“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space” Pema Chodron
This quote gives a compelling reason to meditate – when you empty your mind, you open your heart and discover the abundance of love you hold there. But what is meditation and how do you do it? We asked Padma, a respected teacher of meditation to share her thoughts on the subject.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is like no other kind of study or practice. Meditation is the practice of acknowledging the vast free and powerful space within your self, where you experience directly the source of your health, brilliance and joy.
Meditation is not any set of ideas or practices – it is the exploration into what exists when there is no thought and no movement. Normally we understand ourselves and the world around us using our mind’s thoughts and concepts.
We build ideas and then compare these to other ideas to develop a view of the world. Self-knowledge typically refers to the collection of ideas we hold about ourselves.
Meditation on the other hand is the intentional practice of seeing beyond your mind’s thoughts into the infinite and formless background space which is always present behind all your thoughts. This space is your pure essence. This is where all your power, health and intelligence originates from.
There is a vast amount of literature and philosophy regarding meditation. To help clarify your thinking and find the method that works best for you, I recommend reading as much as possible from as many schools as you can find. While study is important to help understand the mind and meditation philosophy, there is nothing like the direct experience and pure awareness that dawns on you by sitting in meditation.
How can you meditate? Start by stilling and strengthening your physical energy with exercises such as in Hatha Yoga and Tai Chi. Then, sit quietly and observe the natural activity in your mind as it is. Get to know your own thinking. Eventually, you can practice focusing your attention on one thought: A positive thought is usually preferable! With practice, over time, you will naturally begin to notice that behind this level of thinking in the mind there exists a clear and indescribable spaciousness.
Little by little, you will become more accustomed to this insight. It is not at all the same as sleep or dullness since you remain very alert and present, watching what and who exists. Your mind might resist this experience at first, but if you persevere over time, you will be rewarded with the sweetest wisdom in life.
To meditate comfortably, I find sitting on a Zafu made by b, halfmoon Yoga Products works best for me. There are many props available at b, halfmoon to help you sit comfortably for long periods of time – Zafu, Zabuton, Meditation Bench and Chair to name a few. The deluxe combination of a Zabuton with a Zafu adds padding and warmth to your ankles and feet and is just one of the ways you can create your own comfort solution.
Padma is one of Canada’s most respected and popular teachers of meditation, yoga and self-realization. Padma has over 30 years of experience in yoga and meditation, including a one-decade advanced meditation retreat in the Himalayas of India, and is certified to teach by the International Meditation Institute of India. Her Meditation Teacher Training Program is now available in Vancouver and Toronto. For more information on Padma go to www.padmayoga.ca.