With the hectic pace and demands of modern life, many people feel stressed and over-worked. Meditation is a practice that makes it possible to cultivate and develop certain basic positive human qualities in the same way as other forms of training make it possible to play a musical instrument or acquire any other skill. Among several Asian words that translate as “meditation” in English are bhavana from Sanskrit, which means “to cultivate,” and its Tibetan equivalent, gom, meaning “to become familiar with.” Meditation helps us to familiarize ourselves with a clear and accurate way of seeing things and to cultivate wholesome qualities that remain dormant within us unless we make an effort to draw them out. From a Buddhist point of view, the traditional texts say every being has the potential for enlightenment just as surely as every sesame seed contains oil. Sometimes practitioners of meditation are accused of being too focused on themselves, of wallowing in egocentric introspection and failing to be concerned with others.
If we practise patiently in this way, gradually our distracting thoughts will subside and we will experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Even though breathing meditation is only a preliminary stage of meditation, it can be quite powerful. When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within. There are hundreds of different Buddhist meditation techniques, most of which are specific to a particular branch of Buddhism, or even a specific teacher. Tranquility or Concentration Meditation (Samatha Bhavana) – In this form of meditation, you begin by concentrating on one object of focus, attempting to slow, and eventually quiet, your mind.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of other forms of concentration meditation taught in various Buddhist schools. Insight meditation (Vipassana Bhavana) – Sometimescalled mindfulness meditation, these forms of meditation are not just about stilling the mind, but about observing it. Lovingkindness meditation (Metta Bhavana) – Also sometimes called compassion meditation, these forms of meditation are sometimes classified as Concentration forms, because they initially involve focusing on sending feelings of compassion or love towards other people and beings. Although most meditation forms can be categorized as one of these three, some techniques crossover, and many Buddhist schools teach more than one, or combine them. Zazen Mediation – This is the Zen term for meditation, and zazen is central to Zen practice, because Zen emphasizes direct realization or satori. Mantra Meditation – Mantras are sacred sounds and words repeated in a chant-like fashion. Mandala or Yantra Meditation – Mandalas and yantras are both forms of religious art that employ sacred geometry to create representations of Buddhas and the states of realization they are associated with. Chakra Meditation – While chakra meditation is more commonly associated with Hindu-based kundalini yoga, some Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist schools do have their own related chakra system, and utilize chakra meditation.
Guru or Deity Meditation – Also most frequently found in Vajrayana Buddhist schools, guru or deity meditation involves initially visualizing a Buddha or teacher external to oneself, and then imagining oneself as that Buddha or teacher.
At the Buddha Center, our ordained monastics provide excellent guidance to those with serious intent in preparation to becoming a Buddhist. Gil Fronsdal is the co-teacher for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California; he has been teaching since 1990. Ines Freedman – Online Meditation CourseInes first became interested in meditation through her yoga practice in 1970.
Join Buddhist teachers Ed Sattizahn or Gib Robinson for a time of silent meditation, followed by a presentation and discussion on spiritual practice.
We are individuals of all ages and backgrounds who study divine knowledge that nurtures respect for all faith traditions, coherently explains the nature of our inner self, time, karma and delineates an enlightened lifestyle. We practice and teach a form of meditation that relaxes the mind and nurtures a healthy balance between our inner and outer worlds.
We can learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy. Despite this, to use another traditional comparison, we wander about in confusion like a beggar who is simultaneously rich and poor because he does not know he has a treasure buried under the floor of his hut. But we cannot regard as selfish a process whose goal is to root out the obsession with self and to cultivate altruism.

Let me point out right away that meditation is not an attempt to create a blank mind by blocking out thoughtswhich is impossible anyway. We can see from this practice that it is possible to experience inner peace and contentment just by controlling the mind, without having to depend at all upon external conditions. This feeling of contentment and well-being helps us to cope with the busyness and difficulties of daily life. The most common form of this meditation is focusing on your breath – the sensations associated with your breath moving in and out of your body.
In the fifth-century Theravadin text the Visuddhimagga, over 40 different objects of focus are described, and the text suggests which types are best for each individual based on certain personality traits.
Although instructions differ by school, the general idea is to note sensations, emotions and thoughts as they arise, but to let them pass through your mind without attaching to them. This is usually done in a progressive fashion, starting with directing these thoughts towards yourself, then towards family and friends, and eventually to all beings. Some schools require that novices perform preliminary practices, and develop knowledge of fundamental Buddhist principles, prior to learning to meditate, while others do not. This form of meditation is common in Tibetan Buddhist schools, but other schools also incorporate it.
By meditating on them through gentle gazing, a practitioner can merge with this awareness and directly experience these states him- or herself. The goal is to experience and merge with universal energies available through these chakras, transforming mind, body and spirit into a vessel of pure enlightenment. Like mandala meditation, the purpose of this is to experience the enlightened mind of this teacher or being directly for oneself, through the highest state of meditative dyhana.
This helps us to develop and maintain a clear mind, and it allows the subtle energy winds to flow freely. If the eyes are wide open we are likely to develop mental excitement and if they are closed we are likely to develop mental sinking. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice, and has done a number of long retreats, both in the United States and in Burma.
She began practicing yoga in 1984, and has been a student of Vipassana meditation since 1992. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1985, with Gil Fronsdal being her primary teacher. Yet, throughout our growth and development, we have managed to maintain our original principles and adhere to its original purpose. Through numerous social service activities and partnerships, we promote moral excellence, leadership with integrity and elevated actions leading us to a better world. Overcoming negative minds and cultivating constructive thoughts is the purpose of the transforming meditations found in the Buddhist tradition. Am I going to ignore the vague sense of discontent that I always feel deep down when, at the same time, I am longing for well-being and fulfillment?” We have become accustomed to thinking that our shortcomings are inevitable and that we have to put up with the setbacks they have brought us throughout our lives. The goal of the Buddhist path is to come into possession of this overlooked wealth of ours, which can imbue our lives with the most profound meaning.
This would be like blaming an aspiring doctor for spending years studying medicine before beginning to practice.
Nor is it engaging the mind in endless cogitation in an attempt to analyze the past or anticipate the future.
When the sea is rough, sediment is churned up and the water becomes murky, but when the wind dies down the mud gradually settles and the water becomes clear. So much of the stress and tension we normally experience comes from our mind, and many of the problems we experience, including ill health, are caused or aggravated by this stress. Many Buddhist schools use some form of breath meditation as beginning meditation practice, before teaching other forms. Tibetan Buddhist schools incorporate external objects of focus such as mandalas and mantras, some of which are described later in this article.

This form of meditation is prevalent in Mahayana Buddhist traditions as part of Boddhisattva practice.
Buddhism is usually taught in a teacher-student relationship, so most Buddhist teaching centers have classes specifically on meditation.
In koan meditation, a practitioner contemplates a seemingly non-sensical statement or story given to them by their teacher, in order to experience a level of awareness beyond rational or linear knowledge. To help us do this, if we are sitting on a cushion we make sure that the back of the cushion is slightly higher than the front, inclining our pelvis slightly forward. Trained in Iyengar style yoga, she also teaches at the California Yoga Center in Palo Alto. This is a profound spiritual practice you can enjoy throughout the day, not just while seated in meditation. We take the dysfunctional aspects of ourselves for granted, not realizing that it is possible to break out of the vicious cycle of exhausting behavior patterns. Neither is it a simple process of relaxation in which inner conflicts are temporarily suspended in a vague, amorphous state of consciousness.
In a similar way, when the otherwise incessant flow of our distracting thoughts is calmed through concentrating on the breath, our mind becomes unusually lucid and clear. Just by doing breathing meditation for ten or fifteen minutes each day, we will be able to reduce this stress. In some schools, breath meditation is the only form of meditation taught, and different levels of practice, or dhyanas, are described, progressing from the beginning stages of forced concentration up to a state of pure immersion in equanimity, as the mind stills and relaxes into pure being or awareness.
Although anyone can begin meditating on their own, especially with simple concentration forms such as breath meditation, as a student progresses a teachers guidance is often helpful in helping him or her sort through the various distraction that can arise.
Shikantaza practice is similar to Insight meditation, with a practitioner attempting to observe and settle into a level of awareness untouched by surface activity and categorizations. It is not necessary at first to sit cross-legged, but it is a good idea to become accustomed to sitting in the posture of Buddha Vairochana. The right hand symbolizes method and the left hand symbolizes wisdom – the two together symbolize the union of method and wisdom. He was a Theravada monk in Burma in 1985, and in 1989 began training with Jack Kornfield to be a Vipassana teacher. We will experience a calm, spacious feeling in the mind, and many of our usual problems will fall away.
Breath meditation is also often taught for stress management purposes, outside of a Buddhist context. One unique mark of zazen in some schools of both branches of Zen is that the eyes are kept open during practice.
If we cannot hold this posture we should sit in one which is as close to this as possible while remaining comfortable. She has experience with long meditation retreats including extended self-retreats, and has a special interest in working with meditation practices for those with chronic pain. There is indeed an element of relaxation in meditation, but it is connected with the relief that comes from letting go of hopes and fears, of attachments and the whims of the ego that never stop feeding our inner conflicts.
Difficult situations will become easier to deal with, we will naturally feel warm and well disposed towards other people, and our relationships with others will gradually improve.There are hundreds of different Buddhist meditation techniques, most of which are specific to a particular branch of Buddhism, or even a specific teacher.
Gil was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982, and in 1995 received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation as explained below can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance. In 1998 he received a PhD in Religious Studies from Stanford University studying the earliest developments of the bodhisattva ideal.

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