All religions have as their common objective the achievement of peace, happiness and harmony. In Buddhism, one of the main methods used for this purpose is meditation.
Probably right now our mind wanders out of control, from one thought to another. You have to do this, buy that, you have this problem at work, etc … In this way we are always distracted. The mind, in these conditions, resembles a river with many small tributaries through which the water runs without force. For all this flow to acquire strength and energy it is necessary that all these streams converge; when that happens, the water is able to drag any obstacle that gets in its flow.
Sitting down to meditate with constancy we can, little by little, learn to focus our mind on a single point – in the same way as water – thus endowing it (the mind) with great strength and power. But, before starting to meditate, we need three things: to have listened to teachings (about the Buddhist philosophy of the mind) from a teacher; have established a correct motivation; and thirdly a positive attitude.
Once the teacher has given us the necessary knowledge, and we have undertaken further study, we need establish a positive motivation. We contemplate our suffering, how we have always lived with problems, not only in the most recent past, but in all our previous lives and how, if we do not find a solution, this will continue in the future. From this reflection arises the determination to put an end to this unwelcome reality of so much dissatisfaction and problems. With the desire and confidence to obtain happiness for this life and for future lives, we begin to meditate.
The third point is to think positively. Everything we are and experience in this life, and everything that goes through our mind, is the result of our previous lives. In this moment our mind is invariably filled with karmic seeds generated by negative actions that we have done in previous lives, although of course we have also undertaken positive actions and that is why we also have positive thoughts (like wanting to meditate!). As a consequence, both when we meditate and when we do not, i.e. in All the activities of our life, we must seek, on the one hand, to prevent the negative thoughts from arising and, on the other, increase the positive ones, so that we sow “positive seeds” in our mind stream for a better and happier future.
You must not forget that everything in our mind is the result of actions that we have carried out in other lives and that this habit has made our tendency to do more negative than positive things. Through this awareness we can start to familiarize little by little, with the positive thoughts, such that these will grow and start to take the place of the negative ones.
Whenever you have a free moment or simply the possibility of taking a short walk, observe the mind and become aware of how many positive and negative things are arising at that moment. We can take advantage of any moment of our life – working, traveling or resting – to raise our awareness and understanding of the thought patterns and emotions that arise. Such daily exercises can help us to control our mind better.
When we look at it in this way we can see that, basically, there arises in our mind three main negative emotions /mental states: desire (wanting some things / situations and not wanting others), anger and ignorance (not understanding things like cause and effect and the reality of “selflessness”). Through meditation, we can familiarise and take consciousness of these three emotions / mental states and start to learn how to handle them. In reality, their presence in our mind demonstrates that we are just beginning, that we know very little, and that we are still unable to control our life.
“The truth itself can only be achieved within us through deep meditation and awareness.” Buddha
Note (by Tsering Doje): It is important to distinguish between meditation and relaxation. In the West we often confuse the two and think that meditating is simply a matter of “switching off” and relaxing for a while. Meditation, from a Buddhist perspective, is all about transforming the mind so that there is a long term and permanent change in the way in that we perceive the world. Through this changed perception we achieve greater and lasting peace of mind not just momentary relaxation.
To see the original version in Spanish click here – Empezando a meditar