Most of us seem to live at a little distance from our body, or at best in our head. What we seek is right here; the problem is that we are usually elsewhere, distracted and dissociated, wandering mindlessly in the past or future. However, I can assure you that if you’re not here now you won’t be There then. This is karmic law, and the very essence of habit and conditioning.
Students seeking to overcome stress and improve their overall academic and personal well-being have an opportunity to learn about meditation, yoga and other contemplative methods during an on-campus talk by Western Buddhist meditation teacher and author Lama Surya Das scheduled on Jan. 29.
“We know that university students are hungry and thirsty as they seek to discover more about the inner meaning and purpose of their lives, their studies, the current relational experiences in their lives and to their future careers,” said Manuel Gomez, Vice Chancellor-Emeritus of Student Affairs.
Lama Das will be speaking to the campus community about improving one’s relational awareness, or the association between the awareness of oneself and others, through relationship yoga, Pilates and meditation.
UCI Professor of Psychiatry Roger Walsh, also one of Lama Das’s students, invited Lama Das, who currently resides in Massachusetts, to campus during UC Irvine’s Peace Week, a campus-wide initiative for peace building and nonviolent practice which will held during the last week of January.
“For me [Lama Das] has been a repository and transmitter of deep, hard won wisdom and I have learned a great deal about meditation, the mind, how to train and heal it, it’s (and our) potentials, and the possibility of growing beyond conventional levels to awaken to our deeper, truer nature,” said Walsh. “Although I’m a trained psychiatrist, I’ve still learned much from Lama Surya about the mind and psychological well-being, which is not yet part of western mental health knowledge.”
For Lama Das, meditation is a great tool which helps a person attend to his mind, body, soul and spirit. It helps individuals develop self-knowledge and self-awareness through contemplation and inquiry, instead of blindly accepting beliefs inherited from parents or through a religious leader.
Born Jeffrey Miller, Lama Das became interested in Buddhism during college in the late 1960s as he searched for truth and peace. After completing college, he went to India to further pursue his search. Lama Das attended meditation retreats, practiced yoga and studied the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus and the Dalai Lama. He embraced Tibetan Buddhism in the 1970s.
“A vital component of Buddhism is to be mindful, compassionate, wise and loving, rather than being unhappy, depressed, anxious and alienated, which many people are falling into in these violent, volatile and insecure times,” said Lama Das during a telephone interview on Jan. 9. “We can learn not to just blindly react but respond mindfully as needed, and to use mindfulness and anger management to find inner peace, harmonious relations and unconditional love by treating others from the heart.”
According to Lama Das, because Buddhism is new to the western world, there are many misconceptions about Buddhism and meditation perpetuated today. Many people assume Buddhism is simply about world denial or introspection, but Lama Das stressed that very important components of the faith include “altruism, compassion, volunteering and community service.”
Moreover, Lama Das insisted that meditation is not about stopping thoughts as many tend to believe, but rather about thought awareness. The meditator should be relaxed and breathing, but also aware of his immediate thoughts and sensations.
Lama Das also discussed other practical benefits of meditation, including lowered blood pressure, increased creativity, sharpened focus and an enhanced attention span.
“When I become clearer, everything becomes clearer. That’s the secret of meditation,” said Lama Surya Das. “Whether the world changes or not — it’s hard to say — everything is changing anyway. Getting clear truth, being unselfish, objective, discerning, patient, compassionate and empathizing with others goes a long way in transforming all our relationships and the world.”
Lama Das mentioned that the families and friends of students who began meditation have described the students as becoming more “patient, peaceful, focused and less reactive.”
Lama Das emphasized that, although students may struggle with meditation at first, they should keep practicing it until it becomes habitual, as one of his first teachers in India taught him: “continuity is the secret of success.”
Lama Das has held several workshops for UC Irvine and the surrounding community in the past, transforming many UCI students and members of the community.
“The best research, much of it here at UCI, is re-confirming the ancient understanding of the body and the mind, and Lama Surya Das is an important teacher who has helped many individuals to become more aware of materials and methods to achieve inner peace,” said Gomez.
Lama Surya Das will speak and hold a book signing at the UCI Student Center on Jan. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A full day workshop of meditation techniques will be held on Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Neighborhood Congregational Church in Laguna Beach.
Daily meditation is great for your body and your mind. Meditation can relieve body and spirit. It’s a time out from the anxieties of daily living and can help you feel more focused. One of the best things about meditation is that it can be enjoyed by all. Setting aside as little as 3 minutes a day can help you stay calm when everyone around you is losing it. That’s why Lama Surya Das created a 3 minute short meditation course. If you desire to relax deeper than you ever have, then try the 3 Minute Meditations. In just 3 minutes a day you can relax your way to a better lifestyle. They’re perfect to practice while you are waiting on your cup of tea to steep or for the water to boil. Try it out, begin today.
Life is a moving meditation: I’ve started trying to sneak in short 3 minute meditation through a given day. Waiting in the grocery line, getting tea, brushing my teeth, sitting idle at a stop light have been transmuted from impatient inconveniences to meditative moments. While my daily meditation may not be the traditional 20 minutes in a meditation chair, I get seven 3 minute meditations and more presence throughout my day.
Increase the hours in the day through meditation: During the times throughout my life when I feel overwhelmed and stressed out my mind replays a time scarcity message over and over again, “I don’t have enough time in the day to get all that I have to complete.” Lama Surya Das recommends that stress periods in our lives are the perfect time to meditate as it results in expanding time. While counter intuitive, my higher Self recognized the wisdom in his words. My own experience approves that when I am ready to wrestle control from my brain and meditate; it results in a more resourceful, clear thinking, and quiet form of me and time grows as promised. As a result, my clear presence allows me to manage my time more effectively.
Synchronize your life to the world around you: I have generally experienced and believed in change from the inside out. However, I’ve learned to appreciate and get curious about the unseen effect on natural changes on my inner condition of being. Living from the outside in. This year I have slowed down and become more present to nature and the changes at a small scale (occasional changes) and full scale changes (planetary orbits). Effortlessness, enchantment, and meaning have been my gift as I have danced with the flow of life versus battling against it.
Meditation calms the mind in order to decrease stress and find inner peace and balance. A daily three-minute meditation is a time efficient and effective way to increase back your inner peace. The advantages are more prominent than you may expect.
1. Less stress – Meditation helps with anxiety by lowering stress, blood pressure and increasing energy levels.
2. Better brain function – Meditation affects your brain activity, fosters your creative thinking, improves your learning performance and can strengthen your memory.
3. Achieve Enlightenment – Through Meditation your achieve harmony in your spirit, brain and body. You achieve a spiritual enlightenment where you get self-acknowledgment, you stop trying to change yourself and become who you really are.
4. A happier you – Meditation consists of a focused reflection of yourself and the emotions in your brain. It’s possibly spent offering gratitude for what you do have, valuing the little favors around you and expressing a loving kindness for yourself and others. It makes you and everyone around you happier and it helps you feel more connected with your friends-family, humanity and nature.
5. Self-Actualization – By practicing Meditation you can keep things in perspective, achieve a peaceful mind state and enjoy a cheerful life. You find your motivation in life, your potential and you turn out to be all that you can be.
6. Enhance Vision – Meditations affect your brain movements, encourage your inventive thinking, enhance your learning performance and can strengthen your memory.
7. Improve Sleep – Taking a few minutes out of your day to clam your psyche and practice gratitude will enhance your personal satisfaction, well-being and your capacity to improve night’s rest.
Join Lama Surya Das for his annual Dzogchen Center Winter Retreat at the beautiful Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY
Lama Surya Das will teach throughout the week and offer lively Q&A sessions. In addition to guided and silent meditations, dharma talks, heart-opening chanting and private interviews, this retreat will also feature optional and uplifting Tibetan Energy Yoga each morning.
Outside of the teaching hall, the precious gift of Noble Silence is observed, allowing us the peace and spaciousness to explore the mind, as well as to rest and retreat from the busyness of everyday life & chatter.
Despite the unbelievable variety of scriptures, practices, languages, cultures and approaches, we find at the center of all the customs of Buddhism the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. As the Dalai Lama said, “There is no Buddhism without the Four Noble Truths. If you want to know Buddhism, you must know the Four Noble Truths.” The Four Noble Truths are the facts of life from a Buddhist perspective.
1. Life is Dukkha (Suffering). Suffering happens all through life because people always want more or little bit better than what they already have.
2. All suffering is caused by craving/desire and attachment. Because we don’t have what we want we think and feel trouble.
3. Suffering can be reduced. All delicate desires must be extinguished by the human being who wishes freedom from suffering and it can be extinguished by walking the Path. If we admit what we have and stop wanting more we will become glad.
4. Suffering can be reduced by following the Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path way is the method to end suffering.
The Eightfold Path is to be experienced though the three principles training (sila); meditation training and mindfulness training, (Samadhi) and wisdom and love training (prajna). These three trainings are the tripod-like bases that support all the Buddhist practices on the path of enlightened living.
Principles training or sila (literally: cooling) includes self-discipline, morality, virtue, selflessness, service, and so on. Mindfulness training includes the calculated development of self-observation and wakefulness, training the attention and concentration, presence of mind and meditation training. The third training, (prajna), means insight, discrimination, and judgment. I would like to say insight and love, for completeness’ sake, since reality and love, or insight and kindness, are inseparable. So sila, samadhi and prajna are the three fundamental ways we guide and expand ourselves on the holy path. The Three Trainings are actually put into practice through the Eightfold Path.
The eightfold path referred to as steps on a path, is not meant as an in order learning process, but as eight parts of life, all of which are to be integrated in everyday life. Thus the atmosphere is created to move faster to the Buddhist pathway. The eightfold path is at the heart of the middle way, which turns from extremes and supports us to seek the simple approach. Wisdom Training is broken out into the first and second practices of the Eightfold Path:
Which Noble Eightfold Path way has to be developed in order to end all suffering?
1. Right view and understanding learning the life of reality and the fact about life.
2. Right ambition making the promise to living in such a way that our distress can end.
3. Right words speaking the reality in a helpful and sympathetically way.
4. Right action and behavior living a life reliable with our morals.
5. Right livelihood receiving a living in a system that does not upset others.
6. Right try just Do it. No cause.
7. Right alertness recognizing the importance of the moment; living everywhere we are.
8. Right awareness expanding our realization through meditation.