An hourlong guided meditation on the breath and pleasant sensations in the body, by Michael Taft for the San Francisco Dharma Collective.
Often Michael’s guided meditations begin with 15 minutes of shamatha (focus and relaxation) before moving on the the main meditation. However, in this program Michael shows how to develop the shamatha practice much more deeply.
Followed by a Q&A session.
Often practitioners lean on the concentration aspect of shamatha too intensely. Attempting to concentrate by forcing it works for a short time, but it creates a focus that is both unstable and also limited in its depth. To stabilize concentration requires a very soft touch with the efforting. Stable concentration can then go much deeper.
It’s also important to remember that there are two aspects to shamatha, the other of which is relaxation or peace. An often-neglected doorway into deeper shamatha is to actually allow yourself to enjoy the sensations of peace and relaxation in the body. As the body relaxes, opens, and softens, a much more natural and subtle concentration becomes possible. This is, in fact, the doorway to jhana.
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