What does meditation mean to you?

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

You might think of peaceful monks meditating, or maybe the popular mindfulness movement that is sweeping through our culture. You might think of single-pointed concentration, a blissful state free from all thought. You might think of loving-kindness meditation, or maybe even meditation on a mantra or seed syllable.

It is helpful to think of meditation in the same way that we think about sports. To say that you meditate, is to say that you play sports. Doesn't really mean much does it. What kind of sport do you play, what is the purpose of the sport, how does it benefit you? This is how we should think about meditation.

The Tibetan term for meditation is 'gom', which actually means to familiarize or cultivate. That is a useful definition to keep in mind when you sit down to meditate. What are you familiarizing yourself with?

I primarily teach the following types of meditation, each of which has its own purpose and function. Each of these practices forms the basis for the Inner Work of familiarizing ourselves with our true nature, the nature of the world around us, and our place in it.

To get started, read Beginner's Meditation Advice and practice the Guided Meditation: with an object.

Bringing the Mind to Rest

The Bringing the Mind to Rest course focuses on the practice of shamatha, or calm-abiding. The goal of shamatha is to cultivate an effortless, joyful, and peaceful equanimity that is accompanied by a sharp and strong mindfulness. Through this practice you can get a glimpse of your true nature and start to find a workable ground for progressing on the path. This work includes:

  • Being introduced to the key points of meditation.
  • Learning how to bring the mind to rest using various techniques.
  • Learning how recognize the innate qualities of the nature of mind, qualities like peace, clarity, stability, natural rest and joy.
  • Understanding how we stray in the practice and how to eliminate errors in our meditation.

Exploring the Mind

The Exploring the Mind course focuses on the practice of vipashyana, or insight meditation. The goal of of insight meditation is to explore the inner landscape of your own mind, recognize your true nature, and set yourself on a journey of self-discovery. This work includes common vipashyana techniques, as well as the uncommon techniques found in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices traditions, including:

  • Being introduced to the key points for understanding mind and its nature.
  • Being introduced to selflessness and emptiness, and coming to a correct understanding of what these elusive topics really mean.
  • Becoming familiar with stillness and movement in meditation.
  • Having a direct experience of the nature of the mind as luminous cognizance.

Resting in the Natural State

Resting in the Natural State is a meditation technique that is unique to the Mahamudra and Dzogchen practice traditions. The goal of resting in the natural state is to make fully evident our true nature as ever-present open presence. This work includes:

  • Learning how to distinguish between mind and awareness in meditation.
  • Learning how to let go of fixation and grasping and to rest naturally.
  • Learning how to maintain that state in an uncontrived and effortless manner.
  • Becoming familiar with natural clarity and lucidity.

Training in each of these methods and techniques enables you to reclaim your natural condition as ever-present open presence, which is one of health, peace, unconditional love and compassion. Our natural condition is and has always been pure and undefiled, what the Dzogchen scriptures call the 'marvelous primordial state.'

The goal of the Inner Work is to introduce you to that state and teach you how to connect with it on a daily basis. The Outer Work teaches you how to carry that open presence into your life with compassion, kindness and generosity, changing the world in which we live, for the better.