Straightforward and simple (but not easy), meditation is essentially training our attention so that we can be more aware—not only of our own inner workings but also of what's happening around us in the here and now. Once we see clearly what's going on in the moment, we can then choose whether and how to act on what we're seeing.
That's the subtitle of the first chapter of Sharon Salzberg's Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation. Here at Tricycle we've begun the countdown: 5 days until we begin the four-week meditation challenge. And by way of introduction to Real Happiness, the consummate meditation guide that will serve as our North Star throughout the 28-day meditation period, here's a taste:
What is Meditation?
For the next four weeks, we'll be exploring the principles of insight meditation, the simple and direct practice of moment-to-moment awareness. We first train our attention by focusing on a single chosen object (most often our breath) and repeatedly letting go of distractions in order to return our attention to that object. Later we broaden the focus to whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations arise in the moment.
People have been transforming their minds through meditation for thousands of years. Every major world religion includes some form of contemplative exercise, though today meditation is often practiced apart from any belief system. Depending on the type, meditaiton may be done in silence and stillness, by using voice and sound, or by engaging the body in movement. All forms emphasize the training of attention.
So mark your calendar! Next Tuesday we'll begin the challenge. At the same time, Sharon will begin a discussion of Real Happiness at the Tricycle Book Club. You can order the book (and download it, too, for immediate reading) at a discount at the Book Club beginning January 31.
Get your cushions ready!
– James Shaheen, Editor & Publisher, Tricycle Magazine