Meditation—Why and How—Cleanse and Train The Mind
Learning this skill helps free you from
Discover the art of mental self-control.
We all recognize the value in taking
care of our bodies. We cleanse, feed,
and clothe them; and we provide for adequate shelter; and we are at
least aware of the need for and value of regular exercise to our health
and well-being. Whenever our body gets sick, we try to figure out what
went wrong and get something to fix it, if possible.
Rarely do we take time to attend to our
Everything is mind-made,
yet we frequently take our minds totally
Mind-made means that everything (our experience
of life) is MADE in our minds. Our
thoughts occur in response to outer and inner events. First, there is the
event—then there occurs instantaneously our REACTION to it.
Our reaction is based on our FILTERS,
which are our opinions, beliefs, evaluations, conclusions.
The feeling tone that we experience is
sculpted by our inner views—really made in our minds!
Our thoughts over time form patterns of
thinking or habits of mental reactions.
Examples are thoughts of joy and
contentment, love, compassion or happiness or perhaps impatience,
pessimism, sadness or cravings.
response to what happens in our world starts in our mind—with our
thoughts—and is expressed in our actions.
Various Meditation section
on: Mind is the
Source of Happiness and Pain and The Nature of Mind: What is it? Where
is it? Also, Make Your Mind An Ocean.
The first thing that we need to do with our
minds is to “clean them up!” Just like
our houses, if we don’t occasionally take time to organize our things
and throw things out that are no longer needed,
over time our minds become very cluttered.
What mind has put in mind, only mind can
clean out. The more we practice
thinking in a certain way, the more habitual that way of thinking
becomes. It feels normal and natural—it becomes a habit of mind.
Meditation allows us to notice
the content of the thoughts floating through our minds. During meditation we learn to
drop—from the mind—what we do not want to keep.
Just drop the inner dialog or story—that
is, we perhaps focus on the breath coming in and going out, and when we
lose our focus on the breath, we just immediately come back when we
catch ourselves lost in fantasy, planning the future or worrying about
the past—that is, we just let go of the story line—the content of the
We can also label thoughts—like
thinking, remembering, worrying, and planning.
We just step back and look at them. When
thoughts arise, we just gently observe them. We practice just noticing
them, trying not to judge them.
This process takes lots of repetition, since
for most of us our minds are undisciplined.
Our thoughts wander off in all directions—compulsive planning,
worrying, fantasies about many things. We have to train our minds to
STOP…to drop the content of our thoughts—and to come back to the
present moment. It takes bringing our mind back again and again
to the object of meditation (such as the breath, a word, a sound,
or even walking with awareness).
Meditation is really like doing push-ups or
weight training for the mind—it gives the mind muscle to perform the
valuable skill to do what you want it to do—rather than always being
carried along by out-of-control thoughts.
Mental strength comes from working against
the resistance of undisciplined thoughts—until we finally gain enough
mental potency to stop our train of thoughts mid-thought. We can
then direct our minds where we want them to go, rather than going
wherever they take us!
Through the practice of
abiding in a calmer state—we cease the torrent of chattering thoughts. Over time
we can achieve a serenely settled state of mind. Ah...
Discover other ideas at:
Books and Web sites on
Meditation & Mindfulness
Three Minute Meditator, by David
Harp, (1996), New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, California.
Gives 30 simple ways to unwind your mind while enhancing your
emotional intelligence. Written by a musician and a therapist.
Your mind and your thoughts can
either work for you, or against you. Meditation will help your
mind to help you!
Feel you don't have time to meditate?
Even a few minutes of meditation can literally "unwind your mind"
and help you to: Cope with the stresses of daily life, treat
yourself with more compassion, and understand your fears and
Reviewer: A reader
amazed to converse with friends. We have "circuitry overload" in our
western lifestyle.....having all types of external amenities but
still "not happy." Everyone NEEDS to learn this mental exercise.
Harp introduces us to meditation and its virtues....and sort of
modernizes it. He is also open enough to tell us where he falls
short and how he uses it in his daily life. Bottom line: we can have
"everything" but unless we process properly from an internal
view...we really have minimal. Meditation is one vehicle to allow us
to get rid of the "drunken monkeys" to help enjoy our everyday
efforts and gains. Great for the beginner...however when I find
myself getting off "meditation track"...Harp's book is the one I
grab for. Good job, David! This book
can be ordered through
The Beginner’s Guide To Insight Meditation,
by Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith, (2001),
Bell Tower, New York. Arinna's book is wonderful! Provides terrific
wisdom and insight into our sufferings, and shares the path to
transform ineffective patterns into more wholesome ones. I love
Arinna's ability to nurture hope in us when at times we might feel
Seeking The Heart
Of Wisdom, by Joseph Goldstein & Jack Kornfield, (1987), Shambhala Publishers
A classic! Shares deep insights about the difficulties
and hindrances of meditating and the transformative value of understanding
cause and effect. One unique and helpful section is how to integrate
practice into our daily lives and how to develop an integrated awareness of
all dimensions of our being, making our body, our actions, our feelings, our
relationships, our work, and our play, all part of our meditation.
Buddhism Without Beliefs, by
Stephen Batchelor, (1997), Riverhead Books. Amazing insights and
wisdom written in common English with no jargon or technical terms.
Wake Up To Your Life:
Discovering The Buddhist
Path of Attention, By Ken McLeod, (2002), Harper Collins Publishers,
Inc. An excellent resource on dismantling our automatic reactions
and conditionings to life. Provides practical insights about how to
train our minds to experience greater peace and contentment. Really
GOOD! You can purchase the book at:
Peace Is Every Step (1991),The
Miracle of Mindfulness, by
Thich Nhat Hanh, (1976), Beacon Press, Boston
In Thich Nhat
Hanh's book Present Moment Wonderful
Moment--Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living*,
Parallax Press, (1990). See also Parallax Press Resources for
This book contains short verses to help us dwell in mindfulness. We
often become so busy that we forget what we are doing or even who we
are. We forget to look at the people we love and to appreciate
them...we don't know how to get in touch with what is going on
inside and outside of ourselves...To meditate is to be aware of what
is going on in our bodies, our feelings, our minds, and in the
world. This is a delightful book that promotes a feeling of joy and
of the sacredness of life.
Guided Meditations on the Lamrim
(The Gradual Path from Confusion to
Self-Awareness and Freedom),
Chodron. 14 audio CD’s, including an explanatory booklet. Order:
from DFF Lamrim CD’s, P.O. Box 30011, Seattle, WA 98103, or Email:
the meditation section of this web site for the adapted version of
these meditations. They helped me transform my distorted vision of
the world and bring to me peace and contentment.
Present Moment Wonderful Moment,
by Thich Nhat Hanh, (1990),
Loving What Is
by Byron Katie,
(2002), Harmony Books, order Excerpt from
Spiritual Cognitive Therapy
The Power of Now,
(1999), by Eckhart Tolle, New World Library Sounds True has audio and
videotapes of this book, and many other titles. 800-333-9185
Provides suggestions and insights to experience the
joy of being, to enter the now, to accept whatever is happening (to see
impermanence and the cycles of life), and to transform the "pain body" in
Speaks, (2003), by Eckhart Tolle,
Namaste Publishing and New World Library. From
the Introduction, "The only function of a spiritual teacher is to help you
remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and
what you already know in the depth of your being." Enjoy discovering your
Publishing promotes Eckhart's books and other materials. Their mission
is: "To make available
publications that acknowledge, celebrate, and encourage others to
express their true essence and thereby come to remember Who They Really
Are." Find them at:
Namasté means, "I honor the place in you in which the entire universe
dwells, I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light
and of peace, when you are in that place in you and I'm in that place in
me, we are one."
Your Own Therapist and Make Your Mind an Ocean
by Lama Yeshe, (2003), Lama Yeshe Archive, books available on donation basis
at www.LamaYeshe.com These
books are helpful in studying ourselves and the nature of our own minds.
They introduce the path of self-inquiry. They explore the Buddhist approach
to mental illness in a "question and answer" format.
Peace Is Every Step- The Path of Mindfulness in
(1991), Bantam Books, New York, The Heart of The Buddha’s
Teachings, by Thich Nhat Hanh, (1998), Broadway Books. All
of his books touch the heart with insight, tenderness, kindness and
practical transformational ideas.
Buddhism for Beginners,
Open Heart, Clear Mind,
Taming the Mind,
(Snow Lion Publishers)
Transforming the Heart: The
Buddhist Way to Joy and Courage,
Working With Anger and
What Color is Your Mind?
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical
application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled
at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is
well-known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. Her books help us to
understand our life’s journey. I have found them incredibly helpful.
RealPlayer audio teachings visit:
also AUDIO LIBRARY for other teachings:
These teachings are FABULOUS!
Emotional Alchemy-How the Mind Can Heal The Heart,
Bennett-Goleman, (2001), Harmony Books
Gives suggestions for transforming stuck habits
of mind, emotions and relationships that create suffering—which then can lead to
perceptual shifts and healing.
Loving-Kindness- The Revolutionary Art of Happiness,
by Sharon Salzberg, (1995), Shambhala Publishers, Boston & London
Seat Of The
(1990), by Gary Zukav, Fireside Publishers
When Things Fall Apart, Wisdom Of No Escape, Start Where
By Pema Chodron, (1994), Shambhala, Publications
All of Pema’s books provide earthy, honest advice—as if from your loving grandmother.