Whenever we are mindful we are already generating the energy of meditation. Mindfulness is meditation. We don't have to wait, we can do this wherever we are. With practice, anyplace can become our meditation hall or walking meditation path, even a busy street or subway station.
Sitting meditation is returning home to give full attention to and care for ourself. Like the peaceful image of the Buddha on the altar, we too can radiate peace and stability. We sit upright with dignity and return to our breathing. We bring our full attention to what is within and around us. We let our mind become spacious and our heart soft and kind.
Sitting meditation is very healing. We realize we can just be with whatever is within us–our pain, anger, and irritation, or our joy, love, and peace. We are with whatever is there without being carried away by it. Let it come, let it stay, then let it go. No need to push, to oppress, or to pretend our thoughts are not there. Observe the thoughts and images of our mind with an accepting and loving eye. We are free to be still and calm despite the storms that might arise in us.
If our legs or feet fall asleep or begin to hurt during the sitting, we are free to adjust our position quietly. We can maintain our concentration by following our breathing, then slowly and attentively change our posture.
At the monastery, and in many Sanghas, after practicing formal sitting meditation, we often practice indoor walking meditation (sometimes called Kinh Hanh). We take one step with each in-breath and one step with each out-breath. Aware of the sangha around us, we feel in harmony with the larger body. Everybody is moving together slowly and mindfully.
We can find suggestions for guided meditations in Thay’s book,“The Blooming of a Lotus” or from a Dharma teacher.
For formal sitting practice with the community, we should arrive five minutes before the meditation period starts so that everyone is comfortably seated before the bell is invited to begin the session. We should not enter the hall after the bell has been invited. If we are late for sitting meditation, we are invited to enjoy walking meditation outdoors or to practice sitting on our own.