Buddhist Meditation : Mind & Body Management
The meaning of meditation
Meditation is the only way to get rid of all sufferings and to gain enlightenment.
Our Shakyamuni Buddha, the enlightened one discovered meditation about 2545
years ago. He taught to all the virtues of purity, great compassion and wisdom
for the welfare, happiness, peace and eradication of sufferings (Nirvana) of
all. Meditation in Buddha’s language is called Bhavana meaning mindfulness,
cultivation of mind or development of mind. Meditation is universal and everyone
can practice it. Our Shakyamuni Buddha divided meditation into two categories
- Samatha Bhavana (Concentration Meditation) aims at gaining
concentration or one-pointedness of mind
- Vipassana Bhavana (Insight Meditation) aims at purification of
mind and gaining an insight into the real nature of all phenomena of
impermanence, suffering and non-self.
Basic code of a Meditation practitioner
A meditation practitioner is required
to keep the following code of morality to develop meditation. The five codes
are as follows:
- To abstain from killing living beings. Love all living beings as one loves
- To abstain from stealing; or not taking what is not given.
- To abstain from committing adultery. To be honest to one’s wife or husband.
- To abstain from false, harsh speech.
- To abstain from taking any kind of intoxicant (including
How one can practice Meditation
Meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere. Meditation is to be mindful
of our actions of mind and body and to control and train our mind and body;
to get peace inside. Meditation is neither magic nor a blind faith but it is
very practical. Nobody can realize it without practicing it himself. We can
practice meditation in our actions such as standing, walking, sitting, lying,
eating, drinking, taking a bath, dressing, bending, stretching, urinating, reading
and writing, etc.
To intensify our mindfulness of bodily and mental actions, we should always
be mindful and careful of our actions. We should observe every movement of bodily
parts and thought of mind. We should know and be mindful when we are standing,
walking, sitting or lying down, etc. If our body and mind is very active, try
to slow down all actions and try to be mindful. It is advisable for beginners
to approach a meditation teacher to get instruction on Meditation before going
to practice. Below are some instructions on meditation.
Walking and standing Meditation
- Find a path or place with about 10 metres of walking space.
- Put both hands across your abdomen or behind your
- Relax your body in standing posture and be aware of your standing
position. Do not bend your neck and do not look more than 1 or 2
- Try to be mindful of your stance without thinking of anything for a while.
- Now move your right leg forward with mindfulness then move your
left leg forward and walk slowly with mindfulness to the end of your
meditation space, turn round and return.
Beware of the movement of your legs - how you lift them up and put them down. You can note
mentally the word “BUD” when lifting each leg and “DHO” when putting
- Practice for an hour and then sit down.
- Find a quiet place without any disturbances
- Bow down to the triple-Gem: the Buddha (the enlightened one), Dharma (the
truth) and Sangha (the monastic order) (Bow down to Triple-Gem to show our
respect and gratitude to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for teaching us the
truth and to be inspired to practice and follow the truth)
- Radiate loving kindness to yourself as well as to all beings saying, “May
I be well, happy, peaceful and free from all sufferings and may all beings
be well, happy, peaceful and free from all sufferings.”
- Sit cross-legged with the right leg placed over the left leg (Or you can
sit on the chair or platform keeping your legs straight)
- Place right hand over left leg
- Keep your back upright. Never slump forward or backwards.
- Adjust your sitting posture - sitting posture should be comfortable and
- Be aware of you sitting posture - how you are sitting now.
- Close your eyes gently or keep them half open and look at something
- Relax your whole body - from the top of the head to the toes.
- Take a few deep breaths and breath out slowly
- Breath in Relax and breath out relax. Try to feel your breathing without
thinking of anything.
- Now, breath in and out normally and bring your awareness to the nostrils
or anywhere from the nose to the abdomen where you can feel the air you are
- Be aware of the air you breath, be mindful of it, and be focused on it
- Do not force this mindfulness.
- Just breath in and out normally with mindfulness and relax.
- To strengthen our mindfulness, we can note the word ” Bud-dho” mentally.
Note “BUD” when breathing in and “DHO” when breathing out. “Bud-dho” means
to be awakened or to be enlightened.
- Do not get stuck in your thoughts, imaginations or plans. Try to forget
your past and future. If thoughts arise in your mind just look at them and
let them go. Do not worry about them. Try to remove them from your mind and
feel yourself free from everything - your position, responsibility and duties.
Try to be mindful at the present feeling only. Only “Right Now”
- Whatever happens during meditation try not to get stuck in your thoughts
- try to let them go. Remember the past is gone and the future has not yet
come. Try to be one with your breathing or present moment.
- Be always mindful of the present moment and keep doing it for a while.
- After doing this for a while (about an hour), take a few deep breaths and
breath in and out slowly. Relax your mind and body.
- Absorb loving-kindness and peace from the Great compassionate Buddha; and
accept the beauty of nature into your mind and relax.
- Put both hands together in front of your chest and radiate loving-kindness
to yourself as well as to all beings saying “May I be well, happy, peaceful
and free from all sufferings and may all beings be well, happy, peaceful and
free from all sufferings.”
- Open your eyes and relax.
- Bow down to the Triple-gem.
Lying down Meditation
- Try to be mindful of your bodily action - how you are moving your body to your bed.
- Close your eyes
- Radiate loving-kindness to yourself
and to all beings
- Relax your whole body and be mindful of your breathing
- Feel yourself free from all thoughts,
worries and fall into sleep peacefully.
- Be mindful of everything. Mindfulness brings a clean,
clear and calm
The seven benefits of Meditation
A meditation practitioner get
benefits from practice as follows:
- Purification from all kinds of
- Overcoming sorrow and worry.
- Overcoming lamentation.
- Cessation of all kinds of physical sufferings.
- Cessation of all kinds of mental sufferings.
- Attainment of enlightenment (Path and fruition)
- Attainment of Nirvana - extinction of all suffering and
The five hindrances to Meditation
One cannot practice meditation, if one has
following hindrances :
- Sensual desire (Kamachanda)
- Anger (Vyapada)
- Sloth and torpor (Thina-middha)
- Restlessness and remorse (Uddacca-kukkucca)
- Doubts (Vicikicca)
How to overcome five hindrances:
desire can be overcome
- By mindfulness of the danger of sensual desire as well as the benefits of a peaceful mind.
- By reflection on the loathsomeness of the body.
- By sense control.
- By moderation in taking
- By association with the wise.
- By profitable
discussion of mindfulness and calmness of mind
can be overcome
- By mindfulness - think of the disadvantage of being angry
- By reflection on the advantage of forgiveness
- By thinking everything positively
- By meditating on loving - kindness and compassion
- By discussing unconditional loving-kindness
and torpor can be overcome
- By being mindful of
- By being moderate in taking
- By changing ones posture
- By contemplating on the light
- By refreshing the body in the
- By association with the wise
- By discussing profitable matters.
can be overcome
- By being mindful
- By contemplation of a peaceful state of mind
- By always maintaining a cheerful and positive attitude of mind
- By association with the wise
- By discussing peace and calmness of mind
can be overcome
- By being always mindful
- By having knowledge and understanding of the four noble truths - suffering,
the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the
way leading to the cessation of suffering
- By doing good deeds
- By discussing the natural law of the dependent origination
- By association with good friends.
Factors supportive of Meditation Practice
A meditation practitioner should
have the following supportive factors to develop meditation properly :
- Suitable abode (Abasa)- comfortable, clean and peaceful place; or Suitable resort
(Gocara) - a place with good
surroundings and neighbors.
- Suitable speech (Bhasa) - Always speak the truth with
loving-kindness and avoid talk not supportive of peace and mindfulness of mind.
- Suitable person (Puggala)- experienced teacher, friends and
supporters with loving-kindness.
- Suitable food (Bhojana) - food that has good flavor but does not help
produce lustful desire; for example vegetarian food.
- Suitable climate (Utu) - neither too hot nor too cold with a beautiful natural environment.
- Suitable posture (Iripatha) - practice comfortably with no tension
or over-exertion - standing, walking, sitting, sleeping postures.
Five mental powers that lead to proper meditation without problems :
- Faith (Saddha) in the Triple-Gem as well as in good deeds through right understanding.
- Effort (Viriya) in meditation practice and good deeds
- Mindfulness (Sati) of everything, every action constantly.
- Deep concentration (Samadhi) in practice.
- Wisdom (Panna) to understand everything correctly in its true
nature (Impermanence, Non-self and Sufferings) without doubts.
Venerable Phra Mana Viriyarampo, abbot, Sunnataram Forest Monastery,
Bundanoon, NSW Australia for his kind teachings and allowing extracts from his talks to
Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University
Wat Mahathat, Tha-Phrachan, Bangkok-10200
Foreigners are welcome to learn about Buddhism and Meditation
Basic Buddhism Course: Dr. Sunthorn Plamintr, Thailand
Page updated 12th November 2003