Friday, June 26, 2009

Strength Training for the Mind

     For those of us who both meditate seriously and take physical training serious, the below article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (a Theravadin monk from the Thai Forest Tradition) can be very helpful when trying to establish a disciplined meditation practice.
     By the way, I would also recommend spending some time at the website "Access to Insight" (where you can read the complete article) and read some more of Thanissaro's pieces.  They are down to earth, and helpful (especially so?) for us Integral practitioners, reminding us that some of the basics—such as a following the precepts—are as important as ever.

Strength Training for the Mind
byThanissaro Bhikkhu© 2007–2009
     Meditation is the most useful skill you can master. It can bring the mind to the end of suffering, something no other skill can do. But it's also the most subtle and demanding skill there is. It requires all the mental qualities ordinarily involved in mastering a physical skill — mindfulness and alertness, persistence and patience, discipline and ingenuity — but to an extraordinary degree. This is why, when you come to meditation, it's good to reflect on any skills, crafts, or disciplines you've already mastered so that you can apply the lessons they've taught you to the training of the mind.
     As a meditation teacher, I've often found it helpful to illustrate my points with analogies drawn from physical skills. And, given the particular range of skills and disciplines currently popular in America, I've found that one useful source of analogies is strength training. Meditation is more like a good workout than you might have thought.

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