Dealing With Mental Turmoil
There are many approaches to this problem, and we have to find the one that suits us – or rather, suits that moment. For example, exercise or chanting can channel energy; channeling energy is the key, and this is to do with the subtle body, when energy in the wrong place.
The subtle body is a huge complex subject. Wowever, we can become too involved which can cause more disturbance; it can get too exciting, which can distract us from simple, pure awareness. To start off, go to… http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/introduction/extra_bodily_states.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subtle_body
Rigpa – pure awareness – solves all problems. The question is how to get to where we already are.
Here we are dealing with disturbances in the subtle body, which is controlled by the mind. To gain control of the mind, we practise simple Shamata meditation, which is very effective. Watching the breath. If the mind is overactive, then we need to calm it down. On the outward gentle breath, we count one…breathe in…and breathe out, counting two. Thoughts will appear, but just remain counting. If we get lost in thoughts, simply start from one again. This trains the mind. It is not a competition: we don’t have to succeed, just practise. The count can be for 10, 21 or 108; whatever number you choose to complete. This is Shamata ‘with support’. Gradually, the mind settles because we become more aware of the pause between inhalation and exhalation. From being one with the breath, we are now one with the space; this is called Shamata ‘without support’, which leads onto Vipassana – awareness or insight meditation.
We don’t have to remain here: there can be a short, subtle hop to Dzogchen. All methods are to get us to Dzogchen – pure awareness. Dzogchen is the summit of all methods. It is directly seeing the turmoil, and recognising that which recognises the turmoil, and resting there. Look, see and drop, revealing pure awareness. This is Dzogchen. You are Dzogchen.
This is from Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s book, Open Heart, Open Mind: it’s a very short description of what is called ‘the gentle vase breath’.
First, one exhales slowly and completely, collapsing the abdominal muscles as close to the spine as possible. As we slowly breathe in, we imagine we are drawing our breath down tan area about 4 finger widths below the naval, just above the pubic bone. This area is shaped a bit like a vase, which explains why it is called the vase technique.
Of course, we’re not really drawing breath down to that region, but by turning our attention there, we find ourselves inhaling a little more deeply than usual, and experience a bit more expansion in the vase region. As we continue to draw breath in and attention down, our “lung” will gradually travel down there to rest. Hold the breath in the vase region for a few seconds (but don’t wait until the need to exhale becomes urgent), and then slowly breathe out again.
Just breathe slowly in this way, 3-4 times, exhaling completely and inhaling into the vase area. After the 3rd or 4th inhalation, try holding a little bit of the breath (maybe 10%) in the vase area at the end of the exhalation, focusing very lightly and gently on maintaining a bit of lung in its home place. It may be a little uncomfortable, but the practice is worthwhile to calm one down.
Vase breath is practised for 10 or 20 mins a day, and can become a direct means of developing awareness of our feelings, and learning how to work with them, even while we are engaged in daily activities.
When we become anxious, tensions arise in the body. These tensions leave a residue in our ‘subtle body’ where our feelings are held. Even when meeting people, this anxiety can rise in the body, triggered by past memories. It’s important to be aware of this ‘subtle body’, especially if we cannot settle in meditation. Stress can cause dis-ease, and so, disease; our health and wellbeing is in our own hands – or rather, minds!
Rigpa solves all problems;
the question is how to get
where we already are