meditation Overview


Rather than a specific meditation technique, the Buddha taught that practice was the entirety of how we live our lives. In order to settle down and gain insight into how things are, we need a life that creates the conditions that allow for wisdom to arise. The path is often described as beginning with dana; generosity as a means of practicing letting go and the gladdening of the heart. It includes our perspective on how things are and our intention to support a way of life that allows us to see clearly. It includes the relational realm, where we understand that how we are in relationship impacts our ease and happiness. The Buddha taught the ways in which wholesome lifestyle choices bring supportive conditions to practice, as well as the difficulties that might ensue when we make less than wholesome choices. He included instructions on friendship, livelihood, speech, action, and a wide range of relational topics. Each of these areas has an impact on our ability to settle down and see clearly. The more ease we bring to these areas, the less struggle we might experience in formal meditation. Each of these areas is also a practice itself—how are we living in the world and what insight into the human condition is available here and now?

The Buddha taught a wide range of meditation practices and subsequent teachers since have created even more. They include tranquility practices, insight, reflections, study, contemplations, practices that harness the power of the imagination, and those that include speaking and listening. All these practices have the ultimate aim of supporting a life inclined towards seeing clearly how things are—impermanent, impersonal, and a potential source of stress when we get it mixed up. By selecting practices appropriate for our temperament, living with a generous heart, and making wise lifestyle choices, we create a life of reduced stress inclined towards ease and wisdom. The help of a spiritual friend, a coach, a confidant, might be helpful in charting and navigating your path.

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