An Introduction to Calm Abiding Meditation
Below is a brief outline of the basic technique for beginning to practice calm abiding meditation which is a core practice of Buddhism. Fuller explanations and answers to questions regarding the practice are provided at the introductory classes at our centres and groups.
How to Sit
- If you are able to, sit as comfortably as you can, cross-legged on a cushion. Otherwise you may sit on an upright chair.
- Keep your back as upright as you can
- Bend your head so your gaze is directed slightly downward
- Rest your right hand lightly on your left or place the palms of your hands to cup over your knees
- Keep your mouth closed, but relaxed
Object of concentration
The purpose of our meditation, at this stage, is to calm the mind so we take an object upon which to focus our attention - or at least to which we can return our attention whenever mind wanders or strong thoughts and emotions arise.
Perhaps the most natural object for us to use is the breath which we give here as an example. A further aid to this technique is to count breaths.
Having got comfortably seated, and continuing to breathe as you normally do, begin counting each out-breath and continue the counting until you reach 21. It is unlikely that you will reach 21 at first, but that is not the point! Each time you realize you have strayed away from the counting, gently bring your focus back to counting, staring again from 1.
Do not try to suppress thoughts or emotions. Avoid consciously following thoughts or dwelling on any particular pattern of thoughts that may appear. Once you notice that you have started to do that, return to the focus on breathing and counting.
All kinds of thoughts will arise and can vary from what you have been doing today to plans for the future to any number of (sometimes surprising) topics. Wandering from the flow of breath should not be regarded as a fault, but rather the natural activity of mind, which is being trained through continually returning one’s attention to the breath.
Esatblishing a regular routine of meditation practice
The benefits of this method of meditation will only arise when you have established a regular daily routine of meditation sessions at home, perhaps starting with 10 or 15 minutes each morning. Then it is helpful for us to meet with others and sit with them on a fairly regular basis, perhaps once a week. Each of our centres and groups run regular weekly meditation sessions at which fuller explanations are given.
See the video below for a more detailed guided lesson in meditation given by HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje