How to Get into the Habit of Meditation
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As for suggested practices, I think that awareness of breathing is really the foundation of any other kind of meditation. There are variants of the awareness of breathing, but they're all basically about the same thing, so I wouldn't particularly recommend one variant as against another.
Metta-bhavana and tonglen are... well, not really more "advanced", but I think they could be a bit daunting or ineffective if one didn't have a solid base of the awareness of breathing first.
As for "just sitting", or zazen, I think that is likely to be a waste of time if done in isolation and without an even more solid grounding in other forms of practice (not necessarily meditation as such) -- but then I'm not a zen buddhist, and I do know people who have started straight from zazen and never looked back...
Focusing on breathing is good. You cannot go wrong with that, although it might wear thin over the long haul. I do a variety of things. I always center around breathing. Sometimes I do Tonglen, sometimes "Insight meditation" sometimes centering prayer or I use a mantra, sometimes visual meditation, sometimes a more "zen" style.
But the important thing is to DO IT.
As to Mantras, any short phrase will do in my book.
Sometimes I use short prayers (I am Christian, so I use Christian prayers) such as "Lord have Mercy," but one Buddhist said you could use the words "cocoa-cola" if you wanted to.
Your mantra will come to you, in other words.
Keep it up! How long do you meditate for? I do 24 minutes.
I've been a sporadic meditator for years, but not until I've done japa have I been consistent. I use a mala with 108 beads, touching each bead along the strand as I say my mantra.
Meditation is not like taking insulin; you can, and should give it a break at times.
Of course if you put three meditators in a room, you get five different opinions.
try this right now.
once you've gotten yourself comfortable,
to make this new again,
i suggest you read this again tomorrow.
Finally, meditation is a life-time dedication. It requires getting over the "McDonald's mentality" and any desire for instant gratification.
Good luck! May you gain direct and liberating insight into the true nature of reality.
Is everyone meditating?
If not, want to commence a conversation?
This morning, and again late this afternoon, I meditated for the first time in easily five years. That's just a really bizarre coincidence.
So, I'm curious -- I suspect that TM is a very basic form of meditation; or maybe it's the Wal-Mart of meditation techniques, I don't know. I ~do~ recall being taught that the mantra needs to be a word, or a "sound" that has absolutely no meaning to the meditator, or your subconscious will focus on what Cocoa-Cola (to use the example above) is, rather than empty that thought away.
Can someone recommend a reputable online vendor(s) from which to buy a zafu and zabuton? Feel free to leave a private comment on my profile. TIA
- Carve out a consistent bloc of time in your day when you can sit (for me it's first thing in the a.m.; maybe night's better for you)
- Set a comfortable, private space and appropriate cushion, bench or chair--doesn't need to be anything fancy; just a place where you won't be interrupted
- A little spiritual reading beforehand can psych you up if you're feeling less motivated. I think Mindfulness in Plain English is an excellent book for beginners (and others too).
- There are many schools of meditation, different styles and techniques. In the beginning it can be confusing/overwhelming as you try to sort them out. But it's better to just pick one and stick with it rather than try to compare/contrast, and pick the "best," as this will just cause a lot of turmoil in your mind. Your choice might be affected by what's available in your area and relates to what I think is the MOST HELPFUL AND VALUABLE advice...
- If at all possible, work with a teacher, join a meditation group--connect with a community of people on the path. They will provide ongoing inspiration and support for your practice. It's pretty hard to keep it up on your own.
If and only if by meditation you mean "vipassana", then I can guide you how to make exercising it your daily habit. First, you have to recognize it as something relaxing and natural. You must not see it as your duty. You can start from "observe" your body, when you take a shower, you can "know" when those smooth and cold water touch your skin. When you lie in your bed, you may "recognize" the pressure of your back that touch your bed.
Start from something like this and soon it will be in your nature. I vipassana everyday for about a two years now.