Walking into the large hall of the Subang Jaya Buddhist Association in June this year, although I was five minutes late to give the scheduled evening talk myself, I could see that many others were just arriving as well. The hall is close to a busy road so you can hear the cars whizzing by, and people were still tapping away on their phones and fidgeting with things as I bowed to the Buddha image and sat down. Coming into a somewhat busy and whirring space like this (compared to a forest monastery) it is difficult to know what to say. The usual order of things is that the guest speaker gives a talk and then those in attendance ask questions. As I was looking out into the crowd I noticed many familiar faces as well as many unfamiliar ones, and the squeaky swinging door at the back of the hall continued to open and close as more and more people arrived a little late… the traffic is heavy on weeknights. (I am often a little late myself so it is not my place to judge) Given the challenged ‘container’… my sense was that it might be best to meditate together first, and then once people had ‘truly arrived’ we would be better able to share some Dhamma reflections.
What happened on this occasion though was curious, for although I suggested we have a 15 minute meditation followed by a Dhamma talk, somehow the talk and the meditation became fused as one… and what ensued was a fifty minute guided meditation with frequent and detailed ‘pointing out’ instructions regarding the practice of training in mindfulness of breathing. I remember that Ajahn Sumedho often taught this way particularly in the early morning meditations of the monastic community retreats. After 30 minutes of breath meditation, when peoples’ minds were a little more focused and malleable, we turned to ‘generating and radiating the heart of Loving-Kindness.’ At the end of the meditation the hall felt much more serene, and when I asked how many people felt more peaceful it was gratifying to see the raised hands of most in the room.
Listening back once again it would seem that this meditation is a good one for people who feel that they could benefit from reviewing the basics once more. For various reasons sometimes our practice seems to fall away, at other times if we have been very busy the discursive thinking just does not seem to abate. Guided meditations with a lot of reminders can be helpful for either starting again or gently reigning the busy mind inwards. But for many people it would seem - the basic instructions regarding training in mindfulness are always relevant and timely.
I hope that some of the content of this guided meditation is useful.
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