Your local class will introduce a variety of special meditation techniques including contemplation and placement meditation, and visualisation.
Contemplation and placement meditation
We begin by contemplating the meaning of a Dharma instruction that we have heard or read. We do this by considering various lines of reasoning, contemplating analogies, and reflecting on the teachings. By deeply contemplating the instruction, eventually we reach a conclusion or cause a specific virtuous state of mind to arise. This is the object of placement meditation. We then concentrate on the object single-pointedly for as long as possible to become deeply acquainted with it.
For example, if we are meditating on compassion we begin by contemplating the various sufferings experienced by living beings until a strong feeling of compassion arises in our heart. When this compassion arises we meditate on it single-pointedly. If the feeling of compassion fades, or if our mind wanders to another object, we should return to the contemplation to bring it back to mind. When the feeling has been restored we once again leave our contemplation and hold our compassion in placement meditation.
This kind of meditation is immensely valuable in our daily life because it enables us to deal with difficult situations by developing peaceful and constructive states of mind.
VisualisationSometimes the teacher will introduce simple visualisation techniques. For example, the following simple visualization is practiced in conjunction with a breathing meditation. When we have settled down comfortably we begin by becoming aware of the thoughts and distractions that are arising in our mind. Then we gently turn our attention to our breath, letting its rhythm remain normal.
As we breathe out we imagine that we are breathing away all disturbing thoughts and distractions in the form of black smoke that vanishes in space. As we breathe in we imagine that we are breathing in blessings and inspiration in the form of white light that enters our body and absorbs into our heart. We maintain this visualisation single-pointedly with each inhalation and exhalation for twenty-one rounds, or until our mind has become peaceful and alert.
If we concentrate on our breathing in this way, negative thoughts and distractions will temporarily disappear. At this stage our mind is like a clean white cloth which we can now colour with a virtuous motivation such as compassion.