Recently I have developed a lot of interest to practice meditation. Please advice on how to start.
Good health to you!
1. What are the factors that disturb our life and bring dissatisfaction?
They are called delusions or vexations (Sanskrit: klesha, or Pali: kilesa).
2. Our mental state depends on the processes which run in our mind.
Our vexations are re-generated in our mind; that is how they stay there: we feed them again and again.
3. Meditation is stopping to re-generate vexations.
Meditation is calming, relaxing, letting go.
4. Also meditation helps to remain conscious.
Indeed, how much conscious we are, when we are immersed in vexations, or when we act automatically, from habitual reactions?
Then we have very little attention, very little awareness.
5. By stopping to re-generate vexations, we drop all things which blinded us.
We do that by relaxing, calming and letting go.
But, at the same time, we remain aware.
6. It can be hard to remain aware and not be caught by anything.
Thus many kinds of meditation are intended to develop wide awareness, not fixated on particular details.
(1) We start with feeling our body as a whole, not concentrating on any particular part.
(2) For better relaxation, we can scan our body (from top, downward), relaxing anything that was tense. We may even imagine that we send warmth and love to those tense or fatigued parts, and we let them stretch; we let the tension flow away. We might feel warm joyful feeling when that body part releases tensions.
(3) We also can help our body relaxation by feeling our breath (for a while), feeling how the air touches the edges of our nostrils, going in and out. We watch our breath without any attempts of control, and then our energies naturally become smoother, quieter and calmer.
(4) As the result, eventually we feel settled in the awareness of the whole body as relaxed, free, unconstrained.
It helps to let go our preoccupations, to liberate our mind from tensions and vexations. It doesn't mean to hide from problems, doesn't mean to escape the real world; but the relaxed and unconstrained state of mind is the best for dealing with any problems.
So it's useful and pleasant to do such meditations deeply at any time, even for few minutes, now and then.
And during all the other time we can intend to remain unconstrained, calm and aware, not caught by vexations.
Whatever problems come,
- we face them bravely;
- we accept them (accepting whatever our real experience is at the moment);
- we deal with them;
- and then we let them go.
That's how we can deal with problems, without losing calm and clear mental qualities.
(5) Being settled with the awareness of the whole body, calm and relaxed, we would gradually and naturally expand our awareness, and so we develop the perception of all the world, including our body, as one limitless and unconstrained space.
That way of perception helps to avoid being caught by details, which would often drive us into whirlpools of vexations.
Gradually we can change our reliance: from reliance on impermanent conditions, which are ultimately unreliable, we move to reliance on limitlessness and freedom of our true nature. That is nirvana (nibbana): joy of freedom from vexations. Until we let desires go, we are caught by them; but when we stop relying on chasing desires, we find true feeling of liberation and easiness (sukkha).
(6) To conclude:
- Meditation can help us to let vexations and delusions go;
- to let the original freedom and clarity manifest.
- Free from desires, we accept bravely what comes,
- to deal with any problems, not just for ourselves, but for the benefit of all.
- There are countless kinds of meditation; one of the easiest ways is to develop the awareness of the body and then of the surroundings; keeping relaxed and selfless attitude, as I described above.
- This method is useful for everyday life: when we are walking, talking, eating, working and so on. It may need persistence, but it definitely worth the effort, as it turns our life into joyful endless exploration of the reality; of the way of selflessness and true nature.
That makes our every moment fresh and blissful; without trying to run to some other reality or to some temporary objects of desire. This world, this life become our place of joy, of learning, of helping others.
I wish you good luck in that!
If you have more questions, please write.
Here are some interesting Dharma talks in English which helped me greatly: