Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Shambhala training, level 1: The art of being human

Last weekend I went to the first training weekend out of five on the path of Shambhala buddism: The art of being human. I don't know if that is the original English title, but that is what I call it for now. I wanted to know more about the origins of the underlying philosophy of Miksang contemplative photography and its roots in Shambhala buddism. 
white Shambhala fan with calligraphy and stamp
About 40 people enlisted for this workshop. During the first weekend we got acquainted with the basics of Shambhala meditation (sitting and walking) which has its origins in Tibetan traditions. Shambhala means 'belief of nothing' in Sanskrit, it is about not having viewpoints.
blue meditation pillows
For this shamata (attention) meditation technique we need three things: friendliness and gentleness towards ourselves; fearlessness, a courageous action to sit down without a goal; and intelligence, a wakeful gaze upon our mind. Meditating is about observing what is happening, not controlling it, like a warrior: fearless and gentle. Meditation is the synchronization of body and spirit, being in the same place and in the same time.
black gong
We get into the right posture, the focus of the breathing is on the exhalation without influencing it and the minute we realize that we are thinking we quietly say to ourselves: thinking and we come back to the breathing. Our mind is like a wild horse, that is one of the well known images in Shambhala. We give this wild horse lots of space and time and at a certain moment it will stand still.
Shambhala shrine
And then there is something like basic goodness, our fundamental being which has the desire to show our sparkle or brilliance, but we are afraid of that. So we stay in our cocoon, our safe space where everything is familiar. However, the aim is that we want to be true. There is a difference between first thought and second thought. 'First' means: fresh, something true. 'Second' means: all our comments on that, our judgements.
This is in a nutshell what I understood from the teacher and it is in no way complete. We listened and practiced and the real practice actually starts now, when I am back at home and am trying to pick up the routine of taking a few minutes of my day and spending it for myself. Anyways, next week the training 'Mediation in daily life' will start, that will help me for sure.

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