Concentration on the Tibetan
An interesting way of
unfolding the mysteries of the inner process is through dream yoga.
A successful seeker in dream-work must be stable enough in presence
to avoid being swept away by the winds of karmic emotions and lost
in the dream. As the mind steadies, dreams become longer, less
fragmented, and more easily remembered, and lucidity is developed..
Waking life is equally enhanced as we find that we are increasingly
protected from being carried away by the habitual emotional
reactions that draw us into distraction and unhappiness. Dream -work
can instead develop the positive traits that lead to happiness and
support the seeker in the spiritual journey.
All yogic and spiritual
disciplines include some form of practice that develops
concentration and quiets the mind. In the Tibetan tradition this
practice is called calm abiding (zhine). We recognize three stages
in the development of stability: forceful zhine, natural
zhine, and ultimate zhine. Zhine begins with mental
fixation on an object and, when concentration is strong enough,
moves on to fixation without an object. (Same principle as working
with the Perfect Model presented to you on this website).
Begin the practice by
sitting comfortably on a chair or in the five-pointed meditation
posture: the legs crossed, the hands folded in the lap in meditation
position with palms up and placed one on top of the other, the spine
straight but not rigid, the head tilted down slightly to straighten
the neck, and the eyes open. The eyes should be relaxed, not too
wide open and not too closed. The object of concentration should be
placed so that the eyes can look straight ahead, neither up nor
down. During the practice try not to move, not even to swallow or
blink, while keeping the mind one pointedly on the object.
Even if tears should stream down your face, do not move. Let the
breathing be natural.
Generally, for practice
with an object, Zhine practitioners use the Tibetan letter A
as the object of concentration. This letter has many symbolic
meanings but here is used simply as a support for the development of
focus. Other objects may also be used — the letter A of the
English alphabet, an image of your Perfect Model, or any other
sacred Image , the sound of a mantra, the breath — almost anything.
However, it is good to use something connected to the sacred, as it
serves to inspire you. Also, try to use the same object each time
you practice, rather than switching between objects, because the
continuity acts as a support of the practice. It is also somewhat
preferable to focus on a physical object that is outside the body,
as the purpose is to develop stability during the perception of
external objects and, eventually, of the objects in dream.
. Concentration on the
Tibetan letter "A"
CONCENTRATING ON THE TIBETAN LETTER "A"
If you wish to use the
Tibetan "A" you can write it on a piece of paper about an
inch square. Traditionally, the letter is white and is enclosed in
five concentric colored circles: the center circle that is the
direct background for the "A" is indigo; around it is a blue
circle, then green, red, yellow, and white ones. Tape the paper to a
stick that is just long enough to support the paper at eye level
when you sit for practice, and make a base that holds it upright.
Place it so that the "A" is about a foot and a half in front
of your eyes.
The Tibetan Letter "A"
Many signs of progress can arise during the
practice. As concentration strengthens and the periods of practice
are extended, strange sensations arise in the body and many strange
visual phenomena appear. You may find your mind doing strange
things, too! That is all right. These experiences are a natural part
of the development of concentration; they arise as the mind settles,
so be neither disturbed by nor excited about them.
The first stage of practice is called
"forceful" because it requires effort. The mind is easily and
quickly distracted, and it may seem impossible to remain focused on
the object for even a minute. In the beginning, it is helpful to
practice in numerous short sessions alternating with breaks. Do not
let the mind wander during the break, but instead recite a mantra,
or work with visualization, or work with another practice you may
know, such as the development of compassion. After the break, return
to the fixation practice. If you are ready to practice but do not
have the particular object you have been using, visualize a ball of
light on your forehead and center yourself there. The practice
should be done once or twice a day, and can be done more frequently
if you have the time. Developing concentration is like strengthening
the muscles of the body: exercise must be done regularly and
frequently. To become stronger keep pushing against your limits.
Keep the mind on the object. Do not follow the
thoughts of the past or the future. Do not allow the attention to be
carried away by fantasy, sound, physical sensation, or any other
distraction. Just remain in the sensuality of the present moment,
and with your whole strength and clarity focus the mind through the
eye, on the object. Do not lose the awareness of the object even for
a second. Breathe gently, and then more gently, until the sense of
breathing is lost. Slowly allow yourself to enter more deeply into
quiet and calm. Make certain that the body is kept relaxed; do not
tense up in concentration. Neither should you allow yourself to fall
into a stupor, a dullness, or a trance.
Do not think about the object, just let it be
in awareness. This is an important distinction to make. Thinking
about the object is not the kind of concentration we are developing.
The point is just to keep the mind placed on the object, on the
sense perception of the object, to undistractedly remain aware of
the presence of the object. When the mind does get distracted and it
often will in the beginning, gently bring it back to the object and
leave it there.
As stability is developed, the second stage of
practice is entered: natural zhine. In the first stage,
concentration is developed by continually directing the attention to
the object and developing control over the unruly mind. In the
second stage, the mind is absorbed in contemplation of the object
and there is no longer the need for force to hold it still. A
relaxed and pleasant tranquility is established, in which the mind
is quiet and thoughts arise without distracting the mind from the
object. The elements of the body become harmonized and the prana
moves evenly and gently throughout the body. This is an appropriate
time to move to fixation without an object.
Abandoning the physical object, simply fix the
focus on space. It is helpful to gaze into expansive space, like the
sky, but the practice can be done even in a small room by fixing on
the space between your body and the wall. Remain steady and calm.
Leave the body relaxed.
Rather than focusing on an imagined point in
space, allow the mind, while remaining in strong presence, to be
diffuse. We call this "dissolving the mind" in space, or "merging
the mind with space." It will lead to stable tranquility and the
third stage of zhine practice.
Whereas in the second stage there is still
some heaviness involved in the absorption in the object, the third
stage is characterized by a mind that is tranquil but light,
relaxed, and pliable. Thoughts arise and dissolve spontaneously and
without effort. The mind is integrated fully with its own movement.
In the Dzogchen tradition,
this is traditionally when the master introduces the student to the
natural state of mind. Because the student has developed zhine, the
master can point to what the student has already experienced rather
than describing a new state that must be attained. The explanation,
which is known as the "pointing out" instruction, is meant to lead
the student to recognize what is already there, to discriminate the
moving mind in thought and concept from the nature of mind, which is
pure, non-dual awareness. This is the ultimate stage of zhine
practice, abiding in non-dual presence, rigpa (awareness) itself.
In developing the zhine practice, there are three obstacles that
must be overcome: agitation, drowsiness, and laxity.
Agitation causes the mind to jump restlessly from one thought to
another and makes concentration difficult. To prevent this, calm
yourself before the practice session by avoiding too much physical
or mental activity. Slow stretches may help to relax the body and
quiet the mind. Once you are sitting, take a few deep, slow breaths.
Make it a practice to focus the mind immediately when you start the
practice to avoid developing the habit of mentally wandering while
sitting in meditation posture.
The second obstacle is drowsiness or sleepiness, which moves into
the mind like a fog, a heaviness and torpor that blunts awareness.
When it does this, try to strengthen the mind's focus on the object
in order to penetrate the drowsiness. You may find that drowsiness
is actually a kind of movement of the mind that you can stop with
strong concentration. If this does not work, take a break, stretch,
and perhaps do some practice while standing.
obstacle is laxity. When encountering this obstacle you may feel
that your mind is calm, but in a passive, weak mental state in which
the concentration has no strength. It is important to recognize this
state for what it is. It can be a pleasant and relaxed experience
and, if mistaken for correct meditation, may cause the practitioner
to spend years mistakenly cultivating it, with no discernable change
in the quality of consciousness. If your focus loses strength and
your practice becomes lax, straighten your posture and wake up your
mind. Reinforce the attention and guard the stability of presence.
Regard the practice as something precious, which it is, and as
something that will lead to the attainment of the highest
realization, which it will. Strengthen the intention and
automatically the wakefulness of the mind is strengthened.
practice should be done every day until the mind is quiet and
stable. It is not only a preliminary practice, but is helpful at any
point in the practitioner's life; even very advanced yogis practice
zhine. The stability of mind developed through zhine is the
foundation of dream yoga and all other meditation practices. Once we
have achieved a strong and reliable steadiness in calm presence, we
can develop this steadiness in all aspects of life. When stable,
this presence can always be found, and we will not be carried away
by thoughts and emotions. Then, even though karmic traces continue
to produce dream images after falling asleep, we remain in
awareness. This opens the door to the further practices of both
dream and sleep yogas.
Note: The extracts contained here are for
personal use only, and may not be reproduced for commercial
(These are excerpts from
two different Dzogchen Dream Yoga books -
"Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural light" by Namkhai Norbu and
"The Tibetan yogas of dream and Sleep" by Tenzin Wangyal
To print : ZHINE TIBETAN DREAM YOGA
- PART 1
To read more on this subject click on this line "Teachings in
You can also read on this website:
*Importance of Dreams in the Mystical Process
* Guideline to Dream Interpretation
List of Excerpts taken
from the Eastern Philosophical Books