What You Will Learn in Each Lesson
The Power of Why
Meditation sounds easy enough on first glance: find a quiet place to practice and follow your breath for five or ten minutes or more each day. And it may even be pretty easy to make this happen for the first week or two, but nearly everyone eventually hits a roadblock that throws the practice off course or stops it in its tracks. This is the point at which knowing your intention for meditating becomes essential for sustaining the practice. Your intention for meditating answers the question why do I meditate? In this first lesson of the course, we’ll explore the importance of getting clear about why you want to meditate.
The practice of shamatha meditation is both less and more than it may seem. There are no challenging mantras or visualizations in this practice. It is as simple as following the breath. The power of this simple practice, however, can reach into every aspect of your life, as you practice being attuned to each moment as it arises. In this second lesson of the course, Lodro introduces you to the practice itself, providing clear instruction on how to meditate.
Mindfulness and Awareness
Now that you’ve been practicing shamatha meditation, you may begin to notice that sitting still and following your breath is not nearly as easy as it may have looked. We may think that we want nothing more than quiet and stillness, but often as soon as we settle into the meditation pose, our minds give us anything but quiet or stillness. In this third lesson of the course, Lodro introduces mindfulness and awareness and describes the roles they play in meditation. In the talk and the reading, you will also learn about the three main obstacles to meditation practice: laziness, speedy busyness, and disheartenment.
When the Going Gets Emotional
Even if you haven’t yet had emotions come up while practicing meditation, you certainly know what it is to have emotions arise when you’re at home or at work or out in the world. Emotions are a part of life, even for the most calm and well-balanced among us. Meditation practice gives us an opportunity to work with our emotions in an environment that is less charged than our off-the-cushion life. Over time, the habits and insights built through meditation practice start to affect our ability to handle emotions wherever and whenever they arise. This fourth lesson of the course dives into the discussion of emotion and what to do when it arises, both on and off the cushion.
The Fastest Road to Awakening
Most of us live in a world that surrounds us constantly with the message that we’re not enough. Not thin enough, not successful enough, not rich enough, not popular enough, not stylish enough. Just simply not enough. With consistent meditation practice comes the potential for experiencing the state of peaceful abiding—and it is in this state that we experience our own basic goodness, resting in being enough. In this fifth lesson of the course, we’ll look more deeply into the state of peaceful abiding and explore practices for cultivating the experience of basic goodness.
The Qualities of a Dharmic Person
At some point in a meditation practice, it comes time to move the practice from the cushion into the larger world. Bringing the skills cultivated in meditation practice into your daily life can be challenging and it helps to have guidance. In both the talk and this lesson’s reading, Lodro will discuss one helpful form of guidance: the seven qualities of a dharmic person, as taught by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1979. You’ll spend the final week of the course contemplating each of these qualities individually and considering how they manifest in your life. This final lesson of the course guides us in moving outward, beyond the meditation cushion, as we take our practice into the world.