Healing Garden. Inspiring festival for like-minded people.

 “A festival where you can have a fantastic weekend without having participated in one activity”

Last Sunday I was at the Healing Garden festival that took place on the Erkemederstrand in Zeewolde. Together with my girlfriend and 10 month old daughter we drove here, without knowing exactly what to expect from the festival.

From the parking lot we walked over a long path with Asian decoration and wind organs on both sides. In between were banners with inspiring texts to get in the mood.

Upon entering, the tone was immediately set. We were welcomed and before we entered the festival site through the gate, we were quite praised with sage to let negative energy out. While we looked around us in the cloud of smoke, we already got a good impression of the festival. What a color! And I do not just mean the decorations. Especially many people had put themselves in colorful clothes. If you were to take a picture and ask a random person when this picture was taken, the majority would have said around 1969.

healinggarden1

At a festival you may not immediately think of rest and relaxation. But outside the tones that came from the DJ tent, there was a very serene, open and cheerful atmosphere. This is of course due to the workshops and activities that could be done there. You had a tent where you could meditate, several tents for massages, psychics, a yoga tent and many more inspiring places with activities. You even had a chill-out tent. That sounds superfluous after the earlier enumeration, but this tent was also very inspiring. The moment I went in there, beautiful music was played to a small audience of less than 10 people who were enjoying themselves on the floor.

But not only the workshops were inspiring. It was such a festival that can be successful without you having participated in one activity. It is the people who make it. Because of the positioning of the festival and the activities that you can do there is a certain audience. I would describe this audience as open and loving. And you can taste that immediately!
You can also easily make contact with other people so that you exchange the best stories and share experiences.

Next year again?

If there is another Healing Garden festival next year, I will go for a whole weekend instead of 1 day. And then I take my friends.

 

 

Persecution of Loving Kindness, Compassion, Meditation and Equanimity

Why do we develop the Four Heart qualities

 

– Loving kindness ( Metta )
– Compassion (Karuna)
– Meditation (Mudita)
– Equanimity (Upekkha)
Accompanied with wisdom, the cultivation of these abodes in the heart leads to the liberation of suffering (Dukkha) which is formed by enmity, anger and aversion.

We train our minds to have pure, well-promoting intentions born. Which then automatically results in desired thoughts, speech and actions. This not only contributes to our own happiness, but as an oil slick the developed universal love extends to everyone in our environment. As a ‘butterfly effect’ it may have an impact that we can not figure out. That is not necessary. The intention and the dedication are sufficient.

When Metta has fully developed, there is no other way to resolve conflict than through loving kindness. If Loving Kindness is sufficiently trained and integrated, it is always present with us. We not only wish good friends prosperity, but also our ‘enemies’. We know where their actions come from and where it leads.
We are happy for others if they are doing well and have compassion for those who suffer while we remain balanced. We are not touched by our pity, nor are we indifferent. We see that everyone has to walk his way and that one suffers more than the other, regardless of wishing them all. Partly for this reason also the training in equanimity.

Until our minds are perfected, sometimes or often, depending on where we are in the process, we will unintentionally act from our protective ego. Well-intentioned, but reactive and not always loving and helpful. We also have compassion for this. We can not enforce it, only create the conditions for the intentions that are born.

Occasionally we also have meditation retreats aimed at developing Loving-kindness.

smile meditation

What is meditation and what are the effects?

What is meditation?

People are conditioned in doing. With meditation we bring ourselves from doing to being. Doing nothing at all, but being concentrated with the right effort in the now. Here we can be senseless (sit in silence and watch with attention what the ‘mind’ is drawn to) or use an anchor as a meditation object (such as in the Vipassana meditation), an object where we can focus our concentration. This is often the breathing because it is always there and can therefore always be perceptible. As you meditate more, the perception of breathing becomes better and better as you develop your concentration capacity, but also because you learn to feel better. You observe what happens on an increasingly subtle level. Of course it is true that you can not keep your attention with the meditation object. The mind always remains astray and your attention is drawn by thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and sensory impressions. That this is happening is not very and completely logical. That is what the mind does, that is in the nature of man. You do not try to change this but see that you are distracted and then return to your anchor and try again. It is not about how long you can stay with your concentration with the meditation object, but it is about the intention that you have to stay with the meditation object. And you have the intention, each time you notice that you have strayed, to return to this meditation object. There are meditation forms in which you return directly to your meditation object if you have strayed, but there are also meditation forms in which you first dwell on what you derive. As with Vipassana meditation that I personally value very much because of the philosophy behind it. If you notice meditation at Vipassana that you have strayed, it is the intention that you keep your attention with what you distract, without going into the story. So you look as a spectator. As soon as the thing that distracts you more and more to the background, you will return to your meditation object because it is then more noticeable than what you had derived. For people who are just starting to meditate this is sometimes difficult to understand (a frequently asked question is: how can you be aware of thinking?) If you look at thinking, then you are still thinking that you are distance looks at thinking?) but as you practice more in meditation, the answer automatically unfolds at a given moment. Then it is possible to watch what happens inside yourself, without you getting entangled in it. It may be that what you derive is very strong, for example if someone is very anxious. It is therefore possible that this emotion requires your attention during a meditation session a large part of the time. Then comes the meditation object of which you have the intention to be (the breathing), perhaps not at all. That does not matter, it is then the art to be with what is there . It is the art (which you developed through meditation) to look at what attracts your attention from the role of a spectator. It can help to let go of concepts. Like the concept with the word fear. It is only a word that you have linked yourself to an observation or multiple observations that you do. For example, physical observations (such as muscle tensions) and thoughts (such as a negative scenario). By letting go of the concept and only being aware of what is actually happening, it is possible that it decreases in strength and gives you more insight into how your mind / body works. It is important that you adopt an attitude where nothing needs to or does not have to change. The feelings that are there are there. You do not have anything to do with it, you just look at it here.

Meditation is a training for daily life. It is not about the moment that you sit on your meditation cushion, but how you then integrate the exercise into action throughout the day.

What does meditation do?

Meditation has an impact on many factors. If you are going to meditate, it is assumed that the intention does not have a concrete goal or expectation. I myself was quite tense years ago and I had a number of dilemmas (for me at the time). I went on a short 5-day retreat in Thailand (it was already planned) and I asked my meditation teacher how I can best handle this during the retreat. His answer was that I had to have the intention not to be busy at all during the retreat. That the retreat is not meant to pay attention to these dilemmas. I did this as well as I did (of course it repeatedly asked my attention, but I did not go into it in terms of content). As I walked out of the gates of the temple, I knew exactly what I had to do and I made some rigorous changes in my life that I am still very grateful for.

Through meditation I have been able to step out of the ever-advancing train of life. The space that created this (not thinking) gave me many insights. It gave the opportunity to choose how I want to walk the path, instead of being lived.

The meditation gives insight. Insight into life and especially yourself. In addition, meditation has many other positive effects. There are too many to list, but some important and well-observable effects include the following:

  • Developing your ability to concentrate

  • Learning to deal with emotions

  • You learn to relax

  • Preventing, and dealing with stress, tension and unrest

  • You learn to let go more (also called detachment) so you can watch emotional, physical or external events more as a spectator

  • You developed the ability to view people and situations less with a judgmental mind

  • You ‘open your heart’. You go different with other beings, which often leads to others handling you differently. In this way you end up in other situations (action, reaction, in Buddhism also derived from the principle Karma).

  • You know better what is really important to you. This allows you to make better choices. You better walk the way to your own happiness.

There are many more effects and any kind of meditation can also lead to other effects. Just like every person can experience other effects after or during a specific meditation. Some effects are immediately perceptible (a deeper relaxation is of course a frequently heard effect that can be observed directly during a meditation) and other effects are truly transformative and work through the rest of a person’s life.

meditation

Rest through insights from the meditation

To get rest through meditation and insights from the meditation

I estimate that at least 8 out of 10 people who start with me meditation, motivate “getting rest”. Let us therefore go deeper into this. For this specific part I was (again) inspired by Dingeman Boot during a retreat he recently accompanied.

When I talk about this in this article, I also mean ‘inner peace’, ‘freedom’ and consequently ‘happiness’.

Rest by Meditation

 

It is scientifically proven that meditation indeed brings about ‘rest’. This creates demonstrable changes in the brain. Click here if you want to read one of the studies .

In addition, you do not have to be a scholar to realize that if you sit on a pillow with the intention not to think, then you will come to rest. Your brain may finally come to a standstill. However, I mean in this article rest that the next day is not gone. I mean real peace, which you also experience during your daily life. And meditation also contributes to that.

Once “on the path of meditation”, insights emerge that reinforce the rest. A philosophy emerges that anchors tranquility. Inner peace that offers an underlay in all situations that you encounter.

Rest through insight

Buddhist philosophy offers many insights, and those who have been walking the path of meditation for some time now automatically come to these insights.

Insights from Buddhist philosophy
The insights that the Buddha would have gained form the basis for Buddhist philosophy. This philosophy is, as it were, a thick book that tells how you can obtain true freedom (peace, happiness or enlightenment). The Buddhist doctrine contains several ‘rows’ to oversee the philosophy and also to remember the individual parts well. You understand that this was very useful in the time that nothing was written down, but everything was transferred word of mouth. But even now the rows are useful for a good overview.

Insight: The Three Poisons

Important ‘rows’ are the ‘ 7 factors for lighting’ and ‘the five obstacles’. 1 of the 7 factors for lighting is “Peace”, or also tranquility. We will therefore explain this further during this article. Rest can be speeded up, for example, if you see what causes unrest. And here too Buddhism has a list, namely the 3 poisons.
The 3 poisons are as follows:

– desire
– Dislike
– Insanity

The first two of the three poisons are also at the top of the list of the five obstacles. And not for nothing are these two so prominent.

If these are the 3 poisons that cause unrest (or broadened, the 3 poisons that cause all suffering), we can use the opposite to get rest / happiness / inner peace.
– Release of attachment
– Release of disgust
– Insight

Release of attachment

Often in the Pali ‘Desire’ the first of the three poisons is translated as ‘desire’ or ‘desire’. I prefer to use the word ‘attachment’ myself. It is not bad, and in my opinion human, to have desires. But as soon as you are attached, the desire becomes something that stands in the way and causes unrest. Because if you are attached to something and it threatens to disappear, conflict arises. Uncontrolled impulses to hold something cramped. Unrest.
While this is absurd when you realize that everything, but everything is transient. Try reflecting on it more often and you will see that you can let go of your attachments more and more.

And loosening of attachments leads to a greater inner peace.

Release of disgust
Aversion or aversion is the second of the three poisons. When aversion, also think of terms such as aversion, frustration and anger. But above all think about ‘wanting things differently than they are’. If you accept things as they are, you will also experience more rest.

I can hear you thinking ‘yes, I do not have to just accept everything passively and let it happen’. No, that is indeed not what is meant. You will continue to act on what you think is beneficial, but you will no longer lose yourself in the story.

Insight

Unknowing is not realizing that you are losing yourself in attachment and aversion. Insight is therefore the opposite. As the insight becomes more part of your conditioning, you become aware that if you get away from disgust and attachment, that inner peace arises. Peace.

Insight also involves knowing that everything is going as it is. And that things can not have gone any differently than they went. Everything is a reaction to a previous action. A person can not act differently from how he acts or has acted. This again comes from education, culture and millions of other influences. To learn more about this theory, I can recommend the booklet ‘lighting for lazy people’. A super thin booklet that explains that everything goes as it goes and that you have no influence on it. So why would you still worry about things? The English version is free to download and the Dutch version can be ordered for € 5.95 at bol.com .

The 7 factors of enlightenment

 

In addition to understanding the 3 poisons, it is beneficial and stimulating ‘rest’ to get and keep the 7 factors of enlightenment in balance.
The seven factors of illumination are as follows:

1. Attention (mindfulness)

2. Research (investigation of the truth, or also the dhamma)
3. Energy (also called effort / commitment and dedication)
4. Joy
5. Tranquility (also called peace of mind or (inner) peace)
6. Concentration

7. Equanimity

Inspiring songs

 

I would like to share two songs for inspiration that fit in beautifully:
1. Skik (Daniel Lohues) – ‘t Giet Like’ t Giet (even though sometimes he does not think so)
2. Stef Bos – Nothing to lose

mindfulness

Hara meditation

What is Hara?

 

Your harp point is about 2 to 3 centimeters below your navel. Hara is also called the source of life in Japan and China.

Hara meditation by Anando Würzburger

 

The Hara meditation, developed by Anando Würzburger, is not only a meditation, but also a sedative exercise. The Hara meditation is also very suitable for people who are just starting with meditation.

“The Hara meditation makes you relaxed and allures simultaneously. The meditation has a balancing effect on the nervous system. It helps you relax and understand and deal with feelings and thoughts.
It is a common misconception that you must avoid having thoughts and feelings during meditation. This is / may be a result of meditation, but is not the goal in itself . “

This also applies to Vipassana meditation. You have the INTENTION to focus on your anchor point and without thoughts and feelings, but the point is that you keep track of what actually happens (outside the intention).

What I personally find a very visual text from the guided Hara meditation, which fits in well with this, is the following (freely translated from German):

“Thoughts are like a train. Imagine that you are on a platform. You see a train approaching, you see it slowly drive into the station. The train stops, people get out, you look at it, but YOU do not get in. Then you see the train leaving the station again “.

The Hara meditation lasts only half an hour and through the soothing effect is a fine meditation to practice after a working day or at bedtime.

How the Hara practice meditation

First of all, you ensure that you adopt a good sitting posture that can last about 25 minutes. The Hara Meditation consists of 3 phases and in the first 2 phases are seated. The first phase lasts about 18 minutes, the second phase 7 minutes and the last phase 5 minutes.

1st phase
You can put your hands on your harp point, or rest on your legs. Inhale through the nose and out through slightly opened mouth. You turn circles from your pelvis counterclockwise. Make sure that you are sitting upright and that you are not making circles by bending your spine. The anchor during all phases is your harp point, have the intention to stay here. If you are still straying, notice that you have strayed, look at what you have not gone through, and if it becomes less strong you will return to your Hara. If you buy the CD from the Hara meditation you can choose to practice the meditation, or only an instrumental version.

2nd phase
When the 2nd phase starts you slowly stop turning and you still stay in the sitting position.

3rd phase
In the third phase you will lie on your back. You may also choose to remain seated, but do not lie down afterwards. If you lie down on your back, let your feet fall slightly outwards, spread your arms in about 45 degrees and lay your palms upwards.

meditation

 

Good sitting posture with meditation

A good sitting posture in meditation is very important. A wrong sitting posture can lead to physical complaints. Often in the back, but possibly also in the ankle, knee or hip joints.

Inconveniences and / or pains can not be prevented

 

Mind you, it is not that a good sitting posture can completely prevent pain. On the contrary, even very experienced yogis sometimes experience sensations in the legs, lower back and / or upper back. From the meditation point of view, these ‘aches’ are used as practice objects. In meditation practice we try to be ‘with what is there’. Kriebel I often use as an example. If there is a tickle then try to be there without intervening. So do not scratch. You will see that it automatically disappears into the background again. In life we also encounter suffering and inconveniences. Pain during meditation gives insight into how we relate to this and at the same time we can also use it to practice with this.

Injury pain or growing pain?

I often make a distinction between green pain and red pain. Or also injury pain or growing pain. With injury pain I mean pains caused by a wrong (sitting) posture that lead to an injury or long lasting pain. With growth pain I mean pains that you can learn from, as described above. Growth pain goes away quickly or immediately as soon as you get up. A sleeping leg is often a form of growing pain. An inconvenience in which we usually do not have to change our position.

Sit relaxed. A while without real pains

Many people have the assumption that you have to be in a lotus posture when you start meditating. If you can do this easily than I recommend this, but for most Western people this is not easy to do.
As a rule, I often use that you have to be in a certain position for at least 15 minutes before there really is a need to change. Prefer 20 minutes. If you are just starting to meditate, this can obviously be a shorter time. It is not that you should not see any inconveniences, but it should not be that you have to move after 7 minutes, because otherwise you experience too many aches and pains.

Therefore, examine what is the right posture for you, an attitude in which you can stay in the legs, lower back or upper back for a longer period of time without pain. This can also mean for many people that they can sit better on a chair and some people can even better lie down (possibly alternate between them).

What to look out for in the sitting position?

 

It is important that you can sit relaxed, and yet in a dignified position. Upright.
Your spine must take a nice S shape. Many people who sit wrong use a C form.
You get an S shape by tilting your pelvis a little bit forward while fully stretching yourself. Your crown rises to the ceiling or the sky. Check whether your body is not holding unnecessary stresses. Your legs, shoulders, jaws and forehead are important areas of attention. You can lift your shoulders once and then lower them backwards so that your chest area opens up further and the shoulder blades come closer to each other. I advise you to put your palms upwards because this subtle level also opens your chest a bit further.

Provide a good meditation cushion
If you choose to sit in a cross-legged or a lotus position, make sure your pillow is high enough. In general, people who are agile need a low meditation cushion (and sometimes even no pillow) and people who are less agile have a high meditation cushion (or a chair). Make sure you sit a bit on the tip of the pillow, causing your pelvis to tilt a bit further forward (see paragraph above).

To get the right height you can also get some buckwheat from the meditation cushion.

There should be no more tension in the legs. In many people, the lower legs and knees are not on the ground. Because they have no support, they still retain tensions in the legs. Then provide a cushion for under the legs. You can also opt for a blanket or a decorative pillow that you still have at home. If it is soft and ensures that your legs stay up.

You can also opt for a meditation bench or a chair. You have meditation benches where the legs and knees come to lie on the side of the legs, and also meditation benches where they lie between the legs of the bench. Both are fine, see what feels most comfortable for you.

Provide a soft surface

 

Do not just sit on the floor, but provide a soft surface. This can be, for example, a folded bath towel or a yoga mat. Personally, however, I always recommend using a meditation mat.

 

Let the silence speak

SILENCE SPEAKS WHEN WORDS CAN NOT

Get out of the roller coaster
Many people are constantly in mind, are reactive and are lived.
Continuously working from A to B.
If I do not take care, this happens to me too. In fact, this happens every day.

That is why the moments of silence are so important.
In the silence your consciousness can speak. You step out of the roller coaster.
It is therefore sensible to schedule a moment every day to ‘come to yourself’.

Take for example half an hour a day of which you take 20 minutes to meditate and also about 10 minutes for reflection (but more is obviously better :).
You hereby create the possibility to let go of the identification with what you are doing and it gives you the space to take a breath again and look from above.

Do a retreat to completely distance yourself
Personally, I believe that, apart from the silence moments every day, it is important to really distance yourself for a longer period of time. If you take a half hour distance, to what extent do you really renounce your conditioning, to what extent can you really let go of the identification?
Is it not the case that we then open the door of the roller coaster again and take a seat again? Although it takes a while before the roller coaster really gets going, and the chance is small that because you get out of it every time the roller coaster will start at full speed, yet the roller coaster continues on the same rails.

I therefore recommend going to retreat at least once a year. Even if it is only for 3 days. You do not just step off the roller coaster, but you also leave the amusement park. The longer the better, of course, because go to yourself for what you do not identify yourself all?
Just a list that I regularly identify with:
– I am Dutch
– I am a swollen person
– I am a partner
– I own my business
– I am…

And go check for yourself how many labels are stuck everywhere, how reactive you are and how much you are stuck in concepts !?
Chances are that this livestock is more than you think.

For me personally a retreat helps me to distance myself from this.
Let go of and get rid of identifications, concepts and judgments.

Let the silence speak

It often happens to me that I make other choices after a retreat. That, because I have left the amusement park, I suddenly see that the roller coaster is not good for me. Or, that I do not like the roller coaster anymore.

Often these choices do not come from reason. Otherwise they would have been born while I was busy thinking about the roller coaster.
No, these thoughts automatically come to mind. There is no ‘I’, no Gerjan, as it were.
It is an intuitive knowing.

Sometimes the choices are nil (but essential and important!) And sometimes great. For example, during a retreat, I decided several years ago to leave a company that I had owned for more than 6 years. Many (especially fellow entrepreneurs) declared me crazy. Logically, seen from their conditioned thought patterns. People told me “That’s stupid, is not it? You have built something up in six years and you have to start over again “.
Of course they were 100% right from their perspective. But I realized after the retreat that this was an unholy attachment.

I stepped out of the gate of the temple in Thailand, and I did not know what would happen if I stopped. What I had to do. But I knew I had to stop.

Now a few years later this turned out to have been one of my ‘best’ decisions in my life. Of course best in quotes, because that is of course a label. But I am grateful for how it went.

If you seek silence, it will start talking. An intuitive knowing is born.

Eckhart Tolle: A strong knowing is born
As Eckhart Tolle told, he stayed in silence for a long time. At a certain moment in him came upstairs that he had to move to another place. It does not describe it as ‘an idea’, but as a ‘strong knowing’. So he went.
When he was there, he had no idea why he was there. Until he sat down at his laptop and wrote down a sentence “The power of the NOW”. And then he knew that he was there to write a book.
But why he had to move to another place, he did not know, until he was back in the place where he lived … He was out of the flow. He lost his sentences on paper. The place was not inspiring enough, or did not give the right energy to write the story. And when he was back at the place where he wrote, the flow came back immediately.

Michael Angelo
Or as Michiel Angelo said, “There is an Angel in the marble, I just cut off the marble.”
The ‘art’ is born in him. He does not think of it. It is self-evident. There is no ‘Michael Angelo’ involved.

 

meditation

Recognizing, Acceptation, Investigation, Non-Identification

Within the Vipassana Meditation or also Insight Meditation it is possible to apply the mnemonic RAIN.

RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptation, Investigation and Non-Identification. You can apply this as follows during meditation:

Recognize

At the start of the meditation you have the intention to stay with your meditation object. Often the breathing as you can observe it in the abdomen. However, it is natural that you are distracted at a given moment (sooner or later). We are noticing the moment we have this in mind. That you are distracted is not bad and it is nice if you notice it. From that moment on you can look from the role of the viewer at what you are distracted.

Acceptation

As soon as you notice that you are distracted, it is the art to accept that you are distracted + that you fully accept what you are derived from.

Investigation

If you notice that you are distracted, you can investigate this. How do you relate to what you are distracted from? Are there any judgments that you can let go of? Is it a much recurring something (pattern) that makes me distracted? Etc. If you have not meditated for a long time, this analysis can still be a rational analysis, but the intention is to analyze this intuitively. If you are skilled you can do this intuitively in three phases:

  1. What thoughts do I have? Look at this from the role of the spectator, do not go any further with it. So do not make a thought, even if you want it so badly.
  2. What kind of state of mind do I have here. Pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
  3. What can I observe in my body (and note that nothing is fixed)

Non-identification
In this phase you make a shift from concept to direct perception. You are completely in the role of the spectator. And instead of naming concepts and intuitively analyzing, you go on to pure perception. In this way you dismantle the mind object and as soon as it becomes less strong and disappears into the background, you turn the full attention back to your anchor. Your meditation object.

From consciously competent to unconsciously skilled

In the beginning this will be an ‘analytical’ process. In the long run you will go through this process ‘automatically’. You are observant during / after being distracted by a Medium or Large visitor and the rest unfolds without an IK being involved. You do well to apply RAIN in a ‘playful way’. You do not have to go through exactly these steps every time. Sometimes it is sufficient to be attentive and to let go, the other time it takes some time to go through the whole process.

As with everything we learn new: You go from unconsciously incompetent to consciously competent . It then becomes part of your system.

 

The 7 factors of enlightenment

The ‘ seven factors of enlightenment’ in Buddhism are mainly a deepening on three aspects of the ‘ Eightfold Path’ . Namely on proper effort, proper attention and proper meditation .
The seven factors of enlightenment are also a counterpart to ‘ The five obstacles ‘ (the five obstacles can overshadow the 7 factors of enlightenment).

According to Buddhist teachings, people who fully develop these seven factors of enlightenment experience true freedom.

The seven factors of enlightenment are therefore also called the seven factors for liberation. For some people, lighting is too ‘big’ and they have a better feeling with the word liberation.

The seven factors of illumination are as follows:

  1. Attention (mindfulness)
  2. Research (investigation of the truth, or also the dhamma)
  3. Energy (also called effort / commitment and dedication)
  4. Joy
  5. Tranquility (also called peace of mind or (inner) peace)
  6. Concentration (as being-quality)
  7. Equanimity

Passive factors of illumination
Three factors of lighting are passive factors. Namely: 1. Concentration, also called one-pointed attention of the mind) 2. Tranquility, also called inner peace 3. Equanimity, also detachment and balance of the mind in change.

Active factors of lighting
There are also three active factors of illumination. Namely: 1. Energy, also the dedication / commitment to be mindful / attentive. 2. Research, also silently observing what happens (not reactive) 3. Joy, which manifests itself as happiness and cheerful interest in spiritual development.

Neutral factor: Attention (mindfulness)

The first factor of lighting is a neutral factor. Namely: Mindfulness. With mindfulness you observe every object in the current moment. Either, you experience everything in the ‘now’.
By developing mindfulness, you also automatically develop all other factors of lighting. It also balances the other factors. Because when you have too much of a factor, it is possible that it shifts to an obstacle instead of a force. For example, too much calmness, without proper attention and energy, can result in drowsiness.

Energy

Energy is in this twofold. On the one hand is meant the commitment / dedication needed to actively create the conditions for the factors of awakening. On the other hand, the energy that comes from the practice and the development of the other factors of enlightenment.

Dedication

Priority is also required here. We must consciously make the choice to have the intention to be attentive. After all, we can choose to hang on the couch in a good groove. That is nice on his time and relaxing. But it does not really help you. So there is dedication needed to really wake up / stay. A retreat is also a good example (and I do not mean retreats as you often see nowadays with a swimming pool and chatting, but more traditional Vipassana or Zen retreat). For example, during a traditional retreat we have to get up early, we encounter physical pain / discomfort and possibly also mental discomforts (when we look inside we do not always see the nice sides of ourselves).

For this dedication (especially for the novice yogi) the necessary trust is needed. Trust that this will bring you further. Get out of your existing conditioning and that it leads to deepening in the meditation process and transformation to further awakening.

Effort

Once we have been ready to be actively attentive, we need ‘right commitment’ or ‘right energy’. With proper use is meant that we do not try too tight to be attentive so that we are tense, but again not too loosely so that we always stray. We are looking for the middle way in this. Right bet.

Commitment in daily life
In daily life there is

  1. commitment needed to ‘leave’ what is not good (unkindly) for us (do not respond to desires that are not good for us)
  2. commitment needed to develop a basis from which to create less unholy tendencies
  3. commitment needed to develop a basis from which beneficial tendencies arise
  4. commitment needed to further develop what is beneficial

Developing / getting energy by being attentive

Besides deployment, energy is also meant to be the result of being attentive. Consider for yourself how energetic you feel when you are slumped to daydream on the couch in comparison with how you feel when you are sitting upright and aware of what is happening in and around you.

Research

Research provides insight. Research into ‘the truth’ of existence. Elements on which you can reflect are for example:

  • Investigate the fact that everything is subject to change
  • Investigate the fact that suffering arises because everything is subject to change. Sources of suffering deal with unholy desires and aversion. Also read the Four Noble Truths
  • Investigate the fact that there is no immutable, permanent ‘I’ or ‘self’.

Do not accept anything for truth. Research it yourself. Is this correct?
This research often leads to insights that in turn give the motivation for further research, and so on.

Joy

Joy can be a blissful feeling. In a state of high concentration, enormous delight and joy can even arise. In the end we mean more an inner joy. Also called ‘a smile in the heart’.

We can not completely command joy, but we can start the meditation with a cheerful interest. The intention to meet with what we notice with mildness and acceptance. This is one of the reasons why the Buddha is often portrayed with a smile.

This inner smile creates a peaceful basis. A basis for calm.

Tranquility

Tranquility, unlike the factors mentioned above, is a factor that you can not enforce. This is caused by the development of the active factors.

Concentration

Concentration is a quality of being. Just like calm, we can not enforce this, but we can create the conditions for this. Concentration is sometimes confused with attention. However, we can be aware of anything and everything. Even on chaos in the mind. If there is concentration we manage to remain focused on 1 object for a longer period of time.

Equanimity

Equanimity is the balance between the two extremes of desire and aversion. We respond in a balanced way to what comes our way. We take life as it comes. In the knowledge that we experience one as unpleasant and the other as pleasant. We deal in a balanced way with loss and profit, success and failure, praise and blame.

Equanimity is sometimes confused with indifference. It is rather the opposite. We do care about what happens but do not let us get carried away. We experience completely.

Attention

Attention, also known as mindfulness (Sati). Be aware of what is happening in the here and now. Non-dual, without preference or rejection. ‘Being’ with that which presents itself.

Universal factors for awakening

Although this list with ‘The 7 factors of Enlightenment’ comes from Buddhism, it is universal. There are many currents and exercises with which you can develop these factors of awakening. Personally, I think the Osho Dynamic, for example, is a very powerful meditation in which we make the obstacles in a short period of time with complete commitment and thus make room for the factors of lighting to develop.

 

mindfulness

THE FIVE HUNDREDS (in meditation and in daily life)

The five obstacles can be strong forces and occur with everyone. Both during the meditation process and in daily life. The five obstacles are also called the five ‘covers’ or ‘overshadows’. The obstacles namely overshadow clarity, concentration, attentiveness and correct insight ( lighting factors ).

The five obstacles are:

  1. sensory desire or greed
  2. anger, irritation or aversion
  3. drowsiness or slowness
  4. unrest, fear or worry
  5. doubt

The five obstacles may occur during meditation. Try to see this as a gift instead of something you need to get rid of. Take the time to research and practice it. As you practice with it, you recognize the obstacles more and more in daily life and you can also apply what you have practiced.

Examining the obstacles

In the first instance, it is not about making the obstacles disappear, it is about being aware that an obstacle occurs and / or is present, that you are investigating the obstacle and that you enter into a ‘beneficial relationship’ with it.

During meditation, we mainly try to gain insight into the obstacles. When does the desire come true? When does the desire disappear again? What overshadowed the obstacle, or what would you ask attention if the obstacle would not be there (considering obstacles can also be a strategy of the Ego to keep your attention from somewhere)? What can you notice in your body? What can you notice in your mind? Etc.

It is interesting for yourself which obstacle often comes back in meditation. Then consider for yourself what the links are in daily life.

The 5 obstacles are part of the ‘Mental objects’ (Dhammas). According to the Satiptthana Sutta, the Mental objects are one of the four fields that you may be aware of.

Examining the five obstacles can be done according to the RAIN method. This consists of the following steps:
R: (Recognition)> Noticing and recognizing an obstacle.
A: (Accepting)> Accept (with loving kindness) that the obstacle is there.
I: (Investigate)> Investigate the obstacle. Be curious about this. What is actually what you can notice? Research your mind and body.
N: Non-Idenfication> You are not what you experience. You are not the ‘mind object’. You are not your thoughts. You are not your body. It is a process that comes and goes. Release the identification with the obstacle.

The RAIN formula is also applicable to most other distractions in meditation and difficulties in daily life.

The first and second obstacles are related to each other, and the third and fourth obstacles also. With desire and hatred there is an object on which the desire or the aversion is directed. Drowsiness and unrest have a strong influence on your energy level.
The last obstacle, doubt, stands alone. It is sometimes said that doubt is the most powerful obstacle.

Counter-gifts at the obstacles

If an obstacle lasts for a long time or is so overwhelming that you can not get away from it and you can not explore it, you can also use counterparts. These are methods to get rid of the obstacle. These are detailed below per obstacle.

Let us go deeper into the five obstacles:

Sensory desire or greed

(Sensory) desire can bring us all the way. One moment you want this and the other moment that. That desire is so strong that it is in our power to know us all. The one can not ignore the delicious brownie that lies on him / her, and the other person wants to buy the latest iPhone.
Now it is not true that desires may not be there, but it is mainly about getting a better relationship with your desires. This can be done with the above RAIN formula.

Healthy and unhealthy desires

Desire is really only an obstacle, if you want to stick to it. See the desire come and go.
Also make a distinction between salutary and unwholesome desires. The desire to eat something if you are really hungry is of course a healthy (beneficial) desire. The desire for a cigarette or alcohol is clearly an unholy desire.

As is also described in the second of the four noble truths , the cause of Dukkha is also the attachment to a desire. It is therefore also very fruitful if we are able to gain more and more insight into our desires so that we can enter into a good relationship with them.

Counter gifts for desire

Counter-gifts for this obstacle include:

  • The mindfulness (attention) narrow, for example by counting the breath
  • Extend the mindfulness in order to get away from what you are fixated on (for example by fully opening up on what you can notice, sounds, your body, images, etc.)
  • If it is an unhealthy desire, you can focus on the consequences
  • If it is a healthy desire, but the attachment does cause stress, you can concentrate on the transience of the desire
  • With sexual desire you can concentrate on the non-attractive parts of the body (especially the inside of the human body)

Anger, irritation or aversion

If you are dealing with anger or irritation, this can seriously disrupt your meditation process. With anger, it is wise to get out of the mind and observe your body (in order of the RAIN method, ie with the I of investigation). Ask yourself here if; What convictions do I have? What do I feel in my body now that I experience this anger? Where exactly can I feel this? Are the sensations different from moment to moment? And is my attention drawn to the same place in my body all the time, or does that also vary from moment to moment?

See that it is always in motion. It is changeable. It is perishable. Like all other emotions, by the way. This also leads to the Non-identification (N). You are not your emotion. It is a process with a beginning and an end. If you see this, this can greatly help with letting go.

Aversion against meditation
You can also get aversion to the meditation practice itself. It is then the challenge to investigate this. It may be that irritation occurs during meditation because the meditation does not work well (we are constantly wandering, we are restless, we are irritated by someone else in space, etc.). If you are already meditating, I advise you to sit down and see that this is also a process.

If you do not meditate yet when you notice the aversion to meditation, then I challenge you to sit down to meditate REALLY THAN! Read more about this in the fifth obstacle, doubt (about meditation) .

Counter gifts for anger and aversion

Counter gifts for anger and aversion include:

  • Reducing / widening attention (similar to the antidotes in desire)
  • Speaking of loving wishes (Metta), for example ‘That I may be calm’
  • In the case of pain, the distinction between physical pain and mental distaste / emotional response to the pain

It is not uncommon for mental pain to emerge during meditation, or physical pain to become stronger. This is also seen as Dharma pain. Know that this is a universal fact and can ultimately promote your meditation process (guard your own limits well). In Buddhism it is also said “No mud, no lotus”. In other words, you first have to sow and care for the trees before you can reap the fruits of the meditation.

Drowsiness / Slowness

It can not be prevented. You will be surprised by drowsiness every now and then. You may end up in dreamland and sometimes you even fall asleep! Now, meditation is alert and focused awareness. I do not have to explain to you that if you are in dreamland, you are not really meditating. If the drowsiness happens to you during the meditation then it is also the challenge to be alert to this. Of course this is a tricky one and the pitfall here is that in addition to the drowsiness, disgust arises. “I do not bake anything now, I’m too tired”, “I wish I was not so tired”, “I’ve been too busy, I wish I was in bed instead of sitting on this pillow “.
All judgments that you do not do much good. Welcome the drowsiness with loving kindness. Get motivation from the moments when you notice that you are drowsy. Even though these moments are sparse. Know that each meditation practice is different and that this very meditation is a good exercise, so at times when you are less tired you can be even more allert and concentrated. Here lies the challenge where a lot of ‘profit’ can be achieved. This way you can also deal better with fatigue in daily life as you practice this more.

It is especially important to accept this obstacle (A from RAIN) and see that it is a transient process (N). Try to notice it every time (R) that it is there. Get the strength out of every moment you notice the sleepiness. The I of Investigation is of course a tricky if you are drowsy, but do it as well as you can!

Beneficial / Unthillful desire
If you are drowsy and you notice that you have the desire to go to bed, then it is of course good to also deal with loving kindness. Check whether it is beneficial or unhealthy to respond to this. If you have not slept much the last night (s), it may be beneficial to go into the desire to go to sleep. After you have slept then you can continue with the meditation.

Let energy flow
Meditation techniques have also been developed in which you first ensure that the energy will flow more. Active meditations often consist of several phases with movement in the first phase (s). You come more into your body instead of in your head and the energy in your body is flowing more. You also do the activities in the first phase (s) with attention and as much as possible from the role of the viewer. This is also meditation, but no Vipassana meditation because you do something yourself. After the active meditation you can proceed to Vipassana meditation and often this causes less drowsiness and drowsiness. Osho has developed various active meditations, but there are also many other active meditations that you can practice for sitting meditation such as ‘shaking’ your body.

It is also possible to practice walking meditation instead of sitting meditation or alternate this more often.

What the sleepiness notice is not sleepy!

From Advaita Vedanta is also said that you can do research on what that sleepiness notes. Is what that sleepiness also feels sleepy? Or is this a clear awareness?

Counter gifts for drowsiness

Counter gifts for drowsiness include:

  • Sit up straight if possible
  • With more dedication appoint what you notice
  • Extend / narrow the attention (similar to the antidotes in aversion and desire).
  • Sometimes the amount of time you have to meditate can be very discouraging and the sleepiness stronger. Instead of ‘I have to meditate for 30 minutes’ you can decide to be attentive to 2 breaths. If this is successful double to 4 breaths and so on to 8, 16, 32, etc.
  • You can meditate with your eyes open. Possibly looking at the light can also help.
  • You can pull your earlobes. I do not know if this really works, but it is humor and that also gives some energy.
  • If you do walking meditation you can also walk backwards
  • Instead of meditating you can also read an inspiring book about awareness or spirituality (in the case of Buddhism the Dhamma). Inspiration leads to energy.
  • Wash your face with cold water between meditations. Or take a cold shower (even better)

I once heard (I no longer know who or not whether it is real or fable) that at a monastery they allowed people who had a lot of sleepiness to meditate on the edge of a deep well. I think it works (do not try this at home).

Unrest, fear or worry

Unrest may also be a very strong obstacle that, if you are not careful, may even cause you to stop the meditation process. Just as the meditation can help you at that moment.
We people often feel that we have to do something. Continuous. Meditation takes us from ‘doing’ to ‘being’. One of the fruits of meditation practice is that we are able to apply that more and more in daily life, which also brings about a greater sense of happiness.

Sometimes the unrest during meditation is so high that we immediately want to get up. It is therefore good to investigate the unrest (I = investigate). How can you perceive the unrest in your body? Where exactly and is this changeable? How do you relate emotionally to the unrest? What does the unrest with the energy in your body do? What desire is attached to the unrest; do you want to act on something? The trick is to observe and explore it without going into it.

You can often quickly notice that you are restless (R). Accepting the unrest (A) is difficult if the unrest is strong. But even finding it difficult to accept the unrest is to be investigated (I). Here, too, it is clear that you are not the unrest (N), but it is a composite and transient process, helpful in releasing the unrest. If this right seeing succeeds more often and penetrates you deeper, you will experience that this will also become more valuable in daily life.

Counter gifts for unrest

Counter-gifts for unrest include:

  • Narrowing / widening attention (see desire)
  • Smiles (making milder, loving kindness / applying Metta)
  • Laughter (when you see how caught you are, you can cry, but you may as well laugh at it)
  • Sit, sit, sit. By this I mean that it is perishable and especially at retreats it is often sufficient to just sit down. My personal experience is that unrest can be very intense, sometimes for days. To think a few days later ‘what made me worried about’?

Acceptance, research with loving attention and release the indication
I would like to emphasize that although we can work with counterparts if we are overwhelmed by unrest, acceptance is still the most important thing. ‘ What you resist, persist ‘. We try to sit next to it instead of in it , we examine it with loving attention and then try to let go of the identification with the object.

Doubt

It is self-evident that there is doubt during meditation. Doubt is the beginning of wisdom . Embrace it too. Doubt can be powerful; “Am I doing well? Is it necessary that I meditate so often? What is the use of meditation? “Although we can now fall back on science in this last question, it is still the case in this century that doubt sometimes strikes. Especially with someone who is just starting to meditate. After all, he or she can not speak from experience what meditation has meant so far.

Well it is not true that if doubt arises, it must immediately go away. On the contrary. It is good to doubt. See that the doubt is there (R) and accept it too (A). Well, in case of doubt, investigating (I) is an extra tricky phase. This is also about finding the middle way. The doubt does not have to disappear and does not let the doubt become so big that your thoughts become black and white. Try to keep an objective and curious look. Take the time to find answers to your questions. Not only intellectually, but also emotionally. Also check whether doubt is not a flight or part of another obstacle. With the thought “I have something better to do than sit on this meditation cushion” lies desire. With the thought “I am so busy that meditation is really difficult now” lies unrest. With the thought “I am so tired that meditation does not make sense” lies laziness. Examine the doubt and take the time to experience whether the doubt can provide answers to questions.

In this way, the doubt becomes part of the meditation. See also in that doubt a concept and a process that comes and goes (N). It consists of thoughts, emotions and associated physical sensations. It can help to name the doubt so that it does not become a “story in itself” but only thoughts with a passing nature. Do not name it as “I doubt” but as “there is doubt” so that you can let go of the identification with the doubt.

Counter-gifts for doubt

If there is strong doubt, you can:

  • inspiring books about meditation or reading the Dhamma.
  • You can turn to a meditation teacher or a spiritual friend
  • You can listen to an inspiring podcast about meditation

 

Application in daily life

 

The five obstacles do not only occur during meditation, but also in daily life. Try to apply the RAIN method as well. In the beginning it will often be necessary to take a time out after recognizing (R) an obstacle to be able to go through the other three phases of the RAIN process. But as you practice this more often (both during meditation and in daily life) it will increasingly become part of your system and you will gain more insight into and control over your conditionings.

meditation