Resources

The Basics of Mindfulness Practice


Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:

Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.

Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.

Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.

Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.

Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.

How to Meditate


This meditation focuses on the breath, not because there is anything special about it, but because the physical sensation of breathing is always there and you can use it as an anchor to the present moment. Throughout the practice you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. Even if you only come back once, that’s okay.

A Simple Meditation Practice


Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.

Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.

Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.

Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.

Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.

Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.

Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.

Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.

When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.

Anapanasati Meditation (mindfulness of the breath)

Anapanasati is a core meditation practice in the Buddha’s teaching, focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. There are 16 steps or instructions involved with deeply investigating the breath. This was one of the chief methods of meditation the Buddha likely practiced and taught throughout his 40 years of teaching. The 16 steps are divided into four sections or ‘tetrads.’

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First Tetrad:
1.
Breathing in a long breath, one knows one is breathing in a long breath.
Breathing out a long breath, one knows one is breathing out a long breath.
2.
Breathing in a short breath, one knows one is breathing in a short breath.
Breathing out a short breath, one knows one is breathing out a short breath.
3.
Breathing in, one experiences the whole body.
Breathing out, one experiences the whole body.
4.
Breathing in, one relaxes the bodily formations.
Breathing out, one relaxes the bodily formations.
 
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Second Tetrad:
5.
Breathing in, one experiences joy (or enjoyment).
Breathing out, one experiences joy (or enjoyment).
6.
Breathing in, one experiences pleasure (or well-being).
Breathing out, one experiences pleasure (or well-being).
7.
Breathing in, one experiences one’s mental formations.
Breathing out, one experiences one’s mental formations.
8.
Breathing in, one relaxes one’s mental formations.
Breathing out, one relaxes one’s mental formations.
 
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Third Tetrad
9.
Breathing in, one experiences the mind.
Breathing out, one experiences the mind.
10.
Breathing in, one has satisfaction of mind.
Breathing out, one has satisfaction of mind.
11.
Breathing in, one composes the mind.
Breathing out, one composes the mind.
12.
Breathing in, one liberates the mind.
Breathing out, one liberates the mind.
 
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Fourth Tetrad:
13.
Breathing in, one contemplates impermanence.
Breathing out, one contemplates impermanence.
14.
Breathing in, one contemplates fading away (of clinging).
Breathing out, one contemplates fading away (of clinging).
15.
Breathing in, one contemplates cessation (of clinging).
Breathing out, one contemplates cessation (of clinging).
16.
Breathing in, one contemplates relinquishment.
Breathing out, one contemplates relinquishment.
 

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If you wish to explore on your own the teachings on  anapanasati, here are some suggestions:

  1. The Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing. This is the sutta (Pali– ‘sutra’ in Sanskrit) in which the Buddha lays out his guidance on practicing this kind of meditation.
  2. Larry Rosenberg talks. Lay Buddhist teacher Larry Rosenberg (author of “Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation“) says of his teaching approach: “The method I use most in teaching is anapanasati or mindfulness with breathing. Breath awareness supports us while we investigate the entire mind-body process. It helps calm the mind and gives us a graceful entry into a state of choiceless awareness–a place without agendas, where we are not for or against whatever turns up in the moment.” Here is a link to a page of audio files of his teachings at DharmaSeed.org. Click on the white bar that says ‘Select from Larry Rosenberg’s 308 Talks’ and find a host of them on anapanasati.
  3. Gil Fronsdal: Fronsdal is a leading lay Buddhist teacher and you can find his teachings on anapanasati practice at this link at AudioDharma.org.

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Those of you who have visited the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in High View, W.Va., the first Therevadan forest monastery in North America, know what a special place it is. Led by internationally known abbot and Buddhist scholar Bhante Gunaratana, Bhavana is a rich source of Buddhist teachings rooted in the Pali canon and the Buddha’s original teachings. Within the past year, some lay followers have developed some social media sites that feature Dhamma videos of teachings by Bhante G and other Bhavana monks, Dhamma quotes and imagery.

BHAVANA FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bhavana-Society-of-West-Virginia/132253780235266

BHAVANA YOUTUBE PAGE:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjUZp1wSbSNkxP7SspfCf5w

BHAVANA GOOGLE+ PAGE:
https://plus.google.com/116091149444202001562/posts

BHAVANA TWITTER FEED:
https://twitter.com/BhavanaVisitor

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We encourage Circle members and others to take a dip into the Buddha’s direct teachings on meditation instruction in the following suttas”

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OTHER RESOURCES:
A good starting place for beginning or restarting a meditation  practice: “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhante Gunaratana, a classic guide to starting a meditation practice, which has been translated into more than 20 languages.
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LISTEN | Guided Meditation | Part 2 | Bhante Sujato
Australian monk Bhante Sujato. of Santi Forest Monastery in Bundanoon, Sydney in Australia., can be heard at the above link on the practice of metta or loving-kindness meditation, as taught by a monk in Bangkok with whom Bhante Sujato has studied. In this guided meditation, he leads a 30-minute meditation on the basics of working with the attention as you first begin to sit.

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LISTEN | Meditation Introduction | Part 1 | Bhante Sujato
Along the way of introducing this metta meditation practice
, Bhante Sujato undertakes an illuminating survey of the different kinds and methods of Buddhist meditation. The talk heard here is a shortened version taken from a rains retreat — the talk is edited down a bit. Seek out this and other talks by this very interesting Western monk who trained with Ajahn Brahm.
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> AREA CENTER |

Bhavana Society: A Therevadan Buddhist forest monastery and retreat center near Wardensville, W.Va., founded by the internationally known Buddhist meditation teacher and author Bhante Henepola Gunaratana and others. They have a year-long schedule of retreats, including ones for beginners and youth. But be sure to register months in advance as people from form around the world and retreat spaces fill up fast.

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Loving-kindness Meditation

Last modified on 2008-11-22 04:45:57 GMT. 2 comments. Top. Edit topic.

We’ve had a couple of requests for the metta (loving-kindness) meditation we do at the Meditation Circle of Charleston. It is adapted from a metta meditation done by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot at the Bhavana Society.

May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me, may difficulties not last long, may I have a calm, centered mind. May I have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May my parents be well happy and peaceful.  May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May my teachers be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May family members and relatives be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May friends and acquaintances be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May my enemies and those with whom I have trouble communicating be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May indifferent persons be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May all beings, with form and without form,visible and invisible, near and far, born or coming to birth, from the highest realms of existence to the lowest, be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

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A meditation group in the Buddhist insight tradition, based in Charleston, W.Va.