Buddhist Philosophy

Cultivating New Habits for Busy Minds

Cultivating new habits is what meditation is all about.  The most basic Tibetan term for meditation, gom (Tib. sgom), means cultivation, habituation or development.  As we meditate, we train our minds to become more calm, clear, and flexible.  In this short video teaching, Tulku Migmar Tsering explains why this is so important in the 21st century.

This video is in Tibetan with translation into English

Cultivating New Habits

Cultivating New Habits: Training Our Minds

These days we may have achieved some degree of material comfort.  In many parts of the world physical conditions continue to improve.  But at the same time, progress brings a lot more distraction, stress, and busyness.  Many of us feel so busy that we don’t think we have time for cultivating new habits.  We’re struggling to keep up with all the technology around us.  But through meditation, we can actually take back control of our busy minds.

Cultivating New Habits: Start With Short Periods

Cultivating New Habits

When we hear the word “meditation” we may think that we can’t keep still for an hour and be calm.  But, as Tulku Migmar explains here, the point of meditation is the process itself.   When we meditate we are cultivating new habits bit by bit in short periods.  We can start with just a few minutes a day.  In those few minutes, we focus our minds on compassion, or kindness, or being mindful.

So, begin with just five minutes a day.  Then, after you’ve spent some time with that habit, add another 5 minutes.  And then slowly you can build up to 25 or 30 minutes of focus.  We’re cultivating new habits, so we go slowly and gently.  We can also focus our minds for a few minutes throughout our day.  We simply remind ourselves to bring back a sense of carefulness or mindfulness.  Changing our mental patterns takes time and in the beginning, it takes effort.  But if we take this gentle building approach, we can discover that we’re already incorporating meditation into our lives in a relaxed and open way.

Additional Resources

We hope you may feel inspired to check our Samye Institute short course, Training the Mind: An Introduction. In these four units, Phakchok Rinpoche explains how our minds function.  The course features video teachings, meditation instruction, reflection exercises, and suggestions for journaling.

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.