All Things Meditation

Completely off the Topic of Tea

Re: All Things Meditation

Postby PurplePotato » Feb 14th, '13, 12:15

Yesterday I was brewing some darker oolong using one of my new favorite techniques. I have a very small (~35ml) yixing which I fill at least 3/4ths of the way with dry leaves, and I start my session flash infusing the tea many times using boiling water. My teas of preference for this method are reds and darker oolongs, and yesterday I was brewing a darker Nepalese oolong. I had some memories of the first time I had brewed this tea this way a month or two ago. I had filled the pot with as much dry leaves as it could take while still allowing the top of the pot to fit on comfortably; I remember wanting to test the leaves, which I already knew contained some bitterness. Since I was using such a high leaf/water ratio, I thought that to control bitterness the utmost importance was to get the water in and out of the teapot as soon as possible. So I used the following method: quickly douse the outside of the pot with water to prevent shocking the yixing clay, then with a rapid flash pour onto the leaves, quickly place down the top of the pot, quickly place down kettle, quickly pour out - it was like a race - go! go! go! The resulting taste was just about what I expected from the leaves - a strong punch of fruit that made you pucker, followed by an intense bitterness. The was some scent, but there really was not much to speak of, which I expected from the method. Overall, I quite enjoyed it.

This time I wanted to brew the tea in a similar method, but do so with a more “meditative focus.” Doing this with the same rapid pace as before would be a contradiction; I had to slow things down. So this time: a very slow and easy circular pour, lightly set down kettle, lift up tea pot, and place top onto teapot while pouring out the brew. The result: wonderful. Both fruit and bitter flavors are dramatically tamed and balanced; the infusions start out sweet, then bitterness emerges, but is balanced by a sweetness which never leaves, giving a pleasant bittersweet aftertaste. And the tea is very buttery, something that was completely non-existent before, not to mention strong florals, neither of which give up as the number of infusions pile on.

It is easy to think, in todays modern world, that we need to move faster. But when you take the time to slow down, everything moves just as fast as it needs to, and the results can be wonderful. This is one of the reasons to make time to meditate. It may seem like the time to do so does not exist, but when you make the effort you’ll find that no time was really lost at all, and that your experience of life deepens.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby PurplePotato » Feb 22nd, '13, 14:58

Another meditation method that I practiced in India was Vipassana Meditation, of the Theravdin tradition. According to the record, this is the original technique that was taught by the Buddha, and it has two parts, Shamata and Vipassana. Shamata should be practiced first, and could be practiced for a long time before learning Vipassana, as Shamata is very powerful in its own right. Shamata is basically focus on a point. There are many ways to do this, e.g. counting to ten, watching a candle flame, focusing on the sound of the kettle boiling, ect. The way traditionally taught is to focus on the breath. There are many ways even to focus on the breath, and I will explain the way that I was taught in India.

First, sit in a comfortable manner with a straight (but not tense) back. How you sit is not important, cross-legged on a cushion is good, as well as sitting up in a chair. You can also be standing or laying down if you like, but the former may be tiring, an the latter may cause you to fall asleep (though doing this technique while falling asleep at night is good). It does not matter how you hold your hands or arms, but they should be relaxed. Really all that is important is that your back is straight. The whole of the technique is focus on the breath. To do this, one brings their awareness to the sensation felt as the breath leaves and enters through the nostrils; you can imagine yourself as a little person sitting bellow your nose an just enjoying the breeze, if you like. One should not try to influence the breath in any way, just simply be aware of the sensation. While meditating, the attention may naturally wander and thoughts may arise. There is no need to worry about this or judge restless thoughts negatively, simply return to the breath. Even if you end up spending the most of the time you are sitting with your mind lost wandering away on a daydream, it doesn’t matter. There is no bad meditation, only good, better, and best. All one has to do is make the time to sit in order to be doing good.

tl;dr: Make your back straight. Feel the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby PurplePotato » Mar 11th, '13, 01:23

The next method I’m going to talk about is a death meditation. This meditation comes with a disclaimer - it can be very unsettling and should be practiced at your own risk. Nonetheless, I feel it is worth mentioning, as I find it to be the most powerful couple of minutes of my day. The method I use started from a short recitation that we learned from one of our Theravadin teachers. I later talked to one of our Tibetain teachers about starting a daily death meditation practice. He was surprised I was interested, but was supportive and recommended that I chose something that resonated with me. So I will describe to you the specific method that I personally follow, but if anyone is interested in taking this up, you are encouraged to find something that speaks to you.

I practice this method both in the evening before going to bed, and upon waking in the morning. First, I choose another person. This is often times a friend or family member, but it can be anyone, maybe the guy named Mike who checked me out at the supermarket. The first person that comes to my mind is good. Then I slowly recite the following, repeating each line line with a ‘(3)’ three times in a row.

I will die, Mike will die (3)
I don’t know when I will die, I don’t know when Mike will die (3)
I don’t know how I will die, I don’t know how Mike will die (3)
I don’t know what my rebirth will be, I don’t know what Mike’s rebirth will be (3)
My life is uncertain, my death is certain
Mike’s life is uncertain, his death is certain
I will die, Mike will die (3)

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby jayinhk » Mar 11th, '13, 10:14

This is a great thread and one I've thoroughly enjoyed reading through!

I'm a descendant of the Indus Valley Civilization (the majority of sites now like in Pakistan) and an ethnic minority 'Pakistani' Hindu. three of my grandparents (and my dad) were born around the Indus river, the source of the name 'India' and 'Hinduism', when it was still part of India. Throughout my childhood, I was dragged along to religious meets, prayer sessions and the like here in Hong Kong and occasionally in India when we visited, and I grew to find it immensely boring, especially since most of it was in Sindhi, a language I didn't understand a word of for most of my youth.

My parents' guru often held meditation sessions in New Jersey and I went to my first one there when i was around 12 or 13. Those sessions were held in English, so I've been 'trying out' meditation for quite a while. I never took it seriously, though, and reading through this thread, I see a lot of practices I was taught in my teens and have tried out more recently. I have a lot of mental 'noise' and anxiety, so I definitely need to meditate more. I used to spend a lot of time sitting cross legged as a kid too, and my brother and I can't even do that anymore! I definitely need to work meditation into my routine (what routine?) since I am pretty much a mess, and two of my friends swear by it (and yoga too, which is something else I should really be doing).

I was recently in Pune, India, and my parents' guru (now in his 90s) advocated breathing in positivity and exhaling negativity. When I do this, I am breathing in cool, blue air and good things, and invariably exhaling fire and bad things; brimstone and the like.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby teaisme » Mar 11th, '13, 13:38

jayinhk wrote:I was recently in Pune, India, and my parents' guru (now in his 90s) advocated breathing in positivity and exhaling negativity.

omg thats too funny, that is what I do sometimes when I feel like my mood is turning negative :mrgreen:

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby jayinhk » Mar 11th, '13, 14:14

I believe it's a pretty common practice; it definitely works for me too!

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby PurplePotato » Mar 11th, '13, 23:37

I do a similar method myself as part of my Qigong practice. Interestingly, there is a Tibetan Buddhist practice called Tonglen, where one does the opposite: taking in suffering from the universe while breathing in, and sending love out to the universe while breathing out. I think they are both valid methods, but it probably isn't a good idea to mix the two.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby jayinhk » Mar 12th, '13, 13:45

Good stuff!! Your death meditation scared me just reading through it once!

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby beforewisdom » Mar 12th, '13, 14:03

tst wrote:I'm aware there are countless techniques and ways to meditate, with each one having a unique origin in history and culture.

I'm a regular daily meditator. Many techniques will help a person relax ( muscles loosening up, heart rate/respiration slowing down, thinking less ). I think they key is the attitude a person has while meditating. The same technique, done with a different attitude will produce drammatically different results.

I'm a big fan of Ajahn Brahm's teachings. He was a British physicist who became a Thai Buddhist Monk who studied under Ajahn Chah. He has a sense of humor and communicates extremely well. I like his teachings because he emphasizes relaxation and letting go, as attitudes in meditation. Something I need to keep reminding myself of.

There are several youtube channels devoted to quality videos of talks and lessons he gives. His go-to book on his style of Theravada Buddhist Meditation is "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond".

Do not let the Buddhism turn you off. Buddhists tend to care more what people do rather than what they believe. I've been meditating in Buddhist temples and going to sutta (Buddhist discourse) classes for years and have never felt a gram of pressure to believe anything.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby Hannah » Mar 19th, '13, 04:59

Just thought I'd chime in!!

I'm by no means a pro at meditating, but my mother taught me to meditate when I was 8 whenever I was bored and restless, I'm now 22 so here are some (although limited!) things I've learned:

- While a straight back is helpful, it is by no means necessary. I had 26 titanium bolts and 3 rods fitted to the entire thoracic and lumbar sections of my spine and I can tell you now, a straight back isn't everything :lol: If anyone has difficulty with sitting straight, try finding a COMFORTABLE high backed chair where your feet can touch the ground! I also enjoy laying down but only when I'm sure I won't fall asleep :)

- Meditating with your eyes open can be a huge help if you find your mind wandering - focussing on a candle flame or even a paint spec on the wall can be a great focal point for grounding your mind.

- Guided meditations are fantastic (kundalindi ones are a personal favourite, whether you believe in new age stuff or not, it feels great regardless and it's a mental exercise!) but I make it a personal rule to not rely on them - mindfulness is where I try and keep my focus! With guided meditations the mind gets lazy in my opinion.

- Everyone is different on this one, but I find eating beforehand isn't a good idea.. Even if your tummy is a quiet one, I think it can distract you a little still!

- If you have trouble keeping to a regime, try joining a local meditation group! (once you're sure it's not a cult that is :lol: :lol: ) you can meet great new friends this way and I always feel more relaxed knowing that I have something to 'make' me stick to it :D I go to one every monday, and every fortnight I will take a gaiwan and share tea time with them :mrgreen:

That's all I can think of for now - but If I remember anymore I will add them!!
Meditation is a very personal and subjective thing, so take the above points with a grain of salt and see what works for you, these just happen to be the ones that work for me!

Edit: While my habits are a bit different to this guy's, his video is very good for people just starting out. It's long winded and the guy can come off as a bit intense/annoying, but once you look past that it's got some great tips - great video for those who are into meditation for it's practical uses and not the spiritual aspect.
(slight language warning)

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby jayinhk » Mar 19th, '13, 16:24

Went to a session with these guys today:

They have a free three-day meditation workshop (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) this week that I'm probably going to check out. :)

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby tenuki » Mar 19th, '13, 16:37

You can make a meditation out of most physical activity. I like running in a meditative state.

I also like the more traditional sitting.

There are some interesting branches of christian mysticism that embrace meditation as well as more traditional stuff ( John Main, et al ).

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby 5am » Apr 5th, '13, 11:09

The best meditation to me is anapana sati. Simply focusing on your breathing. You sit and attempt to think about nothing and focus on your breath. Later you work up to the sensation of your breathing.
This to me is the best kind of meditation. I have sat for an hour before doing nothing but that. I came out feeling muuch better.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby Keiki » Apr 12th, '13, 16:12

His favorite example was to say that doing the dishes was a form of yoga.

Nice :lol: There's actually a style of moving meditation that was perfected by a Thai buddhist monk named Luangpor Teean Jittasubho that is great for people that have difficulties in staying mostly still in practices like Shikantaza. I've found that it makes me less drowsy, specially when alternating sitting meditation with walking meditation.

You can check it out on
Link to a video demonstrating the basic sitting and standing meditation:

The movement will be your "anchor" so to speak in the present moment. You have to be aware at each step.

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Re: All Things Meditation

Postby sencha » Jun 12th, '13, 23:36

Disclaimer: I've been practicing zazen (sitting meditation) regularly for around two years.

"Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment. If you cannot be satisfied with the state of mind you have in zazen, it means your mind is still wandering about. Our body and mind should not be wobbling or wandering about. In this posture there is no need to talk about the right state of mind. You already have it. This is the conclusion of Buddhism." - excerpt from "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki

I sit in the morning and at night for 10 minutes in the Burmese posture. The posture is quite comfortable, and it's very easy (compared to half-lotus or full-lotus, both of which I cannot do). I set a timer so I don't have to be conscious of clock time while I'm sitting (even though it ends up happening anyway) and can just sit. When I first started doing sitting meditation, I tried to do 30 minutes, twice daily, but I ended up just skipping it more often than not because that's quite a long time to sit; not to mention, my legs go numb after 10-15 minutes. I don't think it matters how long you sit as long as you aren't looking at it as an obstacle or something that "needs to be done."

Throughout the entire 10 minutes, thoughts can and almost always do arise (especially of the nature of "right" vs "wrong" practice), bodily sensations arise, my dog walks in front of me while I'm sitting and decides that's where she's going to lie down, etc. Occasionally there is irritation, anger, lust, thoughts of love, thoughts of hate, happiness, sadness, and so on. I let everything be just as it is, allowing the "clouds to move freely in the sky," as they say.

That's all there is to my sitting meditation practice. As far as meditating while off the cushion, a.k.a. "life," it's pretty much the same thing. A lot of people do meditation in hopes that it'll improve their situation in life, help them to attain enlightenment, fix certain anxiety/mental health problems, etc. I think the act of seeking anything at all hinders the real benefits of meditation.

"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you." - Lao Tzu

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