FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions About Meditation

 

Why Meditate?

The practice of meditation awakens us to the joy of the present moment. By cultivating attention and awareness, even challenging situations like chronic pain, destructive thought patterns, and difficult emotions can be transformed into sources of inner peace and joy. This inner transformation does not require us to retreat from the world. On the contrary, daily life is filled with endless opportunities to use the practice of mindfulness to find the preciousness of every moment. Meditation is not meant to remove us from the world, but to open our hearts and minds to the beauty of what we already have.

In recent years, meditation has also received a great deal of attention from the scientific community. Researchers from Harvard, MIT, the University of Wisconsin, and many other renowned institutions have explored the effects of meditation on everything from high blood pressure to peak states of consciousness. Their research has shown not only the profound effects that meditation can have on the brains of advanced meditators, but also how practicing meditation for only a few minutes a day can create a dramatic increase in the parts of the brain associated with happiness and well-being. Meditation has also been shown to boost the body's immune system, to improve the brain's capacity to concentrate for extended periods of time, and to be an effective treatment for many psychological disorders.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is the art of cultivating awareness and insight. It can be used as a practical tool to undo destructive emotional patterns, to develop positive qualities like wisdom and compassion, and to access the mind’s fundamental nature of pure awareness. For centuries, meditation has been taught and practiced throughout the religions of the world.

Do I have to be Buddhist to meditate?

Meditation can be practiced by anyone. The practice of meditation is a process of turning inward to learn about the workings of the mind and how thoughts and emotions shape perception. It does not require one to believe any particular religious doctrine, though many of the world's greatest sages and saints have used meditation as a way to deepen their understanding and experience of their own faith. Currently, meditation is taught and practiced in health care settings to relieve stress and cope with chronic pain; in the corporate world to develop authentic, value-based leadership; and in the educational system to help students concentrate and center themselves.

What can I expect from meditation?

Meditation has many benefits. In a general sense, meditation allows us to access the mind's innate qualities of peace and serenity. Eventually, these experiences become a living reality and our happiness is no longer dependent on the fluctuating conditions of the world around us. Meditation can also be used to cultivate certain qualities, such as compassion or wisdom, and also to address specific problems, such as destructive emotional patterns, chronic illness, and challenging relationship issues. The point of meditation is not to escape such situations, but rather to see that everything we experience can be transformed into a source of joy through the practice of meditation.

What is the best way to learn how to meditate?

There is no one approach to meditation that works for everyone. Indeed, the "best" approach is simply the one that works best for you. Most people, however, find it useful to learn how to meditate from an experienced teacher. If you feel drawn to the Tergar approach, then you're in the right place! You can get started by taking the FREE Intro to Meditation Course.

 

Questions About Meditation Practice

 

Is it important to have a daily meditation practice?

The ultimate goal of meditation practice is to bring awareness to every moment of one's life, not just the time one spends in a formal meditation session. That said, setting aside time each day to cultivate awareness is an indispensable part of the process. Most people find that the more time they devote to meditation "on the cushion," the easier it is to bring awareness to their experiences "off the cushion."

How long should I meditate?

When beginning a daily meditation practice, it is important to meditate in short, frequent sessions. Twenty minutes a day, practiced over one or two sessions, is a good general guideline for beginning meditators. It is important to note, however, that you can and should practice anytime, anywhere. Once you know the key points of meditation, you will be able to use any experience or activity as a way to practice sustaining meditative awareness.

How do I know if I'm really meditating?

Meditation is a state of heightened awareness. When you try to meditate, there will likely be periods where you are lost in thought, and other times when you are fully aware in the present moment, meaning that you are fully conscious of what you are doing at that time. Whether you are focusing on your breath, observing thoughts, or simply resting in awareness, the sign of meditation is that you know what you are doing. In other words, you are not only watching the breath, but also aware that you are watching the breath. Meditative awareness can be practiced at all times. You simply need to be aware of whatever you are doing in the present moment. If you are driving to work, for example, you can pay attention to the road and your surroundings, but also maintain a heightened sense of awareness that you are driving. You can even do this while engaged in conversation, watching television, or working in front of a computer.

What do I do when thoughts come up?

Thinking is a natural function of the mind; there is no need to stop thoughts from occurring. When you are meditating and you realize that you have been lost in thought, simply return your awareness to the object of your meditation. There is nothing more to it than that. You may even take your thoughts as the object of meditation, or rest in open awareness, letting thoughts come and go without paying too much attention to them. The key point is that thoughts and distraction are a natural part of meditation. As you grow more and more familiar with meditative awareness, thoughts will bother you less and less. You may even find that thoughts actually help your meditation, insofar as they are one more experience that you can use to expand your awareness.

How does meditation relate to daily life?

Meditation allows us to be more aware and present in whatever activity we are doing. This has a beneficial impact on virtually every aspect of day to day life. In relationships, meditation will help us develop unconditional love that springs from a place of deep peace and serenity. At work, meditation will enable us to be more focused, creative, and efficient, while at the same time being emotionally balanced. In terms of health, meditation has been shown to have a dramatic impact on the physical body, including lowering stress levels, increasing immune system functioning, and increasing the capacity to cope with illness and chronic pain.

 

Questions About Mingyur Rinpoche and Tergar

 

Who is Mingyur Rinpoche?

Born in 1975 in the Himalayan border regions between Tibet and Nepal, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is a rising star among the new generation of Tibetan Buddhist meditation masters. From a young age, Rinpoche was drawn to a life of contemplation. He spent many years of his childhood in strict retreat. At the age of seventeen, he was invited to be a teacher at his monastery’s three-year retreat center, a position rarely held by such a young lama. He also completed the traditional Buddhist training in philosophy and psychology, before founding a monastic college at his home monastery in north India.

In addition to extensive training in the meditative and philosophical traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Mingyur Rinpoche has also had a lifelong interest in Western science and psychology. At an early age, he began a series of informal discussions with the famed neuroscientist Francisco Varela, who came to Nepal to learn meditation from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Many years later, in 2002, Mingyur Rinpoche and a handful of other long-term meditators were invited to the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin, where Richard Davidson, Antoine Lutz, and other scientists examined the effects of meditation on the brains of advanced meditators. The results of this groundbreaking research were reported in many of the world’s most widely read publications, including National Geographic and Time.

What is the Tergar Meditation Community?

The mission of the Tergar Meditation Community is to make the ancient practice of meditation accessible to the modern world. For centuries, the practice of meditation has been used by countless individuals to transform suffering into joy and confusion into wisdom. Tergar meditation and study programs are designed to facilitate this transformation. Under the guidance of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a remarkable teacher celebrated for his ability to make the practice of meditation accessible to people of all backgrounds, the Tergar community of meditation centers and practice groups provides a comprehensive course of meditation training and study, with programs for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

What is the Tergar Learning Community?

The Tergar Learning Community is a web resource that allows students to learn meditation online by watching video teachings from Mingyur Rinpoche and other teachers, and with the support of trained meditation instructors and facilitators. It also provides many resources related to meditation and the study of Buddhism, and enables meditators from around the world to connect with one another.

Does Tergar offer meditation courses or retreats in my area?

Tergar International offers meditation groups and retreats in the West and Tergar Asia offers the same in the East. Visit www.tergar.org for more information.

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