Repeated Placement is the third stage of our calm abiding meditation. In shamatha meditation, our practice proceeds gradually so that we are able to quickly recognize when our attention wanders off. Here, Tulku Migmar Tsering explains how repeated placement works. This video is in Tibetan and English with translation into English.
Repeated placement means that as soon as we notice we are distracted we bring the mind back. Here Tulku explains that if we allow our wandering to go on, it makes the mind very “heavy”. And then it is harder for us to be mindful and to meditate. So he suggests that we learn to do this in three seconds–don’t forget our focus. Tulku gives the example of getting up, going to our car, closing the door, and driving off. If we drive off, then we’ve lost control and it takes more time to get back to what we were doing. Instead, if we quickly realize we’ve started heading for the car, then we can mindfully bring ourselves back and reset.
Repeated Placement: How to Practice
Repeated placement on our breath, as an example, is an easy way to anchor our minds. “Repeat” means to come back and start again. So if we get distracted, we say to ourselves, “Back to the breath”. And breathing is always with us, regardless of what we are doing or thinking. Breathing is neutral–we don’t have heavy emotions attached to it. So, if we have anger or frustration, or emotional thinking, we can simply think, “back to the breath”, and the energy of those feelings just evaporates.
Repeated Placement: Allowing Mind to Rest
Tulku suggests the word, “rest” can help us think about how to practice most effectively. We’re not trying to control–we’re allowing the mind to rest. And when the mind rests, we experience freedom.
We can practice the first three steps of calm abiding meditation anywhere at any time. We don’t need a “formal” meditation session, especially if we use our ever-present breath as our focus. We can walk around and practice placing our attention on our breath (step one of calm abiding meditation). Then we can continue to place the attention (step two). And finally, we can practice repeated placement throughout our day (step three).
Tulku Migmar explains that we have choices of how to focus on our breath. Some people focus primarily on the out-breath, the exhalation. Others focus gently on both the inhalation and exhalation. Please remember that we’re not trying to control the breath in any way–we let it flow naturally. Sometimes it may be slow, and sometimes it may be quick or strained. We’re just resting our minds on the breath.
Another way we can practice when walking around is to gently focus on our footsteps. When our right foot moves we pay attention to that. And when the left moves, we notice the left foot. Our feet or legs become our meditation object. Nobody has to know!
Often when we walk around, our mind and body are completely disconnected. Our mind is back in the office, or at home, or in thoughts of the past or future. Instead, bring your mind back to your feet and legs and rest it there.
Tulku Migmar reminds us that the best way to practice as a beginner is to incorporate very short but very frequent periods throughout our day! Try to use these methods whenever you feel agitated or stressed or uncomfortable–that’s the best way to build a new habit of resting your mind.