Meditation Forms

 

Sitting meditation

Form

a. Full lotus

c. Burmese posture
b. Half lotus
d. Burmese posture, variation
  1. Place one or more cushions on a mat and sit in a cross-legged position. You may use any of the forms listed here (see photos):
  • a. Full lotus
  • b. Half lotus
  • c. Burmese posture
  • d. Burmese posture, variation
  • e. Using a chair. When sitting on a chair, your feet should not extend past the front edge of the row of mats in the row in which you are seated. You may fold your mat and place it under your chair. You may use the mat for a footrest. For meditation purposes, it is best that you do not lean against the back of the chair, but sit toward the front of the seat, keeping your back erect. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, with shins perpendicular.
  • f. Straddling cushions. Stack several cushions on top of one another, straddling them as if riding a horse.
  • g. Using a meditation bench. Meditation benches have a slanted seat with two legs. First kneel on your mat, then position the bench over your calves behind you, and sit.
  1. Keeping your spine straight and shoulders back and loose, tip your head forward very slightly, looking down at the floor at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Your eyes should be half open, looking at the floor in front of you.
  3. Place your hands in your lap in the maha mudra (see Hands Forms on the next page for full description).

 

Special considerations

e. Using a chair

f. Stradding cushions
g. Meditation bench
  • Once in a particular sitting position, you should stay that way until you feel the need to change positions. During a sitting period, if physical pain or drowsiness becomes a distraction, you may stand for relief. First, do a sitting bow, then quietly stand up, remaining in standing meditation (see below) until the discomfort passes. When you are ready, do a standing bow and quietly sit down. Additionally, you may use the standing meditation posture as a transition between different sitting positions. For example, if you experience a lot of pain sitting cross-legged and need to change position, do a sitting bow, stand up quietly, bow, and then sit down in a kneeling position.
  • If using beads, use them quietly so as not to distract other students (see Meditation Beads on page 1.9).
  • During daily practice and Kyol Che, we sit facing the wall, away from the center of the room. During Yong Maeng Jong Jin, and optionally during long sittings, we sit facing the center of the room.
  • Always walk behind those seated in meditation.

Standing meditation

Form

  1. Stand still behind your mat in an erect posture, feet fairly close together, with the chin tucked in very slightly. Your eyes should look down at the floor at about a 45 degree angle.
  2. If you are not using beads, hold your hands in hapchang. When using beads, fold your hands at your waist.
  3. If the room is particularly crowded, you may stand on your mat rather than behind your mat.
Standing meditaion

Walking meditation

Form

  1. At the end of a sitting period, the head dharma teacher hits the chugpi one time as a signal for everyone to stand up. Staying in the order everyone is seated in, a line is formed behind the Guiding Teacher or, if none is present, behind the head dharma teacher. Fold your hands at the solar plexus with your fingers interlaced and forearms parallel to the floor.
Walking meditation
  1. The Guiding Teacher or head dharma teacher leads the group around the room in walking meditation. The beginning and end of walking meditation is done in a counterclockwise direction, although other patterns can be used during the period.
  2. The person carrying the chugpi keeps track of the time; usually walking is for ten minutes.
  3. If you need to leave the dharma room, continue walking until you reach the door. Since walking meditation is part of the meditation, it should not be used as a break (to leave the dharma room to relax, for example) but reserved for necessary purposes such as going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water. People should remove their kasas before using the bathroom, and they may also remove their robes.
  4. When returning to the dharma room after leaving, enter the dharma room and immediately do a standing bow to the Buddha. Wait by the door until your place in line comes around, do a standing half bow, and then enter the line of walkers. Always keep your same position relative to the other people in line. If walking meditation is almost over when you return (the last circuit after the chugpi is hit), wait until everyone stops behind their mats and then quickly walk behind them to your mat.
  5. When the ten minutes are almost up, the person carrying the chugpi hits it once at a point where the leader is well past their seat. This is the signal for everyone to stop at their seat when they come to it. Stand behind your seat, facing the center. The last person to get to reach their seat will be person leading the walking meditation.
  6. The chugpi is then hit once, and everyone sits down. No bow is necessary.
  7. If you have not returned to the dharma room after the sitting has resumed, sit on the provided mat outside the dharma room until the end of meditation, or until the next walking period (at which time you can reenter.)

Hands forms

HAPCHANG

Form

  1. The palms of both hands are held together, with fingers and thumbstouching. There should be no gaps between the fingers.
  2. The hands should be held about mid-chest in an almost vertical position—only slightly pointing outward. The tips of the fingers should be approximately two inches below the chin.

When it is used

  • While standing during meditation or chanting.
  • As a greeting: Traditionally in Asia, the hapchang with a slight bow of the head is used while greeting people and when saying goodbye.
  • To request a hit with the stick during formal meditation: Put your hands in hapchang just as the person carrying the stick approaches your mat.
  • To say “no” during a formal meal: When offered food that you don’t want, decline it by putting your hands in hapchang.
  • The person collecting the water at the end of a formal meal stands in hapchang while the participants add their water to the offering bowl.

MAHA MUDRA

Form

HapchangMaha mudra
  1. Lay your left hand in your right hand, palms up, and align the second joint of the index fingers. Gently touch the tips of the thumbs together. The index fingers and the thumbs should form a complete oval.
  2. The center of the oval should be positioned approximately two inches below the navel. Traditionally, this area is called the danjeon.
  3. You should try to maintain the oval shape and not let it sag. Also, don’t push the thumbs together too hard, which creates a peak. Don’t interlace your fingers or allow gaps between them.

When it is used

  • During formal meditation periods
  • At the beginning and end of formal meals, or if you finish one part of the meal before the other people
  • During sitting chants

 

Meditation beads

The Korean name for a string of 108 meditation beads is “yomju.” If there are fewer than 108 beads (for example, 27), the string is called “danju.” Yomju literally translates as “think beads,” meaning “always keep a Buddha mind.”

  • In our School, we most often refer to meditation beads as a mala, which is the sanskrit term for a rosary. A mala should be kept on your person, but you can also place it on an altar in your home.
  • Traditionally, malas are used to keep of track of prostrations, and during meditation to count mantras or as an aid to maintaining attention.
  • A mala should always be used silently out of consideration for others during formal practice.You may find that a short mala is easier to manage in this respect.
  • When using a mala try as much as possible to maintain the maha mudra during sitting meditation and hapchang during prostrations.
  • Meditation beads are not used during walking meditation.


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