Meditation – The Dance Within
The discipline of meditation can be very simply defined as the art of communing with a spirit and includes all forms of prayer. It is found in nearly every ancient culture - from the formal prayers to Jesus of the Christian faith to the ‘walking meditation’ of the Buddha. Many forms of martial arts are considered a form of mediation as well.
More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, help people with asthma breathe easier, relieve insomnia and generally relax the everyday stresses of life. Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance a person's physical, emotional, and mental state. It is simple and can benefit everybody.
What are some of the techniques of meditation?
In concentrative meditation, the focus is narrowed down to one simple object, thought or sound. The simplest method could be to concentrate on breathing. As in yoga, it is believed that control and awareness of breathing has a direct effect on the calm within. The second, possibly more difficult method, is that of mindfulness meditation, wherein one opens the mind to all that happens around, taking it all in, letting it go, and reacting to nothing.
How is Buddhism connected to Meditation?
Meditation has always been central to Buddhism. The historical Buddha himself is said to have achieved enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. In Buddhism, meditation is an activity in which one is engaged in subduing discursive thought, destroying or discouraging unwholesome mental states, and initiating or nourishing wholesome mental states.
What are the common postures of meditation?
The most famous posture of meditation is the Lotus or cross-legged posture with the feet on the thighs, head up and the straight spine considered essential for deep contemplation. In Hindu practice the focus is often on a word or sound, usually of Sanskrit origin, whereas in the Buddhist tradition, awareness is directed towards the breath. The repetition of a word or sound is also used to focus the mind. This is called a mantra.
The stress of daily life, the anxiety of modern living, and the internal struggles of the human mind are just a handful of reasons for visitors to immerse themselves at a meditation centre for a few hours or in some cases, for several years. These are quiet places where the mind is trained to become placid, amidst turbulent waters.
There are thousands of meditation centres scattered throughout Sri Lanka. Here are a few:
Kanduboda Meditation Centre, Delgoda - Accommodation, meals and services are offered free of charge. Meditators must dress in white throughout their stay. Meditators can stay for a number of weeks or months.
Nilambe Meditation Centre - Meditators stay from one night to several years. Accommodation at the centre is in single or shared rooms. The centre charges 400 Sri Lankan rupees per day (the price might have been revised). Teaching is available in English and Sinhala from the resident teachers.
Dekanduwala Meditation Centre - English and Sinhala are both spoken by the monk-in-charge, and overseas meditators are welcome.
Lewella Meditation Centre - This centre is for experienced male meditators, and for the study of Buddhism, situated on the outskirts of Kandy. Several individual retreat kutis (huts) are available on the edge of the Udawattakelle forest reserve.
Useful website: http://www.vipassana.com/resources/meditation_in_sri_lanka.php