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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
88 Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner's QuarTerly guo gu 89 to default to our habitual tendency to blame objects “out there” for disturbing us. To short-circuit this tension, I teach progressive relax- ation, using sensation as a guide to scan the body, section by section. From head to toe, we recognize the tension and relax each part as a foundation for meditation. In doing so, we learn to embody and integrate the Yogacara insight and avoid being in our heads. This method can also be used anytime we experience tension, whether psychological or physical. When our bodies are relaxed, our breath becomes calmer, and the presence of craving will naturally dissipate. Only then can the negative mental factor be transformed, allowing the wholesome factor to be. When we can do this, we are ready to return to our method of practice without getting caught up with the object of our distraction. The final step is freeing ourselves from vexations, or harmful mental conditionings. This ability develops over time through engag- ing in the above practice until it becomes second nature. The practice of recognizing, embracing, and transforming prepares us to relax our grip on our fixations, which is the first step to letting go. Once our grip is loosened, we give ourselves room for insight into the imag- ined, interconnected, and perfected nature of this moment. We are released. It’s important to familiarize and explore this on your own, as well as with a teacher. Begin gradually, practicing with only one or two mental factors for a couple of weeks. Then, move onto a few other factors for two more weeks, and so on. Practicing in this way brings Yogacara teachings to life. Not only will you deepen your meditation practice but the quality of your life will also improve. These teach- ings are nothing less than a means to discover your perfected nature within. too much concentration leads to a stagnant trance state, while too much focus stirs up wandering thoughts. only in the perfect equipoise of the two does one perceive self-nature, or emptiness, and realize awakening.