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Just like exercise or learning a new language, you do not need to be of any particular faith to meditate.
This is the 'classic' learning meditation to begin with, that can be expanded into most of the more advanced meditation practices.
As you move into your day, it provides a perfect opportunity to practice what you have learnt. Meditating while walking can sometimes be seen as a minor, or side practice to sitting meditation.
Transcendental Meditation is a type of mantra meditation, that finds its roots in Northern India. A traditional use of meditation would be to first calm the mind, then to focus it on a wise phrase, idea, or concept, so that it may be realised more deeply.
It is all very good to develop compassion for the world when we are alone sitting on our cushions.
A more advanced version of the technique of following your breath shifts the observation of your attention to your mind. We are collecting some of the most common meditation questions - and answers - on this page.
We have a motivation behind everything we do: playing sport it may be to win a game, and perhaps not to make a fool of ourselves! Metta (maitri in Sanskrit) can be translated from Pali as gentle, friend, or lovingkindness.
Cultivating lovingkindness is a crucial counterpart to other spiritual practices such as concentration, awareness, equanimity, and investigation. Traditionally prescribed to relieve fear for those who walked through jungles and slept in caves, metta practice is an antidote for negativity, whether self-hatred, anger, insecurity or resistance to change.
Formal metta practice taps into the power of intention, the ability of the mind to set itself moving in a particular direction.
If I have caused any living being harm, intentionally or unintentionally, I ask forgiveness. If any living being has caused me harm, intentionally or unintentionally, I offer forgiveness. Connecting to the meaning, repeat the words slowly, perhaps in rhythm with your breath, for at least 5-10 minutes.
Note that at times it might be helpful to focus lovingkindness on oneself throughout the entire meditation period. For several minutes or more, offer lovingkindness to all the beings in the hall, room, garden, or landscape. After several minutes, again expand your sense of the moment to include a broader area, offering lovingkindness to the surrounding ashram or neighborhood or ecosystem.
Then expand your awareness periodically to embrace the town, the state or province, the country, the planet and the universe. A third way to practice metta is to focus on specific individuals, as usual starting with yourself. The second person to send metta to is called the benefactor, someone who has helped you, and whom you love and respect--preferably someone who is presently alive, and with whom you are not sexually involved. Once you have become familiar with the suggested forms of metta cultivation, you can be creative and find your own forms. You may find it more effective to start with what is easier and move towards what is more difficult. Formal metta practice taps into the power of intention, the ability of the mind to choose its direction consciously.
We tend to see body, breath, and mind separately, but in zazen they come together as one reality. Keeping the back straight and centered, rather than slouching or leaning to the side,  allows the diaphragm to move freely. Begin rocking the body back and forth, slowly, in decreasing arcs, until you settle at your center of gravity. When you're able to stay with the counting and repeatedly get to ten without any effort and without thoughts interfering, it's time to begin counting every cycle of the breath. In the process of working with the breath, the thoughts that come up, for the most part, will be just noise, just random thoughts. Scattered mental activity and energy keeps us separated from each other, from our environment, and from ourselves.


It is also important to be patient and persistent, to not be constantly thinking of a goal, of how the sitting practice may help us. Use walking to the bus, or washing the dishes, as an opportunity to practice your mindfulness. Started in Japan in the 13th Century, it has grown popular with celebrities such as Orlando Bloom and Tina Turner. With your eyes open, and unlike the breath always present, external objects can be much easier to keep your attention on. Previously on a new site, we are moving across to fulfill all of those who were looking for us on this domain name! Diligent metta practice brings easy sleep, pleasant dreams, protection from danger, a radiant face, a serene mind, and an unconfused death. The metta practices mentioned below use the silent repetition of words expressing love to self and others.
The Buddha said, a€?You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere.
Take your time to find your own words in your own language to express two or three or four of these deep wishes.
However, for some people, it is easier to offer self-acceptance rather than love: "May I accept myself completely.
If you prefer, instead of referring to political boundaries such as states and countries, visualize natural "boundaries"--the forest, the river system, the mountain range, the plains, and then the continent or island you happen to be sitting on. Once you have spent some time directing lovingkindness towards yourself, you can send it out to all beings in each of the directions one by one: north, south, east, west, above, and below. It may be a facilitator, friend, or even someone like the Dalai Lama whom you may not know well. It can be difficult to think of such a person, since we usually jump to conclusions about others as soon as we meet them. If it is too difficult to send well wishing to this fourth person, then return to one of the previous steps for a while. For example, if sending love to yourself is excruciating, you can break from the usual pattern and begin with a benefactor or friend. Each time you practice, go to the edge of what is comfortable for you and see what happens.
The first and simplest is the Burmese position, in which the legs are crossed and both feet rest flat on the floor. This position is slightly asymmetrical and sometimes the upper body needs to compensate in order to keep itself absolutely straight.
Stability and efficiency are the important reasons sitting cross-legged on the floor works so well. You can sit seiza without a pillow, kneeling, with the buttocks resting on the upturned feet which form an anatomical cushion.
The dominant hand is held palm up holding the other hand, also palm up, so that the knuckles of both hands overlap. The mind is in the hara, hands are folded in the cosmic mudra, mouth is closed, tongue pressed on the upper palate. We practice by counting each inhalation and each exhalation, beginning with one and counting up to ten.
Each time you return to the breath you are empowering yourself with the ability to put your mind where you want it, when you want it there, for as long as you want it there.
Sometimes, however, when you're in a crisis or involved in something important in your life, you'll find that the thought, when you let it go, will recur. If we don't get in touch with it at some time in our life, we will never get the opportunity to come to a point of rest. We just put ourselves into it and let go of our thoughts, opinions, positions—everything our minds hold onto. No part of these instructions may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission. It is not important to feel anything special, but rather to connect again and again to the meaning of the words. With the first few breaths, receive a sense of your body, heart, and mind as they are right now. May I accept that I am okay as I am." Or visualize someone who has helped you, but with whom you don't feel tension, and imagine that person sending lovingkindness to you.


If while sending love to a large group you become distracted, then return to a smaller group for a while. The knees should also rest on the floor, though sometimes it takes a bit of stretching for the legs to drop that far. The eyes are kept lowered, with your gaze resting on the ground about two or three feet in front of you. Because of the preoccupation with the internal dialogue, you were too full to be able to see what was happening around you. The mind is like the surface of a pond—when the wind is blowing, the surface is disturbed and there are ripples. In deep zazen, deep samadhi, a person breathes at a rate of only two or three breaths a minute. Once the following methods are familiar to you, you may experiment with a focus other than words, such as visualization or the simple sense of love.
Some people find it helpful to bring attention to the chest and breathe "through" the heart area. How you position your body has a lot to do with what happens with your mind and your breath.
Some people like to place a zafu between their back and the back of the chair, to keep the spine straight and vertical. For instance, material should not gather behind the knees when you cross the legs, inhibiting circulation.
Your eyes will be mostly covered by your eyelids, which eliminates the necessity to blink repeatedly. The thumbs are lightly touching, thus the hands form an oval, which can rest on the upturned soles of your feet if you're sitting full lotus.
The hara is a place within the body, located two inches below the navel, inside the body. Nothing can be seen clearly because of the ripples; the reflected image of the sun or the moon is broken up into many fragments. Normally, at rest, a person will breathe about fifteen breaths a minute—even when we're relaxing, we don't quite relax.
The most effective positioning of the body for the practice of zazen is the stable, symmetrical position of the seated Buddha. To help that happen, sit on the front third of the zafu, shifting your body forward a little bit. Allow the diaphragm to move freely so that the breathing can be deep, easy, and natural. It spread from India to China, to Japan, to other parts of Asia, and then finally to the West. The only agreement that you make with yourself in this process is that if your mind begins to wander—if you become aware that what you're doing is chasing thoughts - you will look at the thought, acknowledge it, and then deliberately and consciously let it go and begin the count again at one. It takes some time and you shouldn't rush it; you shouldn't move too fast from counting every breath to counting every other breath and on to following the breath. With your bottom on the pillow and two knees touching the ground, you form a tripod base that is natural, grounded and stable.
It will happen by itself if you take a posture that you can be reasonably comfortable in and position your body properly. As you develop your zazen, you'll become more aware of the hara as the center of your attentiveness. And it's that power of concentration that ultimately leads to what we call samadhi, or single-pointedness of mind.
But like all other practices, we have to engage it on a consistent basis if we want to discover its power and depth.
The nose is centered in line with the navel, the upper torso leaning neither forward nor back.
It's a very important part of being alive and staying alive: the ability to be completely awake.



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