Meditation is the way to go deeper into ourselves. In our daily lives, we remain mainly on the surface level of our mind. The mind is constantly changing and is distracted by our various thoughts and mental states which separate us from who we really are. One of the aims of meditation is to reduce the waves of our thoughts in order to be more calm and relaxed. It is a way of expanding our consciousness to bring us closer to our true nature.
Many meditation techniques exist in Buddhism in general and in particular in Tibetan Buddhism with its Tantric teachings. It is not always easy to find one's way around and to understand the diversity of these many methods. Nevertheless, all the different meditation techniques can be classified into two types of meditation.
The first type of meditation is called Shiné (or Shamata in Sanskrit) and includes many techniques that aim to develop concentration or a single-pointed state of mind. With these types of meditations we begin to sharpen our mind and make it more functional. We begin to be able to tell our mind what we want it to do and not the other way around. The aim is for our mind to serve us and not for us to remain slaves to the mind. In this way, our mind becomes our faithful companion, both in everyday life and on our spiritual path.
Usually, the concentration of the mind is developed by directing our attention to an object of meditation that has been chosen beforehand. This object may be external (such as a Buddha statue or a black stone) or it may be internal (such as our breath or a visualisation). It is then a matter of keeping the mind's attention on the meditation object like a laser, sharp, stable, clear and intense. To achieve this mastery, the mind must be neither too tense nor too relaxed, like the strings of a guitar producing a beautiful melody.
The second type of meditation is called Laktong (or Vipassana in Sanskrit) and refers to meditation techniques that aim to contemplate different subjects in order to develop more wisdom or more heart qualities. It is not enough to make our mind more functional. We must also try to get closer to the reality of our existence in order to gradually come out of our illusions. By meditating on impermanence, for example, we can become more realistic about our lives and start to live more meaningfully without wasting our time. And by meditating on interdependence, we become aware that our entire existence is intimately connected to others, which allows us to understand why Buddhism considers love and compassion to be emotions based on reason, as opposed to anger, which is based on an illusion of our ego. Certain meditation techniques in Tantrayana Buddhism allow us to develop our wisdom without necessarily having to engage in conceptual contemplations.
"So far, we do not control the mind, the mind controls us"
Tulku Lobsang Rinpoché