There are many things in life that are beyond our control. However, it is possible to take responsibility for and to change one's state of mind. According to Buddhism this is the most important thing we can do, and Buddhism teaches that it is the only real antidote to the anxiety, hatred, discontentedness, sleepiness, and confusion that beset the human condition.
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, and positive emotion. By engaging with a particular meditation practice one learns the patterns and habits of the mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With discipline and patience these calm and focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly tranquil and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
Over the millennia countless meditation practices have been developed in the Buddhist tradition. All of them may be described as 'mind-trainings', but they take many different approaches. The foundation of all of them, however, is the cultivation of a calm and positive state of mind.
Motives for learning meditation vary. It is not necessary to have an interest in Buddhism. Some people want to improve their concentration for work, study, or sports; others are looking for calm and peace of mind. Then there are people trying to answer fundamental questions about life. With regular practice, meditation can help all of us to find what we are looking for.
Each year thousands of people learn meditation. At the Stirling Buddhist Centre you can learn two basic meditations that develop these qualities: the Mindfulness of Breathing and Loving-Kindness meditation or Metta Bhavana.
When you sit down to meditate you need to set up your meditation posture in a way that is relaxed but upright, usually sitting on a cushion and probably cross-legged. If this is not easy you can sit kneeling or else in a chair. Then you close your eyes, relax, and tune in to how you are feeling. It is important to be sensitive to your experience because this is what you work with in meditation. It is a good idea to take some time to sit quietly before starting a meditation, to slow down and relax. Some gentle stretching can also help.