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Stop, Relax, Wake Up
Meditation practice, says SAKYONG MIPHAM, gives us time to slow down and really wake up to the naturally occurring love in our hearts.
practice is a period of self-reflection that offers an opportunity for
us to feel. To feel is to be present, which allows for depth and insight
to occur. By learning to feel, we can contact the inherent openness of
our being—known as buddhanature or, in the Shambhala teachings, basic
goodness. This universal nature is characterized by kindness and
compassion. A successful meditation practice is one in which we
intimately connect with this naturally occurring love in our hearts, and
then embody it in our lives.
ancient meditators realized that people needed a period of seeming
inactivity to make any substantial growth or change. Generally speaking,
it is very hard to change when we are on the go. When we are engaged in
daily life, we may have the thoughts, “I wish I were kind, I wish I had
not done it this way,” but it is very hard to change our habits. We
need time to reflect on who we are, and how our mind feels underneath
all the thoughts and emotions.
the physiological perspective, we have sympathetic and parasympathetic
systems. When we are on the go—running, talking, working—the mind is
engaged in a sympathetic nervous system process associated with “fight
or flight.” The parasympathetic system, like the heart pumping blood, is
less visible, is associated with “rest and digest.” If we don’t balance
these processes by giving ourselves time out to deepen and rest, we
become wired, edgy, and emotionally sensitive.
our legs and sitting on a cushion is a good start, but meditation is
not a process of osmosis; it’s one we need to engage with.
It comes down
to this simple point: if we do not respect what we are doing during the
period of meditation, nobody will. Understanding what we are doing is
called “the view,” and it is very important. It helps us build
inspiration and feeling. If we don’t feel inspired to be present for our
life, we will not continue meditating, and if we do not know how being
present feels, we will not be able to rest with that feeling and help it
grow. So it is important to know why we are sitting here, looking as if
we’re doing nothing.
the meditative tradition, we regard every feeling and perception as an
opportunity to tune into the present moment. The reason we meditate is
that most of the time we are too caught up in thoughts to feel where we
are, and be there. To feel, we need to relax. By taking an upright
sitting posture, we enable the body to relax and the mind to be awake.
This is the first step in building a strong meditation practice.