Episodes 2 – 14 of the Dharma Glimpses podcast series present basic instruction in the shamatha-vipashyana meditation practice taught by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. You can access all podcast episodes by clicking HERE. Additional meditation resources can be found HERE.
• • • • •
Episode 2: Meditation Practice The importance of setting clear boundaries • start with a clear beginning • sit down, slow down, and come into your body • take a relaxed, dignified, upright posture • breathe naturally and place the mind on the breath • focus on the outbreath with a light touch, yet with persistence: out, dissolve, gap • when you get distracted, simply bring the mind back, without judgment • end clearly, with the intention of taking the gentle, open, dignified attitude of meditation into your day.
Episode 3: The Role of Posture Learning to come into our body in a simple and direct way • psychological body vs. sensory body • start with just being still • “perching” vs completely settling in like a rotting log • noticing the effect of posture on your state of mind • feeling embodied whether sitting, walking, standing, or lying down • accepting your own body and posture with tenderness and appreciation.
Episode 4: Sitting Like a Mountain Sitting like a mountain: solid, immovable, content • meditation posture provides a container within which you can relax • sitting with uprightness and dignity (“head and shoulders”) • senses relaxed • soft front, strong back • bringing strength and vulnerability together creates greater stability • emphasizing awareness of the space around the body • letting the space reflect back on you.
Episode 5: Being Intimate with the Breath Our breath is our most intimate connection with life itself • we are continually in a process of exchanging inside and outside • the inbreath is taking in, and the outbreath is letting go • the breath is the central issue that we work with in this style of meditation practice • synchronizing mind and breathing means identifying with the breath as closely and intimately as possible • in meditation we are being still, but we are also connecting with the energy and movement of the breath.
Episode 6: Letting Go with the Outbreath We place our mind on the outbreath, and then we let go • this form of mediation is based on dissolving outward, looking beyond ourselves • a rhythm of relaxing and regrouping, relaxing and regrouping • at the end of every breath there is a little momentary gap, which is a very important part of the practice • we place our mind on the breath, and then as it goes out, we let go • every breath is a mini-meditation.
Episode 7: Noting Thoughts and Returning to the Breath Two different aspects of thinking: the content of thoughts and the thinking process • where do thoughts come from? where do they go? • stillness of mind and activity of mind • like watching children in a playground • just return to the breath • not battling or trying to get rid of thoughts, but having a different relationship to thoughts • simply note and return to the breath • the technique of labeling thoughts • reminding ourselves that thoughts are not the boss of me.
Episode 8: Dripping Water on a Stone The first kind of effort is just showing up • just getting to the cushion is the hardest part • simply giving in and surrendering to the discipline • soft yet strong effort is what is called for in meditation practice • letting a burnt pan soak overnight; just let it sit • soaking our fixations, obstacles, self- doubts in the water of meditation • the second kind of effort is repeated effort, steady effort, like dripping water on a stone over a very long time • sometimes it seems like not much is happening, but with steady effort over time you begin to see what meditation is all about.
Episode 9: The Tree, the Rock, and the Blade of Grass The story of the tree, the rock, and the blade of grass • flexibility, steadiness, resilience: these are the qualities that are cultivated in meditation practice • rooted and flexible; you may be knocked over, but you bounce back • seeming power can be quite weak and brittle, easily undermined when circumstances are hard • the porcelain cup breaks, the lacquer cup bounces • from softness comes flexibility and resilience; from stillness comes engaging the world with power and strength.
Episode 10: Meditation as a Way of Making Friends with Yourself Meditation as a way of making friends with yourself • inviting in all aspects of yourself to a banquet of experience • workability: staying with our experience, whatever it is, at is arises • being more present in a heartful, gentle, kind way • becoming more familiar with our patterns at an early stage, before they become overwhelming • mindfulness or “heartfulness”? • what we think we need sometimes falls away, and we realize we actually have everything we need.
Episode 11: Training to be More Present In meditation we are practicing being more wholeheartedly present • learning to recognize our escape valves, the ways we hide out from our immediate experience • wholeheartedly feeling what we feel • recognizing the process of checking in and checking out • training to be more present with the ups and downs of ordinary life allows us to be more present with others • each time we bring ourselves back we are strengthening our ability to stay with what is happening as it’s happening • not hiding our true experience from others.
Episode 12: On-the-Spot Practice The skills we learn in formal meditation practice can be applied on-the-spot as we face challenges in our daily life • training to come back into your body; giving yourself just a moment to come back to simple physical presence • tuning in to our breathing provides a gap, interrupting the flow of habitual or panic mind • letting the situation tell us what to do • acknowledging our emotions without judging or altering them • coming into the fresh ground of the present moment • we’re able to do these on-the-spot practices because we’re training in them in our regular meditation sessions.
Episode 13: Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose Finding the right balance in our practice keeps us engaged with without being overly effortful • too loose = being spaced-out, indulgent, forgetful; too tight = being really hard on ourselves • sitting practice presents a dynamic, moment-to-moment set of choices: should I relax more? should I tighten up more? • this dynamic is reflected in our posture and in our thought process • when you begin a session, it’s good to tighten up a bit to set boundaries, but then relax within those boundaries • like flying a kite: holding the string with just the right amount of pressure.
Episode 14: Touch and Go “Touch and go” refers to how we relate to thoughts, distractions and sensations that arise during sitting meditation • it represents a middle way between the extremes of avoiding our experience and getting seduced by whatever arises • the “touch” and the “go” happen almost simultaneously • the example of a neighbor stopping by to say hello when we are chopping wood • welcoming and appreciating whatever comes our way, but then letting the experience go • the sense of “disowning” is similar to “divesting” — disowning those qualities that keep us stuck in fixed views or habitual patterns • inserts freshness and simplicity into our meditation • whatever arises is good fuel for meditation practice.