Last weekend I attended a one day retreat at The Meditation Center of Chicago during which a visiting monk from the U.K., Dr. Phra Nicholas Thanissaro, instructed us on the Dhammakaya meditation technique. I share with you my notes and my experience. This is part 1 of a 2-part article.
The Dhammakaya meditation technique is a 7-base technique. But first, why practice meditation. One reason is that the mind travels very quickly and can become separated from its owner unwittingly. For example, while shopping at the mall, the mind will attach itself to the things it is looking at. So, the mind, or the owner, is away from its abode. This state of separation leaves us open to negative influences.
This meditation technique can be practiced via 3 modalities: (1) Breath. Bind mind to breath. (2) Visualization. Bind mind to an imaginary picture, e.g. sun, moon, crystal ball. (3) Feeling/Sensation. Bind mind to the feeling/sensation of an object of your choice, such as a small fruit resting in the palm of your hand. Sense its shape, texture, temperature, etc.
Here is an overview of the meditation technique. Sit comfortably on chair or on floor with legs crossed. Close eyes lightly. Rest right palm on top of left with thumbs touching. Should you start to fall asleep, your thumbs will drift apart. (1) Take a body scan. Spend 5 minutes on relaxation of body. (2) Clear your mind. Take 5 minutes to relax your mental state. (3) Visualize a bright object such as the sun or moon or crystal ball – in front of your face. Make the object smaller (2-3 mm) and bring it to the center of your body. If you do not like visualization, try the feeling/sensation of an object, such as a small fruit like a plum or an orange. Again, you will make the object smaller (2-3 mm) and bring it to the center of your body. (4) Silently repeat a mantra to interrupt verbal chatter, to stop random thoughts, to block verbal channel. A suggested mantra is the repetition of “samma arahang” meaning “pure state of mind achieved in proper way.”
Meditation is about what happens when thoughts stop. Meditation is not thinking about good things. It is getting beyond thoughts to get at intuition.
So now, here is the detailed technique which follows the 7 bases of the mind in order to find your center. At each base, focus on your object, repeat the mantra, then move on to the next base until you find your center.
[On a side note, I found a video by the same monk guiding you through this very same technique: https://youtu.be/YRUShKHA1Ys. You will hear him speak the mantra “samma arahang” which is very soothing and melodic.]
Base 1. Entrance to nostril. Left for women. (Prana stronger on left for women.) Right for men. Visualize your object. It is in front of your face. Make object small 2-3 mm. Repeat mantra x3.
Base 2. Bridge of nose. Object travels inside your body to bridge of nose at corner of eye. [It may help to view your body as a hollow vessel – free from bones and organs.] Object stops here. Repeat mantra x3.
Base 3. Center of head. Object travels to center of head. Object stops here. Repeat mantra x3.
Base 4. Roof of mouth/palate. Object travels down to roof of mouth. Object stops here. Repeat mantra x3.
Base 5. Throat above Adam’s apple. Object travels down to throat just above Adam’s apple. Object stops here. Repeat mantra x3.
Base 6. Navel at intersection of two imaginary hairlines – one vertical, one horizontal. Object travels down to navel. Object stops here. Repeat mantra x3.
Base 7. Two fingers breadth vertically above Base 6. Object travels up 2 fingers breadth above the navel. You have found your center. Observe the object. You may repeat the mantra.
Part 2 to follow. The post-meditation experience: 5 hindrances to becoming centered, special hindrances (beyond the 5), why it’s important to evaluate your meditation, and signs of improvement.