I have always been fascinated by the practice of meditation, yet somehow never really adopted the discipline. Not because of time limitations or anything other than not knowing how best to learn the basics and get involved.
I spent some time reading on the subject and for those interested here are a few starting points for the novice, like me:
It seems that a basic framework is necessary or at least very helpful to start the journey of meditation discovery. Meditation means to think, contemplate, devise and ponder, mindfulness. The meditation practice of ‘mindfulness’ and ‘refuge’ are done to support and enable a meaningful life.
It is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
A Few Things to Know About Mindfulness:
- Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
- Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in
- You don’t need to change. Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
- Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon. Here’s why:
- Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
- It’s a way of living. Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
- It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
- It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
‘Refuge’ means many things including safety, peace, presence, protection, deep relaxation, trust and much more.
The meaning of Refuge becomes deeper and deeper as one proceeds along the Buddhist path and its real depth and magnitude is only known at enlightenment. To put it very simply, to take Refuge is to turn decisively towards the most powerful, sublime, true and meaningful force in the entire universe, seeking its strength, protection and guidance. These will be necessary in order to successfully rid one's mind of confusion and suffering and to attain the peace, wisdom and qualites of enlightenment. This process - of connecting profoundly with the absolute - begins formally with the ceremony of 'Taking Refuge' and is thereafter developed through study and meditation to become a deep inner strength. It is also a commitment to the Buddhist path.
By taking the Refuge ceremony, one becomes a Buddhist. From then on, the inner confidence and support that comes from taking Refuge daily forms a psychological basis for all the work of self-knowledge and transformation of the Buddhist 'path of peace'. Like the foundation of a house, Refuge is the basis upon which all other Buddhist practice is built.
Here are two introductory videos that may get you on the meditation path:
I have included meditation on my 2019 to do list. I encourage you to join me.