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.

Like Children

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Try to be like children, trying to learn, making discoveries about what is happening in our mind and body. It is very important to have this childlike quality of learning, finding out, being curious about what is happening in our mind and body, which is something we take for granted.

Try to see meditation as a voyage of self-discovery, and if we can have this openness then we can learn from any experience we are having. It can be pleasant, it can be unpleasant, but learning to ask the questions: What can I learn from this? What does it show to me? This kind of attitude to meditation is very important.

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Slow Down

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Let us learn to slow down. I know in Cities you have to move very fast because the speed of life there is very fast. Let’s make it a point to learn to relax and just do things very slowly. Slowly and also in a very relaxed way.

Another suggestion I would like to offer is the practice of silence. I know it is very difficult for some people to be silent because it is a very strong habit that we have to speak. So let us make an effort just to be silent with ourselves and you will see a connection between awareness, mindfulness, and silence. The more aware you are, the more silent you become and when you are silent, mindfulness will come naturally. You’ll enjoy the space that silence creates in your mind.

Another aspect of silence is learning to be alone with ourselves. We have become so dependent on external things. So try just to be friendly with ourselves and see whether we can be in our own company and enjoy our own company. Learning to be our best friend. It is very important to make this connection with ourselves where we see ourselves as the most precious friend we have.

Just Knowing

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In meditation a very important aspect is the practice of awareness, mindfulness, just knowing what is happening in our mind and body from moment to moment. And even if it is unpleasant experience, even if it is something you consider strange, just know that it is happening rather than be worried, thinking: Am I doing it rightly? Is it normal to experience these things? It is not necessary to have such thoughts but just know that this is what I am feeling, this is the sensation I am experiencing.

Another important aspect related to this is to be mindful, to be aware with loving-kindness, just knowing what is happening with friendliness. It can be like a mother who is just watching, observing her only child with gentleness, with openness.

To Experience Freedom

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When we sit to meditate, please don’t have any expectations of what should happen or what shouldn’t happen. And without any expectations you just know whatever is happening. What is important is not to judge, not to give a plus, not to give a minus, but just know from moment to moment what is happening in your mind and body, with some openness.

The whole idea of meditation is to experience freedom, to be free of suffering, but sometimes the way we try to meditate with all our expectations, we create suffering for ourselves. So if we have an expectation that our minds should be calm, that we should be having only positive experiences, then if they arise what we do is hold onto them. And when we are unable to hold onto them, that creates suffering. And then when the mind is not calm, when the mind is not relaxed, you will think you’re not meditating rightly and then that is creating suffering. So without this idea of positive and negative, just be open, just be friendly to whatever is happening from moment to moment with awareness – that can give us immediate freedom.

You Just Know It

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What is important is to spend some time just allowing the body to breathe naturally. Our friend knows very well how to breathe. Even when we are asleep our friend continues to breathe. In fact this is what I’ll be emphasising when we try to experiment with this technique, to spend some time first just allowing the body to breathe naturally, without controlling it, without manipulating it, without interfering with it. Then in a very simple, natural way just knowing, just being aware of what is happening to the body when the body is inhaling and exhaling. So it is a very simple technique, but we are very good at complicating simple things!

It’s interesting that in the texts it says that when the breath is long, you just know that the breath is long, when the breath is short, you know that it is short. So whatever is happening naturally, you just know it, that is all.

Deep Breathing

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In relation to tensions in our body, if we can really consciously and deliberately do some deep breathing this can to a great extent help to work with that tension. In a way, one can say that being with the breath or just being with the sensation can have the same effects because we are experiencing the present moment both with the help of the breath and the sensation in the body.

A Vicious Circle

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An interesting process to discover is how thoughts and emotions, are involved in creating tension. Supposing someone is afraid of dogs. When such a person sees a dog, the thought immediately comes: Ah there is a dog; maybe the dog is going to bite me! And very quickly that thought gives rise to emotions. Emotions of fear, anxiety, insecurity can come. And then that can give rise to tension in the body. So with meditation, if we can see this process taking place it can be very useful, there can be very important discoveries that we can make about these things. And the process continues further: we react to the tension with thoughts and then that leads to further emotions. So it really becomes what can be called a vicious circle.

So how can we interrupt this vicious circle? How can we break this vicious circle? One way – one very powerful way – is to spend some time with the breath, because then immediately your mind comes to the present and with that all these things, the process that has been taking place as I described earlier drops away, there can be some space created by this focusing on our friend.

Thoughts Come so Quickly

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When we have emotions, unpleasant emotions, what makes it worse is our thinking, our thoughts. It is very interesting when we have an emotion. If you have space in the mind to watch your thoughts you’ll realise how thoughts come so quickly at that time and how you can create a big story about what is happening. And sometimes a small emotion can really blow up just by this process of thinking.

Maybe a practical example would be if someone has made you angry, at least you think that someone has made you angry. Then what happens to you? You’ll be having thoughts about that person, how that person has been behaving in the past and all such things, so that your whole attention will be centred on that person; and with the negative thoughts about that person your anger becomes worse and worse. In such a situation we can really lose control. Actually at that moment the emotions and the thoughts really control us, they really overwhelm us, as we all know. So for someone who has been making a connection with our friend in this way, at that moment, if they can spend some time with the breath, just the in-breath and the out-breath, just being completely with it, then at least for a few minutes the fermenting of that emotion with thoughts will become less.

Die Peacefully

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According to a Buddhist text, when we die, when we pass away, those who have meditated on this object can easily remember the breath at that time, if they are conscious, of course. I know some people who are working with those who are dying, and one of the techniques that they use in helping people to die is to get them to breathe consciously at that time, to learn to be conscious of their breathing. So when we are dying, if we can experience the present moment with our friend, then we have a good chance of dying peacefully.

So our good friend helps us to live peacefully, and it can also help us to sleep peacefully. Before you fall asleep if you can spend some time just to relax your mind and body with the breath you can sleep peacefully. And then we can die peacefully.

A Feeling of Oneness

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A very important insight is to realise that we are all inter-connected, inter-related, inter-being, although we think we are separate, foreign to each other in some sense. But when we reflect on breathing, we realise that what is common to all beings is this fact of breathing. So this should enable us to have a feeling of oneness with all beings around us because what unites us, what is common to all beings, is this fact of breathing. And we have to realise that we breathe the same air, that in relation to the air that we breathe we can’t separate the breath and say the air that I’m breathing is mine. So there is this universality.