Meditation is as ancient as human kind’s exploration of consciousness. The teachings of the Buddha 2,500 years ago brought us the path to be free of suffering and the roots of suffering and to enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness. The word “buddha” means to wake up – to awaken to the vibrancy of the moment and to the true nature of your being. These practices help us to develop what in Sanskrit is called bodhichitta, awakened heart or enlightened mind, and maitri, unlimited friendliness with yourself. They also create the conditions for the Four Immeasurables – loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Meditation practice is very practical, and while practiced formally on the cushion, is really a way of entering into life as a meditation – with presence, awareness, aliveness, and an open heart. Meditation helps promote health, healing, and well being.
Meditation teaches how to be present, calmly abiding with inner stillness and inner silence, independent of what is happening in the world around us. Cultivating presence is a precious gift that allows us to awaken to and embrace the full potential of each moment. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen meditation master says, “The only moment you can touch life is this moment.” We can choose to live it fully.
To be present is to have a relaxed body, peaceful mind, and open heart. To be with things simply as they are, with clarity, acceptance, patience, and gentleness. It involves setting aside the past and the future so that there is no goal. To surrender your expectations, agendas, judgments, projections, and preferences. To show up with a “beginner’s mind” and a willingness to not know, to be surprised by what arises in each moment.
Mindfulness-awareness practice invites the senses to be open, relaxed, and receptive, so that we can truly see, hear, smell, taste, and feel this moment. With the tools of noticing sensations in the body, gentle awareness of the breath, and witnessing the comings and goings of the mind, we discover we can return again and again to the vibrancy and aliveness of life as it is. Meditation is about allowing yourself to be where you already are, feeling the way you feel, and letting the mind be as it is – with precision, gentleness, and letting go.