Monday, September 21, 2015

Samadhi in the here and now

I was recently at a retreat where the retreatants were surprised to learn that samadhi was something you could settle into at any moment - as opposed to some mental state that you had to work yourself into by some feat of mental endurance. So, let's enjoy the knowledge that you can drop into the large welcoming cushions of samadhi whenever you feel the need - just by tuning into the sensations and dropping in. There's an ocean of feathers in our minds whenever we want it.

There's a catch though. We have to know what it is before we can tune into it. We need to know what the mental factors feel like when samadhi is present, otherwise we are groping around for things we cannot see. So, it requires cultivation and practise to open up to the giant sofa of the mind - but this is a question of lifestyle persistence rather than a supreme mental effort. Plump the cushions, open the mind and drop right in.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The mind massage - access concentration

I use the concept of a mind massage quite a lot when I want to get the mind back into a calm, integrated state - something akin to access concentration (a staging post for developing a deeply absorbed jhanic state).  So then, imagine your everyday mind - you're stuck somewhere in the frontal lobes doing things, being yourself, getting things done. This is what we've been trained to do - it's productive, we're functional, making our contribution - let's enjoy that illusion. It pays the bills.

Now, the everyday mind is just one aspect of our being - we have other modes we can drop into. These modes change our perspective of who we are and what it means to be a human, so they are worth a visit. They also increase our mental prowess, heal our fractured souls and generally make us super people. 

So let's use the mind massage as a tool to take us there:

- we are in our stressed state but we want to relax

- we take a comfortable seat somewhere quiet. You can put your hand on your forehead or your heart or your belly or a combination if you are lucky enough to have two hands

- we take a deep breath in, we breathe out

- our mind wanders off into thoughts (the game begins)

- place your awareness in the belly and make the intention to follow one breath, in and out

- the mind will want to wander off, usually at the gap behind the out breath and in breath. Hold your attention in the belly until the next breath begins

- notice the difference between having your awareness in the belly and your everyday mind. You are using different parts of the brain to do this.

- follow another breath in and out. Keep attention in your belly come what may. You may notice tension in the muscles of your head and face - allow them to soften.

- at this point you may encounter surges of pleasure. This is your body relaxing, opening up.

- if there is no pleasure, keep repeating the in/out breath cycle of awareness until your body starts to yield to relaxation

- pay attention to pleasure from the body. Now, when you breathe in, feel the rush of energy into the body and mind. Whoosh!

- then, as you breathe out, observe the sublime bliss of relaxation and release.

- this is the ebb and flow of the mind message. Breathe in energy, breathe out relaxation. Feel the pleasure building in the mind. In and out, rapture and release.

- let's leave it there. You can go into full blown ecstasy but if you're in the oscillating state of pleasure you're no longer in the everyday mind state, so job done.

- learn to relax as you do this and integrate the whole body and mind with the breathing. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When everything is happiness

This is where we are heading. We might not be there yet, but the potential is in all of is. It's a sublime state of mind. It comes and goes. Most of us will get there in the end. The real question is: how much of our life do we want to spend there?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lojong mind training

I appeared to have ended up in the world of mind training and it's a good way of keeping the mind away from the dark side. You can invent your own system, but you could also just adopt something like the lojong mind training phrases - they are fairly comprehensive but some of them require some extra curricular knowledge to know what they are going on about. In essence, your mind training program should cover :

- a body mind technique like meditation or yoga or tai chi
- a pointer to the unborn / zero mind
- positive reinforcement
- wise behaviour
- an expanded, no self sense of the world
- wholesome thoughts

Hmm, that's probably enough.

You might think that you don't need mind training because it seems to working just fine as it is. However, there's more to life than what your mind is giving you. You don't want to miss the other marvellous things on offer, do you?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The power of mindfulness

Mindfulness is everywhere these days and I've avoided using it on this blog for no real good reason. However I do find it more and more useful these days so I thought I'd write a little about it. Mindfulness is the relaxed, detached awareness of events passing through the mind. Once you have tuned into this mode of operation, you effectively have no problems - you are outside whatever is bothering you. This is where I find power in mindfulness.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The thing underneath it all

Investigation is a good way to blow your mind. We inquire into something, like 'who am I', and we go to very, very interesting places - which is quite handy if you can't get out much.

So let's go somewhere interesting:

- I have a mind. I see things, hear things, think things.
- I can hear a sound and not think about it. Just sounds, coming and going.
- The same with thoughts and sights - although your eyes might go funny and things might disappear
- We might recognise the movement of the mind to recognise things. 
- We might recognise the mind just letting things go
- We might see the activity of the mind. Coloured lights or other speckled rushes.
- if we hang out there, we let go.
- we might see our self forming out of this activity
- we might see awareness forming
- we might not bother to have any awareness form. We are just a light thing.
- now, we might sense that there is a fabric of reality underlying all this activity. It's what everything is made of - the thing beneath it all
- if you've got this far in my post, well done
- there's a sense that if we go there, we go beyond the normal bounds, we go to other
- we hang back, we don't want to go bonkers. It's something we'll come back to