How to Resume Meditation Practice After a Long Break and How to Practice the Bhavananuyutta Sutta (Mental Development Discourse) (Q&A Session December’22)

Duration 46:50

Questions answered during our Q&A session:

2:49 I have been thinking of the topic of preparing the mind, in the sense of the bodhipakkhiya dhammā, for meditation and hopefully, enlightenment. As you know, being a secular Buddhist, I am agnostic when it comes to metaphysics and my aim is to be more enlightened in this world and this life. In the Bhāvanānuyutta sutta (Mental Development Discourse) the Buddha is recorded as saying: ‘Monks, although a monk who does not apply himself to the meditative development of his mind may wish, “Oh, that my mind might be free from the taints by non-clinging!”, yet his mind will not be freed. For what reason? “Because he has not developed his mind,” one has to say. Not developed it in what? In the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right kinds of striving, the four bases of success, the five spiritual faculties, the five spiritual powers, the seven factors of enlightenment and the Noble Eightfold Path.’ This amounts to something like Seven sets of thirty-seven qualities!

My questions are: How does one practically do all of this seemingly enormous amount of work?! What are the most important factors to work at first and how does one practice them during the day? The week? Or maybe spread out through the year? Is one’s meditation still valid if one is at the very beginning of the work of acquiring these qualities?

33:43 I had been in this group for quite some time in the past. I developed my meditation practice and was able to tame my monkey mind and make great progress! I went through a very difficult situation for the course of a few years caring for my mother and let go of my practice. Now that she has passed, I’m having great difficulty sitting in meditation. I’ve found that coming up with a ritual prior to my practice (things like burning Palo Santo wood, Tibetan Singing Bowls, etc) has assisted me with focus during my actual practice. Also, I’ve been playing soft ambient noise during my meditations. Is it okay to do these things to help tame this restlessness of the mind? Is there anything else I can do, any tips or tricks, to break through this beginning stage of meditation? I am feeling frustrated, as this practice is much more difficult than it used to be for me. Every mundane thing possible floods my mind, especially without some sort of ritual or sound or smell.