Updated: Sep 24
The distance between where we are and where we want to be is the degree to which we suffer. Meditation helps us develop the skill to notice the wanting mind and to let it go. AUDIO VERSION
A generous heart and ethical behaviour give us a baseline on which to develop mindfulness through such skillful means as breath meditation which leads to stillness and the cessation of mental suffering.
Before we start
The Buddha taught us how to end suffering. In other words, he taught us how to be happy. By suffering, the Buddha was referring to the suffering that comes from mental anguish. We create our own suffering by agitating in our minds over things that are happening or not happening. I am sure that you have observed how the same calamity can happen to different people and how some appear unruffled by it and others appear destroyed by it.
Mindfulness is one of the key skills that is developed on the path to end suffering. This is developed through a meditation practice. But before you start a meditation practice, it's important to "clean up your act!" If you are flying off the handle, screaming at others, or worse, or making snide remarks, belittling others etc, you won't be able to calm your mind in meditation.....you'll be stewing over the injustices of others or feeling racked by guilt for your hurtful words or actions. Do your best to tone these behaviours down....the meditation practice will help you fine tune more skillful behaviour.
Another building block for your meditation practice is a generous heart.....do your best to transform your Scrooge tendencies. Again the meditation practice will help you open your heart.
None of us are perfect, so don't worry if you can't change the above behaviours. Just start the meditation practice, being aware that slowly changing unskillful behaviours is important. If you have no interest in toning down your anger or becoming a nicer person to hang around, then this website is not for you.
How to Meditate
a) Focus on your body:
Adjust your body's posture until you are in a comfortable but alert position. Then spend a few minutes scanning through your body and relaxing, as best as possible, any areas of tension.
b) Set your intention
A sample intention: “I intend to joyfully focus on the beautiful breath. When thoughts arise, I intend to let them go by returning my attention to the breath. And I intend to do this in a loving manner." Repeat this 3 times, silently, to yourself.
c) Focus on your breath
Once your body is relaxed your attention naturally falls on your breath. So at this point, stop scanning and relaxing the body and start focusing on your breath. Watch it at the nasal cavity.....the place where you feel the breath entering and leaving. Experience what the breath feels like....free, light, airy, hollow etc.
After awhile, let this feeling of lightness spread to your head. Then, slowly let the airiness spread to the entire body. Induce the spread by suggesting it to yourself. Feeling light, untroubled. Adjust your posture if you're uncomfortable. Check yourself over for any signs of tension, worry lines. Let that go. There's nothing to do, no responsibilities. You can image yourself siting under a tree by a river, a gentle breeze caressing your face.....just like the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree by the Neranjera River just before he realized Awakening. It feels so beautiful your mind doesn't want to be anywhere else but right here with the beautiful breath. Enjoy the cool swirl of the air in that spacious place. No place to go, nothing to do. Just this wonderful opportunity to be with the beautiful breath.
When your mind wanders.....which it will!, just notice this and gently return your attention to the breath. As pleasant feelings start to arise, focus on them as well as the breath. This is easy because you are already focusing on the breath in the whole body. That's it! Just keep repeating these 3 steps:
1. focus on the breath 2. notice when you are wandering (give your mindfulness a pat on the back for noticing!) 3. refocus on the breath
And when the pleasant feelings arise, add those into your awareness.
Body scan meditation – Ajahn Brahm. This meditation is entirely about the stage of relaxing the body and makes good “training wheels” for moving into breath meditation.
Breath Meditation - by Ajahn Brahm
Download the PDF of the complete version of Lesson One
Extra resources for Lesson One Videos Breath Meditation - by Ajahn Sona: you tube playlist for 5 videos Guided Meditation on the Basics - by Ajahn Brahm Guided Meditation on the Breath - by Ajahn Brahm Guided Meditation on Healing Energies - by Ajahn Brahm Guided Meditation on Relaxing the Body - by Ajahn Brahm Guided Meditation - by Ajahn Brahmali Books (These books are available in the CTBC library or available in other indicated ways) The Basic Method of Meditation - by Ajahn Brahm: PDF Peace is Every Step - by Thich Nhat Hanh: view book on Amazon
For a Future to be Possible - by Thich Nhat Hanh: view book on Amazon
Interbeing - by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Miracle of Mindfulness - by Thich Nhat Hanh: view book on Amazon
Food for Thought - by Ajahn Lee
Mindfulness in Plain English - by Bhante Gunaratana
Mindfulness of Breathing - by Buddhasa Bhikkhu
Majhima Nikaya #118 - The Word of the Buddha on MIndfulness of Breathing
Explorations in Awareness: Chapter 8 - by Medhele Calvert. (Available in CTBC's library)
The Beginners Guide to Insight Meditation: pages 88 - 96 - by Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith: PDF
The Buddhsit Path to Simplicity: Chapter 3 - by Christina Feldman: view book on Amazon
Pay Attention for Goodness Sake (on the Paramitas) - by Sylvia Boorstein: view book on Amazon
Interbeing - by Thich Nhat Hanh: view book on Amazon
Breath by Breath - by Larry Rosenberg: view book on Amazon
A Path with Heart - By Jack Kornfield
A Treatise on the Paramis - by Acariya Dhammapala: view book on Amazon