Meditation and the Mind - An Online Retreat with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Ritinjali and Centre for Escalation of Peace in collaboration with Pallavan Learning Systems, India International Centre and Vikramashila Foundation held a two-day workshop on 8th & 9th May 2021 - ‘Meditation and the Mind’ with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Over 750 participants joined in from 63 countries including India, USA, Bhutan, Singapore, Nepal, UK, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Malaysia, Hong Kong, France, Thailand, South Africa, Canada and Japan.
How can we manage our thinking and decision-making processes to achieve mental stability and experience satisfaction at the end of the day? Since our mind plays a crucial part in decision-making, how can we ensure that our mind is sharp and alert enough to face any challenge? These were the questions that the workshop sought to address.
The workshop began with a prayer for all the people affected by the pandemic. Rinpoche noted that transforming our minds helps transform our lives and this may affect our physical body also. He explained that he learned meditation as a young boy of nine to cope with panic attacks.
Rinpoche said that we all have basic innate goodness and capacity within us but often we ignore and don’t recognise this. The purpose of meditation is to gain awareness and recognise our basic innate goodness. Meditation helps us recognise the fundamental qualities of our minds and to discover ourselves. Awareness, love and compassion and wisdom - these are the fundamental qualities of the mind. As we are all a part of this world, if we individually transform, the world will transform.
The audience were taught three techniques of awareness oriented meditation over the two-day workshop. The first was Breathing Meditation, in which breath and mind connect with each other. With constant attention, the mind stays with the breath and through this practice, the mind is made pliable and workable. If the mind is not pliable, it cannot grasp the nature of reality. A second technique was Mental Recitation Meditation. In this technique, we can use any mantra and recite the word or phrase silently in the mind. When we recite silently in our minds, we connect with awareness. The third technique was Sound Meditation, a practice in which the ear and the mind hear together. He emphasised that one can switch between techniques and find one that best suits the practitioner. Through meditation, it is possible to generate neuroplasticity by creating new neural pathways.
Rinpoche explained that our minds have three parts - the sensation/experiential mind; the grasping/conceptual mind; and the habitual/unconscious mind. When we meditate, our mind traverses through all three. Most of the time, we ricochet between craving and aversion, between the past and the future, and we forget to live in the present. Meditation helps us be in the present and gives us clarity of vision.
On Day two, Rinpoche also briefly introduced one technique of Vipassana Meditation - Meditation on Impermanence. He said that life is constantly changing. While we understand this at an intellectual level, meditation helps bring this understanding into the experiential and habitual level. Rinpoche observed that once we accept impermanence, our minds open to a lot of new opportunities.
On both days, at the end of the workshop Rinpoche answered questions collected from the audience. Many questions focused on the challenges posed by the pandemic. Through his answers, Rinpoche emphasised that meditation is a life skill.
Click here to read the report about the retreat.