Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Step Eight on the Eightfold Path

8. Right Concentration
The eighth principle of the path, right concentration, refers to the development of a mental force that occurs in natural consciousness, although at a relatively low level of intensity, namely concentration. Concentration in this context is described as one-pointedness of mind, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object. Right concentration for the purpose of the eightfold path means wholesome concentration, i.e. concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions. The Buddhist method of choice to develop right concentration is through the practice of meditation. The meditating mind focuses on a selected object. It first directs itself onto it, then sustains concentration, and finally intensifies concentration step by step. Through this practice it becomes natural to apply elevated levels concentration also in everyday situations.
How did I do this past week with Step Seven? Shouldn't I start with that question before I move on to Step Eight? Poorly. Stumbling around, tripping over and over Step Seven. Right Mindfulness eluded me throughout the week. Each day I had to try again and again. Last night before I fell asleep I asked to dream about my new play, to find the starting point. What I got was a dream about my spiritual practice. I dreamed I was telling an unknown woman about how I meditate, how I have been returning to my old meditations, looking at what I used to meditate on, seeing how I have changed or not changed. My cornucopia was filled with onions. Chopped onions. My yoga mat was lumpy and uncomfortable. I needed a new one. I told the woman that my practice is Dzogchen Buddhism and I was sharing with her the ways I have been changed by my open-eyed meditation.
It has been years since I've attended sangha now. And ages since I've meditated more than a few minutes at a time. And believe me my yoga mat is pristine. I never use it. My cornucopia of blessings is indeed layered with fractured meanings. Some blessings are hard to decipher.
Today I try again to be mindful of my body, mind and spirit as I move through my day. Now, let's look at step eight. Oh! it is about meditation. What synchronicity! I dream of meditation, and step eight is about meditation. Hm. Today, I will reboot my meditation practice. I will concentrate on mindfulness during my meditation. And eventually, it will become natural to apply elevated levels concentration in everyday situations. Yes?
If you have been following along with me in these eight steps, I'd love it if you would let me know. Here, or on Twitter, on FaceBook, wherever you feel comfortable. If you have questions, or anything you're willing to share, please do so.
Happy New Year! Thank you for watching me stumble along!

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