Samatha Meditation

"Though my view is as spacious as the sky, my actions and respect for cause and effect are as fine as grains of flour" - Padmasambhava

Samatha meditation, also known as calming meditation, brings a laser-like focus to our monkey mind.

By removing the clutter, it makes the mind one-pointed, thus enabling us to see things clearly.     

According to the Buddha, Samatha and Vipassana are the two messengers, who deliver the message of Nibbana (Nirvana) rather swiftly.

In many Buddhist traditions, Samatha is done as a precursor to Vipassna (insight) meditation. 

Buddhist meditation practice can be broadly described as a progression from Morality (sila) to Concentration (samadhi) to Wisdom (panna). Our two messengers fall in the middle  - a calm mind that leads to penetrating insights into the true nature of reality - which ultimately results in wisdom that extinguishes all afflictions and brings about enlightenment.

How to do Samatha meditation?

There are 40 meditation techniques to practice Samatha, but I suggest you start with the one below, which the Buddha also taught as the principal way to do Samatha meditation. 

Mindfulness of breathing or anapanasati is how you do it. Here are the steps:

  • Sit in your normal meditation posture 
  • Straighten your back as if stacking one vertebrae on top of the other. Your spine is the main conduit of your central nervous system, so it is important to keep it erect
  • Relax your shoulders and keep the head evenly balanced and tuck your chin slightly inwards
  • Let your tongue touch the palate
  • Relax your face
  • Close your eyes
  • Focus your mind on the rising and falling of breath
  • Specifically, bring attention to the small triangular area between your upper lip and the nostrils and feel every in-breath and out-breath
  • Whenever the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the awareness of the breath flowing in and out

The practice calms the mind and increases concentration dramatically. This steadfastness of the mind leads to the experience of spaciousness (one of the three gateways we talked about in advanced meditation techniques).

And the moment of spaciousness is the healing moment in which vipassana (insight) can occur.    

It lays the foundation for Satipatthana meditation. As you develop your meditative practice, focus on these two to have penetrating insights into the physical and mental phenomena occurring in the world around us. 

Insights that would lead to the realization of the all-pervading impermanence. And finally to liberation from suffering. 

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