Recently I had the chance to practice meditation with Ajahn Brahm. It was a nice experience. He said a lot of things some of which are useful and interesting and one thing I disagree with. It might be dangerous to say I disagree with someone who is much loved and idolized by a large amount of people because people can be blind about certain things their idols do. I hope to point out it is in my experience that whoever I can meet face to face, at least, are not sooooooooooooooooooo much higher or lower than me, especially when I haven’t eaten anything that can significantly lower or heighten my vibration. So whoever it is on earth on this level that I can meet with personally are not perfect really and therefore they would make mistakes. If anyone reading this is getting angry because I said he could be wrong or that I could point out he could be wrong, ask yourself, do you think he is always right? If not, you shouldn’t feel any non-positive feelings for what I said. But if you still do after all these then you should really think about what is causing your anger because I assure you, it is not me. Does that sound reasonable? Now let’s proceed to his points. You may choose which one you would like to read by following the numbers.
- Basic meditation technique
- How not to feel bad about the passing of loved ones
- Bodhisattva (Story of his school student)
- Sickness (I disagree with this)
- Story of nuances from his village
- Simple technique to silence the mind
1. Basic Body Scan Meditation Technique
This can be done anywhere in any position as long as one is positioned comfortably. Just start scanning through the body from the bottom of the feet and go upward in a speed good enough to sufficiently feel the sensation of the body to see if it is relaxed or tensed. Whenever you run into a spot where there is tension. Try to relax it in your own way. I found the way which is the most effective to do is to tell it to relax without thinking about how to relax it. Tell it to relax once and then if it is not sufficiently relaxed, then tell it to relax twice as much and repeat the process until the tensed muscles are relaxed. After that, proceed to the rest of the body.
This is a method I have heard of and done before but while lying down. I did it sitting upright in a chair this time. There were moments in the middle of it I saw my vision becoming very bright in a dim room. It literally looked like it went from a room with dim light to all the lights in the room were turned on. It seems to be working better than the previous time I have done it because previously I wasn’t focusing on relaxing my muscles as much rather than being told to just pay attention to the flow of my energy and moving it.
When I moved up to my face, he said when we relaxed our muscles on the face we would feel the emotions trapped in those muscles being released as well. And I did. I could feel some emotions coming from the relaxation that I did not previously know were trapped there. They almost had their own contexts with them when they were set free like I could point out what incidents caused them and so on. It was interesting because usually I do that to my body only and not much on the face. You should try that too and see how it feels. It is a fun exercise!
2. How Not to Feel Bad about the Passing of Loved Ones
When Ajahn Brahm was asked how to handle the passing of loved ones emotionally. He gave an example of how he handled his own lost of his father. He mentioned his abundant love for his father throughout his life yet at his passing he never dropped a single tear at his funeral and after. The way he thinks is that he compares going to his favorite concerts to his life with his father which was all great fun even at the end of it, Similarly at a concert, when it ends and people depart, they would only remember the joy, excitement and happiness from it. No one ever leaves a great concert feeling depressed or crying so we can feel the same about the life we shared with someone we dearly love.
I found it a pretty good analogy. When a logical analogy is set out in an entirely separate event similar to the actually situation, it becomes clear how illogical our emotions can be. Very clear minded people can thus use this to help with their emotional issues by just stopping the mind thinking about the emotional pain, understanding that it is just part of the mind and energy game in our human experiences. However, for those who require more of an emotional assistance and who might be more prone to losing themselves in painful emotions, an effective yet different technique remains to be found. For me, I connect to the source and everything becomes okay for a period of time until I “disconnect” for long enough, then my vibration would drop to a level where emotions and patterns can begin to affect me again. Now for me that is a reason why I understand I need to meditate more. I do not feel like I am on a level where I actively connect to the source constantly because in my experience, it is only when I have a strong enough foundation on a certain spiritual level that I do not slip under it occasionally. Currently I do not feel my foundation is strong enough to have an effortless connection, but I can feel right now as I type this that I am being prompted to put more effort into it.
That is one of the reason why sometimes while none of us actually “like” suffering, it is the most effective and the prime cause for the evolution of the human race. For example, very often when I am connected well enough for a while and I have enough “fuel” to run for weeks without worries, I get lazy and then I get some kicks, like old thinking patterns starts resurfacing causing various issues, from the universe to reconnect. So it is reasonable to say we should not blame anyone or the universe for kicking us sometimes since without them we could sink lower and lower much like a silly child without a good parent’s concerns.
3. Bodhisattva (Story of His School Student)
Ajahn Brahm also mentioned when he was a school teacher, he had a student who came in 30 out of 30 in his report card, being at the bottom of the class. He was very worried what his parents would do to him after he got home that day. Ajahn was feeling sorry for him and could see from his face that he was afraid and disappointed in himself so he went to the student and thanked him for being the Bodhisattva for all his classmates. One of the features of being a Bodhisattva is that a bodhisattva would not go back to the source until the last human living soul is back so basically he sacrifices his spiritual enlightenment for every life in existence because he could not bare to watch them suffer. Putting this into context, Ajahn meant the student could not bare to see his friends suffer ranking last in the whole class so he took on this pain instead. The student was of course like WTH but Ajahn sort of got him out of his depressed feelings at those moments.
From this story, I feel like perhaps Ajahn and many of us are doing the same thing as in we are trying to make a seemingly very bad situation positive. Everything has so many sides to it so why do we only focus on the one side that is negative?
4. Sickness (My Disagreement with Ajahn)
Of course I understand from my personal spiritual experience as stated in this post here that I should let them have their experiences whether their opinions are right or wrong because that is part of what we are here to do right? On the other hand, it still bothers me a bit that even though my experience is almost the exact opposite to their opinion, I should not say anything about it to them in their face.
If you are new to my blog, I have been vegan for 7 – 8 years and raw vegan for almost 1.5 years and ever since I became vegan, my sickness frequency has plummeted to almost non-existence. After I have become a raw vegan, the worst thing I get is a sore throat for a couple of days and sometimes with mucus related issues and then I go back to normal with no issues at all. The only time I ever actually got “sick” was when I was a cooked food vegan, I ate very dirty food from a restaurant because one time I went there very late and the cook was not happy with my SO and I and right after eating their food I got food poisoning which I did not go to any Dr for and sat out after one day. Perhaps some of you would think I was stupid not to seek medical help or that I am a crazy vegan who wouldn’t trust western medicine but I have seen doctors a lonngggg time ago and their drugs made me even much sicker physically. I in fact felt poisoned in my body after taking them so I am sorry to say no thank you. Of course your life is yours so you should do what you choose in your own judgement. Do not just follow my advice because it is my advice and you couldn’t care less to do your own research. No one is responsible for your own life except yourself. Always remember that but that doesn’t mean people cannot care about you, OK? *hugs* 🙂
So what I disagree with him on is that sickness is NOT normal in my experience. It is when we have imbalance in our energy that causes sickness. I have not been sick for forever because of my diet change. I used to get sick like other people when I used to eat meat and processed food but I just don’t anymore if I stick to my diet and do not eat any cooked food. That is my physical experience. Now in the spiritual aspect, my experience has taught me there are different levels of vibrations and the higher you go the better you feel. Does it seem logical that no matter how high you go you would still get sick? So beings who are god like get sick and cough? If I, still in my mortal form, don’t, how is it that they would? It is very difficult for me to understand how this is not understood when mentioned. How about if I take a leap in the logical deduction from the points above and my experience and say that perhaps we do not have to be sick if we eat well? That seems possible at least right? It was quite difficult for me to watch someone with such high regard from other people imparting such idea into their brains and consciousness but perhaps that is there experiences in this life.
The positive light I can see from this is that Ajahn Brahm perhaps just wanted to minimize the stigma of patients in people’s perception, which in a way could be a good thing. Nowadays, there are people who cast non-positive judgments onto those who are physically sick and/or challenged and there is no positive reason or effect to this. It does not help the situation or produce anything positive. However, I still believe there could have been a more direct way of responding to his student who saw him at the doctor’s office. He could have just said he has not attained the level where he could eat whatever and not be affected (if there is such thing). What are the reasons which would stop him from saying that? That is a very honest and admirable answer in my opinion. Perhaps there are positive aspects that I could not see which stopped him from saying it but I haven’t found them yet. Again, I am not trying to sabotage his reputation. There is no reason for it at all. I wish there was a saint I can meet that can guide me but some of us would understand that that person is in us and no external help is actually required so the fact that he existed to help is something I really appreciate. All I am saying is he could be wrong about something and that is very reasonable.
5. Story of Nuances from His Village
Ajahn narrated a story about the village where he lives with his mentor and companions. He said the villagers one time had a party which lasted for a whole week and every night they would play music until 2 am in the morning leaving them 1 hour to sleep before having to get up at 3 am to start the day. He and the other disciples decided to ask their mentor to talk to the villagers because they knew the villages are afraid of him. However, the mentor flat out rejected this. He stated that it was not the noise that was disturbing the monks’ sleep but the monks were disturbing the noise. Ajahn Brahm pointed out that while we could not change the noise from being broadcast, we can change our reactions to them and the moment we tried to appreciate them in a different light like how his monk companion appreciated his brother’s snoring, he could fall asleep immediately rather than being kept awake the whole night by it.
I am sure we all have been disturbed by our neighbor’s loud noises such as arguments or music and it seems like it is impossible to enjoy them. After all, how can yelling be enjoyable to the mind if you just think about it as how your brain first decided to see it. However, if you change your perception to it, your feelings to them would change. For example, you always get annoyed when your spouse leaves the toilet seat up (or down if you are a man lol) and it makes you really mad because it happens every day. But if you think about it as a reminder that your spouse is still with you. How does that sound now? Imagine one day he is no longer here and the toilet seat will always be down *unless your spouse is a lady as well* (or up if you are a man and your spouse is a lady), how would you feel? Wouldn’t you rather have your toilet seat however way that is inconvenient for you than losing your life companion? At the same time it also puts the whole inconvenience issue into perspective, right? For this context, their noises could be a reminder that there is still external joy in the world if you haven’t mastered your internal joy yet or that you are not alone in the world.
As for meditation, I know how it feels to feel disturbed because I am quite sensitive to sounds. Some sounds in the house can go straight into my body like if something in the kitchen falls I can feel the vibrations hitting my body physically not really knowing why some sounds do and some don’t. So far the only way that actually works for me to eliminate this issue is acceptance. When I enter the state of acceptance I am out of this world. I would not be disturbed by noises around me at all and that allowed me to understand what Ajahn Brahm meant with his villagers story.
6. Simple Technique to Silence the Mind
This is my favorite because that is one thing I would like to learn better. The technique is so simple too lol.
After a question on how to maintain silence in the mind, Ajahn told us to pay attention to every word he said and we did. He changed his pace as he talked and we were supposed to pay attention even if there is a great gap between the words in his sentences. For me I focused intensely and after a couple sentences I could feel there was something different in me and the difference was, when we paid attention to the words being spit out, during the gap time our attention is so focused in a way that our mind stopped thinking while anticipating the next word being spat out. While it took some attention power from me I felt great having a silent mind. Even just as now when I am recalling this experience I almost felt the expansion of my mind and its increased clearness from practicing it. It really encourages me to practice this more often. Actually, I have been doing that now every time I hear someone talking in the street. I pay attention to what they are saying without really caring about the message but to listen to it like music and then wait for the gap. So there’s sound and sound and sound and then there is a gap and then some more sound and then another gap. That is how I viewed it and it is actually quite an interesting experience. 🙂 Try it when you are in the subway or bus or even when you are listening to the radio in your car. It can feel really relieving if done correctly!
So that’s it. That was my experience with Ajahn Brahm. It was a positive experience which I would gladly participate in again when the topics in discussion are of my interests. I hope you found something enjoyable and/or useful to your daily life. Have you had any experience with Ajahn Brahm? How was it like? Let me know in the comments.:)
Have a wonderful and enjoyable day! As always, Stay High and Happy! 😀