Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Meditation Background

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About Buddhist Meditation

buddha statue faceThere are many different forms of meditation in Buddhism. Some go back to the Buddha himself (and possibly further back in time than that) while others are more recent developments.

But what is meditation? Meditation is the conscious cultivation of mindfulness, positive emotion, and clear perception of the ways things are.

Meditation is not a form of prayer, in which we call upon an external agency, but a form of inner training, in which we cultivate new ways of being. In meditation we consciously cultivate positive mental habits.

The term meditation encompasses many different techniques that facilitate the the cultivation of, amongst other things, calmness, relaxation, one-pointed concentration, lovingkindness, compassion, a sense of wellbeing, and insight into the impermanent and interconnected nature of reality.

In meditating we use some object on which we direct our attention. We can use the sensations of the breath, our emotional connection with ourselves and others, the physical sensations of the body, sounds, visualized images, etc.

Buddhist meditation is broadly divided into Shamatha and Vipashyana practices. Shamatha (Pali: Samatha) practice calms the mind and helps develops one-pointed concentration and positive emotions. Vipashyana (Pali: Vipassana) practice builds on the calmness, focus, and positive emotion generated in Shamatha , and helps to develop an awareness of the impermanence, interconnectedness, and the contingent nature of our experience.

On Wildmind we follow the traditional approach of cultivating Shamatha before approaching Vipashyana. In traditional Buddhist teaching there is a great emphasis on learning to calm the mind so that we can then go on to insight practices. Generally we at Wildmind don’t teach Insight Meditation except under supervision on our online courses.

We teach the following practices on this site:

We also offer advice on meditation posture (essential to establishing an effective practice), and on our blog we have a constant output of articles on all aspects of practice as well as news on the latest developments in the world of meditation.

Meditating has been shown in clinical studies to have many medical and psychological benefits, including promoting a sense of wellbeing, boosting the immune system, promoting the development of cortical matter in the brain, and slowing aging.

Comments

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Comment from Jane
Time: May 25, 2007, 1:32 pm

I meditate every day alone, is there a distinction in meditating alone and in group? I’d like to know. Has anyone written on it yet? Please respond within twenty six years, as Pali Tests use to say when wanting an unusual response. I like to meditate alone and have done so for six years, once in a sangha and found it werid. Disturbing almost that we faced the wall and we were together. I went to Zen as it was appropriate the energy for me, but found their exlusion of the heart in discussion and face to face talk, particulary with youth disturbing. Is that Zen or just untaught groupies, no teacher just us? Thanks. Inappropriate.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 25, 2007, 5:23 pm

Hi Jane,

We tend to become most comfortable with the forms and rituals we’re familiar with, and then anything else seems strange. Of course if we persist with the new form we’re likely to get used to that too. The mind has a habit of clinging!

I think most (although no doubt not all) people find that when they meditate with others the mind can become more still. There’s a greater incentive to avoid physical restlessness, and that stillness of the body leads to greater mental calm.

Also, when the going gets rough the presence of others around us can help give a sense of solidarity which helps keep us on the cushion when otherwise we might decide to call it a day.

I think if you persisted in meditating with others then you’d likely experience these benefits.

The “exclusion” of the heart you talked about may just have been that particular group of people — it’s hard so say from where I’m sitting!

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Comment from Kusalo
Time: September 2, 2007, 9:43 pm

Hi, Jane

I fully agreed with Bodhipaksa that it is good to meditate in a group if possible. The physical environment is different when you meditate alone. The group environment will encourage you to continue with the meditation even though you wanted to call it a day. It is good to join a group if you can or otherwise join a retreat whenever possible.

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Comment from Sanuja
Time: September 3, 2007, 9:55 am

Hi Jane,
I think it is depend on your personality. For example, Buddha mediate alone most of the time while his right hand, Ven. Ananda meditate with other monks. So, it is depend on your personal values. Other than encouragement, there is no evidence to prove that meditating with a group is more effective than doing it by you yourself.
Meditating alone like Buddha did, seems to work for me. But if it doesn’t then, you should think about group mediation.
No where in Buddhism it says that we need to practice mediation with a group. Buddhism is designed to fit individual lifestyles, not collective lifestyles such as other religions.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 4, 2007, 10:28 am

It agree that it depends on personality, Sanuja. I’ve known a few people who have found the presence of others to be distracting and who therefore prefer to meditate alone, although the vast majority of people I know (myself included) find it easier to meditate with others.

For some people solitary meditation clearly does work best. For most beginners, however, group meditation does seem to be more effective. The encouragement you talk about can make the difference between giving up after a few minutes and keeping going in order to work through some initial resistance.

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Comment from Amber Carey
Time: October 7, 2007, 6:06 pm

Hello everyone! Jane I also have been meditating a very long time. I started young and continue strong. I am only 18 but meditation has aged my mind well beyond those around me. I also feel self meditation is more beneficial but as they said it depends on your personality. I also believe it also strongly depends on what you’re looking for. If you are soul searching it seems to make more sense to do it alone. If you are chanting and such it makes more sense to do with others. But for me, meditation is about my connection with the worlds and the gods. I am Wiccan but have been to many Buddhist temples before. Because meditation is personal to me it makes more sense to have a self-meditation session. I guess my gist is it depends on what you’re looking for.

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Comment from Rob
Time: October 16, 2007, 10:06 pm

I would think that meditating alone and meditating in a group would each of have unique benefits and I wager that it might be beneficial to engage in both activities.

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Comment from Carl
Time: October 21, 2007, 10:38 pm

I am new to the study of meditation and have been meditating alone, which I agree can lead to physical restlessness. I would very much like to meditate within a group as a compliment to my individual meditation. However I am an expat living in Dubai UAE, and while the city is very liberal in its out llok to many thingd, it as yet has not openly allowed the practice Budhisim. Does anyone out there know of any groups etc which I could contact. Thanks

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Comment from terry
Time: November 27, 2007, 3:55 am

hello to everyone ,

I am a new freshy member, a Thai buddhist , now being a student of master meditation practice with one of the renowned Thai Buddhist senior master monks , namely Prah ajarn viriyoung sirindharo , 88 years old by now but still physical healthy and so powerful with over 70 years experience in training the meditation and vipasana practice. He has formulated and simplified the meditation training technique into the step by step which could cut short to about 100 hours based on his own 70 years meditation experience . According to him either individual or group meditation is good and beneficial , but recommended the practice should be regularily daily basic for both walking and sitting meditation 30 minutes each. It will enrich and accumulate the mental power into the mind and would bear the wholesomeness after a certain period of time for both physical and mental health. Anyway, group meditation would of course help supporting the united mind co-operation according to the master, if applicable.

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Comment from Brigitte
Time: December 20, 2007, 7:48 am

I am doing a reaseach paper on meditation, this website website was very helpful. I’m very interested in meditation and i have started it now. I have trouble letting thoughts go

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Comment from Jon Haywood
Time: March 18, 2008, 4:20 am

Also a Dubai resident here and looking for a place to meditate. I am at least lucky enough to have got a medidation timer on my pc which helps with home-based medidations, but it would be nice to find out if there are groups over here.

Kindest thoughts,

Jon

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 18, 2008, 7:34 am

Hi Jon,

I sometimes check our site stats and wonder who it is that’s logging in from the Middle East (22 from Saudi Arabia, last month, 7 from Oman, 1 from Yemen, 55 from UAE, 15 from Qatar). It’s good to know who at least one of these people is!

Sadly we have no information about where you can practice meditation in Dubai, but we wish you well on your search. If there are no groups available perhaps you could advertise in some way in order to connect with others who want to practice meditation? Then you could get together and at the very least listen to a guided meditation on CD.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Krishnadas
Time: April 5, 2008, 1:24 pm

Dear Friend ,
I am a spiritual seeker , seeking liberation (like many of us , but at the lowest level) .Can you please help this amateur with the following questions .

a.)I am meditating on my breath . How do i know if i am progressing ? How would the experience be in stages ?

b.)What is the time taken for realization, if i am totally dedicated to medidation ?or is it based on our Karma.

c.)I am aware that realization cannot be expressed in plain words ,as it an undescriptive experience .But what would be the closest way of putting it in words.

d.)After a soul is realized , at anytime will the soul be again caught back by materialistic desires or worldly sensual objects ?

Please help me in getting an insight .

Thanks very much ,
Krishnadas

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 7, 2008, 8:01 am

Hello Krishnadas,

You seem very concerned to see signs of progress. That’s quite natural, in a way, but many people have had to learn that grasping after results actually slows down our progress. Sure, we want to see changes happening, but it’s best simply to focus on doing the practice as best we can, having a patient and forgiving attitude towards ourselves as we work at becoming a little more mindful and a little kinder.

I’ve written a little about signs of progress in meditation, and you can check that out. For now, I’d say that your main sign of progress would be to be less focused on making progress.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from de silva
Time: April 23, 2008, 10:38 am

Hello to everyone..!!!

I’m a Sri Lankan, trying hard to be a practicing Buddhist.

I devote quite a lot of time of the day to hear dhamma talks and read books on dhamma.
ALthough I try to meditate daily it is not regular as it should be and was trying to find a group for support, hence the comment.

I found the following websites very helpful. http://www.buddhanet.com (for dhamma articles and ebooks) and http://www.bswa.org (website of Bddhist society of Western Australia ). In this website you can listen to dhamma talks by Ajahn Brahmavamso (English and trained under Ven Ajahn Chah) and Ajahn Sister Vayama etc. Also guided meditaion sesions available. Dhamma talks are very helpful. Please visit this site, I’m sure you will find it inspiring and helpful to further your practice along the path to liberation.

Basic Method of Meditaion by Ven Ajahn Brahmavamso is also available on this site.

With Metta

De Silva

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 24, 2008, 9:08 am

Thank you, De Silva, for mentioning these sites. They’re both excellent resources.

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Comment from Will
Time: May 26, 2008, 5:51 pm

Hi Terry, I am new to this site. I am interrested to know more about your Guru, Prah ajarn viriyoung sirindharo. I also live in Thailand part of the year. Thanks, Will

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Comment from Terry
Time: May 27, 2008, 9:41 am

Dear Will

My master , Veneral Prah Ajarn Viriyoung Sirindharo , presently the abbot of Wat Dhammamonkon and several
meditation branches networks in Thailand and also in Canada and the USA

you may visit the website below to find more detailed information about his biography and teaching experience
http://www.willpowerinstitute.com – any more query or information, please feel free to let me know

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Time: October 13, 2008, 11:41 pm

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Comment from Kim
Time: February 10, 2010, 11:44 am

I am also in Dubai and interested to find a group meditation .. if anyone knows of one can you please let me know. Thanks.

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Comment from Hashim
Time: May 11, 2010, 8:50 am

I am in living Dubai. I am looking for a meditation group in Dubai to practise with. Anybody know of such groups or even individuals? please get in touch. Thanks

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Comment from Jay
Time: June 10, 2010, 1:22 am

Kim and Hashim, there is a Vipassana group in the UAE that holds meetings in AD, Dubai, and in Ajman. http://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/noncenter/ae.shtml

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 10, 2010, 11:02 am

Yay! Thanks, Jay.

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Comment from Pushkar
Time: July 10, 2010, 3:50 pm

Hi, I checked out the Vipassana group mentioned in one of the comments, but it is more of a retreat than a practise group. It is a 10-day intensive meditation retreat and I am not sure many of us here will be able to take off from work for 10 days. Does anyone know of a practise group that meets on weekends or maybe twice a week for an hour or so? That would be most helpful. If not, can we Dubai people start a practise group of our own?

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Comment from Pushkar
Time: July 10, 2010, 3:50 pm

Hi, I too stay in Dubai and I checked out the Vipassana group mentioned in one of the comments, but it is a 10-day intensive meditation retreat and I am not sure many of us here will be able to take off from work for 10 days. Does anyone know of a practise group that meets on weekends or maybe twice a week for an hour or so? That would be most helpful. If not, can we Dubai people start a practise group of our own?

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Comment from paisley
Time: July 12, 2010, 4:41 am

Are there any Zen Sangha’s in Dubai?
If not, we would like to start one – is it legal to start a Zen school in Dubai?

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Comment from andi
Time: October 11, 2010, 4:49 pm

HI to everybody!I am going to go in Dubai in january 2011, for 2 years.I would really like to meet people who are interested in buddhism.I have a intensive meditation and sangha life in my own country and i want to keep this ritm in dubai too.if anybody are intersted pls write me.(Vadrajana)
Thank you!

ps.Ii dont know if is good idea to publish my e mail here .pls help me to decide about it.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 11, 2010, 5:35 pm

If you do want to publish your email address, I’d suggest you do it in a disguised form: username (at) domain dot com, for example. This would prevent most spam bots from being able to harvest it. Good luck in Dubai!

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Comment from shaji
Time: November 15, 2010, 3:04 pm

i would like to know do you conducting meditation ourses in dubai or shrjah…

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 15, 2010, 9:12 pm

Hello Shaji.

I’d be very happy to lead a workshop in Dubai sometime. All I’d need is my travel expenses covered, a place to stay, and somewhere to teach a class. I’d imagine it would be possible to get a large enough group together to cover those basic costs. What do you think?

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Comment from andi
Time: November 21, 2010, 7:17 pm

i am going to move in dubai december 2010.i would like to keep contact with someone who are interested in buddhism for talk about it and meditate.pls write me vasandi77 at yahoo dot it. thank you

ps Bodhipaksa thanks for the advise!

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Comment from Phil
Time: December 17, 2010, 2:25 am

I have made a group ‘Buddhism in Dubai’ on facebook as I see there are quite alot of people interested in meeting other practicioners, hopefully we can get something going http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=122160327808054 find me there

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Comment from Pol
Time: March 18, 2011, 3:30 am

hi there, can’t find the group on facebook, is it under a different name?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 18, 2011, 9:49 am

I can’t find it either, and I was a member of the group.

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Comment from andi
Time: March 19, 2011, 3:34 pm

no anymore the group on facebook.i continuosly meditate alone.if u are interested pls contact me.vasandi77atyahoodotit

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