2016 Meditation and Mindfulness Course Handbook

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1 2016 Meditation and Mindfulness Course Handbook Where Should I Meditate? How Often Should I Meditate? Why Journaling & Keeping a Calendar Can be Beneficial Glossary of Terms Used in this Course

2 When a man knows his true self for the first time, something else arises from the depths of his being and takes possession of him. That something is behind the mind: it is infinite, divine, and eternal. You may give it what name you wish. What exists in truth is the self alone. The world, the individual soul and God are all appearances in it. Like silver in Mother of Pearl, these three appear at the same time and disappear at the same time. Sri Ramana Maharshi Welcome to the 2016 Mindfulness and Meditation Course. We're so delighted that you are joining us to begin or return to your daily practice. We hope that through this course you are able to cultivate a solid foundation that will enable you to find a deeper balance in your life. To make things easier, we've compiled some course guidelines that you may find useful whether you are beginning a practice for the first time or simply rediscovering the joy of stillness and introspection. These guidelines serve as gentle suggestions, but only you know what works best for you, so feel free to adjust them accordingly. Meditation is becoming familiar with ourselves. Through meditation we are able to find courage to persevere when encountering obstacles and difficulties in our lives. Where Should I Meditate? - Find a quiet space in your house where you are comfortable returning to on a daily basis. Make sure you have a chair or cushion (zafu) where you are able to sit in a comfortable, relaxed and upright position.

3 - To create an alter/puja table you can add a picture of your favorite deity or your Guru, a stick of incense as an offering, and any personal items that evoke a sense of devotion and love. This will help you to feel connected to your sacred space. - Set your intention by picking a specific morning or evening time when you can devote at least five or ten minutes to sitting without any distractions. - Silence all of your digital devices. - Keep a timer with you to help you complete the time you allot. The daily repetition of the practice is what you are working toward, so eventually there will be no need to convince yourself to sit you will just naturally follow your developed routine. Gradually as you get into your meditation habit you can increase the allotted time for your practice. - It is good to remember that only one particular practice should be used each week before you decide to switch to a new one. How Often Should I Meditate? In this course we recommend that aside from the morning and/or evening sitting meditation, you do a very short reflection before you go to sleep. It can be in the sacred space that you have set up or lying in your bed before drifting to sleep. In that moment connect with that warm place in the center of your chest that is your Spiritual Heart - and repeat I am Loving Awareness several times until your attention moves from your ego/mind to your spiritual heart/soul. This is Ram Dass penultimate teaching which is found in week four of this course - which is to bring ourselves into a compassionate and loving heart space first towards ourselves and then spreading that love and compassion through loving kindness to all beings. By doing this, even for just a moment or two we may find ourselves sleeping more deeply and waking more refreshed.

4 Why Journaling and Keeping a Calendar can be Beneficial We recommend that each day you keep a journal that reflects the actions and reactions you had through your work and family day. What phenomena appeared that might have disrupted your balance? What thoughts or emotions got the better of you? Or conversely what pleasant occurrences tipped your mood in a different direction? What was the trigger when you had an I just can t help myself moment? What body sensations did you experience? What was the voice-track in your mind? What was the underlying emotion you experienced? Keeping a daily recounting of these events helps to bring more awareness to your motivations and the changes in the ways in which you were able to witness the interactions of your daily life. Also charting your daily practice can be a good way to appreciate the growth that happens when you become more aware, through meditation. You can simply record the type of meditation and it s duration - along with your reflections and contemplations before sleep. You will find that once you have developed strong meditative and mindful habits your life will change. The old self-defeating habits and patterns will slowly dissolve and true balance will gradually awaken in your life. Through daily small changes of routine, your whole life can shift over time to a new perspective. Glossary of Terms Used in this Course Anapanasati (Pali): A form of meditation that focuses solely on the breath.

5 Bhakti Yoga Tradition: The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which means to adore or worship God. Bhakti yoga has been called love for love's sake and union through love and devotion. Bhakti yoga, like any other form of yoga, is a path to self-realization, to having an experience of oneness with everything. Ego: The pattern of conditioned habits that we mistake for a sense of self. Guru: The Guru Gita aptly describes the guru as dispeller of darkness (from gu, darkness and ru, that which dispels ). A true, God-illumined guru is one who, in his attainment of self-mastery, has realized his identity with the omnipresent Spirit. Such a one is uniquely qualified to lead the seeker on his or her inward journey toward perfection. Karma/Kamma (Sanskrit/Pali): Action, deed; the law of cause and effect; intentional action, either wholesome or unwholesome that brings either pleasant or unpleasant results respectively. Nirvana: A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism. Puja table: A low surface or table where you can create a sacred space for meditation or prayer, you can add figures of deities who inspire you (murtis), sacred stones, incense & candles, texts, prayer beads or any other objects you hold sacred. Vipassana Meditation: Vipassana, or insight meditation, is the practice of continued close attention to sensation, through which one ultimately sees the true nature of existence. Zafu: A traditional meditation cushion that is usually round and firm.

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