“The object of meditation is to transform oneself, not to have good meditations”
There are many things in life that are beyond our control. However, it is possible to take responsibility for and to change your state of mind by using the gentle awareness known as mindfulness. According to Buddhism mindfulness is the most important thing we can do, and Buddhism teaches that it is the only real antidote to the anxiety, hatred, discontentedness, sleepiness, and confusion that beset the human condition.
Meditation is a means of developing mindfulness of ourselves and the world around us. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, and emotional positivity. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of the mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With discipline and patience these calm and focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly tranquil and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transforming effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
Wellington Buddhist Centre teaches a system of meditation ranging from just sitting with basic awareness to complex visualisation practices. The two most common practices, however are the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Metta Bhavana.
The Mindfullness of Breathing
This uses the breath as an object of concentration. The simple discipline of awareness brings us back to the present moment and all the richness of experience that it contains. As well as this, the mindfulness of breathing is a good antidote to restlessness and anxiety, and a good way to relax: concentration on the breath has a positive effect on our entire physical and mental state.
The Metta Bhavana
The Metta Bhavana (sometimes called development of loving kindness), helps you to develop positivity and warmth, to leave behind harmful emotions, and to connect with other people at a deeper level.
The word “metta” means “friendliness”. We need to appreciate that metta is a
powerful expression of friendliness. When metta is felt more fully, friendliness becomes a strong feeling of goodwill toward everyone and everything we encounter.
The word “bhavana” means “development”. When fully developed, metta is an intense emotion. But we cannot generate metta simply by willing it. We need to build up the qualities of metta in ourselves gradually by being sensitive to our positive emotions and focusing on them. This is bhavana.
As well as these formal practices we also teach the ‘non-practice’ of ‘Just Sitting’, which gives an open space in which we can absorb the effects of meditation as well as Walking Meditation which focuses on our body in movement.