Mental calm and insight

- through Francois Leclercq

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“Practicing brings joy and increases mental stability. If this is not the case and you feel tired and your strength decreases, rest. Too much constraint acts contrary to the desired results. It opens a vacant space in our exhausted mind into which our negative emotions rush. »
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

In meditation, the processes used aim to train the mind and gradually modify the habits and behaviors that result from it, on a daily basis. No Buddhist practice is magical. They all require consistency, courage and discipline. There's nothing exotic about it, it doesn't make you dream, but it's what the masters recommend to start moving forward on this seemingly banal, but demanding path. Meditation is everyone's business. As the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says: "Meditation is a set of processes, accessible to everyone since it is a gymnastics of the mind that teaches you to become familiar with tolerance, altruism, tenderness, qualities of which we all have the potential, but which we only deploy in fleeting moments. This work concerns both the body and the spirit”.

"Meditation is a set of processes, accessible to everyone since it is a gymnastics of the mind that teaches us to become familiar with tolerance, altruism, tenderness, qualities of which we all have the potential. , but which we only deploy in fleeting moments. This work involves both body and mind. » Matthew Ricard

The methods presented here sometimes bear different names and present variations according to the Buddhist schools. To avoid any confusion, I will rely here on their Sanskrit-Tibetan denomination: Samatha-Chiné, mental calm, and Vipassana-Lhagtong, deep and penetrating vision. Practiced in this order, they allow the meditator to acquire a more accurate intellectual and emotional understanding of what reality is in the Buddhist sense of the term, which naturally leads him to act with more compassion, love, generosity and benevolence.

Mental calm: Samatha-Chiné, or how to use vigilance to increase attention and concentration of consciousness in one point.

How it works ? The basic posture adopted, the meditator fixes his mind on an object of meditation of his choice: breath, breathing, a flower, a sacred statue, a painting, whatever. Bringing attention to "one point" promotes concentration, channels thoughts and emotions, and develops mental calm. Everything is there, yes, but the mind has been clever and above all undisciplined since our birth, so it rebels. It's the game, it's about learning. At the beginning, the confused, agitated, rebellious mind is carried away by thoughts and emotions each time it tries to concentrate on one point, and an incredible number of images, situations, projections spring up in it, to distract him from his goal. Don't worry, it's normal, be patient, don't try to get results, don't change your support. meditation during the exercise, do not doubt your ability to practice this method, and above all do not give up at the first difficulty, or because you are bored, hungry, sleepy, feel contractures or are tense. Just as it took you weeks to learn to walk confidently and alone, getting to factually observe what's going on in your mind - perceiving your thoughts and emotions passing in the background without identifying with them - takes practice. regular. It takes time, because it is a question of defusing a mental process that has been in place with us for years. You will put an end to it by dint of repetitions, by learning to maintain your attention on the medium you have chosen and by striving to return to it as soon as you are aware that your thoughts are moving away from it. Little by little, the mind becomes less agitated, which allows the meditator to train later in other methods.

Apart from seated practice, everyday life is also a great training ground. Practice and ordinary life interact with each other. Thus, thanks to the practice of mental calm, you will be more easily satisfied with what you have, you will criticize others less, you will feel more peaceful, more serene and you will experience circumstances with more perspective. And that is quite a challenge!

Deep vision: Vipassana-Lhagtong, or understanding reality intellectually and emotionally.

This method is not practiced in first intention. Analyzing the real nature of phenomena in order to experience what one understands of them, then, in everyday life, supposes that the practitioner acquires, beforehand, a minimum of mental calm, of concentration. How it works ? After adopting the basic position, the meditator intellectually studies topics such as impermanence, interdependence, emptiness, self, non-self, relative truth, absolute truth, the twelve interdependent links. To study means, here, to understand and experiment intellectually and emotionally as Matthieu Ricard explains: “Phenomena are the result of a dynamic flow of interdependent events, whose characteristics, constantly changing, result from innumerable causes and conditions” .

Many hours of analytical meditation are necessary to act in a factual, concrete way, that everything that exists, including our mind, only manifests itself in relation, arises from a series of causes and conditions, only exists in and by itself, and that all emotion is pain. It's long, complex, tedious, but necessary in order to realize little by little in one's flesh, one's body, and one's mind, that this notion of "me", of "I", which is so dear to us, does not possess no reality, and translate it into everyday life through more altruistic acts. Your daily life naturally expresses your realization of insight

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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