Inspiration for Our Meditation Training
Inspiration for our meditation training boosts our practice. We love to think we can be independent and do everything by ourselves, but is that really realistic? Do we have a good track record? In this short audio excerpt from a public talk at Gomde Cooperstown in 2017, Phakchok Rinpoche advises us to rely on inspiring support. Dharma centers and practice groups are really helpful for us. Otherwise, we tend to fall into laziness and bad habits.
Inspiration Using the Example of Physical Exercise
Here, Rinpoche gives an example of physical exercise. He talks about his own experience walking for exercise. We all adopt various rituals to engage in physical activity that benefits us. And we progress most rapidly and correctly when we set milestones for ourselves. Then, when we accomplish these milestones we feel joyful and encouraged, right? We want to continue, and to do even better. Similarly, meditation training such as Mahāmudrā relies on rituals, milestones, and inspiration.
Inspiration of a Good Example
Again, if we think about exercising with a trainer, we are inspired if that person is in good shape, right? Rinpoche says that walking with a slim, fit friend is inspiring for him. Similarly, when we begin to meditate, we need someone to inspire us. If we can only sit for five minutes in meditation, it is inspiring to know an instructor who can do this for longer. We may have many questions and we need to meet with a person who knows more than we do, who can answer or give advice.
Of course, your meditation instructor may not be perfect! He or she may have strong emotions. But it is good that your instructor can relate to your problems; maybe he or she has had similar experiences. And it is important that we are all reducing our negative emotions and learning together how to train in that. Failure does not stop us. But most of us need a support system when we are beginning. When you do meditation alone, you might only continue doing it for a week or maybe a month. On your own, you start getting bored, tired, or lazy about the practice.
Inspiration of a Personal Trainer — Not a Stationary Bike!
Just like exercise — you make more progress when you go to the gym and use a personal trainer, right? Rinpoche compares it to our habit of buying a stationary bike. How many of us can relate to his story of using the bike as a clothes hanger?
Instead, if we hire a personal trainer, we feel inspired because we see another person who has developed his body well. If we want to meditate, we feel more inspired if we rely on people who have been practicing. They will know how to relate to our obstacles, our ups, and our downs and they can encourage us to keep going.
How many minds do we have? One! We don’t have many minds that correspond to every situation, do we? When you train your great mind in meditation — really wisely — you are able to improve.
Additional Resources and On-line Courses
For additional resources on training the mind, check our additional teachings in an on-line short course called Training the Mind: An Introduction. This course includes several more talks from Phakchok Rinpoche as well as support materials, suggested reflections, and meditation instruction.
We also offer a one-year program of Mahāmudrā instruction as a at-home study program. This Path of Meditation Level One gives step-by-step instruction in meditation by Phakchok Rinpoche. The at-home program also contains a full range of support materials including access to an on-line forum. There, you can discuss your meditation practice and ask questions of experienced instructors.
Inspiration of Group Practice
Inspiration also comes from practice groups and centers. We all benefit from practicing with other people and asking questions of instructors. For this reason, Phakchok Rinpoche encourages students to meet regularly for group practice. These groups are found world-wide. For more information on where to find a group or how to start a group, please see What is the Dharma Stream?