We hear a lot about meditation in the context of yoga, but rarely receive any instruction on just how to do it. To someone new to yoga, meditation can be a bit mysterious. To complicate things, there are many varieties of meditation and one person’s practice may differ dramatically from another’s. A goal common to many forms of meditation is to reach a level of liberation from the ego and mind and discover our true nature. This may seem a lofty goal, and because of distractions and daily obligations, is not something that can be easily achieved in a person’s life time. However, some of the more practical benefits of a disciplined meditation practice can include: resting the mind, gaining mental clarity, and providing some distance from our habit of thinking mostly about ourselves; our desires, discomforts, and pains, all of which can be the source of dissatisfaction and suffering. These benefits are reason enough to pursue a meditation practice.
Directing our energy toward the well-being of another person is thought to be one way of relieving the suffering that accompanies our obsessive thinking. The following meditation is paraphrased from the Tibetan Book of Yoga.
The purpose of this exercise is simple – We all want to be happy!
One thing that makes every one of us really happy is making other people happy. We just forget this sometimes in the rush of life. Practicing this visualization allows us to get in touch with the feeling of making someone happy.
Giving and Taking Practice:
Sit comfortably at the front of your yoga mat. Bring your mind to the heart and see a diamond in a rose there. Next, think of someone you love—friend or family—whom you know is going through some kind of physical or emotional pain right now. Imagine yourself sitting in front of this person – you see them clearly, but they cannot see you. Now pretend that all the pain this person has, in body or in mind, has gathered into a little cloud of darkness at her or his heart.
Decide, without any doubt or hesitation, that you will take the person’s pain away and take it upon yourself. Each time you breathe in, the little cloud of darkness slowly moves up your loved one’s throat and then out of her or his nose in a black stream, like cigarette smoke. With a single breath in, see the darkness of the cloud come into your own nose like a stream. Watch as it collects in a tiny black cloud in front of the diamond at your heart and then touches the diamond. The moment that the cloud touches the diamond, there is a sudden explosion of light throughout the inside of your body. After the flash, only a wisp of smoke remains. Then, you see the sparkling diamond, lying within the rose and you know that all the pain of the dark cloud is gone. Sit for a few moments in front of that same friend or family member. Imagine how good it must feel for her or him to be relieved of that pain.
The Tibetan Book of Yoga: Ancient Buddhist Teachings on the Philosophy and Practice of Yoga by Geshe Michael Roach. Published by Doubleday, February 2004. Copyright © 2003 by Diamond Mountain Teachers. ISBN 0-385-50837-9