In Buddhism, the Dhamma/Dharma, the truth, is self realised. Suffering is not to be ignored, but to become aware of. It is with this understanding that the Four Noble Truths were realised by Buddha, while sitting in meditation under the Bodhi tree.
Meditation practice increases the awareness of our own dynamics. The mechanics of the self can be experienced, as previously suppressed events, thoughts and feelings are given the space to rise and fall away again. As Chogyam Trungpa says, "Within the intensity, is the absence of it also" (Trungpa, 1992). It is in the 'allowing' to experience, without attempting to 'get in the boxing ring with it' that is the healing process. In meditation, an individual learns to accept the experiences one has, without mis-taking it for who they are. The mis-ake is literally a mis-take, a mis-perception, for there is no error, only err; to be fixed/rigid/stuck.
There are a number of different forms of Buddhist meditation, based upon the practice of Mindfulness. The term mindfulness derives from the Pali word sati meaning 'to remember'. To be mindful is to notice things as they arise, without adding to or colouring the experience through judgement. Non-judgemental awareness allows the ego to be driven, rather than driving. Much like the cycle of birth and death, the arising and falling away of sensations and thoughts can be experienced and integrated as the process of the person becoming whole.
Mindfulness meditation trains the person to notice their thoughts, sensations and experiences as and when they arise, without trying to seek them out, or interact with them. If a person finds they have become caught up in a particular experience, the practice is noticing and 'sitting with' this awareness, thus returning the person to a full focus on the present moment. With regular training, mindfulness transfers naturally in to the person's daily life. Every act or experience therefore, can be a meditative one, whether this is cleaning your home, working or listening.
I was once told that practice every day for a few minutes is better than an hour's practice once a week. Much like any habit, when practicing mindfulness regularly, you become adept at being still with thoughts and sensations outside of sitting meditation. In Serene Reflection practice, the ‘letting go’ principle is the essential act of the meditation. This was the core of Dogen's philosophy, who brought Ch’an Buddhism (the Chinese form of Buddhism) to Japan, and it became known as Soto Zen or Serene Reflection meditation.
Serene Reflection meditation is practiced with eyes open, because it is easy for closed eyes to relax the person in to sleepiness. The practice is to let experiences/thoughts arise and fall away, without needing to engage with them. If you happen to become caught up in a thought or annoyance of the day, then so be it, let it go again. It is about experiencing the space between the thoughts and sensations, that will emerge, like the waves of a sea that move towards and then pull back form the ocean shore. Sensations and thoughts bring us insight and learning, as you glean the rewards from the space and discover the ocean's pearls of wisdom. Read about thought, form & emotion to learn how to use your emotions as catalysts for change. See here, to learn how acceptance creates the opportunity for change.
Walking meditation involves focusing attention on each step taken, one foot in front of the other, focussing attention on each sensation as it arises and falls away again.
Work day meditations include household chores such as gardening, cooking, cleaning, maintaining the upkeep of the Buddhist house. Being present while doing these chores, rather than rushing them or wishing you were doing something else, or adding any judgement to the task at hand, allows a different quality of life to emerge.
In Rules of Meditation, Dogen describes meditation as the “goal of goalessness” (p.45). Life can only exist 'now'. While we need to plan for things and use our advanced forward-thinking capacities, we must balance this with present moment living too.
Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha (also known as Śākyamuni) was the original Buddha; a spiritual teacher from what is now, Nepal. The Four Noble Truths that he spoke of were Dukkha (suffering), Samudaya (arising of suffering), Nirodha (cessation of suffering) and Magga (the path leading to the cessation of suffering) (Thera, 1987).
Dogen, a well known Japanese Zen Buddhist, said, “to learn the Buddha Way is to learn one's own self." (as cited in Kimura, 1991).