The master quells his thoughts.
He ends their wandering.
Seated in the cave of the heart,
He finds freedom.
– Buddha in the Dhammapada
We are all guilty, at one time or another, of succumbing to the idea of a “quick fix”; however, we know from the Buddhist teachings that reaching for things outside ourselves only offers temporary comfort for anxiety, fear, worry, or pain. When we feel afraid, disappointed or negative, we feed into extrinsic cravings in order to feel a moment of intrinsic pleasure. These cravings may be unhealthy food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, promiscuity – anything that gives an immediate numbing sensation and feeling of ease. Whatever it is, it essentially continues the cycle of suffering instead of gaining awareness, recognizing what is going on internally and ultimately, taking control. Both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions of meditation, or dyana in Sanskrit (movement of the mind), teach us that letting go and looking within will enable us to find that the root of the problem and the solution coincidentally reside together. Thus, I am both the problem and the solution.
Meditation practice helps purify the mind when it feels muddied up with thoughts, perceptions, MIS-perceptions, and fear. When I say fear, I mean the lingering voice in our head that says “I am not good enough”, “I am not lovable”, “I am not fast enough, flexible enough, skinny enough, charming enough, young enough, funny enough.” They may not all apply to you, but I am certain that at one point you had one, many or all of these thoughts. Any insecurity or anxiety we may have is essentially fear, and it is up to us to reveal what that is a fear of. These posts are meant to encourage us all, myself included, to see what habits have formed in us as a result of our fears and ultimately, how it manifests into certain behaviors or responses that work against us. Furthermore, the best way to learn more about ourselves and shift our patterns of thinking is through a regular meditation practice.
Studies reveal that meditation practice is most effective when we find the technique that is right for us. With this, I decided to put together the Double Seven Meditation Challenge: seven mediation techniques, each one practiced for seven days straight. This will enable us to learn and practice each of the meditation techniques over the course of seven weeks. This may seem overwhelming at first, but remember, meditation doesn’t have to be in a yoga studio, on a mat, with your eyes closed. It can be done anywhere, anytime, as long as you are able to focus in on the meditation. Give it an honest effort. For some people, walking meditation is best for them. For others, a comfortable seat in a quiet area is needed. You can use this time to figure out what your likes and dislikes are and also to develop your own personal practice.
Here are the techniques we will be working with. Monday, we will start our challenge with metta bhavana.
- metta bhavana (meditation on loving-kindness; well-wishing)
- samatha bhavana (meditation on an object or the breath; focusing)
- vipassana bhavana (meditating on the mind; mindfulness)
- mantra meditation (meditation on repeated, sacred sounds)
- chakra meditation (meditation on specific energy centers; purifying)
- yantra or mandala meditation (meditation on creative visualization)
- deity or guru meditation (meditation on wisdom/symbolism of a specific figure)
I hope you participate in this mediation challenge and are as excited as I am. I intend to journal every day after each meditation and encourage you do so as well. I would love to hear about your own personal experiences throughout the journey, so please be sure to share them. Namaste!