25 Apr 2016

Alan shares with us an image that came to him this morning, originating probably from a martial arts film. In this image a trainee in martial arts is told to stand one-legged on the top of a telephone pole. And to just stay there… Our practice is much more challenging - says Alan. If your shamatha is flaky your vipashyana will be flaky, too - he warns us. But what is the foundation of shamatha? To answer this, Alan refers to Padmasambhava. Prior to practicing shamatha one should settle the body in its natural state. Then the speech - by settling the respiration in its natural rhythm. To stop the mental chatter is not so easy, but as long as there is mental activity it will prevent the respiration to settle in its natural state. It is especially important to maintain a very silent mind at the end of the out-breath to enable the in-breath to flow in effortlessly. One needs to maintain the continuity of attention without losing relaxation. Finally, one settles the mind in its natural state. And here Alan refers again to the image of a person balancing on the pole. Do not fall forward or backward, to the left or to the right - do not fall into excitation or laxity, do not grasp onto thoughts of the past or future. Stay balanced on the pole. Be “maharishi” (Sanskrit) - totally straight. The more deeply the body is relaxed and the respiration is settled in its natural rhythm, the better the mind will be able to practice shamatha.

The meditation is on settling body, speech and mind in their natural states and on resting in the stillness of awareness.

After the meditation Alan advises us to maintain the continuity of stillness between the sessions. If this stillness is maintained throughout the course of the day, we will be able to stay lucid and fully present, yet not caught up in whatever arises in the field of our senses and awareness.

The meditation starts at 6:16

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