From The Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton,Vermont
The Problem: Many people become stuck in the suffering of their past, and they continue to re-experience an event in the futile hope to better understand it, or to find an escape from it. Many of the same people become fixated fearfully on the future, perhaps expecting similar forms of personal suffering and pain. From Freudian “mastery” to limbic system hard-wired processes, being stuck in the past and apprehensive about the future prevents us from being in the present moment – thus limiting the power that mindfulness may possess to truly help us NOW.
Practice being in the present moment only.
One approach to practice that may be quite helpful is presented by Bhante Gunaratana. His 2014 book Meditation on Perceptions: Ten Healing Practices to Cultivate Mindfulness offers some important help.
From the Four Noble Truths and other sources we learn that the primary sources of suffering and pain are personal cravings for self-centered desires and the fact that everything always changes. Root causes for craving are ignorance and delusion about the “way things are” as well as lack of cognitive understanding about impermanence, selflessness, dependent arising, and emptiness. We humans require a lot of mind training and wisdom about our reality and our happiness.
We will improve our status and may even attain true happiness by recognition of root sensations as the foundations of emotions – mindfulness in body, mind, sensory perception, and objects of mind.
The Girimananda Sutta offers special mind training on samatha concentration (tranquility, calm abiding), contemplation, and vipassana (“special seeing” via insight and awareness of ultimate reality) meditations. The “ten healing practices” include meditation on perceptions of impermanence, selflessness, impurities, change, abandoning, dispassion, cessation, non-delight, pure breath, and bodily feelings (includes perception, thought, and consciousness).
Let’s begin to practice. Select one of the ten healing practices, learn about it, and make it your mind’s object of attention and awareness. The seven instructions below may be used with all ten healing practices – or the perception meditations on them. Practice regularly.
Practice in a quiet place so that you can build up meditation on perceptions without being disturbed or distracted. When your mind wonders simply and gently bring it back to the healing practice you are meditating on.
Adopt a stable and comfortable posture so your body will be relaxed while meditating. You may sit on a meditation cushion, use a bench, a chair, or even do the meditation while standing, walking or lying down.
Bring full attention to the present moment – NOT to the past (it is gone) or to the future (not yet here). Your meditative power is in the present moment only. Use it well. Presence is sacredness.
Fully focus the mind on the coming and going of your breath – just pay attention in complete awareness.
Expand your awareness of your own breath – coming, going, in, out, long, short, at the nose, in the chest, in the hara, etc.
Be gentle with yourself and your practice. Do it on a regular basis – daily is best!
Remain flexible and positive in your meditative presence.
Time to begin for as long as you wish to practice. Select one of the ten healing perceptions and meditate on it with complete awareness for as long as you wish to practice.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, Ph.D. LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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