Sunday, July 19, 2015

How much do I have to meditate?

Kelly Ani, Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly
We have no idea of what the mind is capable of until we meditate (Wisdom Quarterly).
A person should MEDITATE for a half hour every day.

But what if I'm TOO BUSY?

Ahh in that case, an HOUR is necessary.

Well, I'm not really all that busy. I'll take the half hour. What should I do?

Slow down for ana-pana-sati.
Meditation can means a few things, two of which are extremely important. First begin by resting the mind/heart. That could mean sleep. So sleep then meditate. Meditation is not sleep. It is like sleep in that the body is very relaxed and suffused with pleasant feelings of tranquility.
  • SLEEP: A scientific study has just revealed that one region of the U.S. with a single time zone (central) actually has an hour of daylight difference at each end. This means that even though it is the same time, one end gets an additional hour of light. One end on average sleeps an hour more, and this makes a great difference to income, health, and happiness (satisfaction). So sleep. If one does not sleep well, meditation will reveal it by extreme drowsiness. Avoid caffeine, and rest more at night instead.
Unlike sleep, one is very attentive during meditation. One goes from many objects of attention -- as we are drawn along by our senses -- to one dominant object. Usually this is the (subtle) breath at the tip of the nose. But it could be a reflection, an element (as in Four Elements Meditation), and so on.

Coffee, sugary cereal? Breakfast of losers?
The first meaning of "meditation" is serenity, relaxation, calm, collectedness, absorption. Unfortunately, this is translated as "concentration." For us in the West, we think of concentrating as trying, as straining to focus, as exerting and frustrating ourselves. Why?

It is because we all have ADD, ADHD, cultivated and reinforced short attention spans, or a speed habit, be it coffee, sugar, empty carbs, tobacco, crack, meth, pharmaceuticals, or overstimulation by whatever other means such as worry and neuroses. The central nervous system and, more importantly, the autonomic nervous system need rest. So rest.

Then suddenly I was transported by concentration (coupled with no expectations), I felt a wash of pleasure, and became one with the breath, no duality, but absorbed into it as my single object of concentration.
Meditation can transport one to extreme rest and refreshment. With enough meditation, one sleeps less and is more rested. But that comes with consistency and persisting over obstacles and laziness. When one can do sitting meditation without drowsiness, one is well under way.

Pick a single object. Stay with it. Exclude everything else. Go to a quiet place and, more importantly, be quiet there. Internal chatter is not quiet, so let it quieten. External chatter is not quiet, so make it quiet.

If the breath (prana, ana-pana, chi, "holy spirit") is used as the object of meditation, which is ideal, stay with the subtle breath that grows more subtle with time and attention. More attention makes it more subtle and harder to notice, like a "squiggle of osmosis at the tip of the nose," according to one editor.
Wherever you go, MEDITATE.
Stay for all of the in-breath, all of the out-breath, and the rest stops on either end of the breath. When there is the breath there is nothing else. When there is nothing else there is the breath. The half hour one does is staying with the breath.

Eventually, when "concentration" is established -- and this will become obvious because then concentrating will not mean "trying" but "allowing." And it will be accompanied by pleasant sensations of rest, a pure and calm mind/heart cleansed of distraction and overt/manifest expressions of the mental defilements (kilesas, samyojanas or "fetters," asavas or "taints") that are at the roots of attraction, aversion, and delusion (greed, hate, and ignorance).

A concentrated heart/mind is wieldy and can be used to great effect: developing liberating insight (vipassana, investigative contemplation). That is best taken up with a competent teacher as one gains an ability to let go and gain calm.

WHY meditate?
It is the pathway to enlightenment (and the Seven Factors of Absorption that bring it about). The ultimate goal is nirvana, which is possible In This Very Life.

But proximate goals are sanity, health, longevity, sensitivity, realization, satori (epiphanies), relaxation, and calm. Mindfulness (sati) as a form of meditation brings about relaxation, tranquility, serenity, peace, and health.

SUTRA: "The Four Foundations of Mindfulness"
Burma Pitaka Association (
"Recluses [1], this is the one and only way for the purification [2] of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the complete destruction of pain [3] and distress [4], for the attainment of the Noble Path(s) [5], and for the realization of nirvana. That [6] is the practice of the Four Foundations (methods) of steadfast Mindfulness [7]." More

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