Buddhist meditation practices
Buddhist meditation helps us focus the mind inwards and develop the excellent innate qualities of mindfulness, clear comprehension, loving kindness, compassion and wisdom.
In Buddhism our meditation practice supports our development of ethics and wisdom, these are called the ‘Three Trainings’.
Through morality, or ethical behaviour, we develop the intention not to harm others, which creates a stable and happy mind. From consistent meditation practice the qualities of mindfulness and clear comprehension of other people and situations will develop.
By meditating we also develop mental stability and calmness. From this wisdom can arise, the ability to analyse and more fully understand our experience of the world.
These powerful meditation practices are now available in the West to help us overcome mental habits of self cherishing and negative emotions.
This is the most common Buddhist mediation technique. This helps us to train the mind to settle on an object of meditation, such as the breath. This helps the mind relax from distracted thoughts or agitation and results in a calm, clear and focused awareness.
Loving kindness and Compassion Meditation
This is a more contemplative meditation to develop the qualities of loving kindness and compassion. By deeply considering our interconnection to all people we can be more open to the needs of others.
The Four Thoughts
The four thoughts are very profound contemplations on the preciousness of human birth, impermanence, suffering and karma (actions – cause and effect). Through these contemplations we can more fully appreciate the preciousness and wonderful opportunity of this present situation and understand how our own life experiences and how we affect others can be more positive and rewarding.
Mind training meditations
Mind training or Lojong in Tibetan are down to earth, practical meditations for transforming our everyday lives, showing us how we can cut through selfish habits and rethink our relationship to others.
The most profound meditation techniques are taught in the Buddhist tantras. Through these practices we directly cultivate the qualities of enlightenment through visualization and mantra recitation.
Mindfulness Meditation and Clear Comprehension
Two of the qualities that arise from regular practice of meditation are mindfulness and clear comprehension.
Through mindfulness we can see clearly when the disturbing emotions of desire, hatred and ignorance arise and then apply the antidotes to prevent us carrying out negative actions.
Through clear comprehension we have the spaciousness to act in accord with the needs of others.
Today it is has become common for mindfulness to be taught outside of the Buddhist context with the aim of increasing health and wellbeing. Whether mindfulness will bring us benefit depends on our motivation. If we practice mindfulness for selfish reasons there will be a negative result. If we practice mindfulness to help us benefit others then there will be positive result.
Mindfulness and clear comprehension are essential to effective practice of the Buddhist path. However they are not seen as an end in themselves and cannot alone bring peace and happiness to our lives.
This highlights the importance of practicing meditation within the broader context of how we live our lives.