Friends of Godwin Samararatne

Learn to be your best friend and also to be a friend of others. Learn to forgive yourself and others and then heal any wounds that you are carrying.

Distractions and Disturbances

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What is beautiful about meditation is that the so-called distractions and disturbances become our teachers. Rather than waste such situations we should learn to see how far even under those circumstances we can meditate, and this will give us lots of self-confidence, and will be a very important breakthrough.

And if we meditate in a place where there is pure air, where there is no smell of food, do we think there won’t be any problems for us? Then we might have other problems!

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Natural, Simple and Uncomplicated

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In meditation we have to do things naturally. This is why in the meditation on breathing one has to learn to breathe naturally. In the same way, when doing walking meditation we slow down, but in slowing down one is learning to walk naturally. Whether it is breathing or walking meditation, if you try to do it differently and not naturally, then you have problems.

A very interesting point is that when we are meditating we feel that we should do something different, something special. If you try to do anything as if it is something special, as if it is something different, then there’ll be special problems. So please realise meditation is not something special. It is something very natural. It was so beautiful when I had a session with a group of children: so natural, simple and uncomplicated.

Expectations

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It is quite right to say that suffering is created by our expectations and that it is a strong habit in ourselves. This is where awareness is very important. With awareness you catch yourself immediately when your habit patterns arise. And then realise that it is just a habit and that it is not reality.

So being aware and catching the habit when it arises, in whatever form, and then learning to let go of it, aware that it is just a habit, nothing else. If you can catch it as it arises it will be great because then you’ll be really handling it effectively. As I often say, as we are human sometimes we might fail to catch it as it arises and we might become victims of this habit. So when that happens again just reflect on what has happened when the event is over, and then learn from what has happened. Learn to experiment with such situations.

And the best technique to work with this is, of course, awareness and equanimity as you have pointed out. Learning to have a non-reactive mind to whatever is happening. If having a non-reactive mind is another expectation you should realise: I’m trying to be non-reactive and sometimes I might succeed, but sometimes I might fail. If you can have that openness there is very little likelihood of it becoming a strong expectation.

Walking Meditation

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Please be aware of all the movements in your body while you are walking. Experiencing the present moment with the help of walking, conscious walking.

Feel the different sensations, the movements in your body while you are walking.

Let go of your thoughts gently and come back to walking.

Just enjoying conscious walking.

Please don’t look around. Can you walk as if you are walking on lotus flowers, being conscious of each step that you are taking?

Can you feel the sensations in your knees? Do you feel the sensation of your feet touching the floor?

Now please try to slow down the walking so that you can be really conscious of each step that you are taking from moment to moment.

Let go of your thoughts gently and come back to walking.

Now stand still wherever you are and please close your eyes.

Standing Meditation

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Now let us do some standing meditation. And when you stand, please stand up slowly, observing every movement while you are standing up and observing the intention to stand.

Now just feel what it is to stand. Feel the different sensations, the different movements in your body when you are standing.

So when thoughts come, gently let go of them and come back to the body, the sensations.

Experience the present moment with the help of your body.

Note carefully, sharply, how sensations in the body change from moment to moment.

Feel what it is to stand with your body completely still.

And can you feel the stillness around you?

Not thinking about the past, not thinking about the future.

Experiencing the present moment with the help of the sensations and stillness.

Whatever you experience in the body, just see them as just sensations, sensations arising, sensations passing away from moment to moment.

Sitting Meditation

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Let us begin by just feeling friendly towards our mind and body. Friendly and gentle towards our mind, friendly and gentle towards our body.

Can you see yourself as your best friend? And can you really feel it, feel it in every part of your body, your whole being?

And being your best friend, you have complete confidence and trust in yourself.

Now let us just be mindful, just be aware, just be alert and awake to what is happening in our mind and body from moment to moment.

Please realise that what we are doing is not to develop concentration but just learning to be aware, learning to be conscious, learning to be alert. So please don’t try to achieve anything. Whatever is happening in your mind and body, just know what is happening.

If you are aware you will know that you are sitting completely still and you will feel the stillness around you.

Now we will use our awareness to become aware of our breath. Please allow your body to breathe naturally and just be aware of the sensations, the movements you experience in the body, in your breathing.

You know when the body is inhaling. You know when the body is exhaling.

Feel friendly towards your thoughts and just return to your breath.

Experience the present moment with the help of your friend, the breath.

When the breath is long you know that the breath is long. When it is short you know that it is short. When it is deep you know it is deep. When it is not deep you know that it is not deep.

Feeling the stillness in the room, you inhale. Feeling the stillness in the room, you exhale.

If there are unpleasant sensations in the body, just learn to feel friendly and gentle towards them. Don’t see them as disturbances or distractions.

If there are unpleasant sensations in the body, how far can you make friends with them without disliking them?

If you are experiencing any unpleasant emotions, how far can you feel friendly towards them, not dislike them, not want them to go away?

If you have thoughts that you don’t like, how far can you feel friendly towards them and just allow them?

If you are not resisting any of these things, there is no suffering.

Awareness with Friendliness

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Whether you are sitting, standing, walking, eating, doing yoga, whatever you are doing, even going to the toilet, what you do in the toilet, please make an effort just to know, just to be conscious, just to be present, to what is happening in your mind and body from moment to moment.

It is also important to learn to use awareness with friendliness, with gentleness. There is a very interesting Mahayana text in this connection where watching yourself, observing yourself, is compared to being a mother. So like a mother just watching, just observing, just noticing her child in whatever the child is doing, in the same way, if you can watch, if you can observe, if you can find out what is happening in your mind and body with awareness and friendliness, this is extremely important.

Meditation on the Sublime States

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Let us begin with meditation of loving-kindness, Metta.

We will try to radiate, extend lots of friendliness in all directions.

May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be free of suffering.

Let us now think of the people whom we know are suffering. Maybe physical suffering, maybe mental suffering.

Let us feel for those people who are suffering. Let us feel concern for those people who are suffering.

May they be free of the suffering that they are experiencing.

Can you really wish this from your heart?

Can you feel happy that you are trying to develop qualities of loving-kindness and compassion for others? Rejoice in this.

Can you be happy with yourself that you are trying to develop these qualities of the heart?

Let us now try to develop the important quality of a non-reactive mind. Whatever is happening in our mind and body right now, can we relate to that without liking, without disliking?

If we are experiencing physical pain, physical discomfort, can we relate to it without reacting?

If your mind is not calm, can you just know that the mind is not calm and not react to it, not give it a minus?

If you are experiencing pleasant experiences, can you not like it; and if you are experiencing unpleasant experiences, can you relate to it without disliking it?

Just being open to whatever is happening.

Learning to see things just as they are.

Reacting and Responding

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Please get these two words very clear: reacting and responding. If we are reacting emotionally we can learn from that. What made me become so sad? What made me become so depressed? What made me so insecure? Because you might have had the thought: maybe my own child could be like this sometime. So we can create a huge story from a simple incident that you have seen on the road. If that happens, you can reflect on it: Why am I reacting? So that becomes an object of meditation.

And maybe in another situation you might be able to respond. Respond very clearly, very calmly, with a still mind, doing what has to be done. So you see the difference very clearly: Ah, see what happens when I react and see what happens when I respond. Just see the difference.

And the same principle applies to what is happening internally. When we are meditating, someone who is habitually reactive can be reactive to what is happening in meditation also. To take an example, supposing your knees are in pain. You can say my knees are in pain, who knows, my knees might break, I know some meditators who have broken their knees – and you can create a huge story from the pain in the knees. And from the pain in the knees you can have anxiety, you can have fear, you can have insecurity, you can have all these unpleasant emotions. So responding would be just observing the pain and learning to make friends with it, and if it becomes unbearable you change the posture.

All Four Qualities

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If one wants to develop Karuna, then suppose that when you are sitting there is physical pain, there is suffering in yourself. So rather than continue to suffer as a result of that physical or mental pain, you try to do something about it, you learn to be friendly in relation to it, you learn to let go of it. This would be practising Karuna in relation to meditation.

And when you do that you can immediately experience sympathetic joy and feel happy: very nice, joy instead of suffering; I tried to do something about it and now there is a change taking place. So you can experience joy about the pain, happiness about it. Then you can experience the last quality, realising maybe I should not hold on to this joy, I should have a non-reactive mind to the joy.

So you see how in one particular situation, a simple situation, one can develop Metta, Karuna, Mudita, and Uppekha, all four qualities.