Please take a few moments before you begin this teaching to settle yourself. Sit upright, yet naturally relaxed. Before listening to and/ or reading the teaching make aspirations such as: "I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the precious Dharma. I am doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings so that they may be free from suffering and attain complete awakening".
Do we need to meditate? And if so, why? Is there a real benefit from meditation? In this video teaching, Phakchok Rinpoche answers with an emphatic “Yes!” If we actually practice mediation, Rinpoche observes, we go beyond the theory and gain experience. And then, we will feel the benefits ourselves.
Do We Need to Meditate? Looking at Our Mind and Actions
We may need to use some motivational methods to inspire ourselves. First, we can observe our behavior and our mental state when we don’t meditate. If we pay close attention, we see that we normally act like a football being kicked around by external factors — we aren’t in control. We fly off one way or the other depending upon the situation.
Often we are short-tempered, or swayed by our moods and emotions. Or we feel angry, depressed, or moody without any real understanding of why. We are struggling internally, just as if we have a physical sickness. If we were unhealthy, we might be advised to get some exercise. And initially, we might not like that idea at all. Rinpoche himself says that he dislikes exercise. Yet, at the same time, he understands that if he wants to live a healthy life, he needs to take action. So he motivates himself by thinking of the consequences if he doesn’t pay attention to physical health. In the same way, if we’re out of balance emotionally or stressed-out and unhappy, then we also might want to make a commitment to change.
Do we need to meditate to address these issues? Well, if we put the effort into mediation we can observe what happens. Gradually, we find a little more space in our minds. And we can be more patient with ourselves, with others, and with external circumstances. Additionally, we can slowly drop our habitual reactions and be more in control.
Inspiring Ourselves with Experience
Once we’ve begun to meditate, we can observe how we see gradual, but definite changes. And then, we can recognize that these changes affect us and those around us. We feel less stressed, less unable to deal with life’s many difficulties, and less reactive. Rinpoche suggests that we can compare this to feeling the benefits of exercise. When we finish exercising, we feel good: our mood is lighter and our body and minds seem to be refreshed.
Similarly, once we’ve established a new habit of meditation, we will be able to see the positive change for ourselves. And until we give it a chance, we won’t know this. So, let’s give it a shot!
At the end of the teaching, please remember to dedicate the merit of receiving a Dharma teaching. As you go through your day, take a few moments from time to time to recall these instructions.
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