To meditate is to familiarize our mind constantly and thoroughly with a virtuous object.
The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. We can do this with breathing meditation which is really quite profound yet simple at the same time. We need to learn how to hold our body still first, or our body will act as a distraction and we will have a hard time gathering our mind. We can set a clock in front of us and see if we can stay motionless for five minutes. When we are able to do this we can then turn our attention to our breath. Then we can check, in subsequent breathing meditation sessions, to see that our body is still while we watch our breath single pointedly. If we do need to move, we can them move deliberately without straying from the breath. If we don’t follow this method we may not understand that our body and its movement has been the reason we are distracted all along. Please see the Meditation Handbook for more details.
Don’t worry if at first your mind seems really loud. It is just a good indication that we are becoming aware of just how loud our mind actually is. We want to be aware of our mind and what is actually going on in there! After a number of daily sessions, we will begin to notice that our thoughts are slowing and at times we are focused solely on our breath. Having that recognition is very important, that knowing, we want to hold that recognition and the breath.Once we are able to do this we can move to formal meditation on virtuous objects.
In Buddhism virtuous objects are a cause of inner peace. For example, if your mind is completely patient, then there will be an absence of anger. When the mind has no dissatisfaction (anger) and is able to accept wholeheartedly what has occurred, having given up the idea that things should be other than they are, the mind will have found its object of placement meditation. Your mind can then rest on this understanding in single pointed placement. Free from all other movement of thoughts. In that space there is a knowing of the object which is a wisdom. This wisdom makes our mind contented. It does not wish to move elsewhere because a non-deceptive truth has been found. The mind experiences this wisdom or truth as peace. These are many types of objects we study in Buddhism such as minds of impermanence, equanimity, love and compassion.
Kadampa Buddhist Centers give detailed instruction on all of Buddha’s teachings and methods of meditation. These instructions are also found in the texts of this tradition. However, without oral instruction and a sangha to ask questions of, it will be difficult to gain a deep understanding. The purpose of our study programs is to remove obstacles so the meditator can gain swift inner experience.
By practicing meditation we gain experience of the many levels of spiritual realization and progress to higher and higher levels of spiritual attainment until we accomplish the highest of all, the state of Nirvana.
To practice meditation we first need to learn Dharma by listening to and reading correct instructions. We then need to contemplate the meaning of what we have heard and read. We contemplate Dharma to understand its meaning clearly and to gain conviction, testing it to see if it is logical and coherent, whether it makes sense in terms of our own experience, and whether its purpose is worthwhile. Once we have gained a firm understanding of the meaning of Dharma and have confidence in its reliability we are ready to practice meditation.