Witnessing is the purest form of meditation. It is simply sitting in
meditation and watching the thoughts that come and go without judging
or commenting. It is interesting to see what our moment-to-moment thoughts
consist of from a completely neutral position.
Vipassana is a Buddhist meditation that focuses on the rise and fall
of the breath. Vipassana means "breath." While the mind is
engaged in focusing on your breathing it cannot focus on its usual distractions.
In this meditation, your breathing should be gentle and regular. Just
allow it to be the place where your mind is focused and enjoy the feeling
of witnessing breathing rather than concentrating on it.
Zazen means "just sitting." It is the basic meditation of
Zen Buddhists, for whom the path of enlightenment is everyday life,
lived with awareness and totality. Like all meditations, Zazen is a
tool to help us rediscover the immediacy and freshness of ordinary life,
as we did as children. In Zazen, you just sit and allow whatever happens
to happen. Your mind will try to distract you with past and present
concerns to take you away from fully experiencing the moment Zen Buddhists
believe these transient throughts are "paper tigers" and that
paying attention to them only gives them more energy. In Zazen, you
gain a feeling of sitting and experiencing the fact that you are not
the mind and can ignore its chatter at will. If your mind is particularly
rebellions, you can give it a distraction to play with, such as concentrating
on the breath.
Another device to still the mind so that you can experience directly
is Tratak, or "gazing." The object that you look at is not
really important. Traditional objects include a lighted candle, a flower,
a religious image, or a picture of a guru. The main point of the exercise
is to keep your eyes on a central spot because not moving the eyes restricts
the input of information for your brain to process. The idea is to keep
your mind quiet by keeping your thoughts simple. When you start to think
about something else, keep bringing your attention back to the object
of your comtemplation. The goal of your meditation is to feel the quality
of the object, to relax, and to enjoy what you are seeing.
Meditation is centered in the idea of relaxing and nondoing. When you
are thinking, you may hear but you cannot truly listen. As you center
your awareness in music, chanting, or natural sounds, you experience
the essence of the sound, giving yourself the experience of emptiness,
clarity, and receptivity.
In mantra meditation, you produce the sounds out loud or to yourself;
either way, the sounds will produce an internal effect. In the Sanskrit
language, man is translated as "mind" and tra means "protection."
The repetition of the mantra or sound evokes a deep and peaceful reaction
throughout your body.
are energies that are thought to have always existed in the universe.
They pass in succession from teacher to disciple in an unbroken chain.
The mantra leads the way to meditation and to a state of nonduality.
Two typical Eastern mantras are "Om" (I am) and "So-Ham"
(I am That).
can be anything that you enjoy repeating. The words "flower"
or "one" are often used, as are names of saints or great teachers.
For example, "Om Namah Shivaya" means "the God within."
It should be repeated slowly, sounding each syllable: Om/Na/Mah/Shi/Va/Ya.
Another, and perhaps the most widely used mantra in the world today,
is "Om Mani Padme Hum." In Sanskrit Om represents the universal
energy or life-force, Mani means "jewel" or "crystal."
Padme means "lotus," and Hum means "heart."
in The Only Dance There Is, explains this mantra as meaning: "The
entire universe is like a pure jewel or crystal within the heat of the
lotus flower, which represents myself, and it is manifest in my own
a mantra that feels right to you. You can chant it out loud or repeat
it subvocally. Mantras are often used in conjunction with the Vipassana
to bring about a deeper meditation.
Everything can become a meditation, including the most ordinary everyday
chores. What transforms daily activities into meditation action is awareness
and wholeheartedness. The application of the Zen exhortation to give
undivided attention to and really feel the quality of each of your actions
is exemplified in the Japanese tea ceremony and the art of flower arranging.
Being present in the moment imparts an unmistakable peace, effortlessness,
and enjoyment to the "little things" that make up the greater
whole of life.