Concentration, Contentment, and Loving Kindness
I have written various entries on concentration meditations in prior posts. Yes, concentration meditation is beyond pure mindfulness meditation. Here I will present briefly two other forms of meditation that are quite intentional and also beyond mindfulness: contentment and loving kindness meditations. Let’s begin with intentional meditation of contentment.
Contentment implies you will NOT live a life of greed and passionate materialism; instead, you will be satisfied by meeting the basic requirements for living a reasonable life. Although the actual meaning of a “reasonable life” may vary among different individuals, it generally means meeting the basic necessities of life. Even that goal may vary considerably among various people and groups. However, it also means that you will NOT live a life of craving materialism and competitive wealth-hording. You may work hard to get ahead within your own definition of a reasonable life, but you will not cling to rampant materialism or harm others in the process. Remember that liberation from craving and avoiding will end much of your personal suffering. Discontentment often leads to thoughts, words and deeds that harm others for the personal goal of self-interest. Desiring and craving for something to be different sets up your mind to be discontented. Now into the meditation on contentment.
In a sitting or lying down position take a few calm, deep, slow breaths with intention to relax your body and mind. Find your physical comfort on the pillow or mat. Be that comfort, and allow your mind to slow and calm. Concentrate deeply on the following steps. One way to concentrate is to contemplate in a single-pointed manner and go deeper and deeper in concentration as time moves on.
1) Look deeply into your personal meaning for contentment. What does it include, and what feelings are generated by this process?
2) Work on withdrawing your consciousness away from things, possessions, money, etc. Just rest, breathe, and allow the mind to withdraw.
3) Sit with the proposition that personal contentment is simply being satisfied with whatever the present moments brings to you – even in this meditation.
4) Focus deeply – really concentrate – on the possibility that you need NOTHING more than your experience in the present moment, here NOW.
5) Consider the wholesomeness of being content. As you contemplate this, what thoughts, words and actions come to mind? Focus on these.
6) Consider what The Buddha said – “Contentment is the highest wealth.” Cut your craving energies, and let go – let go into total satisfaction right here, right now. Notice!
7) Now reflect mindfully on this experience for the next 5 to 10 minutes. Just be. Just contemplate. Gently return if/when your mind wonders.
Loving Kindness Meditation:
Another way to meditate beyond mindfulness is to concentrate deeply on your spiritual attributes and loving kindness. Sometimes people include spiritual attributes as part of “right concentration.” So concentrate deeply (contemplate in a deeper and deeper manner) on your spiritualiity: what does this mean to you? Certain spiritual attributes guide the way toward wholesomeness in life, and wholesomeness allows more loving kindness.
1) Settle yourself for another meditation period. Prepare yourself for meditating on the spiritual aspects of mindfulness, wisdom, energy, faith, and concentration.
2) Meditate in deeper concentration on the personal experience of mindfulness. What is this experience like for you? Be in it now.
3) Meditate in deep concentration on what wisdom means to you. What is wisdom like as an experience?
4) Now move your meditation to the experience of energy. Get yourself into the inner experience of energy; do deeply inside yourself to connect with that spiritual energy. Concentrate deeply on this.
5) At this point move your meditation object to your personal meaning of faith. Concentrate deeply on what your experience of faith is.
6) Now we will end with a deep contemplation on what your experience of concentration is. Yes, concentrate deeply in your meditation on the experience of concentration.
7) Lastly, we will end our meditation with loving kindness – this time just for yourself. Since this meditation practice has already been taught many times in prior posts, here I will simply offer you some choices regarding what words you may use. Of course, you can make up your own words based on your needs.
The most common themes is – may I be safe, healthy, free from suffering, happy and live with ease.
- Or you could say – may I be free from fear, doubt, anger, resentment, restlessness, boredom and other afflictions.
- Or you could say – may I be at peace, with compassion, feeling secure, with understanding, and determined.
- Or you could say – may I be happy, happy, happy, happy, happy. Hope this improves your sense of wholesomeness and inner peace.
For more information refer to Gunaratana, B. H. (2009). Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory Guide to Deeper States of Meditation. Boston, MA.: Wisdom Publications, pp. 23-57.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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