Mindfulness is a state of being aware of the present moment without any expectation or judgment. You may start becoming more aware of your feelings and thoughts. You probably may be able to step back and just accept them. It can help you listen in detail, appreciate others better and not react instantly by being carried away by emotions.
Through practice of awareness meditation, you can cultivate this state of mind that helps you to be mindful whenever you wish to.
Quick Look at Awareness Meditation
Awareness meditation or Breathing meditation in itself increases insight as you progress. This meditation has many stages. The two main stages are object meditation and insight meditation.
1. Object Meditation: This meditation is also known as Samatha Meditation and gives rise to an increase in concentration. In this, the object of meditation is the place where the breath touches the body first while inhaling (or last while exhaling). That is generally the tip of the nose. Concentrate on the object (i.e. keep the mind on the object) as you inhale and exhale. The important points are as follows:
2. Insight Meditation or Awareness Meditation or Dhyana. This is also a kind of Vippasana Meditation. Continue in the same way further from object meditation. Instead of concentrating at one point on the object, shift the awareness from beginning of breathing to end of breathing while inhaling and while exhaling from beginning of exhaling to end of exhaling. Again, do not control the breathing, just be aware of it. This meditation goes through the following stages:
You will realize that this meditation (unlike most other meditations) has no time limitation. It becomes part of life. The full knowledge of all the terms used is not necessary as long as the procedure is understood and followed. But if you know the meaning of the terms properly and their background, then the destination and the path to the destination appears clear. Then you can aim and put the effort correctly and get faster progress. For this reason, the meaning of the important terms and other interconnected issues and practices that must be followed are brought out in the next part.
The Related Issues
Hindrances of the Mind
All hindrances which distract the concentration in meditation are categorized into five hindrances and are discussed below:
i. Sense Desire: This is mainly a desire for pleasant feeling due to the presence of five senses and thought.
ii. Ill-will: It is an unpleasant feeling of wishing harm to others in various ways.
iii. Laziness: This is a neutral feeling. A lack of will to act or to procrastinate.
iv. Restlessness and Worry: This is the feeling of having done or not done something in a certain manner and subsequent regret.
v. Doubt: It is uncertainty about the practice, whether it is correct or not and whether it will give desired results or not.
The main proximate cause of these hindrances is due to the unwise reflection and unwise attention. The deep-rooted cause is ignorance of truth.
Suspension of Hindrances
During breathing or awareness meditation, these hindrances can be temporarily suspended by the following:
The other means that can be adopted in daily life to suspend the hindrances are as follows:
You can quickly get concentration in Meditation by applying Law of Forgiveness, (mentally forgiving others and self and asking for forgiveness from others), especially for those who are closely connected. This can be done whenever you experience any disturbance in mind.
Relinquishing of the Hindrances Permanently
Once the hindrances are suspended by above practice, you know that there is no hindrance inside. For relinquishing the hindrances permanently, you must bring in positive liberating qualities (also called Factors of Enlightenment). The mindfulness of breathing at a deep level is itself the first factor.
The other six factors are:
1. Investigation of reality: Seeing the reality of impermanence, seeing reality of danger in attachment to any point in insight meditation and understanding the importance of ego-lessness (not the self).
2. Energy: Acting with will and full vigor by realizing the sense of urgency.
3. Joyful interest: To overcome sluggishness that comes during the practice.
4. Tranquility: This is quieting the mind and bringing calmness.
5. Concentration: This is to increase steadiness of mind or one-pointedness.
6. quanimity: Accepting things as they are and avoiding extremes.
By mindfulness of breathing, a balance must be maintained between the first three factors which increase energy and last three factors which increase calmness. For example, if energy is excessive, it will result in the hindrance of restlessness. When you become aware of it; by mindfulness of breathing, you may introduce tranquility factor, thus bringing a balance.
At this stage the meditation becomes extremely simple. You start observing and moving forward without getting stuck and experience mental purity. You must now prolong this state of purity throughout the day. This is done by extending the ability of knowing the presence or absence of enlightenment factors internally, within yourself and externally within others who interact. This prolongation of purity will lead to relinquishing of the hindrances one by one (to greater and greater degree) by removal of ignorance of truth.
The first hindrance which you generally relinquish is doubt. As moral conduct and faith increases to a high degree, you know exactly what to do and practice mindfulness of breathing. Thus, you relinquish the hindrance of doubt. This is the first step. Once you achieve this stage, you will never fall back to the lower levels. You will only proceed further. Therefore, you must put efforts to at least achieve this stage. Once all hindrances are permanently relinquished, you become an Arhat. Arhat is one who realizes the deeper Truth or Shunyata.
This is one of the most difficult things to put forward. There are different schools of thought in different religions and in some cases within the same religion itself. It was put forward in one of the easiest ways by Buddha and it is referred to as Four Noble Truths. They are as follows:
They are as follows:
(a) Virtues or Morality.
This is achieved by:
(b) Samadhi or Meditation.
This is achieved by:
With the above one can now get:
We shall continue with the discussion on Shunyata, the mitigation of the karmic effects, achieving arhathood or liberation, in our article next week.
You may try our YPV Sadhana app, which is available for free in various languages. It has guided tracks for purification through breathing exercises and forgiveness practice; and Planetary Peace meditation. These techniques also help in strengthening and upgrading your immune system.