It is extremely interesting that unpleasant emotions that we don’t like, when we invite them they don’t come; and when we don’t want them to come they come. So this shows the importance of openness, and then with more and more openness and waiting for these emotions to come, they don’t come.
You can use the same principle in relation to thoughts. When we don’t want thoughts to come they come, and if you invite them, let any thought come, you’ll experience that they don’t come.
Meditation has to be a way of life. There is no beginning meditation and stopping meditation. Meditation should not be confined to a particular posture, a particular time because from the time that we wake up to the time we go to sleep our mind is moving, we are having thoughts, we are having states of mind. So ideally we should have this constant awareness, constant alertness, constant checking out what is happening in our mind throughout the day. Then meditation becomes a way of life. Life and meditation are not two things, they are just one.
We should learn from our unpleasant emotions and make them a learning experience – but how do we know whether what we have learnt from the unpleasant experience is right or wrong?
Very simple answer: without resisting, if you can say okay and make friends with it, that’s it. To put it in other words: when we have unpleasant emotions the normal tendency is to suffer as a result of it, but here by taking them as learning experiences we learn not to suffer and to see them as our teachers and feel grateful for them, because if they do not arise, how can we learn to work with them?
When you are meditating perhaps you are trying too hard, and maybe you are trying to breathe in a different way. When one tries to breathe in an unusual or different way it may be a strain on the lungs. So it is very important when we are meditating, to learn to meditate in a very relaxed way, not to try too hard. If you try too hard it can be a strain on the body and also the mind. So please try to sit in a very relaxed way and don’t put a strain on any part of the body.
If pain comes, stop focusing on breathing and send thoughts of loving-kindness, friendliness, gentleness to that part of your body.
Allow the body to breathe naturally. If you try to breathe with some particular part of your body, that is not allowing the body to breathe naturally.
It is very important to learn to allow the body to breathe naturally. Then when the body is breathing naturally you’re just being conscious of the breathing, that is all. It is like when we are doing walking meditation, we just allow the body to walk and we are just being aware of walking. We don’t try to walk in a different way. So in meditation it is very important to learn to be natural, not to interfere with the natural process of what is happening when we are meditating whether it is walking, breathing or whatever.
We have to be open to learn from whatever happens to you. Learning to see everything as part of the practice. So whether you get angry, whether you get annoyed, when you are reacting, just observe that and see how you are creating suffering for yourself from what others are doing. So in that situation the anger is the object of meditation. Then you learn to make that the object of meditation and see how far you can let go of that anger.
There are unpleasant experiences we have, physically and mentally. So just knowing them and making friends with them is a very important aspect of the practice. If you can practise in this way anything can be a learning experience, anything can be a meditation. So if you can have that openness, then without getting angry with your neighbour, you feel grateful for this person because he or she is giving you an opportunity to work with anger. The person who is annoying you, irritating you becomes your teacher at that time. It is a beautiful way to live.
The idea behind walking meditation is walking consciously. Walk slowly and just be mindful of your walking. When you walk you have to feel the different sensations in the body while you are walking. Thoughts will come but please learn to let go of the thoughts and come back to the present, that is the walking.
Whatever you are doing, please do it slowly, consciously, with mindfulness.
Walk slowly, consciously. Feeling the sensations in your feet. Using walking to experience the present moment.
Keep your hands in front.
Walk slowly so that you can be conscious of all the movements and sensations in your body when you are walking.
Let go of your thoughts and come back to the present with the help of walking. Just walking in a very relaxed way.
Learning to enjoy the simple act of walking.
When you are lifting your feet know that you are lifting your feet.
Just feel the earth with your feet.
Learning to relax with your walking. Learning to walk consciously.
Can you walk as if you are walking on lotus flowers, gently, tenderly – just being conscious of each step?
I would like to make a few points about the connection between meditation and yoga. One thing is that when you do yoga you learn to be aware, mindful of your body, you learn to relax your body, you learn to be friendly and kind towards the body, you learn to use yoga exercises to experience the present moment. These are some aspects of yoga in connection with meditation.
Seeing visions reflects different phases in the practice. Sometimes these visions, these pictures you see are very pleasant, sometimes they are very unpleasant. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant just know that you are seeing something, that you are having this experience, without thinking: Is it abnormal? Is it normal? If you react in that way you are getting involved with what is happening. So what you need to do is not to get involved but just to know, just to say okay and then after some time the sensation will stop.
Do we have more thoughts about the past? Do we have more thoughts about the future? Why do I have more thoughts about the past? What happens when I think about the future? Do I have anxiety? This is why we have to find out, learn about our thoughts and how the thoughts can create emotions and how they can create suffering. This is a very important aspect of the practice. So it is not only stopping thoughts but understanding, learning, discovering about them.