When people talk about Buddhist meditation they often say that it is a way of life and not really a faith – this way of thinking has popularized its practice throughout the head-heavy modern world. Making it cool and not near the religious pigeon-hole. It’s a misunderstanding. This way of thinking about Buddhist Meditation has mainly been introduced by practitioners who are attempting to turn it into a digestible package. Religion has a bad name amongst many people almost seen as simple or an outdated way of thinking.
A way of life that was necessary in economic hardship, but not necessary now when we have scientists who are the new leaders taking and moving society forward at a blistering pace.
We can see clearly that the development of science and understanding of the external world we live in has not improved the quality of modern life.
On the outside yes, but at the expense of our inner life.
Along with the great external improvements we see in the world there is an increase in mental health and isolation issues.
Often mental health issues are covered up and effect those who are marginalized in society.
Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder.
1 in 5 older people suffer from depression who live in the community and 2 in 5 who live in care homes.
1 in 4 British adults experience one diagnosable mental health problem in one year (Office of National Statistics).
The World Heath Organization estimate that 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem.
The BBC recently reported that 1/3 of people over 60 will go a week without speaking to anyone.
When we experience a cold or flu we have no issue in telling those around us and going to the doctor – however when something doesn’t feel right inside then it is more difficult to reach out and speak about it – a standard response would be to disguise it and then drown the experience in alcohol on the weekend so we don’t need to think about it – or have something on the horizon to look forward to – such as holiday that will keep our mind off the issue.
Most people we come across during the day do not have the friendly appearance of a Blue Peter presenter and if we did meet such a person then they would probably irritate!
One of the most important states of mind to help and increase our mental health is to develop a stable mind – it’s not often talked about, a strong mind.
Picture the scenario of a mind gym where people are sitting around strengthening their minds each evening after work – they can’t strut because nobody can see the growth!
First and foremost meditation strengthens the mind – it brings stability. When the mind is stable then we can work on transforming it into a positive state.
Two of the main weaknesses of the modern-day positive thinking movement are;
1) They often leave out the stabilizing the mind bit and jump straight into to affirming wonderful things about one self without any foundation.
2) There is simply too much focus on the self.
Be positive – a great message but how without a stable mind? Well virtually impossible.
If we can sit still regularly – physically stop and mental unwind our mind will become like a mountain and whatever is thrown at it we remain still and peaceful.
This is not accomplished through repeating words over and over in our head its experienced through inner stillness.
People of faith add another dimension to their meditations – the experience of blessings.
Blessings in Tibetan means to transform – the transformation of negative to positive.
This is what we need.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that Buddhas can help a practitioner to transform their mind from negative to positive. They channel these blessings into their heart to help progress their meditation.
In the same way that a Christian will call upon Jesus to help, assist and give them strength.
Some people would say that this is a weakness and why can’t you do it by yourself?
Perhaps; it depends what works for you. The proof is in the experience, as a result of engaging in your practice is your mind more peace, positive and compassionate. Overtime monitor your experience.
We all know the experience of being in the presence of a positive person – we feel uplifted by them.
If we are down and meet someone who smiles and is positive we can feel uplifted.
Yesterday I went into the local post office to send some parcels to family and the lady behind the counter was so busy and rushed but at the same time was so happy and positive, she even re-wrapped one of the presents, it was an uplifting experience.
A few Christmas’s ago I was playing the guitar in a homeless centre down in the docklands and a homeless guy came up to me and said “thanks I was feeling really low and then when I heard the music it lifted my soul”
His feedback was a blessing to me also.
If we can stabilize our mind and then transform it, we can have an incredibly positive effect on our society.
One lady from a school I was talking to was trying to work out how Meditation would affect the lives of her students in the future – she was quite dismissive of its power.
I tried to explain its far-reaching effects…but it takes time to convey and appreciate its power unless the person has practiced and experienced it within their life…
During this festive time – go in and then go out and reach the people around you with a warm and generous heart – its effects will spread throughout the world.
If you lack the strength to do it – then go in and meditate to find some and then take what you experience back out into the world 🙂