In peaceful abiding, you ground your
mind in the present moment. You place your mind on
the breath and practice keeping it there. You notice
when thoughts and emotions distract you and train
in continually returning the mind to the breath.
This is you we shift your allegiance from the bewildered
mind that causes its own suffering to the mind that
is stable, clear, and strong. You proclaim your desire
to discover this mind of stability, clarity, and
strength by learning to rest in your own peace.
In this lesson you begin the practice
of shamatha meditation or peacedul abiding.
Taking your seat
father would always sneak into my meditation
room at the beginning of my session to see
if I was beginning properly He was looking
to see how I was taking my seat - if I had
the appropriate attitude toward training
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
of posture in meditation is very important. The aim,
however, is to create a solid
for practicing mindfulness, not to be uptight or
When you sit down, take a balanced,
grounded posture to allow the energy
in the center of your body to move
If you're on a cushion, sit with your
legs loosely crossed. If you're in
a chair, keep your legs uncrossed and
your feet flat on the floor. Imagine
that a string attached to the top of
your head is pulling you upright. Let
your organs, muscles, and bones settle
around your erect spine, like a coat
falling around a hanger. Your vertebrae
should feel as though they are stacked
like gold coins, allowing for the natural
curvature of the spine.
legs should be crossed in front . Ideally
the knees should be lower that the
hips. If your hips not higher than
knees, you need a support cushion or
to be raised somehow. As Westerners
who have grown up in chairs, it’s
a little uncomfortable for some of
us; our hips open over time. Do what
you can, but be sure hips higher than
are as relaxed as you can. You can
alternate one leg in front of the other
if this helps.
torso is upright . Have a sense of
strong back, direct spine, with a slight
curve in the lumbar region. Your chest
An erect posture, with spine stright,
is posture of openness and dignity which allows smooth
breathing. If you slump over, the breathing becomes
strained, it becomes very claustrophobic and you'll
be struggling with discomfort in your body at the
same time that you're trying to train your mind.
It’s important to realize is that there is
a relationship, a correlation, between what happens
in your mind, your body, and your breathing. You
want to be synchronizing your body and mind. We’re
not sitting up straight because we’re trying
to be good schoolchildren; our posture actually affects
Statues and paintings of the Buddha
in meditation posture beautifully illustrate how
the posture is designed to allow natural strength
and groundedness with some kind of openness and dignity.
By taking an upright sitting posture, we enable the
body to relax and the mind to be awake. You can use
different postures for meditation, but under ordinary
circumstances, sitting on either a cushion or a chair
is best. If you're unable to sit, it is possible
to do this technique while walking or standing or
even lying down. However, the most efficient posture
for this practice is sitting.
After you get your spine straight,
place your hands on your thighs. They
shouldn't rest so far forward that
it begins to pull your shoulders down,
nor so far back that the shoulders
contract and pinch the spine. As a
guideline your upper arms should be hanging from
shoulders — let them hang.
The fingers are close and relaxed—not
spread out in a grip, as if you can't
let yourself go.
Note: If you wish, you can hold your
hands in the "mudra" or position you
see in the statue of the buddha above.
Tuck your chin in. Many of us lead
with our head. Your head is erect as
if there’s a little string going
from the top of your head into the
So butt on the earth, head erect.
Your mouth is mostly closed, although
it might have a little gap in it. Keep
your jaw relaxed not clamped shut.
Relaxing the face and jaw is important.
The tongue should be relaxed. When
it's relaxed, it begins to touch the
back of the upper teeth. This reduces
the saliva collection at the back of
Gaze downward with your eyelids half
shut — a meditative gaze, as
it were. The eyes aren't looking; the
eyes just see. If you are trying to
look, it becomes a meditation of looking.
Your eyes are open and they can see,
but they're not looking. You are not
staring at something. It's just as
though you are having a conversation
with somebody and listening to that
person's voice—your ears hear
the background noise, but you're not
particularly listening to it.
If the gaze takes in too much, it
will be hard to abide peacefully. We’re
just trying to work with the mind,
and the more we raise our gaze, the
more distracted we’re going to
be. It’s as if you had an overhead
light shining over the whole room,
and all of a sudden you focus it down
right in front of you. You are purposefully
ignoring what is going on around you.
On the other hand, closing the eyes
completely may encourage you to fall
asleep or to withdraw inside your mind
from, losing the technique. The goal
is not to sedate the mind.
If your mind feels removed and insular,
intense and dark, try raising the gaze
and allowing more space into your practice.
However, if your gaze becomes too high,
you may begin to look too much, and
your eyes will become strained.
It is the same with sound—we
aren't listening, but we do hear. In
other words, we're not focusing with
As you start the practice, you have
a sense of your body and a sense of
where you are, and then you begin to
notice the breathing. The whole feeling
of the breath is very important. The
breath should not be forced, obviously;
you are breathing naturally. The breath
is going in and out, in and out. With
each breath you become relaxed.
You will learn about placing your
attention on the breath in the next
section of this lesson.
The basic principle is to keep an upright,
erect posture. You are in a solid situation: your
shoulders are level, your hips are level, your spine
is stacked up. We use this posture in order to remain
relaxed and awake. The gaze should be downward focusing
a couple of inches in front of your nose. The eyes
are open but not staring; your gaze is soft. The
practice we’re doing is very precise: you should
be very much awake even though you are calm. If you
find yourself getting dull or hazy or falling asleep,
you should check your posture.