Your Online Meditation Guide
Meditation Path 2 is suitable if you live a simple life and can withdraw from daily life for periods of time. For this path it helpful to have the opportunity to meditate for long periods (3+ hours per day) and have limited duties and concerns.
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In this lesson you will learn the meditative skill of softening and relaxing both physically and mentally. The skill of softening begins by learning how to breathe diaphragmatically in a slow and gentle way in order settle the experience of stress and anxiety within your daily life. As your understanding of softening during meditation deepens you will be able to relax so deeply during meditation that you will experience deep calm and tranquility. o
In this lesson your focus is on developing skill in observing and adjusting any imbalances in the structure of your attention during Tier 1 Mindfulness of Breathing. This section provides instructions to help you understand how to structure your meditation.
In STAGE 1 you will learn how to cultivate your Posture of Attention for mindfulness of breathing using Meditation Skills 4-8. During Stage 1 of TIER 1 Mindfulness of Breathing your mind will have a tendency towards restlessness. Restlessness is overcome by applying your softening skills towards relaxing the restless energy and immersing awareness within the experience of your body, creating a grounding point for attention.
In Stage 2 your focus is on balancing the structure of your attention by developing skill in five sequential characteristics of breathing. During Stage 2 of TIER 1 Mindfulness of Breathing your mind will have a tendency towards dullness due to over-calming of the knowing function of awareness. Insight into dullness as an imbalance of effort needs to be developed for dullness to no longer arise. Stage 2 is completed when you learn to stablise your attention on one point of breath sensation, free from restlessness and dullness.
In this lesson your focus is on bringing harmony to the structure of your attention by refining your skill in letting go of control and cultivating the first five Enlightenment Factors. This section provides instructions to help you understand how to structure your meditation.
This is done by monitoring and adjusting the Enlightenment Factors while developing stable attention on your meditation object. During TIER 2 Mindfulness of Breathing the structure, quality and balance of your attention is more important than your meditation object. This means that while the centre of your attention rests on your meditation object, your peripheral awareness observes and adjusts the structure of attention itself.
In this lesson your focus is on refining your skill in balancing Six Factors of Enlightenment in order to establish access concentration, particularly the factors of joy and tranquility. Once you can stabilise your attention on breath sensation, without any effort or distraction, free from all Meditative Hindrances, you are said to have reached access concentration. It is access concentration because it creates an access doorway to both insight and jhana.
In this lesson your focus is on cultivating your skill in meditative jhana (absorption) from the foundation of access concentration developed in TIER 3 Mindfulness of Breathing.
Jhana is a natural state of absorption that occurs when the mind flows in harmony with a wholesome experience, completely withdrawn from sensory stimulation, hindrances.
In this lesson your focus is on systematic investigations of the anatta (not-self) nature of the Five Aggregates: form, feeling, perception, conditioned formations and awareness, in order to develop understanding of their impersonal nature.
Investigations in Path 2 are done by first developing and emerging from fourth jhana and then being curious in regards to the rearising of habitual mind processes, in terms of their autonomous, anatta nature. Curiosity stimulates the factors of joy and curiosity, establishing all Seven Factors of Enlightenment within your attention. This mature attention structure is then applied towards specific investigations into the Five Aggregates in terms of their autonomous, impersonal nature.
In this lesson your focus is on systematic investigations of the sankhara nature (conditionally constructed) of the Five Aggregates: form, feeling, perception, conditioned formations and awareness, in order to develop understanding on how to bring habitual clinging to an end.
Investigations in Path 2 are done by first developing and emerging from fourth jhana and then being curious in regards to the rearising of habitual mind processes, in terms of their conditionally constructed nature. Curiosity then will stimulate the factors of joy and curiosity, establishing all Seven Factors of Enlightenment within your attention. This mature attention structure is then applied towards specific investigations into the Five Aggregates in terms of their conditionally constructed (sankhara) nature.
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In this lesson you intentionally decondition any habitual defensive tendencies that are revealed within your mind during the previous investigations. Many of these tendencies will have been revealed while developing insight in STEP 7 & 8, others can be brought to the surface by bringing to mind uncomfortable memories or exposing yourself to uncomfortable situations in daily life. By intentionally turning your mind towards painful memories, situations or desires, and softening/relaxing your relationship towards the underlying vedana (feeling tone), these patterns can be deconditioned from your mind.
In this lesson you intentionally cultivate wholesome qualities to unify heart and mind in combined harmony. As an insight meditator it is important to understand that when you decondition defensive qualities such as anger, jealousy, fear, if these were your natural expression, then wholesome qualities will not spontaneously arise. Wholesome qualities of heart, like everything else, need to be cultivated through practicing them within your life.
If you do not intentionally cultivate the heart at this stage, due to absence of defensive tendencies, you will experience feeling dry, unconnected and indifferent towards the world. This is very common when Panna (insight) and Sila (that which harmonises) are out of balance. To bring Sila to maturity, it is important that you condition wholesome qualities of heart that are weak in you, such as loving kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, gratitude etc. Making these wholesome qualities your natural way of being is necessary for true harmony within to heart, mind and relationships. Without his we live in a meaningless, unconnected, indifferent world.
In this lesson you develop skill in allowing the functions of your mind to slow down by not adding anything to them in order to decondition the habitual 'going out' of attention. Like a fire that can only survive as long as it is being fed fuel, the fire of your mind can only burn fiercely when fuel is being added to it.
Through not adding to the activity of your mind, and gently softening any habitual 'going out' of your attention, it naturally settles down and becomes still. This process of softening 'all doing' also changes habitual tendencies within the mind, through calming the tendency to cling to the six sensoury fields. When habitual going out of attention is calmed through softening 'doing', the minds remaining defenses are deconditioned, resulting in a process that is experienced as disentanglement of awareness that results in stillness.
In this lesson you systematically observe the functioning of your five sensoury fields: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and how the sixth sense, the mind, constructs reality around those fields. This investigation allows you to observe the autonomous (anatta) nature of your six senses and to observe the arising of the Five Aggregates in regards to their conditionally constructed (sankhara) nature.
One of the deepest insights that comes from this is the understanding of indrya-samvara (calming of the habitual going out of attention), in which you began developing skill in Step 11, the development of stillness. It is insight into the skill of subtle softening in regards to the habitual 'going out' of attention towards the six sense fields, that conditions the minds tendency towards abandoning that leads to autonomous disentangling of awareness from the Five Aggregates.
In this lesson you investigate the relationship between awareness and its habitual entanglement with the six sense fields in order to develop understanding on how to bring this to an end. Your final investigation is regards to the habitual entanglement of awareness with itself, in which the insight will lead to complete unbinding of awareness.
From this stage on you focus on developing nirvikalpa samadhi (objectless unification) as your main practice. Once you understand the process, you systematically disentangle the habitual 'going out' of your attention towards the six sense fields through subtle softening until this disentanglement becomes autonomous.
You then develop lucid awareness of awareness free from sensoury entanglement, and abandon the subtle effort to be aware of awareness itself. This, by removing awareness's foundation, leads at first to short and then longer periods in which awareness finds no ground and ceases. You keep mastering this until the final tendency towards grasping onto awareness as self is uprooted from your mind and all wholesome qualities established as an expression of harmony.
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