Posts tagged buddhism
I recently made a post titled “Should I Try Transcendental Meditation?“, in which I was generally critical of this meditation practice, as it’s in service of a decidedly “for-profit” corporation. This started a few interesting conversations with others who were supporters of TM, including a link to this page.
I’m still not convinced.
I decided to email the TM organization directly with the following questions:
1. Meditation usually involves an extended period of focus on a certain point (the breath, a mantra etc.) Does TM involve practices that differ from this in any way?
2. Your website has quotes from prominent members of Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism and Islam. Has TM received similar praise from members of Eastern religions? If so, why has this not been published? If not, why not?
3. On the TM.org website, James Krag, M.D. states “The vast majority of [academic] research on meditation has been on the Transcendental Meditation technique” Do you know of any reason for this? Why have other thousand-year-old meditation techniques not been studied as extensively as TM?
4. Why isn’t the TM method published openly?
5. Why are TM mantras kept secret? More >
“The buddha-dharma does not invite us to dabble in abstract notions. Rather, the task it presents us with is to attend to what we actually experience, right in this moment. You don’t have to look “over there.” You don’t have to figure anything out. You don’t have to acquire anything. And you don’t have to run off to Tibet, or Japan, or anywhere else. You wake up right here. In fact, you can only wake up right here.
So you don’t have to do the long search, the frantic chase, the painful quest. You’re already right where you need to be. “
— Steve Hagen, Buddhism Plain and Simple
Understanding how to meditate is incredibly easy. The practical act of constant meditation, however, is incredibly difficult. This seeming contradiction will become clearer after a few weeks of maintaining meditation practice.
There are many differing types of meditation techniques. This is an explanation of zazen or “just sitting”. The form of meditation practiced by Zen Buddhists:
- Sit in a room with your legs in either the half-lotus or full-lotus position. Make sure the room is as peaceful as possible and that you won’t be disturbed.
- Half close your eyes so that you don’t have to blink, but don’t close them fully or you’ll risk falling asleep.
- Cup both hands, and place the right on top of the left just below your navel.
- Straighten your back and hold your shoulders upright.
- Breathe in and out, focusing your whole attention on your breath. Focus only on your breath in this moment. Don’t consciously make yourself breathe, just be aware of the sensations involved in breathing.
Eventually, your mind will start to wander. When you find yourself doing this, acknowledge that it happened and go back to the breath. As this continues to happen again and again, don’t get disheartened. Continue to acknowledge your wandering mind and return yourself to the breath.