Meditation – Transcending stress

Lotus by Tanaka Juuyoh

Our friend Melissa was telling us yesterday about her first deep meditation experience.  It happened at the Lotus Room in Tampa.

The instructor explained that suffering or stress, called dukkha in the Buddhist tradition, is like a river that winds and twists and will carry your mind along with it – unless you take your mind outside the stream.

I love the metaphor.

Dukkha is a central concept in Buddhism.  It means anything that is painful, temporary or conditional, anything subject to loss or craving.  A wonderful discussion of dukkha can be found in “The First Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of dukkha”, edited by John T. Bullitt. Access to Insight, May 26, 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca1/index.html (and it is part of a beautiful Anthology by John T. Bullitt called “The Path to Freedom: A Self-Guided Tour of the Buddha’s Teachings”.)

In meditation, you sit your mind quietly on the banks of the river.  From there you can see dukkha, instead of being caught in it, instead of being pulled and pushed along, grasping and struggling to stay afloat.   You cultivate the witness.

It’s a wonderful thing to get out of the river of struggle for a while, don’t you think?

You learn to identify and experience that part of yourself that is beyond the stress of craving and loss.  You experience the part of yourself that is eternal.  And you begin to integrate that peaceful part of yourself into your daily life.

Lotus photo by Tanaka Juuyoh on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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