Category Archives: Meditation

Beach Chair Meditation (Awakening the Buddha Within)

Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya DasThis simple meditation is one of my favorite things from Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das.

Beach Chair Meditation
Lean back in a comfy beach chair
or chaise lounge, with legs outstretched
and totally relax.
Let go of body and mind;
let go, and let goodness
do it.

At poolside, or on your patio or porch;
in a garden
or on the beach;
raise your gaze,
open your eyes and heart and mind.
Elevate the scope of global,
three-hundred-and-sixty-degree panoramic awareness.

Simply relax
and watch the rolling waves
of sea or river,
or the clouds pass by
while the mind unfurls,
as the soul unfolds
and the infinite sky opens up
revealing the joy of meditation.

The Mirror of Mindfulness (Awakening the Buddha Within)

Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya DasI really liked this simple statement on mindfulness from Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das.

The Mirror of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the root of the Dharma.
Mindfulness is the body of practice.
Mindfulness is the fortress of the mind.
Lack of mindfulness will allow the negative forces to overcome you.
Lack of mindfulness is the creator of evil deeds.
Without mindfulness and presene of mind,
Nothing can be accomplished.
Lack of mindfulness piles up shit.
Without mindfulness you sleep in an ocean of piss.
Without mindfulness you are like a heartless zombie, a walking corpse.

Four Heartitudes (Awakening the Heart Within)

Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya DasI really liked this simple chant for meditation from Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das.

Four Heartitudes
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May all beings remain free from suffering and the cause of suffering.
May all beings come to remain unseparated from the sacred joy and happiness that is totally free from sorrow.
May all beings come to rest in the boundless and all-inclusive equanimity that is beyond attachment and aversion.

And this one:

We rejoice in the good fortune of all. We rejoice in the virtuous good deeds and accomplishments of others. We put an end to covetousness and jealousy. We forgive and accept others, and put an end to feelings of ill will and enmity. Blessings to the world. Blessings to ourselves.

Meditation Training (Awakening the Buddha Within)

Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya DasThis section about meditation from Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das is a great introduction for Westerners:

Meditation Training
Awareness, Attention, and Focus

Westerners who are attracted to Buddhism because of meditation often make the mistake of seeing meditation in the narrow sense of going into a quiet room, crossing your legs, and closing your eyes. What the Buddha actually intended by this part of the path was mental discipline, an effort to train the mind through the cultivation of mindful awareness and attention to the present. If all the difficulties of life are the result of ignorance, deluded thinking, and conflicting emotions, then the obvious solution is to get wiser, more aware, balanced, and loving. We do this through the practice of meditation training or samadhi. Meditation training includes Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

Demystified and divested of religious and cultural trappings, meditation basically means the intentional cultivation of mindful awareness and pure attention — an alert, wakeful presence of mind. This development of awareness eradicates ignorance — about ourselves and others as well as reality. Meditation awakens and frees the mind, and opens the heart, helping us develop inner wisdom, clarity, joy, and compassion, thus bringing spirituality and a larger perspective into every aspect of daily life. Meditation training helps us to concentrate as well as to see and think more clearly. In this way we develop spiritually into wiser, more selfless, and caring men and women.

The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas (Awakening the Buddhist Heart)

Integrating Love, Meaning, and Connection into Every Part of Your Life by Lama Surya DasI couldn’t resist sharing The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattva from Awakening The Buddhist Heart: Integrating Love, Meaning, and Connection into Every Part of Your Life by Lama Surya Das.

In the book, Das includes a short commentary and questions for self-examination which I have not included below.

The commentaries and questions are very helpful for bringing this practices into everyday life so I might share them another time.

  1. Since we are fortunate enough to be alive and to be blessed with human bodies and intelligence, let’s take advantage of this opportunity to free ourselves and others from suffering. Listen to the teachings. Reflect on what you have heard. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  2. In life, the strongest feelings are often generated by those we love and those who make us angry. We can become s preoccupied with these reactive feelings and our emotional concerns that we lose sight of what’s right and wrong. We could instead cultivate an attitude of nonattachment to our feelings and be prepared to lessen the grip of our worldly preoccupations.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  3. When we withdraw from excessive worldly stimulation and learn to put a priority on simplicity and solitude, our concentration, clarity, and wisdom increases as does our confidence in Dharma and truth we’ve learned.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  4. This life is transient and impermanent. All the goods we’ve accumulated and relationships we’ve enjoyed will change or come to an end. The mind is like a temporary guest in our bodily house; it will some day pass beyond. Learn to think of the larger picture beyond this one life-time.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  5. If we spend our time with those who don’t understand, encourage, and value our spiritual concerns, we will lose interest in truth and Dharma. As a result, we will meditate and prayer less; we lose sight of our vow to practice love and compassion for all others. Don’t surround yourself with people who don’t support your spiritual aspirations.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  6. Good teachers and spiritual friends helps us solve our problems and maintain our loving intentions. Cherish these kindred spirits, friends and mentors
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  7. How can you expect the successful wheelers and dealers of this world to help you when themselves are mired in worldly woes? Instead, look for refuge and support in what’s real and reliable.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  8. The Buddha said that our suffering and confusion is the result of our negative actions. Understand this and turn away from all behaviours that are harmful to self and others. Use all your strength to resist any tendency to cause harm to anyone.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  9. The worldly pleasures we pursue in the course of our lives can vanish in an instant, like dew on the tip of a blade of grass. There is greater satisfaction and lasting bliss to be found walking the spiritual path and awakening the Buddha within.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  10. How can we think only of ourselves when others are suffering? Recognise this suffering and generate the awakened heart-mind of Bodhicitta for the benefit of all.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  11. Selfish thoughts and desires will ultimately fail us. Replace these concerns with compassion for all others and the greater good. This will lead us to freedom and awakening.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  12. Cultivate a nonattachment for worldly goods that is so strong that even if someone takes away everything you won, you will still feel compassion and pray for his prosperity and well-being.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  13. If we should know someone who threatens us or tries to case us serious bodily harm, we should feel compassion for this person and show mercy by genuinely wishing that he suffers no further because of his or her deluded and misguided state.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  14. Even if someone slanders and criticizes us, spreading cruel rumors that some people may even believe, speak of that person with kindness. When you speak of him to others, praise his virtues.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  15. Even if someone insults and criticizes us in front of others, describing our flaws to anyone who will listen, instead of feeling anger, consider that person like a spiritual friend and advisor. Listen quietly and show respect; we can always learn from honest criticism.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  16. If someone we have nurtured and cared for as one would a cherished child becomes resentful, angry and hurtful, we should become even kinder and more giving; we should be understanding.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  17. If someone is contemptuous or treats you without respect – even if that person is not your intellectual or spiritual equal – repay them with honor as you would an admired teacher.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  18. No matter how dire your emotional, physical or financial condition, stay true to your practice, your inner principles, and your intentions. Continue to walk the path of awakening for yourself and all beings.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  19. Success and fame can be detrimental to spiritual development. No matter how much wealth you accumulate or how much you are praised and admired, don’t be swept away by worldly achievements or lose sight of what is real. Stay connected to who you are and what really matters.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  20. Anger is an inner problem. When you feel anger, don’t just strike out at others. Instead turn inward and call upon your resources of awareness, love and compassion to heal yourself first.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  21. The more we pursue our desires, the more our desires grow; it’s like drinking saltwater. We find freedom by letting go of our tendencies to become obsessed and addicted to situations that will ultimately prove unsatisfying.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  22. Recognize that life is dreamlike and illusory, and that truth is beyond concepts, existence, or solid separate individuality. See what is; move away from a dualistic perception of reality.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  23. Don’t be fooled by appearances, style, or form. The loveliest objects can be insubstantial and fleeting as the rainbows of summer. Let go of your impulsive, knee-jerk attractions to things that don’t last.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  24. All of us face problems and suffering. Recognise the illusory nature of all things; regard even difficulties and tragedies as fleeting and dreamlike.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  25. If we truly want enlightenment, we must be prepared to give of ourselves and all that we own without any thought of personal merit or gain. Cultivate an abundant, generous heart.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  26. If we lack ethics, virtue and morality in our own lives, how can we help others? Practice self-discipline and moderation, vowing to be moral and ethical in everything you do.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  27. Our worthwhile intentions are continually challenged by the negative and destructive situations we encounter. In the most trying circumstances, let go of anger and resentment. Instead cultivate patience toward all.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  28. Many seek to reach enlightenment for themselves alone; even they walk the path as though their hair is on fire and only their effort will put out the flames of their spiritual emergency. Think, therefore, of how much more energy is required to strive for enlightenment for the benefit of all who suffer. This goal requires total commitment, courage, and diligent effort.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  29. In order to penetrate the nature of reality and achieve real insight and deeper understanding, we need training and grounding in mental stability and focused attention. Mere spiritual highs are not sufficient to liberate and awaken our mind, or to achieve the result of “the heart’s true release.”
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  30. The perfections of generosity, virtue, patience, effort, and meditative absorption alone will not bring us to enlightenment without the cultivation of wisdom.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  31. We need always to continue to look inward and make consistent efforts to examine our faults in order to root our and let go of our own confusion and delusion. This requires a sincere ongoing commitment to awakening from the sleep of illusion. Ideally we should embody the Dharma, not just pay lip service.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  32. Don’t speak ill of others and don’t criticize fellow seekers. The only faults we should mention are our own.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  33. Sometimes our most intense emotions and arguments occur with family and good friends – those with who we are most intimate. It can be difficult to study and reflect on Dharma or meditate when all of our energy is engaged in domestic disputes. Avoid the strong attachments and emotions that these situations encourage.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  34. Unkind words can cause great harm. When we are angry and speak harshly to others, we lose our spiritual footing. We create pain, causing someone else’s mind to become disturbed and upset. Give up abusing others with harsh language.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  35. It’s all too easy to fall into the unconscious ways of acting and thinking. Mindfulness helps us more closely observe ourselves and thus keep our tendencies to form negative habits in check.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  36. In summation: Whatever we do, whatever we think, wherever we go, whatever the circumstances, we need to look inward to examine our minds. The work of a Bodhisattva requires mindful, attentive awareness.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.
  37. Dedicate our practice for the good of all. Share the benefits with everyone. Include all in your heart and prayers. Recognize the interconnectedness of all and make no distinction between beings; we are all equal in the spirit.
    The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.

Deep Relaxation

Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat HanhOkay, I couldn’t resist. Here is the deep relaxation guided meditation from Appendix D of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, which the author says is essential for the body and mind to heal and should be practiced often:

Lie down comfortably on your back on the floor or on a bed. Close your eyes. Allow your arms to rest gently on either side of your body and let your legs relax, turning outwards.

As you breathe in and out, become aware of your whole body lying down. Feel all the areas of your body that are touching the floor or the bed you are lying on; your heels, the back of your legs, your buttocks, your back, the back of your hands and arms, the back of your head. With each out-breath, feel yourself sink deeper and deeper into the floor, letting go of tension, letting go of worries, not holding onto anything.

As you breathe in, feel your abdomen rising, and as you breathe out, feel your abdomen rising. For several breaths, just notice the rise and fall of your abdomen.

Now, as you breathe in, become aware of your two feet. As you breathe out, allow your two feet to relax. Breathing in, send your love to your feet, and breathing out, smile to your feet. As you breathe in and out, know how wonderful it is to have two feet, that allow you to walk, to run, to play sports, to dance, to drive, to do so many activities throughout the day. Send your gratitude to your two feet for always being there whenever you need them.

Breathing in, become aware of your right and left legs. Breathing out, allow all the cells in your legs to relax. Breathing in, smile to your legs, and breathing out, send them your love. Appreciate whatever degree of strength and health is there in your legs. As you breathe in and out, send them your tenderness and care. Allow them to rest, sinking gently into the floor. Release any tension you may be holding in your legs.

Breathing in, become aware of your two hands lying on the floor. Breathing out, completely relax all the muscles in your two hands, releasing any tension you may be holding in them. As you breathe in, appreciate how wonderful it is to have two hands. As you breathe out, send a smile of love to your two hands. Breathing in and out, be in touch with all the things your two hands allow you to do: to cook, to write, to drive, to hold the hand of someone else, to hold a baby, to wash your own body, to draw, to play a musical instrument, to type, to build and fix things, to pet an animal, to hold a cup of tea. So many things are available to you because of your two hands. Just enjoy the fact that you have two hands and allow all the cells in your hands to really rest.

Breathing in, become aware of your two arms. Breathing out, allow your arms to fully relax. As you breathe in, send your love to your arms, and as you breathe out, smile to them. Take the time to appreciate your arms and whatever strength and health are there in your arms. Send them your gratitude for allowing you to hug someone else, to swing on a swing, to help and serve others, to work hard — cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, to do so many things throughout the day. Breathing in and out, allow your two arms to let go and rest completely on the floor. With each out-breath, feel the tension leaving your arms. As you embrace your arms with your mindfulness, feel joy and ease in every part of your two arms.

Breathing in, become aware of your shoulders. Breathing out, allow any tension in your shoulders to flow out into the floor. As you breathe in, send your love to your shoulders, and as you breathe out, smile with gratitude to them. Breathing in and out, be aware that you may have allowed a lot of tension and stress to accumulate in your shoulders. With each exhalation, allow the tension to leave your shoulders, feeling them relax more and more deeply. Send them your tenderness and care, knowing that you do not want to put too much strain on them, but that you want to live in a way that will allow them to be relaxed and at ease.

Breathing in, become aware of your heart. Breathing out, allow your heart to rest. With your in-breath, send your love to your heart. With your out-breath, send your love to your heart. With your out-breath, smile to your heart. As you breathe in and out, get in touch with how wonderful it is to have a heart still beating in your chest. Your heart allows your life to be possible, and it is always there for you, every minute, every day. It never takes a break. Your heart has been beating since you were a four-week-old fetus in your mother’s womb. It is a marvelous organ that allows you to do everything you do throughout the day. Breathe in and know that your heart also loves you. Breathe out and commit to live in a way that will help your heart to function well. With each exhalation, feel your heart relaxing more and more. Allow each cell in your heart to smile with ease and joy.

Breathing in, become aware of your stomach and intestines. Breathing out, allow your stomach and intestines to relax. As you breathe in, send them your love and gratitude. As you breath out, smile tenderly to them. Breathing in and out, know how essential these organs are to your health. Give them the chance to rest deeply. Each day they digest and assimilate the food you eat, giving you energy and strength. They need you to take the time to recognize and appreciate them. As you breathe in, feel your stomach and intestines relaxing and releasing all tension. As you breathe out, enjoy the fact that you have a stomach and intestines.

Breathing in, become aware of your eyes. Breathing out, allow your eyes and the muscles around your eyes to relax. Breathing in, smile to your eyes, and breathing out, send them your love. Allow your eyes to rest and roll back into your head. As you breathe in and out, know how precious your two eyes are. They allow you to look into the eyes of someone you love, to see a beautiful sunset, to read and write, to move around with ease, to see a bird flying in the sky, to watch a movie — so many things are possible because of your two eyes. Take the time to appreciate the gift of sight and allow your eyes to rest deeply. You can gently raise your eyebrows to help release any tension you may be holding around your eyes.

Here you can continue to relax other areas of your body, using the same pattern as above.

Now, if there is a place in your body that is sick or in pain, take this time to become aware of it and send it your love. Breathing in, allow this area to rest, and breathing out, smile to it with great tenderness and affection. Be aware that there are other parts of your body that are still strong and healthy. Allow these strong parts of your body to send their strength and energy to the weak or sick area. Feel the support, energy, and love of the rest of your body penetrating the weak area, soothing and healing it. Breathe in and affirm your own capacity to heal, breathe out and let go of the worry or fear you may be holding in your body. Breathing in and out, smile with love and confidence to the area of your body that is not well.

Finally, breathing in, become aware of the whole of your body lying down. Breathing out, enjoy the sensation of your whole body lying down, very relaxed and calm. Smile to your whole body as you breathe in, and send your love and compassion to your whole body as you breathe out. Feel all the cells in your whole body smiling joyfully with you. Feel gratitude for all the cells in your whole body. Return the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen.

To end, slowly stretch and open your eyes. Take your time to get up, calmly and lightly. Practice to carry the calm and mindful energy you have generated into your next activity and throughout the day.

I have praticed a similar meditation after yoga since I was in high school. Good stuff.

Awakening the Buddha Within

Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya DasI loved Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das so much that I will have to get a copy for myself.

And yes I probably went overboard posting some of my favorite parts of the book here, here, and here.

Click here to view the table of contents and here to read an excerpt.