Sunday, December 17, 2017

Awakening / Being mindful in daily life

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Every day, we have 24 hours to live our lives. Besides 8 hours of sleeping, how do we utilize the rest of our times? Are we indeed living in the reminding period of time or not? How many of us are clearly conscious of our each in and out breath? How many of us realize the importance of each breath? What will happen if we can breathe in without breathing out?

In addition, how’s about our daily regimen? How many of us are being aware of the sort of food products that we are intake to nurture our body and mind every day? Although nowadays we have plenty selections of food & drink, fruit & vegetables for our daily diet and many kind of medicine & remedy from non-western to western medicament as well as there are many brilliant doctors and pharmacists, but many of us tend to carry more serious and malignant diseases than ever; have you ever questioned why and find out the answer to this question?

How do we shall live in order to have healthy and disengaged life and improved result for our practice? If you have not had the opportunity to ask yourselves or still cannot find out the answers to those questions, we would like to invite you to attend our sharing sessions. Whether it is healthy or sick, happiness or suffering is all set within your reach.

Not just our hope but also our goal is to help you to master your life into a wholesome being. We believe “better individuals make better world”; therefore, you are not just able to transform yourself but also make a great contribution in building well-being families, prosperous country, and world peace when you do get a part of our sharing and sincerely apply it into your life.

May you always be plenty of health, joy, and disengaged.
On behalf of teaching staffs

Ven. True Heart

Eating Meditation

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Lectures in UK 2

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Lectures in UK 1

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Lectures in UK – Introduction

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Introduction to Mindfulness

Most of us find life stressful at times, particularly when afflicted by illness or faced with difficulties. We tend to be impatient, and lost in the past or in the future instead of being present. We also tend to resist or react to things by denying, commenting, or judging them rather than being receptive and trying to understand them. This reaction creates more stress. We do not fully live our life if we are not entirely in touch with our present life experience. We tend to take care of our body but neglect our mind. Mental cultivation can be effectively done through meditation which can enhance one’s emotional intelligence (EQ).

MEDITATION

Meditation is a form of mental training. There are two general types of meditation.
1/Concentration/relaxation practice:
The meditator usually holds on to a static (fixed), chosen (or given), and often conceptual (or imaginary) object. It could be a physical one such as the breath, a color disc, certain sounds, or a mental one such as visualization, a mantra (repeated words/phrases) prayer or well-wishing and/or compassionate thoughts. Its goal is to cultivate inner goodness or relaxation or to build deep concentration, which could reach the level of absorption (jana), a deeply calm state where one, although awake, may not be aware of external phenomena.
2/Mindfulness/Insight practice:
The object for this practice is, on the other hand, dynamic (changing/adapting), choice less (no preference) and real (direct, present time, actual experience at all sense doors as described in the Four Foundation of Mindfulness), independent of past experiences and usually beginning with the most predominant/obvious one. Only the presence of skillful mindfulness, balanced persistent effort/interest and concentration/tranquility can give rise to deepening insight. The two practices (concentration/calm and insight) can be mutually beneficial and practiced together, but it would be skillful to know the difference between the two, which mode one is in, and to let go of holding on to any experience if one’s aim is to be on the insight path.
Mindfulness meditation explores life as it is occurring in the present moment, without being attached to pleasant experiences or resisting unpleasant ones. By paying nonjudgmental attention to every aspect of life, whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, one develops insights into life’s ever changing, unsatisfactory and impersonal nature. One therefore faces worldly conditions of ups and downs with more equanimity/composure, encountering less stress and confusion, more joy, and inner peace. This form of meditation is traditionally practiced in Buddhist monasteries or meditation centers in South Asia. It is usually adapted in the West in the form of silent retreats typically lasting ten days and practiced by people of diverse backgrounds. A secular or “generic” form is often taught in western clinical settings under the name “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) as an eight-week course (initially established by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts) or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) used in

psychotherapy for depression and anxiety and related mental disorder. MBSR also includes Yoga and other relaxation techniques. There are numerous medical publications reporting various medical and non-medical benefits of this practice for chronic pain, stress, anxiety, depression etc. including studies in cancer patients and healthy volunteers showing improvement of their quality of life and immune function.

MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness is a mental quality that reminds one to be present. It is the bare, choice less, relaxed, moment to moment non-judging attention to the mental or physical activity that is occurring here and now. It pays equal respect to pleasant and unpleasant objects. It also possesses a quality of inquiry, patience, and acceptance toward all that is occurring in the present moment.

Mindfulness is one of the “universal” wholesome (beautiful) mental factors that when fully present, will enhance other beautiful mental qualities (such as loving-kindness, joy, equanimity, generosity, etc.) and weaken the unwholesome ones (unskilful, such as anger, jealousy, fear etc.) Therefore practicing mindfulness is a way to make one’s mind beautiful.

There are four ways of establishing mindfulness which explore four different aspects of life experiences:

1) Body (or physical aspect):
One establishes mindfulness by being aware of:
– Body postures (sitting, standing, walking, lying).
– Physical activities/movements: bending, stretching, reaching, stepping, holding an object, and putting on clothes etc.
– Physical sensations within the body.
– The breath: being aware of its nature (in or out, long or short, the motion, pressure, tingling, warmth etc.)

A direct way to experience physical sensations is to be aware of reality, the elemental nature: texture (hard or soft, rough or smooth, light or heavy), temperature (warm or cool), dynamics (motion, vibration, or tension/pressure) and cohesiveness or fluidity (which is usually too subtle to directly experience). This differs from the usual concept of “my body” as a generalized form or shape which is to be kept in the background in formal practice. These four kinds of manifestation are traditionally known as the earth, fire, air (wind), and water elements.

2) Feeling tone:
Not to be misunderstood as emotion or sensation (which it is sometimes translated), it actually is the mindful awareness of the three feeling tones (impressions or qualities) that is associated with all physical or mental experience: pleasant (agreeable), unpleasant (disagreeable), or neutral. One notices that there is simply pleasantness, unpleasantness (physical or mental) or neither present in this moment.

3) Mind:
Mindful awareness of consciousness and mental states/emotions/thoughts.

4) Phenomena (Mental objects/contents):
Mindful awareness of phenomena, things that we experience at our sense doors, including “the mind’s door”: the dynamic functions and relationships of consciousness, mental states and thoughts.

With respect to the last two, there are overlaps between mind and mental objects and any object that does not fit in the first three would belong to the fourth one. Therefore, to simplify, 3) and 4) could be considered together as mindfulness of the mind. This involves non-judging awareness of (and objectively observing how they are manifesting): – thoughts (thinking, reflecting, remembering, planning, etc.), – mental states and emotions (sadness/joy, fear/hope, aversion/appreciation, anger/love, confusion/clarity, drowsiness/agitation etc.) or – consciousness itself (the container for the above, just as a clear glass holding water or yellow juice… and is colored by them).

It also includes the observation of specific mental qualities or effects such as the hindrances (difficulties) of the practice, awakening (insight/enlightenment) factors and the sense door experiences (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching etc.) – including the mind’s reaction to them. We can also see how we are caught in these experiences, thus being able to free ourselves from them.

In practice, one does not need to figure out which element or foundation the object represents but simply to be aware of them, with a relaxed interest without expectation, without adding or subtracting anything from them or controlling them. It is helpful however to know which experiences are real (see Concept and Reality) and pay more attention to them.

CONCEPT AND REALITY

We normally identify with the conceptual aspect of life. This conventional reality of names and forms: “I am a student”, “my knee hurts”, “I am angry” etc. It can be useful for functioning in the world although it is quite often colored/distorted by our biases, prejudice, past experiences (positive or negative) or by misunderstanding, overlook or ignorance.

In mindfulness practice, one keeps the “concept” (conceptual reality) in the background and pays more attention to the true nature or “ultimate reality” of all phenomena (what one directly experiences in the moment without interpreting or referring to past knowledge). Instead of “my knee hurts” (concept) one feels the reality of pressure, tension or heat at the knee (first foundation) or physical unpleasantness (second foundation) or aversion to it (third/fourth foundation). Instead of “I am angry” (concept), one experiences this emotion or mental state simply as anger (third/fourth foundation), or mental unpleasantness (second foundation) or the associated heat or tightness (first foundation). One does not identify with these experiences as being me, mine or myself but objectively observe them in order to understand their true nature, just like looking at clouds in the vast sky, like a scientist observing an experiment without bias.

Observing reality helps develop insights and this wisdom allows one to see more reality and less concept.

SITTING MEDITATION POSTURE

THE BREATH

At the beginning of the sitting meditation, consider the breath your home or primary object, a place to take refuge in during the sitting meditation.

First take two or three deep breaths if needed to help feeling the sensations associated with breathing: the expansion and contraction of the lower chest or abdomen with each in-breath and out-breath, one breath at a time. (You can place a hand on the stomach to help feel these few breaths better). Then breathe naturally without controlling the breath. If you have difficulty observing the breath there you could try to focus on the area of the nostrils or upper lip (or in between). Label (mental noting/naming “in” or “rising” and “out” or “falling”) as needed.

Follow the changing sensations continuously from the beginning to the end of the in-breath then from the beginning to the end of the out-breath. Feel the motion/movements, tingling, pressure, vibration, lightness, heaviness, warmth, coolness (reality) rather than paying attention to the superficial form or shape of the abdomen/body or “I am breathing” (concept). Try not to miss the end of both the in-breath and out-breath. This interest in seeing the end helps sustain the attention on the object.

After a few moments, you may realize that you are lost in thoughts instead of staying with the breath. Be willing to begin again and again in the present moment by simply make a soft mental note of “thinking” or “wandering”, then gently allow the attention to fall back on the breath. You can also make a gentle but firm determination (“not now/later”, or “thank you for visiting/sharing”) to help letting thoughts go without trying to get rid of them harshly. Remember that the nature of the mind is to think, therefore do not judge yourself or be discouraged but be happy that you recognize them (we usually do not) without feeding them or indulging in them.

One technique to keep the mind from wandering (particularly if there is a gap between the out-breath and the in-breath) is to note at that gap (or the end): “rising”… “falling” “sitting” (briefly bring the awareness to the sitting posture) … then “touching” (feel a point in the body such as the buttocks, the hands, the legs etc…where there is contact or pressure; change the points at the next “touching”). If it is too much to note, just “rising…, falling, touching” (or “rising…”falling” …”sitting”, or “rising” , “sitting”, “falling”, ‘touching”) would be fine.

Another way is to note “rising…rising…rising, falling…falling…falling…” throughout the in-and-out breath.

An additional way to reduce the wandering mind is to count the breaths (at the end of rising and falling) from one to five: “rising…one, falling… one, rising…two, falling…two…” (begin again with “one” after reaching “five” or if you lose track of counting)…

When a sound, thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations become predominant in your awareness, gently bring your attention to it (in order to be aware of it with interest without trying to suppress it, nor feeding it), and as it passes away or no longer stays obvious, gently bring the attention back to the sensations of the breath. It is like a spider investigating an insect caught in part of the web, and then returns to its center.

If you find yourself lost in thoughts, rather than judging, simply acknowledge it as “thinking or wandering” then gently focus your attention back on the breath. Patiently begin again and again in the present moment by returning to the primary/home object regardless how many times you lose it due to wandering thoughts. Accept thoughts as part of a natural process, not something that should not be there. Later, you can learn more how to work with thoughts.

When the mind becomes quiet/stable, rather than holding on to the breath all the time, you can stay with the moment-to-moment choice-less (without preference) and non-judging open/non-focusing awareness of all physical and mental objects (a soft open gaze of life which is unfolding), or mainly the one which is most predominant (obvious) in the present moment. (This would be more likely to occur later in the practice although not impossible
for some beginners)

WALKING MEDITATION

1/ Informal mindful walks:

As you take a stroll or walk from place to place, simply pay attention to general present time sense door experiences (moving, stepping, seeing, hearing, touching, breathing, coolness, pleasantness, etc.). One way is to spend a moment (short or long as suitable) with seeing, a moment with hearing, a moment with stepping or just have a relaxed, open soft gaze into the moment-to-moment present time life experience. Although the awareness could occasionally fall on the breath, one does not need to intentionally keep it there. This type of walk is considered walking meditation in some traditions. It is a very helpful and practical way of applying mindfulness but it does not replace the formal walking meditation in this tradition. Likewise, overall mindfulness in daily life activities does not replace formal sitting.

2/ Formal walking meditation:

During formal walking meditation, one establishes mindfulness mainly through the physical aspect (first foundation) without paying attention to other experiences. Simply choose an individual path and walk back and forth while applying mindfulness of the body: the feet touching the ground, the changing sensations of motion, heaviness, pressure, tingling, and coolness.

(More description of the sitting and walking techniques will be presented in the course).

RIGHT MEDITATION ATTITUDE

To be relaxed yet alert.

Have no expectations.

Let go of controlling. Let it be. Try not to make anything happen but also not to reject anything (not adding or subtracting anything, just observe things as they really are).

Hold a joyful interest in understanding life by simply watching it unfolding in each moment: accept and observe both “good” and “bad” experiences, not wishing the pleasant ones to last and the unpleasant ones to stop.

Roots of stress:

– Wanting something to happen is attachment.

– Wanting something to go away is aversion.

– Not knowing what is happening is delusion.

NON-HARMING COMMITMENT

Just like a farmer preparing the land before planting his/her crop, to embark upon the mindfulness practice, it is helpful to commit oneself to a harmonious way of life, allowing the mind to be peaceful and more conducive to this practice. Be kind to yourself and to others. One traditional way is to follow, as best as one can, the five training guides or commitment
of refraining from

1) Killing any living being

2) Taking what belongs to others

3) Harmfully expressing one’s sexual energy

4) Using untruthful or harsh speech and

5) Habitual or more than moderate use of substances (such as alcohol or drugs) that could cloud

the mind or harm the body. Instead of feeling guilty if one breaks one of these training guides, reflect on how it was unskillful and resolve to do better the next time.
Try to renew this commitment daily, perhaps as you begin the day or before the formal sitting.
You can also take the positive approach of the above by making an effort to

1) Protect lives

2) Be generous

3) Keep harmony and commitment in relationships

4) Utter comforting and beneficial speech and

5) Live a (physically and mentally) healthy life

*Try your best to commit to this way of life at least during this course for it to be fruitful
(something that some participants tend to neglect). **You do not have to be a vegetarian but try to avoid hunting/fishing, becoming drunk/drowsy…

Principles of Mindfulness

This course is designed for people new to this practice, with the aim of introducing principal aspects of the traditional Mindfulness Meditation (vipassana/insight meditation) in a secular way. However, some experienced practitioners (including MBSR instructors/teachers) find it helpful in reviewing and clarifying many aspects of the mindfulness practice, particularly the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

Up to recently, most programs have taught mindfulness meditation in a setting that is paid and face-to-face. This approach limits the number of people who can take advantage of this training.

This online course is designed to make this practice available to many people who find it impractical or impossible to attend regularly scheduled courses outside of their home. This online course would take less time than required for most people just to commute to a formal class. All one needs is twenty to forty minutes a day (less in week 1) for the formal practice and to be mindful during other routine activities.

You (or helping family/friend) will need access to a computer or a smart phone. You can also print out the written instruction to read later.

Catalog Description:
Mindfulness Meditation and related practices:
– Eight weekly units of online instruction on the theory and practice.
– Daily exercise/meditation practice with audio/video-guided instruction.
(Daily practice increasing from 10-15 minutes in the first week to 20-45 minutes in the last week)
– Informal application of mindfulness in daily life.
– Internet forum for interaction with the instructors and other international participants worldwide.

Course Objectives:
Upon completion of the course, participants would be able to:
1. Differentiate various meditation techniques including concentration/relaxation versus insight/mindfulness.
2. Understand mindfulness with its four foundations, and how to establish it.
3. Independently practice by applying mindfulness in formal meditation and in daily life.
4. Describe the way and benefits of mindfulness meditation.

Course Content:
1. Introduction to meditation
2. Common meditation techniques. Difference (and similarity) between concentration/relaxation and insight/mindfulness.
3. Medical applications of mindfulness practice
4. Definition and components of mindfulness.
5. Factors influencing the practice.
6. Concept and reality.
7. Techniques of mindfulness meditation:
– Attitude for practice
– Working with the body and the mind
(Including pleasant/unpleasant feeling tone, intention, beautiful/unwholesome mental quality)
– Sitting
– Walking
– Eating
– Mindfulness in daily life
– Loving-kindness, forgiveness, gratitude.
– Non-harming commitment
Methods of Instruction: Online (flexible schedule) including:
– Written material.
– Audio-guided instruction.
– Video instruction.
– Discussion Forum for reports/comments, Q/A.
Methods of Evaluating Student Progress:
Forum discussion
Weekly quiz (when applicable)
Evaluation questionnaires

Healing by Reciting the Numbers

This method is based on the principles of Yin-Yang, 5 fundamental elements in the universe, and universal energy. Reciting specific numbers several times a day for a few days to a few weeks or months can help to improve you sickness or health conditions. It may change completely your sickness or disease. You can recite quietly one specific set of digits or many different ones depending on your condition, health status, and your time. The best way is reciting it when you are relax or resting. This method is very simple and has no drug, food interaction and advert reaction. Therefore, you can practice while you are on medication or regular diet. If you have many conditions or illnesses, you can choose to recite the number to treat the most important one first or the simplest illness first. It is up to you to make the decision and sequence of practice. Recite every single digit like you read it then pause for a few seconds when you see the period, then continue until you finish the set. Repeat every set 5-10’ for each treatment. For example, to treat sore throat or cough, you need to recite this set 5000.20. You read quietly five zero zero zero (pause for a few seconds then) two zero. Then five zero zero zero (pause) two zero. Repeat 5-10’ each time for each illness or condition.

Dharma Teaching 2017

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