I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “dharma” lately. It keeps popping up in books I’ve been reading, or more and more frequently I will hear someone say, “oh I’m following my dharma”, in reference to some job or project they are doing that is in service or their passion! I always took it to mean “a spiritual path”, some divine course of action. It seemed that following one’s “dharma”, was something special, and one would be lucky to find it in this life. That’s a nice set up for never feelings satisfied until we find our “dharma”, it seemed something to achieve, to aspire to, to compete with, not at all a very spiritual pursuit.

So I decided rather than skimming over it for the 100th time, assuming I understood it’s meaning, I would look it up! Here’s what I found;
Noun – Hindu or Buddhist
1. Virtue
2. Religion
3. Essential quality of one’s own nature

The first two seemed very straightforward, but the last one, that really jumped out at me. What intrigued me was that it meant we ALL have it already, there is nowhere to go, no secret path that only a special few will find. It is OUR OWN TRUE NATURE!

Meditation is a wonderful path to recognizing it, or what some refer to as ‘a practice of waking up and remembering ourselves’, by getting quiet enough to experience it just as it is. The first steps of meditation we learn to practice listening to and paying attention to this nature. We focus on the breath, the vibrations and sensations of the body, sounds and smells. Then there is THINKING of course, that never-ending internal monologue commenting on everything whether important or not! This one derails us constantly, it is the thing that most gets in the way of experiencing our true nature and focuses on our conditioning instead. It is a case of Nature vs. Nurture, if you will. All of our thinking and behavior are reactions to what is happening at any given moment. But do we have to think; do we have to act on every thought? What if we just took another breath, and waited it out and shifted our focus back onto the nature of our own being, breathing, and heart beating.

Perhaps we would notice that we are separate from the stuff happening around us and in our thinking mind, and get more in touch with what is happening within. We have a perfectly harmonious heartbeat, a sublimely balanced breath, even our brainwaves are relatively nonplussed, but for the reactions to outer stimuli. What is this quality that underlies all the stimulus and reactions? As you practice meditation, know that it is the path home, to the QUALITY OF YOUR OWN TRUE NATURE, the DHARMA, and all you have to do is sit there!!

The Practice –

Find a comfortable sitting position. You can have your back supported and cushions to raise your hips higher than your knees to alleviate any back pain. Let your hands rest softly palms down on your thighs and take a deep breath in through the nose, noticing what it feels like. Does it take an effort, is your nose clogged or clear? Then breathe very slowly out of your mouth, blowing softly through parted lips and noticed the sensations as the air comes through the skin. Do this 3 times to start your practice, it is a signal to the brain and the nervous system that you are going in!

Allow the breath to move in and out of the nostrils and notice all the qualities of the breath, the temperature, where it touches inside the nasal cavity and throat as it moves into the body. And how different it is going back out. Concentrate your attention here for a few breaths, then move the breath down into your legs and feel the weight of them, see if you can let go a bit. Move the breath and awareness into your torso, softening the belly, the heart and the shoulders as you move upwards, noticing the tendency toward tension as you go. Feel the difference between your natural state of rest vs. your conditioned state of tension. Soften the jaw and slightly lower your chin and let your eyes roll down either gazing softly at the floor or closing them. Feel your scalp, the back of your neck, your ears and hair. All of this awareness is there, whenever you choose to focus on it instead of getting carried away by thoughts. If you do get carried away, which you will, as the mind is simply doing the job you conditioned it to do, just bring yourself back by saying silently to yourself, “remember me” and touch in on the breath and body again. You can deepen your awareness by noticing sounds and smells as well, always lightly returning from your wandering mind to your natural state, your own true nature, your dharma!

Practice for 3-18 minutes, whatever works for you and try it daily if you can and let me know how it goes!!

Wishing you peace along your way –

Lori with a little OM at Home