a fair amount of friends have asked me for a no BS manual on what to do to get into meditation(it is based mostly on "the mind illuminated" (and other texts)), what do you guys think?
Level 1: anger, antidote = love (demonic) level 2: greed, antidote = generosity (hunger) level 3: ignorance, antidote = self-awareness (animal) Level 4: jealousy, antidote = openness (human) level 5: pride, antidote = humility/humbleness (asura) Level 6: egoistic joy, antidote = compassion (gods) Level 7: Level 1 to 6, antidote = continuous presence (freedom from aversion and grasping)
Achieving Level 7:
Make yourself comfortable and sit with your back straight in the tailor/lotus position with a pillow underneath you and an extra pillow underneath the ass, this position will help you not fall asleep. Notice the sensations of your breath in your nostrils near the tip of your nose.
Notice how long it takes to fill the lung, how long the break is before you start emptying your lung, how long it takes to empty the lung and how long it takes before you start filling it again. Notice where one phase ends and when the next starts(in-breath, break, out-breath, break). Maintain your intention to monitor the breath as strong as possible. At the same time, keep an eye on how your state of mind changes with time.
Is your state of mind changing towards restlessness/agitation or drowsiness? Notice how the breaths and breaks between them change with your state of mind, notice how your intention to monitor the breath changes. Notice whether restlessness draws you more towards "verbal thoughts" and drowsiness more towards a "dreamy" state of mind(is your head drooping? are startled by unexpected noises?).
Find a balance between restlessness/agitation and drowsiness so you can sit for the longest stretch of time and monitor the sensations of the breath.
When you notice that you are thinking of something completely different and have completely forgotten to keep your attention on the meditation-object(sensation of breath), thank yourself for finally discovering it and move your attention back to noticing the sensation of breath in your nostrils and monitor yourself … Notice how the length of your in- and out-breaths and the breaks between them are different now than when you last remembered to investigate, more important notice how your intention to keep monitoring your breath changes.
Try to get as much detail from the sensation of the breath as you can while still having enough mental bandwidth to keep an eye on your state of mind. This will help you catch any distractions early so you can strengthen the intention to keep an eye on the sensation of the breath.
Start doing it 5 minutes at a time and work towards doing it for 1 hour straight.
When attention is stable on the breath with no distractions for a couple of minutes, stop keeping an eye on different phases of the breathing and focus more on the actual sensation of breath in your nostrils, you may include more or less of the nostrils/ mouth-cavity.
When attention is stable on the breath with no distractions, try to move the focus down to the abdominal area(no longer keeping attention on the nostrils) and how the breath feels in the body. To begin with, try a small part like your right middle finger, and notice how the sensation changes on the in-breath compared to the out-breath. Then notice the change in your left thumb, then both fingers simultaneously, progress this way to include all fingers, palm and wrist. Then your upper-arm, shift between hand and upper arm, expand the scope of your focus to include both, continue to include different parts of your arms until you can maintain attention on both arms. Keep progressing this way to include your left calf and right foot, the upper part of the torso and so on until you are able to include the entire body(hands, feet and especially face and head display more detail and are best broken down into parts). It is not important which parts you choose, as long as you end up having your entire body covered.
When proficient at this, let go of how the sensation changes with the breath and only notice the actual sensation in your body. In time you will experience different sensations in your body(can become quite powerful and pleasant/euphoric), shift the scope of your attention to only include a certain sensation and attempt to stay with it as long as you can. With practice, you will be able to play around with it and your influence on it will grow.
When having done this for several hundreds of hours "lights" will appear behind your eyelids, shift focus to them and stay with them without trying to "chase/induce" them, things will get very bright.
By now having practised keeping your attention on an object and trying to be aware of what is happening in your mind try and merge this introspective awareness with your attention so your state of mind becomes the object of attention. Then try to include your body and mind as a whole and notice how it changes with time.
When you can keep focus exclusively throughout the hour, with a high level of detail and high level of introspective awareness, it is time to let go of control.
By this time you should be able to stop your top-down control(the intention I keep attention and scope of attention on the object) of attention and it should stay on the meditation object by itself for some time, easier said than done! Try it out and notice how long before distractions try and grab your attention.
With proficient practice, we regain the illusion of self-control and it is time to use our new skill to centre in on "the core of the self" to find the place that does not move and use this as our new meditation object. By now it will be quite obvious that everything is in constant movement, nothing remains the same, everything is transient, sensations of physical movement will appear(quite literally!) yet there is a point from which everything is observed and does not move, this is what is meant by "the core of the self", rest your attention/awareness(these have by now merged) there and stay there for as long as possible.
Try and stay aware of your self during the entire waking day in a similar fashion(thank yourself when you notice), and you will also experience being aware that you are dreaming when sleeping. Awareness during sleep and what to do with it will be my next post.
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