Meditation is a natural state of the human mind—at rest, open, alert. The practice of meditation has been taught for over 2,500 years as a vehicle for realizing the beauty and magic of the ordinary world without aggression or manipulation.
The teachings of Shambhala Buddhism emphasize the potential for enlightenment inherent in every situation or state of mind. Through discipline, gentleness and a sense of humor, the practitioner is invited to let go of conflicting emotions and wake up on the spot.
Mindfulness/awareness meditation is the foundation of all that we do at the Shambhala Meditation Center.This ancient practice of self-discovery is rooted in the simple but revolutionary premise that every human being has the ability to cultivate the mind’s inherent stability, clarity and strength in order to be more awake and to develop the compassion and insight necessary to care for oneself and the world genuinely.
About Meditation Instruction
Meditation instruction is available to anyone, free of charge. We offer introductory instruction to newcomers and follow-up instruction to other practitioners on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, as part of our Open House program, and at other times by appointment. Not just for “new” meditators, instruction is also recommended as part of our ongoing practice. You are always welcome to come in and speak to an instructor about your regular practice and you may even ask to form a working relationship with the instructor of your choice.
Depending on a student’s interest and experience, meditation instruction might include:
Introducing the practice of meditation – Introductory meditation instruction presents the basic meditation techniques taught in the Shambhala community.
Clarifying the view of meditation – In our tradition, meditation instruction involves more than the communication of a technique; it is, at heart, about the transmission of the revolutionary view that unconditional wisdom and compassion are the very ground of our being, and that by learning to relax more and more fully, we allow this fundamental nature to flower.
Instruction on working with obstacles to meditation – Common obstacles to meditation include disheartenment, resistance, procrastination, discursiveness and spacing out. The obstacles are well documented in the Shambhala Buddhist teachings—and so are their antidotes.
Guidance on the path of practice and study – Shambhala presents many opportunities for students to deepen their practice and study—public meditation sessions, weeknight classes, weekend programs, retreats and seminaries, to name a few. A meditation instructor can help you decide what to do next and when to do it.
Guidance on joining meditation and daily life – The workaday world is where the rubber meets the road. Getting the tools to meet life’s ups and downs with a strong and pliable mind and an open heart is another potential benefit of working with a meditation instructor.
“Meditation is based on the premise that the natural state of the mind is calm and clear. It provides a way to train our mind to settle into this state. Our first reason for meditating might be that we want some freedom from our agitated mind. We want to discover the basic goodness of our natural mind.
To do this requires us first to slow down and experience our mind as it is. In the process, we get to know how our mind works. We see that wherever the mind is abiding–in anger, in desire, in jealousy, or in peace–that is where we also are abiding. We begin to see that we have a choice in the matter: we do not have to act at the whim of every thought. We can abide peacefully. Meditation is a way to slow down and see how our mind works.
The untrained mind is weak and inflexible. It lives in a zone of comfort. When the boundaries of that zone are challenged, it reacts by becoming more rigid. In contrast, the trained mind is strong, flexible, and workable. Because it can stretch beyond where it feels comfortable, it’s responsive–not reactive–to challenges. Through meditation we can train our mind to be flexible and tuned in to what’s happening now. We can apply this workable mind in all aspects of our lives, including our livelihood, our relationships, and our spiritual path. So another reason to meditate is to develop a strong, supple mind that we can put to work.
It’s easy to associate meditation with spirituality because when we experience a moment of peacefully abiding, it seems so far-out. Our mind is no longer drifting, thinking about a million things. The sun comes up or a beautiful breeze comes along–and all of a sudden we feel the breeze and we are completely in tune. We think, “That’s a very spiritual experience! It’s a religious experience! At least worth a poem, or a letter home.” Yet all that’s happening is that for a moment we are in tune with our mind. Our mind is present and harmonious. Before, we were so busy and bewildered that we didn’t even notice the breeze. Our mind couldn’t even stay put long enough to watch the sun come up, which takes two-and-a-half minutes. Now we can keep it in one place long enough to acknowledge and appreciate our surroundings. Now we are really here. This has nothing to do with religion or a spiritual path. It has everything to do with simply being human.”
– By Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, author of Turning The Mind Into An Ally and Ruling Your World.