggest that we are doing the breathing, it suggests that breathing is happening.  So we don't want to try and breath slow, we don't want to "try to do" anything, we just want to let it happen.  I find the best way to do this is; while meditating, gently let out the breath and pause.  Do not breath in the next breath, nor hold the breath, just watch.  If you are not restricting anything, you will notice the breath comes back in with slow, very shallow breaths.  Since you are just sitting and not moving; moving will often break the awareness, you do not need a full breath.  This is the body's automatic breathing, and it may be the first time that you actually ever watched it, since it usually occurs when we are not aware or paying attention.  So continue to watch this happy little breath.  Continue for ages, it will take you to a place inside yourself of deep stillness.  Wherever it takes you, just keep the awareness; remain The Watcher.

Discovering this stillness, our true essence, was the greatest joy that I have experienced in my life.  When I returned from my meditation I found that I could not express enough, the joy that I was feeling inside, from truly knowing myself.

Try it, see where it takes you.

"If not you, who? If not now, when?"

koala in the gum tree

coming up the driveway

morning sun at Samaya Ashram

 wallabys in the field with yurt in background

our resident peacock

Emerson road Rosebank, NSW

I share this with you from Love.  There is no better time than now to awaken to what truly is.

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