Friday, February 17, 2017

Sleeping as meditation? How does it work (and much more). Some insights out of Buddhist philosophy.

Actually quite a nice experience. Starting this year my first early morning class changed in name and now is called 'Buddhist philosophy and meditation’. And from the first moment it carries this name the classes, so far, became busier and busier with guests from all kind of different cultures. The word ‘meditation’ apparently still often scares people a bit. Too woolly and not connected still for several people is the label. On vacation in Thailand (or any other Buddhist country) or as here taking ‘Me-time’ to work on physical or mental health, people feel invited and show interested to learn and understand more about background and culture.

For a period of more than six weeks I hardly hear the quote "I am joining your class alone today. My partner wanted to go on meditating in her/his bed”. Quite often the last weeks there are even more people who, even earlier than the start of the morning yoga, join the Buddhist philosophy and meditation class. Nothing to do with our four great skilled, inspiring and inviting yoga instructors. Even more and more Chinese guests while the Chinese owner of our place first thought Chinese guests would not highly appreciate meditation. They do, and I am very happy about it.

So I miss that phrase more and more. Can you see sleep as meditation? And of course I know that with a big smile on their face it was mend to be a funny quote.

Buddhism knows two types of meditation that actually cannot be seen as separated parts. Samatha and Vipassana. You can see them as the two wings of a bird. With only one wing a bird cannot fly. Thousands of guests visit Thailand every year to attend the so-called Vipassana meditation retreat programs. Not knowing and understanding what it means. And how crazy it may sound, Vipassana is the second step.

It all starts with Samatha, which very roughly stands for focus and relaxation. Samatha, very gently turns into Vipassana what roughly means insight and being aware of breathing.

To stay in your bed to sleep an hour longer could be seen therefore as part of Samatha meditation. Isn’t it your choice for relaxation? And… no, your insight (or General Excuse) is totally wrong.

Often I get the question from guests: "Can you help me to stop thinking and calm down my monkey mind? Stop thinking? No, better not. I am not able to do that and you are not able to do that as well. Better think about stopping if the traffic light is red. We do not have a button to turn off our thinking process. We can learn, and that is not a one-time activity but a lifelong covenant with yourself, to calm the flow of thoughts down. The meaning of meditation is training the mind. You train your personal central computer, your mind. And just like your take care of your physical body everyday – taking a shower or wash it – why not at least give your mind every day one moment of your attention. After all, you want to stay healthy.

And still… we have a button/switch and hardly ever think about it. Buddhist philosophy teaches that we have eight states of consciousness. Five of them, they are conveniently called our salesmen/saleswomen, we turn off every day without even being aware. Those five, driven by looking, tasting, feeling, hearing and smelling, can only connect you with now, with your present moment. You cannot literally look ahead or look backward, not taste what comes tomorrow or hear the sounds of music at the party that is organized next week for you. Those five senses connect you purely just and only with and for the present moment.
And what about that switch? Once you get into your bed and go to sleep then you switch this five off without any problem. Actually, you bring them in deep sleep or deep relaxation state.

The sixth sense in Buddhist philosophy is our mind (our mano-consciousness). And that mind organ has the ability and the capacity to deal with the now, our past and our future. If no "now signals" enter from our five senses than the mind at random and partly uncontrolled connect with past experiences and thoughts about the future. We start dreaming. Be aware, after all, we cannot turn of our mind (better not).

Examining your fears very deeply, you eventually will discover that the base of your fear is you are afraid to die. It gives us our basic strength and will to survive, to continue to connect with the world around us. In my former profession in worldwide crises and disaster management I had to deal a lot with this. Going to bed, we do not feel any fear to fall asleep and most people never realize that they switch off their consciousness and disconnect with the world around with ease. Not even sure you will wake up the next day. Sorry to tell you I have many stories and experiences with this theme/thought that this inner and satisfying believe is not at all the truth. No fear to fall asleep and turn off, fear to die…

During meditation practice all our senses go on working to be fully conscious. Like the butterfly that stays fully conscious (his/her way to survive) on the picture. We only give this group of our five main senses a temporary ‘home’ (often focusing on our nose tip or our breathing). We try to bring our senses back from temptations and focus on ourselves. Fully conscious and being present. And yes, that's really different from sleep.

It makes me happy more and more people are discovering the value to learn more about this philosophy and even take a closer look at all free available offers to LIVE life more consciously, mindfully and a with more peace of mind. 

Frans Captijn

Host / Catalyst / Talenteer at Captijn Insight

Captijn Insight“Catalyst in your process to new sustainable flow in life and work. Whether you are an individual, couple, team or an organization.”

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