Science of training the mind.
Meditation is the science of training the mind. It is a vehicle for recognizing our own true nature and understanding the nature of reality. What we often call meditation can be categorized as two types of meditation, shamatha and vipashyana. Shamatha, or calm abiding, is the practice of bringing the mind to rest. The practice of shamatha involves choosing an intentional focus, whether it be the breath, an object, or even resting in the nature of mind.
The goal of the practice of shamatha is to cultivate an effortless, joyful, and peaceful equanimity that is accompanied by a very powerful and sharp mindfulness. When this mind that is resting in shamatha is combined with the practice of vipashyana, it can give rise to very clear and profound insights; insights into our own mind and the nature of the world in which we live.
We are all familiar with brief flashes of insight. We may be moving throughout our day and suddenly, catch a moment of clarity. These moments come and go, and they can fuel our well-being, joy and creativity. While we may have these insights frequently, they are often not transformative. The transformational power of the higher insights into the true nature of the mind and the nature of reality only occur when the mind is resting in shamatha.
The union of shamatha and vipashyana give rise to moments of awakening, as well as the final awakening to our true nature. These moments of awakening and higher perception are unpredictable and depend on certain conditions and the depth of your practice. The way that you can impact your chances of gaining these higher insights is to practice more.
Sit. Train your mind. Develop familiarity with bringing the mind to rest. Familiarize yourself with the stages of bringing the mind to rest, so that you can continuously and regularly rest in shamatha- a powerful mind that is joyful, effortlessly resting in peaceful equanimity. From this place of calm abiding, we can direct our discerning awareness to questions that explore the mind, our experience and the world around us.