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Proper Dharma Seal - 1

 

1. There are several ways of crossing the legs, from sitting with legs simply folded on the floor, to half lotus and full lotus. To sit in half lotus, place the left foot on top of the right thigh. To advance from half lotus to full lotus, begin with half lotus and then put your right foot on top of your left thigh. Full lotus is the most balanced posture for long-term sitting, and for this reason is called "the diamond posture."

2. Allow the spine to assume its full, natural upright reach, as if your spine were aligned from a thread attached to the top of your head. With your back straight and upright, and free of tension or muscular effort, gently align the shoulders, hips and ear along the same plane.

3. Keep your eyes slightly open. Closed eyes induce sleepiness; wide open eyes invite distraction. Avoid staring at the tip of the nose, rather, look downward at a 45 degree angle past the point of your nose without focusing or straining your eyes. Keep your tongue slightly curved, with its tip touching the roof of your mouth. Place the right palm on top of the left with thumbs slightly touching, and rest them on your lap.

4. Once you are established in a comfortable posture, bring your attention to the breath. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling all tension away. Then breathe in and out naturally, without forcing, and always through the nose. Breathe with the diaphragm, letting it rise and fall naturally.

5. The technique of Calming Meditation aims to compose and clear the mind by bringing attention to a single point of focus. Specific meditation topics can be objects or points of focus, such as the breath, a sacred image, a rock, or silently reciting a mantra or sacred name, among others. A common method for beginners is to watch the breath with one's attention located slightly behind the navel.

6. Restlessness and difficulty in sitting is a common experience for beginners. Without training, the mind drifts and scatters, like a frisky monkey in a tree, jumping from branch to branch. Since the body and mind mutually interweave, a restless body reflects a restless mind and an unquiet mind makes the body ill-at-ease. By repeatedly and patiently refocusing the mind on the topic of meditation, the "monkey mind" naturally quiets down and the body settles into a relaxed and stress-free state. 

7. During meditation some people experience or seek for unusual physical and mental sensations such as intense bliss, or rapture, even clairvoyant or clairaudient perceptions, and so forth. The ancient texts on meditation are quite clear about this: neither seek for nor cling to any altered state of body or mind. They are all illusory and empty – "like dreams, illusions, bubbles, and shadows." If you can view them as illusory and neither fear nor anticipate any mental state, and always return to your meditation topic, then your practice will be unhindered and highly beneficial. Meditation is its own reward.

8. The quality of our meditation depends on what we do when we're not sitting, just as our everyday life reflects the effectiveness of our meditation. An ethical life leaves the heart light and mind untroubled. As a result, a deep stillness settles in once we cross our legs. Clear conscience; clear mind. The ancient formula for successful meditation thus remains unchanged: ethical goodness nourishes concentration, and concentration opens into insight.

– Excerpts from Meditation Hand Book