Posted inBasic Buddhism, Dharma

Methods of Practice,Valerie Forstman

February 9, 2022
Art by Christy Hengst

A single meditation cushion has no cover or fence.

Qiyuan Xinggang

Sitting in silence and becoming at home in our own breath is an ancient practice that is as contemporary as the present moment.

Some 2500 years ago, Siddhartha Gautama was moved to search for a resolution to all suffering. Deeply determined, nearly dying of his austerities, the one who became the Buddha – “awakened” – turned to a middle way. He sat down under the wide awning of a Ficus tree in deep absorption. What he discovered illumined the world and launched a path of practice available to all.

This meditation practice—sitting in silence, resting in the breath—has different forms or methods. Four of these are: Mindfulness, in its various forms; Zen, a form of practice that includes awakening in its horizon of possibilities; koan study, a response to asking the most fundamental questions about what it is to be alive as a human being; and the barest practice that is known as shikantaza or “just sitting.” Wherever you enter, the place of sitting offers a wide invitation—no cover or fence.

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