Sitting Meditation

What is “the practice”?

It might mean different things to different people. It may take different forms at different times. In essence the practice is to wake up, to become aware, to see things as they are, and as direct result, we begin to experience less suffering, more happiness and develop the mind of love.

To see things as they are, to have clarity, to let go of ideas so that we will not suffer, is our goal.

The path to that goal is facilitated by stopping and calming, releasing tension, creating peace and ease in our minds and bodies. Thus Buddhists through the generations have emphasized meditation (especially sitting meditation) as a primary tool to reaching an awakened, spacious mind.We begin our time together with sitting meditation (usually for about 20 minutes).

The sitting begins with three sounds of the bell. The bell is like the voice of the Buddha calling us to come back to ourselves, to release our worries and anxieties and to be fully present in the here and now.

We sit in as comfortable and stable a position as we can, be it on a cushion, a bench or a chair. Allowing the spine to be upright but without tension allows our breathing to be easeful and smooth.

We sit in order to enjoy sitting: we simply observe and enjoy our conscious breathing. We do not breathe with any extra effort. We simply are conscious “this is an in-breath, this is an out-breath.” This mindfulness automatically calms our body and mind — we don’t have to make an effort. We just allow ourselves to settle into the breath. Thoughts will come and go, and when we notice those, we come back to our breath. The breath is what makes us alive, so connecting with the breath is to connect with life with all its miracles.

At times a guided meditation is offered. A guided meditation is merely a suggestion: if it does not feel right to you, then allow yourself to come back to your breath and ignore the suggested meditation.

The sitting ends with a sound of the bell. Take time to stretch and be comfortable.

The Four Immeasurables

May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we not be separated from the great happiness that is devoid of suffering.
May we dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.