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Part 1 in Body Series

Updated: May 24, 2023

Note: I will post articles in this series that parallel what we are studying and practicing in the weekly Tuesday online meetings.

Cultivating Calm

The body is an excellent vehicle for cultivating calm. This is due, in part, to the body's inherent ability to calm itself. When it is not agitated through outer stimuli, the body is generally calm. Like a lake that grows calm and still when the wind stops blowing, we simply need to give the body the supportive conditions and calm will arise. These conditions are none other than the conditions we foster in our formal sitting practice.

As the body becomes calm, it generally feels better--even pleasant at times. This supports the attention to want to stay with it. We like pleasant feelings and can use this habit of mind to our advantage in meditation. To the degree that the attention stays with the somatic experience of calm body, the Citta (heart/mind) begins to pick up that signal. It too begins to calm. In addition, while the attention is connected to the somatic experience of the calm body, the mind is not filled with random thoughts, stories and machinations. The lack of these things creates a further calming effect on the Citta (the wind stops blowing and the lake calms). As the Citta calms, the body responds and calms further (the body and the Citta are deeply sympathetic to one another). This in turn helps the attention to want to stay with the pleasant, calm body even more, and the process of cultivating calm deepens organically in this way.

Ajahn Sucitto says, “Train the mind with the body.” If we want to calm the Citta, the place to start is with the body. We give the Citta something wholesome and calming to pay attention to. It temporarily stops rushing out into the world of sense impressions for nourishment, as it finds proper nourishment through connecting with the somatic experience of calm body. It starts to learn where home and happiness actually are.

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