Learning to Meditate – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. -Shambhala


So good day everyone. Today I would like to talk about how to meditate and learning to meditate and in particular just what the approach is and attitude is. A lot of people meditate in different ways today. But I feel like the basics are always important. And I know that maybe some of you have never meditated. Some of you have an experienced practice, you’ve been meditating regularly. But in either case it’s always good to go back to the basics, and to understand what the principles are. What I always try to encourage is that we really know why we are meditating. That’s always important and the reasons why we are meditating. So that’s something that you have to think about. It could be just simply needing some relaxation, some stress reduction, peace. It could be all the way up to, you know, we want to attain enlightenment. And we’d like to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha. And have tremendous wisdom and compassion. But in either way, learning how to meditate is important. And obviously today we can go through some very basic principles. Certainly at home and then where you are that it would be good to have someone who is experienced that shows you personally what to do. You can learn a lot from books, but the view, is what I like to call it, the attitude, knowing what we are doing. Meditation really is an interesting word, it means familiarity, and in Tibetan we say Gom, and the word really has its root in the word meaning of being familiar with or getting used to something. So in the English language we have a lot of different expressions for many things, but for meditation it seems like we only have one basic word, meditation. In Tibetan we have many, many different words for meditation. So when we use the word meditation in English, I am not sure what you think. For myself it means familiarity. So I always think that in a sense we are always meditating, meaning we are always getting familiar. Our mind is getting used to something. So we may be getting used to the thought of anxiety, worrying, anger. So our mind is getting used to something. So in a sense we are meditating. But here we are saying we are going to get used to something and to do something, familiarize our mind with something that’s helpful. So that’s view; that’s why we are doing it. So here today we are saying what would be a very basic, something that is helpful to everyone, is learning how to reduce the level of anxiety, stress, calm our mind, and more importantly, I think in the beginning what is the most helpful, in terms of meditating and getting how to meditate, is making our mind useful to us, possessing our mind. So here the basic approach of meditation, is that we do something that allows our mind not to wander, not to be distracted. Conventionally-speaking many of us are thinking about a lot of things. And if we think about our mind, our mind is not always the most useful, the most sort of in tune. A lot of times we sit down and our mind wanders off. So the practice of meditation here is learning how to get familiar with something, get used to something that is helpful. For most of us in the beginning, no matter what we are doing, is having the mind cooperate, making our mind ours. And really as human beings if our mind is ours it should be able to sit quietly, enjoy the weather, enjoy what we are doing, instead of thinking about the future, worrying about our problem. Just our mind darts off here and there. So I am going to demonstrate a little bit and certainly you can do it as well. That the process of meditation and we are going to sit. I am sitting in a chair, you can sit on a cushion. You maybe sitting at your desk. Either way it’s fine. So the view and attitude is “Why am I meditating?” Because it is the mind that’s mediating, it is our attitude, it’s ourselves. Meditation by just posture is not going to work, the attitude is important. So we think maybe here today it’s just breathing, slowing down, stress reduction, bringing a sense of peace, being present, is very helpful. And from there we can lead our life. So let’s sit comfortably and we can put our body in a posture that is awake, so that we are not falling asleep. We are not too anxious by standing up. Our hands can be on our thighs. Our mind is thinking about “Oh, I am about to meditate so I am not going to worry about other things right now, I am going to bring it back to what’s important”. And what’s really important is the present moment. And what signifies the present moment? Our breathing. So here, in a very basic way, we are going to learn how to meditate by breathing. Breathing makes us realize how fragile we are, how human we are, and how precious things are. Body in a decent posture. Head relaxed. Gaze is slightly down. Eyes slightly open. So we sit like this (hands on thighs). Some people sit like this (hands together). But here let’s just sit like this (hands on thighs), and begin to pay attention to our breathing. So we are breathing out and in. Out and in. And as we take our mind from a busy world and put in on the breathing, automatically we slow down. Automatically we strengthen our mind. Automatically our mind becomes more useful, more ours. The mind is paying attention to the breathing, we are not thinking about the future or the past, or worrying. This is our little break; this our little relaxation; it’s our mini-holiday. We are beginning to pay attention to the mind. Just like the body, just like the body needs exercise and good food, mind needs to be taken care of. Now we are doing that. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. When thoughts come we say, “Oh, I shouldn’t be thinking right now, because I don’t want to be thinking about that. “I want to be paying attention to my breathing, because I know that’s helpful. This is what I want to be doing”. Just bring some calmness and feel peace and the relaxation. Simply breathing. Thought comes up, say “Oh I am thinking. Right now I don’t want to be thinking about that.” Paying attention to the breathing. We feel some peace. So why don’t you try that, and good luck with it.


29 Responses

  1. gittar

    February 27, 2010 7:56 pm

    Sakyong, I found this video through reference of a friend. I, too, believe that I meditate constantly. I thinks it is about being aware of what my mind is aware of. Thank you for the video. Namaste.

  2. ruzickaw

    August 19, 2010 5:04 am

    this is a too general introduction. Most people cannot be aware of their breathing
    just like that. It needs some breathing exercises before you can start observing.

  3. MrGodkid

    May 15, 2011 2:00 pm

    Buddhists should be the most revered of the world: though they are carnal, yet they are not lawless; though they are free, yet they wait with us; though they are superhuman, yet they follow judgement first. And have you met a Buddhist who has transcended this life? I tell you, you have met someone who has gone to be with God.

  4. TFLAT'S Tech Games and More

    June 4, 2011 8:50 pm

    Thanks for this video. Far too many people try to make meditation more complex than it already is. Perhaps that is why so many people can't do it. This video is a simple, yet effective approach. There is only one way to describe meditation. Focusing on one thing. I think that is meditation in it's simplest form. Thanks for your input.

  5. Jake B

    July 10, 2011 11:45 pm

    This stuff really doesn't work… it's all loosely based information. Maybe it's just me but I can't believe non-hard evidence… it just doesn't make sense imho.

  6. WakeUp2Love

    November 7, 2011 8:35 pm

    @eagleduzt the only evidence you need is your own personal experience. Once you practice and reach new states of mind then you know it works. I am grateful to have had such experiences as a teen, but it's hard for many to get out of their mind.

  7. cvc

    December 20, 2011 10:10 pm

    WOW! I'm currently detoxing from methadone and nothing short of drugs will make me feel better…..or so I thought. Meditation is very hard withdrawing because of the restlessness, I did this for 6 minutes….only 6 minutes because that's, and I felt such a surge of energy and peacefullness, gonna go ride a bike now, but I had to lie down. Of course it was only a few minutes, but it was relief, I am going to do this multiple times a day now, until I get better at it. Great vid!.

  8. 2Durr

    April 11, 2012 10:25 pm

    I thank you very much

    this is common knowledge in my culture

    but Its like 1 million dollar to come across to this video and listen to you

    Can somebody give sumethings immaterial to a nother Humanbeing or Master from a energy radiating thankfull ness towards him or her?

    Hamsa yogi told about Shambhala the other name for that is shangri la
    Thats a name that i saw in a game as well.
    And now here very interesting.

  9. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

    September 11, 2012 3:15 pm

    Closed captions (subtitles) are available on this video in English and many other languages.

    If captions do not already appear, click the CC icon below the video towards the right to activate captions. Once the CC icon is red the captions are activated, click on it again to choose the language.
    There is a, hard to see, transparent red colored tab in the scroll bar on the upper right that you can use to scroll through the available languages.

  10. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

    September 11, 2012 3:41 pm

    You can also click the mouse on the captions then type + or – to change the size of the captions. If you click and hold the mouse on the captions you can drag them around on the screen. When you click on the red CC icon you can use the “Settings” option (at the top of the language list) to change the color of the captions and their background.

  11. jgarciabu

    April 3, 2013 4:31 am

    As someone who has been to different temples searching for a home, I have come across leaders, priests, etc that have a chip on their shoulder, a negative outlook, or something else was off about them.

    This is the only person, up to now, who has given me a positive vibe and feeling. Calm, centered, and focused. I haven't heard many of his talks, but have done some research and it seems like he is a good guy outside of being a religious leader. I'm planning a trip to my local shambalah center.

  12. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

    June 11, 2013 3:48 pm

    The Sakyong talking about meditation.
    Shambhala is a global, multilingual, multicultural community of over 210 centers around the world. http://www.shambhala.org 
    This video is closed captions in: Arabic, Chinese [simplified and traditional fonts], Czech, Danish, English French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Persian Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Castilian and Latin American), Swedish, and Ukrainian.
    Click on the CC icon beneath the video towards the right to see the available languages, you will see a red tab on the right to scroll through the languages. The CC icon is sometimes only visible when the video is full screen. 

  13. Patty Wagner

    April 12, 2016 4:24 am

    I hope i can be able to go to the meditation class? tomorrow here in park city…never done it and i need something for my anxiety attacks that they are killing me 🙁

  14. Silvia Almeida

    June 26, 2016 1:56 am

    Interesting, the Sakiong seemed quite stressed, talked a lot but gave little guidance.

  15. Katie 0'Neill

    December 5, 2017 10:36 pm

    But, this is impersonalist meditation. I thought the purpose of meditation was to direct one's attention and one's heart on the Source of All – God, Nature, Krishna, Allah, the Buddha etc. – to align oneself with Basic Goodness. Most people stay agitated, stressed, angry, and controlling even after this type of meditation since they are under the delusion that there is no God to turn their lives and their wills over to. Just try to tell addicts and alcoholics that they can recover without turning their lives and wills over to the care of a God as they understand God. Good luck with that. This is why this type of "meditation" is so trendy in places like Boulder, CO with little to no actual results. This is dangerous impersonalist meditation practice. I truly love you, Sakyong, and your books, but where is God in your teachings and your "meditation practices".

  16. Katie 0'Neill

    December 5, 2017 10:43 pm

    Saying the word Krishna one time in your life (in a humble state of mind) would be more powerful and beneficial than 40,000 hours of this non-focused, relaxing bath-type of impersonalist practice. This is not meditation.

  17. Spiritual Teachings

    April 28, 2018 8:06 am

    Nice. I really love meditation. 🙌🙏
    I've been liking lots of Master Sri Avinash Do lately for meditating. #sriavinash


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