Meditation: How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
The mind is very wild. The human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. We canтАЩt escape any of these experiences in the vast terrain of our existence. It is part of what makes life grandтАФand it is also why our minds take us on such a crazy ride. If we can train ourselves through meditation to be more open and more accepting toward the wild arc of our experience, if we can lean into the difficulties of life and the ride of our minds, we can become more settled and relaxed amid whatever life brings us.
There are numerous ways to work with the mind. One of the most effective ways is through the tool of sitting meditation. Sitting meditation opens us to each and every moment of our life. Each moment is totally unique and unknown. Our mental world is seemingly predictable and graspable. We believe that thinking through all the events and to-dos of our life will provide us with ground and security. But itтАЩs all a fantasy, and this very moment, free of conceptual overlay, is completely unique. It is absolutely unknown. WeтАЩve never experienced this very moment before, and the next moment will not be the same as the one we are in now. Meditation teaches us how to relate to life directly, so that we can truly experience the present moment, free from conceptual overlay.
If we look at the dharmaтАФin other words, the teachings of the Buddha, the truth of what isтАФwe see that through the practice of meditation the intention is to remove suffering. Maybe thatтАЩs why so many people are attracted to meditation, because generally people donтАЩt find themselves sitting in the meditation posture unless they have something thatтАЩs bothering them. But the Buddhist teachings are not only about removing the symptoms of suffering, theyтАЩre about actually removing the cause, or the root, of suffering. The Buddha said, тАЬI teach only one thing: suffering and the cessation of suffering.тАЭ
In this book, I want to emphasize that the root of suffering is mindтАФour minds. And also, the root of happiness is our mind. The sage Shantideva, in the Bodhicaryavatara, in talking about the subject of suffering, offered a famous analogy for how we try to alleviate our suffering. HeтАЩs said that if you walk on the earth and itтАЩs hurting your feet, you might want to cover all the earth with hides of leather, so that youтАЩd never have to suffer from the pain of the ground. But where could such an amount of leather be found? Rather, you could simply wrap a bit of leather around your feet, and then itтАЩs as if the whole world is covered with leather and youтАЩre always protected.
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