Adding Purpose to Your Meditation.
indestructible happiness and peace-of-mind are skills that can be learned
The world is filled with near-constant distractions. Many of us rarely sit alone with only our thoughts to keep us company, so it isn’t hard to understand how this might lead to some difficult thoughts and emotions bubbling up to the surface. For many, they find that they are not comfortable dealing with the thoughts and emotions that rear themselves during meditation and they try to push them down. Ironically, it's the learning how to "deal with" these unwanted experiences that changes our relationship to them, and where the ultimate success of meditation is found. But just "being with" unwanted feelings or "accepting" them isn't going to produce a sustainable source of inner-peace or strength to face or work with them. Unsurprisingly, this is rarely talked about by mindfulness instructors, the media, or mentioned in meditation training courses.
Part of the problem is that at modern Mindfulness Retreat and Dharma Centers, guest teachers come and go; one teacher teaches this, the next teaches that--there is no structure, no path--and because the world of popular-Buddhism and mindfulness is so very broad and shallow, the teachings offered are too general, too high-level, too repetitive and it leaves many practitioners wanting or needing more. This ultimately leaves many with huge gaps in their practice and confused about what they are supposed to practice, how to practice it, and for how long. This can trap many in a meditation or dharma rut, not leading to the progress that they had expected. Some of those people eventually come to me to find greater context, meaning, and depth from their practice, because what has been missing--what I offer--cannot be found outside of a direct teacher-student relationship.
During the transition from East to West, and in order to package it for consumers across all demographics, meditation and mindfulness were separated from their tried-and-true roots and turned into what is essentially an awareness and breathing lifestyle.
A Google search will quickly reveal that the Western Mindfulness movement, dubbed "McMindfulness," is a highly redacted and repackaged form of Buddhism that claims that an easy-to-digest therapy can lead to sustainable inner-peace and calm. And all that just by being present with our thoughts, emotions, and breath.
It's not true. If only it were so easy.
The point of meditation is to transform the mind and prepare it for Enlightenment, this point cannot be overstated. And the point of transforming the mind is to cultivate the conditions to attain actual Awakening. And yet, if we are to truly approach Enlightenment and change how we relate to the problems we experience from the outside would, which is why we've come to meditate in the first place, we have to experience the insights that fundamentally change how we think about our problems or else our "transformation" will be forced and short-lasting (e.g. new year's resolutions and diets). That kind of natural transformation cannot be achieved through resting-silence and inner-acceptance alone; it's done by wisely engaging with the root of unwanted thoughts and emotions so that we can actively explore and work with them so that they never come to trouble us again.
While it's very true that there is tremendous value in meditating on the breath, however, concentration practices and stabilising meditations are only a small part of the foundation of our practice. "Concentration practices develop concentration, but they don't on their own yield insight or wisdom except sometimes by accident."
A surprising majority of practitioners never get past meditating on their breath and get stuck there, which is why, many, even dedicated practitioners, don't make the dharma progress that they had hoped for and still struggle with core concepts such as karma, compassion, rebirth, emptiness, ethics in actual practice, which serve to hold them back and prevent further (or rapid) progress.
This can be fixed! Happiness and inner-peace is not a spiritual fantasy, but it will always remain that way if you can't move past breathing or awareness meditation. And I've learned that most people would rather not "breathe into, and rest comfortably," with their anxiety if they knew it was entirely possible for them to be entirely free of fear altogether (or anger, or anguish, et cetera).
And this is where the Western mindfulness and meditation movement lets many people down. It presents a destination while at the same time creating barriers to their ability to reach that destination. Without the context of the supporting philosophy and practices that have been coupled with mindfulness and meditation for thousands of years to achieve the desired benefits, it's no surprise that many people give up on the practice without ever seeing the sustainable progress they had hoped for.
What people are missing is that mindfulness meditation is but a single piece (the first piece) of a larger puzzle that will enable you to not only be aware of your thoughts and emotions as they arise, but more importantly, how to steer and guide them toward conditions that create peace-of-mind and resilience. Because merely being aware of your strong or repetitive thoughts or being with your breath isn't going to do much to transform how you relate to the thoughts and emotions that are the source of so much pain. Learning to rest with our thoughts through mindful meditation is but the first step in the process in genuinely developing sustainable happiness and peace-of-mind.
The student community and training found here are about providing you with the tools, practices, and skills to genuinely make it possible to achieve the benefits of mindful meditation.
Buddhist Ācariya and Anagārika
"Many suggest that "there is no wrong way to meditate" and that the best way to meditate is to find the way that "works best for you" and your lifestyle.
"It's not at all controversial to write that "Buddhism is not a religion." Rather, Buddhism is a philosophical approach to life that offers a step-by-step guide to understanding what makes us happy, and what makes us sad, with a clear and defined path on how to cultivate the things that actually make us happy and eliminate the things that make us sad.
"Earth is a paradise that seems to be filled with people who think that they're in some sort of hell.
Michael Turner is a pre-monastic ācariya, ariya-puggala, and a full-time Buddhist anagārika; and he is also a deeply accomplished streamentry mentor and applied-dharma teacher. He emphasises and teaches the practical application of the Buddha's teachings in our everyday lives to overcome our human problems that stand in the way of making measurable progress toward Buddhist enlightenment and he is particularly adept at explaining them in ways that can be easily understood and practiced by Western Buddhists. He has been meditating and cultivating the views and techniques that generate indestructible resilience, inner-strength, and direct experience for more than 25 years and has helped countless numbers of students and peers enhance their practice to make clear progress along the path toward Nibbāna.