Having reflected on the heart-wish and decided that meditation is what you want to do, commit yourself to the discipline of a regular meditation schedule.
It takes conscious thought and planning to establish and maintain a meditation practice. Our initial resolve to meditate can easily be eroded by the busyness of our daily lives, by our commitments and by the force of habits pulling us in many different directions.
It is fairly obvious that you must have some kind of intention to do the meditation practice or it simply won’t happen. What isn’t so obvious is how you can
strengthen the power of your intention by means of making resolves and keeping to them.
Just saying to yourself ‘I think I might meditate’ doesn’t carry much power and it’s quite likely you’ll end up not meditating. However, if you bring your full mind and heart to making the intention to practice, saying to yourself, ‘I make the commitment to practice 15 minutes every day for 30 days’, it is much more likely that you will do it.
Members of the Awakened Heart Sangha can seal their resolve by telling their sangha Mentor what you have decided to do, otherwise you could tell someone close to you, especially if they are willing to call you to challenge you when they notice you are not doing it!
It is important to set up a regular, daily, basic routine for meditating. Meditation then becomes a part of your daily life, the way brushing your teeth does. You don’t have to make a separate decision about it. You simply do it without fail.
Time of Day
Experiment to find the time of day that works best for your own schedule and temperament, and then stick with it. In this way you develop a regular daily rhythm to
your practice, and it begins to run itself. Otherwise, it is all too easy for this, that and the other to push the meditation out of your day.
Length of Practice
Decide on the length of time you will meditate for and stick with that, not getting up for anything short of a real emergency. It helps to use a timer so that you can relax into the practice without worrying about time. In the beginning do not be over ambitious. It is far better to do a regular, short meditation each day than to do a marathon occasionally. Try starting with 10-20 minutes a day, but this is something you could discuss with your Mentor. If all else fails, make a resolve to do at least five minutes when you get up, five minutes at some point during the day and five minutes before going to sleep at
Where to Meditate
Select a suitable space for your practice where you can sit comfortably and be reasonably undisturbed. A corner of your bedroom or any other quiet spot is fine. You
may find it helpful to arrange things in this space that are conducive to meditation such as your special meditation seat, inspiring readings or even a Buddha image on a shrine, or anything else that inspires you personally.
It could be quite inspiring in itself to create a sacred, peaceful and uplifting space in
this way. It is surprising how others can sense the sacredness that builds up over time. Even animals seem to respond to it.
Lama Shenpen Hookham
This is an extract from Lama Shenpen’s book ‘Heart of Meditation – An Introduction to Formless Meditation Practice’, which is sent to those who join the Living the Awakened Heart Training and is also available from Amazon.
The Living the Awakened Heart Training is a structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight. The training, which is open to all, brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a Western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at www.ahs.org.uk/training
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