The purpose of meditation is to cultivate those states of mind that are conducive to peace and well-being, and to eradicate those that are not. If we examine our life we will discover that most of our time and energy is devoted to mundane activities, such as seeking material and emotional security, enjoying sensory pleasures, or establishing a good reputation.
Although these things can make us happy for a short time, they are not able to provide the deep lasting contentment that we long for. Sooner or later our happiness turns into dissatisfaction, and we find ourselves engaged in the pursuit of more worldly pleasures.Directly or indirectly, worldly pleasures cause us mental and physical suffering by stimulating attachment, jealousy, and frustration.
If true fulfillment cannot be found in worldly pleasures, then where can it be found? Happiness is a state of mind, therefore the real source of happiness lies in the mind, not in external circumstances.
If our mind is pure and peaceful we will be happy, regardless of our external conditions. The method to make our mind pure and peaceful is to train in meditation.
What is Meditation?
The more familiar our mind is with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes. When our mind is peaceful we are free from worries and mental discomfort, and we experience true happiness.
If we train our mind to become peaceful we will be happy all the time, even in the most adverse conditions. But if our mind is not peaceful, even if we have the most pleasant external conditions we will not be happy. Therefore it is important to train our mind through meditation.
There are two types of meditation: analytical meditation and placement meditation. When we contemplate the meaning of a Dharma instruction that we have heard or read we are doing analytical meditation. By deeply contemplating the instruction, eventually we reach a conclusion or cause a specific virtuous state of mind to arise. This is the object of placement meditation. We then concentrate on it single-pointedly for as long as possible to become deeply acquainted with it.
What to expect at a class
Tara KMC Meditation Classes explain Buddhist meditation, ideas, and practice. They combine guided meditation with practical spiritual advice that you can apply immediately to relieve stress and solve problems in your life.
Everyone is welcome. The classes are suitable for both beginners and experienced meditators. You do not need to be a Buddhist to attend the classes, or to benefit from the techniques taught. Seating is generally on chairs but cushions are provided if you prefer to sit on the floor. No special clothing is required but we remove our shoes before entering the meditation room.
The classes are designed so that you can drop in at any time. They follow a theme for roughly an 8-10 week term but each class is stand alone and does not assume any prior knowledge or experience.
The teachers are experienced students of Kadampa Buddhism. At each class the teacher will explain simply how to meditate and will give practical guidance during the class. He or she will give a talk based on Buddha’s teachings that will explain how to put meditation into practice in daily life to increase our own and others happiness. Each class includes a short time for discussion and there is an opportunity to ask questions and talk to the teacher over refreshments which are included in the class fee.
The Benefits of Meditation
You will find a simple breathing meditation described below. If we practice patiently in the way explained, gradually our distracting thoughts will subside and we will experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and we will feel refreshed.
Even though breathing meditation is only a preliminary stage of meditation, it can be quite powerful. We can see from this practice that it is possible to experience inner peace and contentment just by controlling the mind, without having to depend at all upon external conditions.
The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid.
This can be accomplished by practicing a simple breathing meditation.
We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.
We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.
At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath.
If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.