BASIC AWARENESS MEDITATION

The following is a variation on traditional Tibetan Buddhist meditation that I first read in the excellent book by Sogyal Rinpoche entitled “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying“.  Unlike other meditations outlined here, this one is done with your eyes OPEN.  The purpose is to cultivate a relaxed and open awareness in daily life.  Traditionally, Tibetan Buddhists will begin the meditation with a prayer similar to this:

By the power and the truth of this practice:
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of
happiness; May they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering;
May they never be separated from the great happiness devoid of
suffering, And may they dwell in the great equanimity that is free from
attachment and aversion.

Now we begin the meditation:

1. Sit in a comfortable manner that allows you to have your spine straight. Sit as though you are being suspended from the ceiling by a string attached to the top of your head. Shoulders back and relaxed and your chin tilted slightly downwards. Softly gaze at a specific point in front of you.  Now relax your eyes, gazing downwards and to your peripherals.

2. Touch your tongue gently to the roof of your mouth. Breathe in through your nose and out through a barely opened mouth. Inhale by expanding your belly and breathe completely through the lungs. Upon the exhale, breathe out as though you are wringing out a sponge.

3. Focus on your breath. Exhale and release any tension from your body. Let the worries and concerns of the day become a distant memory. As thoughts come up, observe them in a distant fashion and let them pass. Continue focusing on the breath.  This is ultimately about training and taming the mind, or “bringing the mind home“.

4. Ideally, this state should be maintained for up to 20 minutes.  If that is too long at first, start with 5 minutes, then work your way up to 10 minutes, and so on.

5. At the end, it is customary to dedicate the meditation in the following manner: “May whatever merit that comes from this practice go toward the enlightenment of all beings; may it become a drop in the ocean of the activity of all the Buddhas in their tireless work for the liberation of all beings.”

This dedication at the end reminds us that nothing happens in a vacuum, and that the spiritual work we do on ourselves, effects those around us in the Great Work.