This is a talk that our Ahimsa Meditation teacher gave to newcomers to meditation that were interested in his views on how to approach meditation practice. This talk combines knowledge of Buddhist teachers but also medical professionals, so both spiritual and scientific expertise. Though even if you are practising meditation already, you can also relate to misconceptions of meditation that are discussed below. Do you find ‘mindful living’ a bit vague? We discuss some specific steps of how you can live with mindfulness today.
‘Killing may be a part of nature.. but as moral, responsible human beings, although we might have murderous impulses, we do not act upon them.
If you can’t love someone, just be kind to them. If you feel a lot of anger or hatred towards me, at least refrain from hitting or killing me.’
by Ajahn Sumedho in “Peace is a simple step”
Meditation doesn’t ask us to get rid of something or to become someone else, better or smarter. It simply promotes looking at the very nature of ourselves, others and the world more clearly.
The delusions of hatred and greed, our aversion to physical discomfort and pleasure seeking ‘hedonic treadmill’ are just a few of the defilements that truly run our lives.
We live in a world full of desire. It is being masterfully maintained not just by our own delusions and aspirations to live like ‘kings and queens’, but also by outside triggers like marketing and advertising messages, social pressure.
Start your meditation practice
Just 8 weeks of moderate meditation practice (we are talking about 20-30 minutes a day) start bringing incredible benefits for every one of you.
One of the benefits meditators start to notice early is the possibility to regulate their response. They are simply able to take a pause before taking an action. That’s how it’s possible to avoid taking life or harming any living being, to avoid stealing or taking what’s not ours, not to engage in sexual misconduct. We no longer need to lie or engage in divisive speech and definitely not to intoxicate our bodies with drugs or excessive alcohol that bring heedlessness to our actions.
Jon Kabat-Zinn said wonderfully about peace in his book ‘Mindfulness is not what you think’:
‘Peace is not farther than this very moment. Peace is something that we can bring about if we actually learn to wake up a bit more as individuals and a lot more as species; if we can learn to be fully what we actually already are; to reside in the inherent potential of what is possible for us being human.’
The foundation for meditation practice, for all meditative inquiry and exploration, lies in ethics and morality, and above all, in the motivation of non-harming.
Surely, regular practice is important. Don’t you think your life is worth it to allocate just half an hour a day for yourself? It’s easy to postpone or to make a valid excuse. Yet it is just half an hour for something that important! Make it regular and it will become the most important habit of yours (well, after breathing of course!)
Non-meditator’s brain is like an unworked dough. If you think about it, you need to persistently work on your dough and have a lot of patience for it to prove.
Definition of Meditation
Evidently, there are of course a lot of misconceptions of meditation. You are probably asking yourself whether it is religious? Is it just to relax or calm oneself? Is it about achieving some paranormal states like floating? Well, it doesn’t need to be. Yes, it could be religious, you can find it as a basis of many Buddhist traditions. It could be based on medical studies like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy. It could, unfortunately, be utilized by some people who try to perform some sort of mystery act out of it.
Yet, as someone said, ‘life is exactly what you think it is’, meditation is simply a practice of cultivating your mind. And our task at Ahimsa Meditation is to introduce you to nonviolence and meditative practices where you learn how to be kind to yourself and others.
Being in touch with reality is what meditation is about, not the mystical states or going away from it. It is actually being and feeling the reality rather than surrendering to media/external influence.
In our meditation practice we work to understand and live better with our desires, occasional ill inclinations, being too passive, restless or having too many doubts. Cultivating your mind by means of meditation helps everyone to be more self-aware.
Meditation is a practice that cultivates a beneficial state of mindfulness. Hence, meditation is a process, how you can achieve a state of mindfulness.
What’s the most common definition of mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
Knowing about all those physical, mental and emotional benefits of meditation practice, why mindfulness? It is a state that enables you to live happily, with acceptance, non-judgmentally and by a strong set of intrinsic values. You do not need to be religious to know that there are universal teachings that govern almost all aspects of our lives.
Clarification of your own values for mindful living
This re-discovering of your own values doesn’t need to be painful – the goodness is already inside of every one of us. Yet we need to practice it.
Therefore, here is a short list of ethical actions that can become a guide for your own mindful livelihood:
- Protect the lives of all living beings. To protect other beings is to protect ourselves.
- Prevent the exploitation by humans of other living beings and of nature. This is a practice of generosity.
- Protect everyone from abuse, preserve the happiness of individuals and families.
- Practice deep listening and loving speech.
- Consume mindfully (the provenance of produce is important for your well-being).
Thank you for your attention, hopefully, you find it useful and may want to use some of it for your own contemplation. Have a good meditation practice!