What to do AFTER meditation

The purpose of meditation is sattvava-jaya, literally, “triumphant clarity”. When we complete a meditation session, it is important to carry the effects into our daily life, so that mental clarity can be established in our everyday existence. Otherwise, we might feel some temporary peace, or some short-lived bliss, but the overwhelming preponderance of our post-meditation activities (both in terms of quantity and intensity) will wear away most benefits.

To maintain the benefits of meditation, it is important to consciously engage in post-meditation practices, in the beginning formally for some time after the meditation session. We can choose to practice these post-meditation components for one hour, three hours, one half day, an entire day, three days, a week, a fortnight, a month, three months, a semester, or a year. Any time segment that is feasible should be our starting point, and eventually we can make our post-meditation practice permanent, both during our waking hours and while asleep.

We can also choose to concentrate on one, two, or more of these practices at one time. It is advisable to at first focus on a practice that is challenging, but not impossible, such as labeling our thoughts (see 1.a below).

Abiding in the View 

  1. Examine the Three Actions
    1. Thoughts –examine your thoughts in terms of their helpfulness to the happiness of others. Label them, so as to gain some distance, as Helpful or Not Helpful. Cherish the Helpful thoughts and do not dwell on those that are Not Helpful.
    2. Words –examine your words in terms of truth content and kindness of expression. If truth cannot be expressed kindly, it is best to remain silent.
    3. Deeds –examine your deeds in terms of their benefit to self and others, both now and in their consequences
  2. Apply the Five Powers
    1. Motivation –cultivate determination to bring the qualities experienced during mediation to your daily life, in the certainty that such qualities will produce benefits both for yourself and others.
    2. Familiarity –practice regularly, so that the mind becomes habituated both to the meditation components and abiding in the view in post-meditation.
    3. Accumulation –perform positive actions (with thoughts, words, and deeds) that manifest wisdom, compassion, loving kindness, rejoicing in the welfare of others, and equanimity (awareness of natural perfection).
    4. Purification –scrutinize your thoughts, words, and deeds to determine if and when you may have acted in ways that are contrary to the qualities that you are trying to cultivate, and make amends whenever possible, at least in the mind.
    5. Aspiration and Dedication –constantly aspire to bring happiness to others, and dedicate any merit accrued by performing positive actions to the happiness of others.

 Compassionate Action 

  1. Observe the Ten Ethical Precepts
    1. Compassion –refrain from inflicting harm to any living being
    2. Truth –refrain from speaking untruth, and from speaking truth harshly
    3. Honesty –refrain from appropriating the resources meant for others
    4. Propriety –refrain from sexual misconduct (exploitative relations)
    5. Contentment –refrain from excessive accumulation and hoarding
    6. Purity –maintain cleanliness, both personally and in our environment
    7. Satisfaction –learn to appreciate what you have
    8. Enthusiasm –devote your energy to cultivation
    9. Self-study –remain mindful of your thoughts, words, and deeds
    10. Commitment –vow to attain the highest perfection conceivable 

2.      Manifest the Seven Natural Perfections (in thought, word, or deed, according to your capacity)

 i.     Heal the sick –provide loving care to those who are suffering

ii.     Nourish the young –seek to foster growth and maturation in others

iii.     Protect the weak –defend those who cannot defend themselves

iv.     Love the beautiful –appreciate the beauty of all entities

v.     Serve the good –contribute your time, talent, and treasure to those who are performing beneficial actions

vi.     Honor the wise –accept correction and guidance cheerfully

vii.     Align with the highest –dedicate yourself to your highest ideal

The purpose of post-meditation practices is to establish the gains attained in meditation in your daily life. Health and happiness are processes, not endpoints, and therefore require constant practice.

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
This entry was posted in Mind Training. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What to do AFTER meditation

  1. kevin says:

    Thank you for posting this. Now we must find a way to put it into practice !
    The Thangha image of Buddha Sakymuni is gorgeous , so clear , so blue
    Is it Chinese influenced ?

  2. sheshbhushan choudhary says:

    simple and accurate, it was nice to read

  3. Donavin says:

    Very useful knowledge here. Thanks for sharing my friend.

  4. Dawa says:

    Dear Dharma Brother, Thank you very much for this blog post. I read an article related to this few days ago. It caught my attention and intrigued me. Then I started a quick google search on post meditation of maintaining awarness/ mindfulness, and I stumbled upon your post. I really liked your post as well. I can relate to it and feel the importance of such practices. Please have a read what has been written by one western teacher I follow on facebook. And please can you suggest me books on meditation and post mediation? It could be either Mahamudra or Dzogchen related, but I am born buddhist, into Tibetan Buddhist influence. Please can you recommend me really good and books on, especailly like a practice guidbook or manual, pithy and practical…with scholor;y details as well. I will be forever indebted. it could be any books on these topics;
    1. Shamatha Mediation. 2. Vipassana 3. Maintaining awarness in daily life amidst daily activities. 4. Mindfulness. 5. Generating compassion. 6. View. 7. Understanding emptiness, duality, and middle way. 8. What is the Truth? 9. Perception and reality. Sorry I have covered many topics and it sounds stupid too, but I am just at crossroad of confusion and I am after solid foundation as well as proper practice. The articel which I talked about in the beginning of this is below.

    Meditation in Action
    One of the essential topics of Buddhism is how we make the transition from formal sitting meditation to what is called post-meditation, or ‘meditation in action’. In a best case scenario, there would be no distinction in terms of mindfulness and awareness. Your attention would remain in consummate clarity and steady focus right through the transition from sitting to the resumption of your worldly business. This, of course, rarely happens. In fact, many of us are barely competent to meditate in a retreat setting, and meditating in action is an order of magnitude harder than that! It requires a heroic level of effort to maintain mindfulness while your baby is screaming, or your spouse is falling down drunk, or your teenage daughter is announcing that she is quitting school because she is pregnant.
    Nonetheless, meditation in action is essential for anyone seeking to embody the enlightened activity of a buddha. It serves no purpose to be enlightened for one hour a day while sitting on a cushion and then spend the other twenty-three hours feeding the neurosis of samsaric mind. That is a losing battle. If you compartmentalize your spiritual practice like that, you are turning your Buddhism into a sort of band-aid religion – church on Sunday and ‘Mad Men’ the rest of the week, etcetera, etcetera. Well, Buddhism is not a religion; it is not a band-aid of any sort. Buddhism is your own spiritual awakening as a buddha. We need to acknowledge that and decide if we want to be a buddha or not.
    So, let’s look at this from the perspective of shamatha meditation. Let’s assume that you are using some form of hathayoga or anapanasati to tame the mind. Maybe you have reached the level of access concentration and can maintain a lovely state of jhāna for several minutes at a time. Perhaps you can even manage the second jhāna with no thoughts at all. That’s good. But then the gong rings signaling the end of the meditation session, and it is as if someone flipped a mental light switch. That switch turns off mindfulness and turns on social interaction in the blink of an eye. All the progress that you just made in liberating the thought-stream is utterly forgotten. Instantly, you fixate on some idea: i.e. you forgot to get the groceries, so there is nothing to cook for dinner. You need a dentist appointment. There is a report you need to write for tomorrow’s class, and all those e-mails waiting to be answered. And then you turn on your smart phone and the text messages come streaming into view, one after another. Mindfulness is out the window!
    So, where was the transition? Within fifteen seconds your mind was swept up in concepts about the past and future. Your present consciousness is completely obscured by a stream of memories, anxieties, and expectations. If you allow this to happen each time the gong rings, your formal meditation sessions are almost a waste of time. The only benefit is that one neurotic ego was out of commission for sixty minutes. Then the band-aid falls off and the suffering begins anew. That habit has to change. There has to be a conscious transition from meditation to post-meditation. What we are dealing with here is a sort of spiritual hypocrisy – a Jekyll and Hyde mentality. To overcome it you need a method by which the meditation cushion is symbolically welded to your posterior. Instead of ‘you’ sitting in the seven point posture of Vairocana, you need to become Vairocana. Whether you are sitting or not, you remain Vairocana, consciously aware in the present moment.
    In the Vajrayana traditions, the yidam visualization practices can be used to accomplish this transition, but you may not have access to those methods. Fortunately, there is a much simpler method taught by the Buddha himself, and that is to start with nama-rupa. Nama-rupa is Sanskrit for ‘name-form’. It is one of the key factors in the chain of dependent origination that sustains the ego. You can study this chain elsewhere, but for now, think of nama-rupa as the moment where you intercept a sensation through one of the six senses and give it a name. That’s what you normally do all day long. You sense a ‘form’ and give it a ‘name’. At that point you are reifying the sensation into your own concept and giving it a conceptual nametag. From that one seemingly innocuous act, you unleash the full force of a lifetime of karmic habituation.
    So, try this the next time you get up from sitting meditation. As the sensations begin to form, whether they are sounds or images or thoughts or physical pains, just let them be there, and don’t rush to give them a name. Maintain the attention on the breath just as before and allow the sensations to arise, dwell, and dissipate on their own. Let the space you found in meditation persist into the post-meditation situation. With practice you can even do this when someone speaks to you. You may appear a little ‘spacey’, but at the same time, you will mirror their own lack of awareness back at them. The more you practice this, the more you will realize that without nama-rupa, the five kleśas no longer have an energy source. There is a hint of liberation in that situation. You are no longer swimming upstream; you are flowing with the stream. This is revolutionary; it represents real progress toward enlightened activity. It is a sort of metamorphosis. Your inner butterfly is beginning to emerge from the chrysalis of ego. You are no longer an ignorant caterpillar bumping into misadventure, but able to see the world from a butterfly’s point of view. You are observing things without any need to name them. This means that you can deal with things as they are, rather than distorting them through the filters of your culture. From the caterpillar’s point of view, you would seem to have developed a ‘Divine Eye’. In fact, that’s what Gautama Buddha called it. So, the next time you do sitting meditation, ask yourself a question:
    “What do I want to accomplish by this sitting practice. After I sit, will I rejoin the droning of the human behive, or retain the Divine Eye.”
    Then, leave yourself a little note under your cushion. Just write one word on it, ‘nama-rupa’.
    Tonpa Jon at Nagi Naljor in the year of the Fire Monkey, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s