BUDDHIST MEDITATION

Meditation is a very common and used practice nowadays; it helps us to calm our mind and the benefits are several.

But do we really know everything about meditation?


Meditation techniques are rooted in Buddhism.

The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā ("mental development") and jhāna/dhyāna (mental training resulting in a calm and luminous mind).

There are various schools of Buddhism therefore different schools of thought and meditation.

Buddhist meditation practices are 3:

  1. -Samatha
  2. -Vipassana
  3. -Metta

Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward liberation, awakening and Nirvana.

These meditation techniques are preceded by and combined with practices which aid this development, such as moral restraint and right effort to develop wholesome states of mind.

While these techniques are used across Buddhist schools, there is also significant diversity.

In the Theravada tradition, reflecting developments in early Buddhism, meditation techniques are classified as either samatha (calming the mind) and vipassana (gaining insight).

SAMATHA

Samatha means "tranquility" and is a Buddhist practice that focuses on the development of calm, clarity and equanimity.

The early stages of this meditation technique are essentially non-confessional and can be practiced by anyone, regardless of their religion.

With proper guidance and commitment, the cultivation of these qualities can lead to deep inner peace. When combined with vipassana (awareness), it can lead to deep insights and even to a spiritual awakening.

Samatha has its roots in the Thai Buddhist tradition and was introduced to England in 1962 by Nai Boonman, a Thai meditation teacher.


How to practice Samatha

-Sit in a comfortable meditation position: find a pose that does not hurt your back or knees.

-Keep your back straight and try to find the right compromise that will allow you not to be too stiff or too relaxed.
-Observe your breath: you don't have to manipulate your breath, use abdominal breathing or increase the depth of your inspirations as in other meditation techniques. Breathe normally and pay attention to the breathing process, one breath at a time.Keep your awareness focused on the act of breathing, but without making it an exercise of pure concentration: you should maintain an attitude of curiosity, as if you want to better discover the way your breath works.
-Recognize the thoughts that emerge in your mind without getting involved. Watch them and let them go, then get back to focusing on the breath. Let the thought arise, become aware of it, and then let it go.
Most meditation practices focus on Samatha, as they ask the individual to focus on one thing (such as breathing) and exclude all other thoughts.


VIPASSANA


Vipassana is one of the oldest Buddhist meditation practices and can be roughly translated with the term "intuition" understood as a deep awareness of what is happening, exactly as it happens.

It is born in Myanmar.
In Vipassana meditation the individual is encouraged to use his or her own concentration to gain a true understanding of the nature of his or her reality. The ultimate goal is to achieve liberation by breaking down the walls that prevent us from understanding our true reality.
As a meditative technique it is very gradual and the attainment of liberation can take many years.


How to practice Vipassana

-Sila - which means "morality", relating to the renunciation of worldly thoughts and desires.

Anapanasati - or "awareness of breath", in which the individual brings his own awareness to his own breath without control or judgment.
-Vitarka - where the individual simply appoints the breathing process - both physical and mental - without deepening the thought.
The goal is to create a state of hyper-awareness for everything that is happening in immediate reality, exactly as it is happening.


METTA


Another well-known technique for practicing Buddhist meditation is Metta, or loving kindness. This form of meditation concerns love, benevolence, and the awakening of positive feelings first toward ourselves and then toward the entire universe.

Put you practice by directing desires of loving kindness towards ourselves, then open the circle and wish every good to a person who is dear to us, then a neutral person, a person we do not like and finally all beings, regardless of how we feel about them.


WHEN WAS MEDITATION BORN?

It is very difficult answer this question.

Meditation could be as old as humanity itself, taking into account the potential meditative abilities of Neanderthals.

Different schools of thought place the roots in Asia.

In India some ancient documents have been found dating back to 1500 BC.

Many of these documents come from the Hindu traditions of Vedic philosophy and discuss various meditation practices in ancient India.

In China, on the other hand, the first forms of meditation are mentioned as far back as the third and sixth centuries BC. and related to the Taoist Laozi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, and his writings.

The truth is, no one knows with absolute certainty when meditation officially originated.

WHERE WAS MEDITATION BORN?

Just as with the "when", it is equally difficult to understand where the meditation originated.

The first written records come from India, more precisely from the Hindu traditions of Vedism around 1500 BC.Other forms of meditation are then mentioned around the sixth and fifth centuries BC. in Taoist China and Buddhist India. The exact origins are much debated, especially around Buddhist meditation. Some earliest written accounts of the different meditation states of Buddhism in India are found in the sutras of the Pāli Canon, which dates back to the 1st century BC.

The Pāli Canon is a collection of scriptures from the Theravada Buddhist tradition.


We don't know who created meditation, but we can certainly say who helped the spread of this practice.

There are 3 main characters who helped the spread of meditation.

-The Buddha(india), known also as Siddhartha; It is precisely on the basis of his teachings that Buddhism was founded.For this reason, it may be easy to assume that the Buddha created or invented meditation, but this is not the case.Although it was instrumental in spreading the value of meditation as a practice, the Buddha certainly did not invent it.

-Lao-Tze (china) was an ancient Chinese philosopher whose name is essentially a title of honor which means "Old Master".he is the author of the Tao-Te-Ching, a work that exemplifies his thoughts and teachings that founded the philosophical system of Taoism, which refers to meditation practices and the idea of ​​wisdom in silence.

-Dosho was a Japanese monk who, in the seventh century, traveled to China and studied Buddhism under the guidance of Hsuan Tsang, a great teacher of the time. It was during this journey that Dosho learned all about the dictates of Zen. Upon his return, he opened his first meditation room dedicated to the practice of Zazen, a seated meditation. He created a community of monks and students with the primary objective of teaching this form of meditation in Japan.

A MONK'S LIFE

The typical day of a Buddhist monk, whether young or adult, follows a fixed and strict schedule: they wake up at 4:30, they start the day reciting the mantra for one hour in the temple; personal hygiene in one of the several fountains scattered around the monastery (there are no showers in temples).

At 6:30 they leave the temple and they go barefoot through the adjacent village to ask for of alms of food and money.

7:30 they have breakfast with wathever they collected in the village.

at 8.30 am school for the novices until 11.30 am, when the second and only meal of the day is served.

At the end, every monk eats only two times a day and from 11.30 am onwards he can not touch food until the next day's breakfast. At 1.30 PM school resumes until 5.30 PM, when everyone meets in the temple to pray the Buddha and by 7 PM they are all in bed.

Monks have strict rules but they embrace this religion with joy and peace.

Meditation helps the monks to have a great balance in their life.

When I was in Thailand I had the possibility to look closely the monks, the calm that they transmit is a great teaching, an experience who everyone should try.

And you? have you ever practiced meditation?

Tell me your experience!



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