Applicaion of Meditation Techniques
In our daily life, much of what we do and experience is completely unconscious in the sense that we do it with little or no attention. Our minds are always on something else entirely. We spend most of our time running on automatic pilot, lost in the fog of daydreams and preoccupation. Mindfulness is the energy being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what we are doing. (Thich Nhat Hanh) We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our shower. Mindfulness can be practiced throughout every moment of the day and not just doing meditation, but also eating, in the bathroom, at work and on the path leading from one place to another. Meditation is an exercise in mindfulness, that is, in egoless awareness. It is a procedure in which the ego will be eradicated by the penetrating gaze of mindfulness. The practitioner begins this process with the ego in full command of mind and body. Then as mindfulness watches the ego function, it penetrates to the roots of the mechanics of ego and extinguishes ego piece by piece. Mindfulness therefore is practised by observation of arising, passing away of the phenomena, which is the direct insight into impermanence, the wisdom which lead to liberation. There are different approaches of meditation. No matter which meditation approach/method is applied, the traditional purpose of meditation is the same, that is to succeed in accomplish concentration and/or mindfulness for further development of wisdom, compassion and ethical conduct, and meditation is the way to develop the right conditions to facilitate events to happen. As such, in practice of developing concentration, the right way is not to attempt to be concentrate, but try to develop the right conditions so that our mind will slowly pay attention and concentrate on the object of our focus. Without the right conditions, nothing will happen, and it is all about having the right conditions (the law of dependent origination). The purpose of traditional meditation is not goal-oriented. Happiness, well-being and peace are the side effect of the meditation path, not the goals by themselves. However, it is this side effect make meditation becoming very popular in the last few decades, especially in the area of psychological therapy, stress reduction for cancer patients, stress reduction program in workplace environment, in hospices, in prisons, in school etc. The defined purpose of mindfulness in contemporary meditation become more goal-oriented, such as: – leads to improved well-being, contentment and happiness – aims to achieve better health, increased enjoyment – enhance relationships and great success in life No doubt, the range of areas where meditation is applied will be continued to expand. However, if the development is too fast without sufficient support and guidance, there may have the chance for meditation to become a part of the global consumerist paradigm, which its development will be dominated by egoistic motives, and the original purpose of gradually eradicating the ego of the practitioner will become hard to be served. It is therefore important for practitioner to know the true purpose of meditation and understand correctly the benefit of practicing meditation. Having said that, there are substantial amount of scientific studies that have proved the benefit of meditation, which include – balancing stress and pressure in life – enhancing ability to understand and handle emotions – develop concentration, insight and wisdom – feeling good – ending suffering Meditation is actually the cultivation of mindfulness/awareness, and the meditation techniques can be applied to each and every activity of our life once cultivated to help calming our minds and increasing our focus. Such skills are important for us to succeed in a frenetic environment where distractions are all over the place. Use work as an example, for an executive play a management role in a sizable organization, the role will normally require to be sharp in judgement, quick in categorizing situations into good and bad or positive and negative and react fast. In the commercial world, quick result is always being valued, seldom to give time and space to let things unfold and always rush to the next ‘better’ move. In situation requiring to make change, it is often quickly buy into reputation and authority. And when in stress, it is always end up in emotional turmoil and anger, and then use up a lot of energy in struggle instead of using the available resource for healing and change. It is always not a lack of intelligence that causes executive to make poor decision, but a lack of awareness of feelings that drive their reactions. However, for an experienced meditation practitioner, by applying meditation techniques in work – contemplation of the characteristics of every event, see clearly, deeply and exam fully the conditions for arising, conditions for removal, and conditions for prevention, and stop to react mechanically with insight into impermanent and conditioned nature of every event. As such, the practitioner can create the conditions and environment so that his/her body and mind can relax and harmonize, and accept whatever is happening as natural and let it be. Now and then throughout the day, the practitioner will pause to be fully present in the moment before undertaking the next critical task, and will take the position of an impartial witness to their own experience without judging impatiently based on illusion of knowing, desires or fears and prejudices. In Hong Kong, there are secondary schools conducting mindfulness living workshop for year 10 students, this is an extra curriculum activity and meeting is held once a week introducing different way of mindfulness practices to students. Most of the practices are based on the practices from the Plum Village. The course is divided into four sections. The first section is on awareness nurturing, which covers ‘body awareness and deep relaxation’, ‘sound awareness’, ‘breathing meditation’, ‘walking meditation’, ‘mindfulness eating’, ‘mindfulness talking and listening’. The second section is on emotion handling, which covers ‘consideration and observation of thoughts and feelings’, ‘freeze negative emotions’, ‘let go and gratitude’. The third section is on examination and investigation of the roots of negative emotions, which covers ‘uncover of the root cause’, ‘acknowledge of the root cause’, ‘transformation’. The fourth section is on wholesome conditioning, which covers ‘sewing seeds of happiness’, ‘watering seeds of happiness’, ‘loving-kindness’, and ‘love networking’. The program has been running in seven Catholic schools since 2009 and is well received. The feedback from teachers, students and parents are all encouraging, and the program is notably effective, in particular, in stress reduction and handling of negative emotions. In general, meditation techniques like ‘searching and watching’, ‘consideration and examination’, ‘bare attention and contemplation’, ‘stopping, arousal and relinquishment’ can be applied in all different kind of activities as long as the chosen activity requires to pay focused attention for fulfilment of its specific purpose. In the mindfulness state, practitioner can experience the activity fully moment by moment, while the well being of the practitioner will be maintained in accepting the reality as it is. The ultimate goal of practice therefore is to build one’s concentration and awareness to a level of strength that will remain unwavering even in the midst of the pressures of life in contemporary society.