Meditation is perhaps one of the more important parts of the Muay Thai Sangha system. It is something which we already do in everyday life allowing us to focus on the task at hand – but the depth of meditation is superficial. The events around us in the world soon rob us of our attention and our concentration is gone. The mind that wanders outside our own body is the source of all types of suffering. By deepening our meditation until our mind comes to a standstill we can unlock the potential and unused ability within. We maintain a balance of mindfulness and happiness for ourselves bringing contentment and direction to life in a way not possible through any other technique.
Meditation in one respect is like many other activities: sports, crafts and skills of all types. For all of these activities, you will never become skilled just by talking about it or reading about it. Like any skill, you gain expertise by doing it. Meditation will be of only limited use if you practice it on-and-off, so the key to success in meditation is the commitment to meditate once or twice a day. Like embarking on a new career with a new employer, if you turn up for work only when you feel like it, you are unlikely to go very far in your career.
Every student has the same difficulty in the first few months of practising meditation – therefore those of you who are interested to progress in meditation should follow the advice below.
The sitting posture which has been found to be the most conducive for meditation is the half-lotus position. Sit upright with your back and spine straight – crosslegged with your right leg over the left one. You can sit on a cushion or pillow to make your position more comfortable. Nothing should impede your breathing or circulation. Your hands should rest palms-up on your lap, and the tip of your right index finger should touch your left thumb. Feel as if you are one with the ground on which you sit. Feel that you could sit happily for as long as you like.
Softly close your eyes as if you were falling asleep. Relax every part of your body, beginning with the muscles of your face, then relax your face, neck shoulders, arms, chest, trunk, and legs. Make sure there are no signs of tension on your forehead or across your shoulders.
Close your eyes and stop thinking about the things of the world. Feel as if you are sitting alone – around you is nothing and no-one. Create a feeling of happiness and spaciousness in your mind. Before starting, it is necessary to acquaint yourself with the various resting points or bases of the mind inside the body. The first base is at the rim of the nostril, on the right side for men and on the left side for women. The second base is at the bridge of the nose at the corner of the eye – on the right side for men and on the left side for women. The third base is at the centre of the head. The fourth is at the roof of the mouth. The fifth is at the centre of the throat above the Adam’s, apple. The sixth base is at a point in the centre of the body at the meeting point of an imaginary line between the navel through the back and the line between the two sides. The seventh base of the mind is two fingers’ breadths above the sixth base. This base is the most important point in the body. It is the very centre of the body and the point where the mind can come to a standstill.
Feel that inside your body is empty space, without organs, muscles or tissues. Gently and contentedly rest your attention at a point near to the seventh base of the mind – at the centre of the body. Whatever experience arises in the mind, simply observe without attempting to interfere. In this way your mind will become gradually purer and inner experience will unfold.
If you find that you cannot dissuade the mind from wandering, then your mind needs an inner object as a focus for attention. Gently imagine that a bright, clear crystal ball, the size of the tip of your little finger, is located inside at the centre of the body. Maybe you’ll find you can imagine nothing, but later you’ll be able to see a crystal ball of increasing clarity. Allow your mind to come to rest at the very centre of the crystal ball. Use the subtlest of effort and you will find that the crystal ball becomes brighter and clearer. If you use too much effort you will find that it gives you a headache.
If you find that your mind still wanders from the crystal ball, you can bring the mind back to a standstill by repeating the mantra, “Samma-araham” silently, as if the sound of the mantra is coming from the centre of the crystal ball. Repeat the mantra over and over again without counting.
Don’t entertain thoughts in your mind. Don’t analyze what’s going on in the meditation. Allow the mind to come to a standstill – that’s all you need to do. If you find that you can imagine nothing, then repeat the mantra, “Samma-araham” silently and continuously in the mind. If you find that you’re not sure about the location of the centre of the body, anywhere in the area of the stomach will do. Persevere because today’s daydream is tomorrow’s still mind; today’s darkness is tomorrow’s inner brightness; today’s perseverance is tomorrow’s fulfillment. Don’t be disappointed if you find your mind wandering. It is only natural for beginners. Make effort continuously; keep your mind bright, clear and pure, and in the end, you will achieve your goal.
Keep repeating the mantra and eventually the sound of the words will die away. At that point a new bright, clear, crystal ball will arise in the mind of its own accord. The crystal ball will sparkle like a diamond. This stage is called pathama magga (primary path). At this stage the shining crystal ball is connected firmly to the mind, and is seated at the centre of the body. You will experience happiness. With continuous observation at the centre of this crystal ball, it will give way to a succession of increasingly purer bodily sheaths until it reaches the ultimate one called “Dhammakaya”, the highest level of attainment of supreme happiness.
Regular Practise is the Most Difficult Part
Meditate at least once a day, picking times when you know you will be free. If you wish to meditate in the morning, you should first do a little exercise to refresh your body then sit down to meditate for thirty to sixty minutes; this will give you the perfect start to your day. Alternatively, in the evening just before going to bed, find time to meditate, helping you to relax your mind and allowing you to make the most efficient use of your time asleep.
Set a start time for at least one period of meditation and stick to it. When it is time for meditation, stop what you are doing, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and meditate. Don’t make a time limit for it. Be happy when you meditate and just let the time go. If you are happy meditating for half-anhour, then just practise for half-an-hour. If you are happy meditating for an hour then meditate for an hour. The most important thing is to fix the habit of meditation in your daily life and meditate in that period of time every day.