A Very Simple Meditation

To do this simple meditation, read what is below, then close your eyes and then do it.

  • Where you are sitting, just get comfortable.
  • Close your eyes and count ten breaths.
  • As you breathe, imagine your exhale is releasing everything you want to eliminate: negativity, anger, illness, etc.
  • Imagine your inhale is bringing everything you want, to you: positive energy, happiness, health, etc.
  • Focus on one obstacle to get rid of and one joyful thought to bring in. You might exhale anxiety, for example, and inhale peacefulness.
  • Just 10 breaths.

Ways Of Using The Breath

There are many ways of using the breath.

The most traditional is also the most difficult, but it is the most productive of calm. We simply notice the breath at the nostrils as it moves in and out. In our tradition we watch both in- and out-breaths; we do not wish to give the mind a chance to wander off into its usual discursiveness, but want it to stay with the breath at all times. The wind of the breath creates a sensation when it touches the nostrils, which helps one to focus at that point. This is the most “one-pointed” way of concentrating on the breath, and is particularly useful for experienced meditators. “One-pointed” means being in one spot only, which is a very important aspect of meditation. Because the attention is focused on one point only, it helps the mind to become sharp and unwavering.

We can use various support systems to help is remain mindful of the breath.

One of these is counting the breaths. We count “one” on the in-breath, “one” on the out-breath, “two” on the in-breath, “two” on the out-breath, all the way up to ten. Every time the mind wanders off we return to “one,” no matter whether we were at four, five, or eight. This is a good method for people who like numbers and who have orderly, organized minds.

Some people are not very fond of numbers, but prefer words. Try using the word “peace” on the in-breath, “peace” on the out-breath. Actually, any word will do. We could use “peace” on the in-breath and “love” on the outbreath, filling ourselves with peace and extending love outward. However, it is preferable to use just one word, because the more input there is into the mind, the less calm it becomes. It is sufficient to keep the attention focused on “peace” on the in-breath, filling ourselves with it, and “peace” on the out-breath, letting it flow outward. This is very useful to those to whom words are important.

If we don’t like either numbers or words, then we can use a picture—for example, we can experience the breath as if it were a cloud that fills us when we breathe in. The out-breath can be visualized as a cloud coming out to envelop us. Some people see the cloud as taking on different shapes: larger on the out-breath, and smaller when it is taken in through the nostrils. Any support for concentration is better than discursive thinking; using visualization is not as one-pointed as just watching the breath, but it’s much better than thinking about what happened last week, or what might happen next week.

There is another method that is helpful to those who are still new to meditation. We follow the in-breath into the body and notice it wherever it becomes apparent. It goes in through the nostrils and up the nose; we can feel it in the throat and in the lungs, as far down as the stomach; then we can follow it leaving the body again. We do not search for the sensations created by the breath, but put our attention on all the spots, where they become apparent to us, both when breathing in and when breathing out. This is a particularly useful method for meditators who are primarily concerned with feelings. The inner feelings connected with the inhaling and exhaling of the breath become apparent and can keep the mind attentive and centered on one’s inner being. This greatly helps to reduce the mind’s tendency to connect to outer happenings through thinking and reacting.

The last method of attending to sensations connected with the breath is to be aware of filling oneself with breath and emptying oneself out again. That, too, is useful as a means for concentration.

We have considered different methods of using in-breaths and out-breaths. Use only one method at a time. Pick the one that feels comfortable and use it during one meditation session. If it seems impossible to concentrate even slightly, try another method at the next meditation session. Do not change methods during one sitting.

If the mind wants to run off, it is useful to direct the attention toward the impermanence of the breath. The untrained mind always wants to think, but at least we can give it something useful to think about. It doesn’t have to be allowed to think about whatever it pleases, but rather how each in-breath finishes, then each out-breath likewise—constant change, on which our life depends. We could not stay alive without our breath coming and going all the time. If we were to keep the in-breath, we would be dead within a few minutes; the same would occur if we were to hang on to the out-breath. This is an important insight that can link the mind to the impermanent aspect of each person, particularly ourselves.

If the mind already has a certain ability to stay with the breath, let it remain there, but if there is a constant thought process, one thought after another, direct the mind toward impermanence. Attention to that aspect of the breath gives rise to a question: if life depends on such an in- and outflow, what can we find within us that doesn’t come and go? Then the mind may turn within and may be able to stay on the breath a little more easily.

-extracted from the works of Ayya Khema.

Stories 51: The Container And The Contents

There were riots in the streets some years ago after a guard at Guantanamo Bay was accused of taking a holy book and flushing it down the toilet.

The next day, I took a call from a local journalist who told me he was writing an article about the outrage by asking leaders of all the major religions in Australia the same question he was about to ask me.

“What would you do, Ajahn Brahm, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down your toilet?”

Without hesitation I answered, “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down my toilet, the first thing I would do is to call a plumber!”

When the journalist finished laughing, he confided that that was the first sensible answer he had received.

Then I went further.

I explained that someone may blow up many statues of the Buddha, burn down Buddhist temples, or kill Buddhist monks and nuns; they may destroy all this, but I will never allow them to destroy Buddhism. You may flush a holy book down the toilet, but I will never let you flush forgiveness, peace, and compassion down the toilet.

The book is not the religion. Nor is the statue, the building, or the priest. These are only the “containers.”

What does the book teach us? What does the statue represent? What qualities are the priests supposed to embody? These are the “contents.”

When we recognize the difference between the container and the contents, then we will preserve the contents even when the container is being destroyed.

We can print more books, build more temples and statues, and even train more monks and nuns, but when we lose our love and respect for others and ourselves and replace it with violence, then the whole religion has gone down the toilet.

  • Ajahn Brahm in Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy

Simple Thoughts On Success

An aspiration has a ladder that will help you climb towards it; a dream is beautiful but always out of reach.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, complex and more violent. It takes genius and courage to move in the opposite direction.

What did you love doing as a young child? When did you last do it? Go and give it a try right now!

When was the last time you stopped and just enjoyed some of the sensory world around you? When did you last take time to look into the night sky?

Business success: Have an idea for a service/product better than what exists. Gather the right people. Create a trusted relaxing environment. Make more money coming in than going out.

Make a list of what you can do, what you love doing, and then do it.

Take more risks; it’s child’s play.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

We have to keep our curiosity alive.

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

He wasn’t curious about things that would make him successful. He was successful because he was so curious.

Research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.

It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of enquiry. For this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.

Don’t be intimidated by others’ views of what you should find interesting. Trust your instincts and see where your interest takes you.

Remember that it is okay not to know something or to admit that you don’t understand.

Be open-minded; curious people are always keen to challenge their own thinking and experiences.

Don’t take things for granted; be childlike and never stop asking why or how things work.

Reintroduce the word why into your regular vocabulary and not just when something goes wrong. Question something everyday. Curiosity should be a habit.

Make sure you spend time with other people who are hungry to learn and question.

Remember that there doesn’t always have to be a right answer.

Finally, enjoy life. It sounds simple and even a little obvious but I wonder if some of us spend too long just trying to survive it.

To find yourself, think for yourself.

When you were younger did you have dreams? Did they become aspirations? Did you fulfill them?

Big “buts” are definitely bad for your health, but where did they come from and how did they grow so big?

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.

A professional is a solver of problems.

Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome.

The ability to see issues and problems objectively is a tough skill to master. It is so easy to take things personally and project those issues on to others, sometime, even inanimate objects.

The ability to manage ourselves and to demonstrate that ability to others is vital if we are to fulfill our potential to succeed.

What happened to your dreams and aspirations? Revisit them.

Monitor how and when you use the word but?

Look at the gaps and spaces in your urban environment; they are beautiful.

Don’t project problems on to others? Try to take control, don’t allow yourself to feel like a victim.

Celebrate a problem solved; it’s the pathway to self-management.

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.

You have to really understand what you want.

Focus and belief are hugely connected; passion and a sense of purpose are vital to find if you are to find the self-discipline to stay the course.

Spend more time being proactive than reacting to the challenges in your life.

You have to keep moving forwards and risk changing even when you have succeeded strongly.

Focused people are organized and disciplined, do not get distracted easily and have realistic and tangible expectations.

Commit to doing something. Process rather than outcome. Dwell in the present, not the past or the future. Block out all distractions.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Simple does not mean easy.

You must have the clarity of belief, a passion for what you want to do. You must be prepared to sacrifice time, effort and often ego. You must make sure that you find the right people who can help you.

Procrastination does not happen if you own your ambition.

Be prepared to learn and to be challenged.

If you hear a voice within you that says that you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

The way we communicate with others and with ourselves determines the quality of our lives.

Arrogance is to judge one’s self-worth by comparison with others.

Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone.

Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.

Be confident that what you want to say is really of value and as long as you are honest and authentic, people will listen.

Don’t feel you have to fill silence, sometimes pausing for thought can be important.

Try to be yourself, don’t over think how others want or expect you to be. Protecting your personal integrity won’t always lead to people liking you but it should lead to them respecting and remembering you: for the right reasons.

Try to illustrate what you have to say by telling a story; nothing fancy and often from somewhere in your own experience.

Be prepared to be challenged, see it as an opportunity to convince or to learn.

Be authentic; if you don’t believe it, don’t say it.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

Be transparent; be truthful even when it is difficult and look for similar people around you.

Just because you fail once does not mean you are going to fail at everything.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is courage to continue that counts.

A third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

The real desire to achieve and to be successful is a state of mind not target; it is a lifestyle with no single measurable outcome.

That’s the trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

notes from the book: Simple Thinking by Richard Gerver

A Simple Method Of Acceptance

A lot of discontent and unhappiness we often experience is because we do not accept what is happening right now and we want something else to happen. Although we intellectually know that there is suffering in the world, that things happen  –  death, disease, old age to everything that exists, we cannot accept it when it happens to something we connect with. Can we do something about it when that happens?

Let me try.

Step 1

  • Become aware of your thoughts.
  • Become aware of your feelings.
  • Verbalise or write them down.

Step 2

  • Become aware of the moment. This means sensing in the moment – becoming aware of what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, touching, smelling in that moment.

Step 3

  • Think positively about the situation in a conscious way.

Step 4

  • Let go of any resistance. Mentally accept it as it is.

Let us say you develop a cold. You become aware of the feeling of miserableness that you are feeling and the thought that this day is going to be uncomfortable. Then you focus on the actual sensation of blockedness or the runny nose, feeling the sensations. Look around and see that you can still see. Feel where your body touches the ground. Be aware of any smell in your nose and taste in your mouth and sounds that you can hear. Think positively about the situation- yes, colds do happen often and it goes away after some time. Why should I make it a bad day because of that. It has come and it will go away. Just let go of yourself in the present moment and accept the cold fully. See how you feel now.

As Epictetus said:

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.