Friday, 28 January 2011

Dzogchen approach

"Dzogchen approaches everything from the perspective of the primordial nondual state"

p12, Moving Being, Khandro Déchen, Aro Books worldwide, 2009, 978-1-898185-05-5

Friday, 21 January 2011

Continually becoming a Buddhist

"Becoming a Buddhist is a process of continually becoming a Buddhist – of continually breaking through limitations and conditioned perception."

p86, Rays of the Sun, Ngakpa Chögyam, Aro Books worldwide, 2010, 978-1-898185-06-2

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Relaxing into Meditation : Review by Lopön Ögyan Tanzin Rinpoche

We are delighted to hear from Zorba Publishers that they have received a review of Relaxing into Meditation from Lopön Ögyan Tanzin Rinpoche.  He wrote the foreword to Ngakma Nor'dzin's first book, Spacious Passion, and it is wonderful to receive his endorsement of her second book.  Many thanks to him

Lopön Rinpoche's Review:

In Relaxing into Meditation, Ngakma Nor’dzin, an English-born Buddhist lama with many years’ experience teaching meditation in community education, takes her readers on a journey, a journey of self-discovery through greater openness and awareness.

As she points out in her introduction, many people come to meditation seeking relaxation and relief from the stress of daily life. However, the discipline required to practise meditation may itself seem incompatible with such a goal. Furthermore, trying to learn meditation at times of great personal strain, as often happens when people approach the subject after facing bereavement, illness or other problems, may prove difficult. That is why she begins the book by introducing her readers to various techniques of relaxation, such as tensing and relaxing different parts of the body, using the experiences of listening to music or of singing, and breathing exercises. Other methods, such as gazing at a candle flame or singing sacred syllables, are gradually introduced in order to enhance the practice and as a transition to meditation per se. Indeed, it is only out of a state of profound relaxation of body and mind that the fruits of meditation can ultimately be reaped.

Meditation as understood here has nothing particularly exotic about it, but is rather a simple way of developing greater awareness and mindfulness. As the author notes, we can thereby learn to step aside and take a look at the roller coaster of our lives, or else enjoy riding the roller coaster with keener awareness. Here, readers are taught to let go of the thoughts arising in their mind. The meditation progresses from first counting the out-breaths to merely focusing on the out-breath until one engages with formless practice.

Other methods explained in this book include meditation on loving kindness and sounding and visualizing a white A syllable. Visualization is indeed a powerful method of meditation, as it allows one to transform the mind. The author is right to emphasize that it is necessary not just to have a mental image, but indeed to have a felt awareness of the deity visualized. For all these meditation exercises, our body’s posture is a great support in our practice, so that an entire chapter is devoted to the subject. Generally speaking, the posture should enable us to engage with the practice in a way that is relaxed yet alert. Meditation cushions and belt can be helpful in this regard, and the book contains several appendices with practical instructions to fabricate them.

Rather than being a dry scholarly treatment of the subject, it is that of an adept who shares her own experience and know-how with her readers – it is certain that this hands-on approach will be much appreciated by practitioners. Of course, in learning an art as profound and subtle as meditation, a book, however well written, cannot act as a replacement for a living teacher, who will guide students according to their particular needs and faculties. However, this book, written in clear and simple prose, certainly provides a useful starting point for beginners interested in learning meditation. The wealth of methods it offers may also serve as a memory-aid to more advanced practitioners.

Approached as a technique for well-being, meditation no doubt may help us find a greater sense of peace and fulfilment in our lives. But as a method of spiritual development, it can yield far profounder benefits, ranging from the physical through the emotional and intellectual to the spiritual: it can indeed allow us to tap into our deepest human potential and uncover the spacious and luminous nature of our mind.

Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin (Ogyan Chokhor Ling, Sarnath, Varanasi, India).


Ven. Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche Biography

Ven. Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche is a Nyingma Vajrayana master, the director of Lhundrup Topgye Ling Ngakpa Dratsang School (in Arunachal Pradesh, India) and the spiritual director of Ogyan Chokhor Ling (the European sangha of his personal students). He is an inspiring teacher with extraordinary gifts of communication and a rare subtlety of expression in English which allows fine detail of meaning to be nailed with great simplicity.

http://www.namchabarwa.org/biography.htm






Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Relaxing into Meditation : Feature in Asana Journal

Asana, an international Yoga journal, have published an article on Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin in their January 2011 edition:

Relaxing into meditation teaches how to live contentedly with a sense of well-being.  We discover spacious peace of mind even when our life circumstances are far from ideal.  Relaxation teaches us how to relax the body and meditation teaches us how to relax the mind.  We discover that total relaxation of body and mind is our natural condition.

1. Relaxing the body.

Stress and unhappiness manifest in the body, so we begin by relaxing our muscles.  We can achieve this by systematically tensing muscle groups throughout the body and then relaxing the tension on the out-breath.  We can stretch the body and move into various postures, relaxing as we breathe out.

2. Relaxing the breath

When we are agitated our breathing becomes faster and more shallow.  When we slow and deepen our breathing we become calmer.  We can harness awareness of the out-breath through visualising tension streaming out of the body as we breath out; and we can cleanse the breath through alternate nostril breathing.

3. Relaxing the voice

When we are happy we may spontaneously burst into song, but it is hard to sing when we are sad or stressed.  We can therefore learn to relax through free energetic sound.  We can sing yogic syllables and give ourselves permission to make as much noise as we wish without caring about the harmony or disharmony of our voice.  We sing the sound Ahhhhhh for the length of an out-breath and release energetic tension with the sound.

4. Ready for meditation

Having relaxed the body we wish to retain this sense of comfort and calm when we start to meditate.  It is therefore essential to find a sitting posture for meditation in which we can be relaxed but alert.  Relaxing the mind is more difficult than relaxing the body so we want to be as physically comfortable as possible so that the body does not distract the mind.  The body should be upright, balanced and unrestricted.  The spine should be erect but relaxed. The body should be balanced and not twisted or placed in a position that requires effort to maintain.  Blood needs to flow freely to all parts of the body and in particular to the limbs without constriction or pressure.

5. Relaxing the mind

Meditation relaxes the mind through letting go of thought to experience mind without thought. Thought is an intricate conceptual mesh that surrounds the still deep quietness of empty mind and acts as a filter for everything that we experience.  To relax the mind we need to loosen and let go of this mesh in order to discover and understand mind when it is no longer defined by thought.  Thought is a natural process of mind but thought is not the essence of mind.  We can only discover ultimate relaxation if we learn to become familiar and comfortable in the empty essence of the nature of mind.  We begin by using the breath as a focus and letting go of thought as we breath out.  Over time we can let go of the breath as a focus and simply let go of thought whenever it arises.  Gradually spaciousness develops in the mind and it becomes easy to dwell in the space of mind without thought.

6. Daily practice

Learning to let go of thought and relax the mind requires commitment and effort. Meditating every day gradually allows the mind to settle and let go of thought, and increases our capacity to concentrate and experience spaciousness of mind.  It is more productive to meditate for a short period every day than it is to meditate for a longer period more occasionally.  The length of our daily practice must be realistic and easily achievable so that it does not become a burden or a chore.  Ten minutes of meditation a day is all that is required for meditation to  become a life skill that is simply part of who we are.  At first we will continually lose our focus and we may find this frustrating, but we must not develop self-deprecation.  Whenever we realise that we have lost concentration we must celebrate this as a moment of re-emerging awareness.   To recognise loss of awareness is to have regained awareness.  Over time a commitment to practising Letting Go every day will produce startling results.  We will start to understand our relationship with thought and develop increased awareness.  We will start to feel more relaxed about who we are.  We will start to feel less pressured by our life circumstances.  We will begin to let go of self-centredness and find joy in being kind to others.

7. Further practice

When we have established a daily practice of Letting Go we can experiment with contemplative practices that change our ordinary view.  We can examine our relationship with others through looking at how we interact with a friend, an enemy and a stranger.  We can practise purification visualisation to discover clarity, and we can practise methods of developing loving kindness to enrich ourselves and develop openness and generosity.  

Through relaxing the body we feel refreshed and invigorated.  Through relaxing the mind we discover openness and clarity.  Over time the moments of experience of mind without thought will lengthen and occur more frequently and this spaciousness of mind will start to sparkle in our everyday lives.  We will start to notice our habit patterns and cease to be their victim.  We will discover that we have a choice about who we are and how we live our lives.  We will discover emotion as naked energy and sensory experience will become enlivened.  We will find that we become more open, patient, tolerant and kind people through the spaciousness of mind we have realised.  We discover open appreciation and enjoyment and awaken to our natural state of well-being.



Ngakma Nor'dzin is the author of Relaxing into Meditation, published by Aro Books worldwide, ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8.  It is published in India by Zorba Publishers.  For more information contact geetugoel@zorbapublishers.com It is also available at all leading bookstores. For more information please see the book's web page http://bit.ly/nrprim

Relaxing into Meditation : Review by metafuzzy

"As a Buddhist who now leads meditation sessions , I often read around the subject looking for different ways of presenting the material to a range of people. Ngakma Nordzin's experience and understanding of technique and potential result is evident on every page of her book and she presents the material with clarity. One of the aspects of her writing that I appreciate is that it is informed yet simple and spacious. Her style reinforces the concept that she expresses about the importance of relaxing, both physically and mentally. This is often neglected in books on the subject and is particularly helpful. I recommend it as a core text for interested students and experienced practitioners alike."

Relaxing into Meditation Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

metafuzzy reviewed Relaxing into Meditation on Amazon.co.uk  (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A3L8EF43N80SG4/)




Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide.

Friday, 14 January 2011

An act of kindness

"An act of kindness enables us to side-step our attachment to the past and future. It is a moment out; a day off; a holiday from me-centred concerns – and, as such, it can be lived vividly moment by moment."

p67, Rays of the Sun, Ngakpa Chögyam, Aro Books worldwide, 2010, 978-1-898185-06-2

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

How to Meditate : Feature in the Western Mail

The Western Mail—a South Wales newspaper—features a ‘how to . . . ’ article in their Lifestyle section every Tuesday. This week they featured an edited version of Ngakma Nor'dzin's advice on How to Meditate.

how to


… meditate

Think meditation's for cheese cloth-wearing hippies with too much time on their hands? Making it part of everyday, says Cardiff-based Buddhism teacher Ngakma Nor'dzin, is one of the easiest ways to combat stress. And all you need is 10 minutes...

relax the body

Either lying down or sitting in a chair systematically tense muscle groups throughout the body and then breathe away tension on the out-breath.

Tense the arms and then relax them as you breathe out. Tense the hands and then relax them as you breathe out. Then do the same with the legs and feet.

Next move to the shoulders tensing them forwards and then relaxing, backwards and then relaxing, and bringing them up to your ears and then relaxing. Always relax on the out-breath.

Then follow the same procedure with the stomach muscles and then the buttock muscles, tensing and relaxing. Finally stretch the neck muscles relaxing into the stretch on the out-breath: gently roll the neck first to the left and then to the right; lift the head back to stretch the neck under the chin, and then bring your chin to your chest to stretch the back of the neck

Tip your head first to the left and then to the right trying to bring your ear to your shoulder to stretch the sides of the neck. Relax into the stretch on the out-breath.

Repeat this process of tense and relaxing until your body feels heavy and relaxed and your breathing is slow and regular.

sit comfortably

Once your body is relaxed and your breathing calm, you are ready to move into meditation. Slowly and gradually adjust your posture so that you are sitting with the back upright, the body supported, and in a position that the blood can flow freely around your body.

meditate

Meditate by bringing your attention to your breathing, particularly noticing the out-breath. As you breathe out let go of thought – let go of whatever is in your mind.

If you find this difficult count the out-breaths from 1 up to 21 and then back down to 1. If you get lost in a thought—from planning your next shopping trip, revisiting a memory to going over a problem at work—just let it go on the next out-breath.

Gradually it will become easier to let go of thought and remain focused, and you will start to experience moments of mind without thought.

practise

Get into the habit of this meditation of letting go of thought for ten minutes every day and you will start to discover a real quality of mind when it is no longer dominated and defined by thought.

Thought is a natural process of mind but thought is not the essence of mind. The nature of mind is spacious, clarity, and when it is discovered in meditation it will start to sparkle in everyday life.

Meditate every day for just ten minutes and you will become more open, patient, tolerant and kind through the spaciousness of mind you have discovered.

Ngakma Nor'dzin's new book, Relaxing into Meditation, published by Aro Books worldwide is available from www.amazon.co.uk



Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Relaxing into Meditation : Review by David Michie

David Michie, author of Enlightenment to Go & The Magician of Lhasa has written this endorsement of Relaxing into Meditation:

"This is a wonderfully insightful and practical meditation manual!  In a world filled with meditation starters, Ngakma's book stands out for all the right reasons.  It provides a comprehensive curriculum of meditation practices suitable for groups and individuals of a wide variety of types and temperaments.  Her suggestions are based on some of the most powerful methods of personal transformation available, which she describes with great warmth and simplicity.  Don't be deceived by the gentleness of this book: if you practice even half of what it contains, it will change your life!"

Read about David Michie and his books on his website : http://www.davidmichie.com/



Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Ngakma Nor'dzin on Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions

Ngakma Nor'dzin was featured on the Toginet Radio show The Way of the Toddler Hour on Tuesday, 4th January 2011, in a slot on Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions.

The entire programme is available online here: http://toginet.com/podcasts/  - look for the 4th January recording of The Way of the Toddler Hour.  The direct link to the recording is : http://toginet.com/podcasts/thewayofthetoddlerhour/TheWayofTheToddlerHourLIVE_2011-01-04.mp3

Ngakma Nor'dzin's talk begins at time index 4:40

Here is an excerpt:

"I would like to suggest that we resolve to begin a daily practice of meditation in 2011. This is something we can do with our children. Daily meditation enables the development of greater awareness and this can bring lasting fulfilment and happiness. Developing awareness illuminates the patterns that dominate our lives that cause us to feel unhappy and dissatisfied. Through regular meditation practice increased clarity begins to sparkle through into our everyday life and we become happier and more fulfilled. Through being happier and more fulfilled we become kinder people. Through becoming kinder people we bring happiness to those around us. Meditation practice—just ten minutes every day—has the potential to benefit everyone and everything everywhere."

The full text is on Ngakma Nor'dzin's blog: http://ngakma-nordzin.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-year-radio.html

Karmic law is directly consequential

"Awareness means relinquishing the police state of karmic-vision and assuming personal responsibility. Karma is the sum total of our perception in all its excruciating intricacy. The ‘Law of Karma’ is different from externally enforced societal law, because ‘karmic law’ is directly consequential and self-implementing. We perceive the world in a certain way, and react to it in accordance with that style of perception. That is what is meant by karma. There’s no injustice in this kind of ‘law’ apart from the injustice to the nondual state perpetrated by karmic patterning."

p51, Rays of the Sun, Ngakpa Chögyam, Aro Books worldwide, 2010, 978-1-898185-06-2

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Moving Being : Review by Sergio Dubois

"The illustrated handbook of Tibetan yogic exercises – Moving Being by Khandro Déchen – introduces readers to the principle and function of a vital set of exercises called sKu-mNyé. As both a formal Vajrayana student, spiritual friend of several Nyingma Lamas, and a practitioner of Qi Gong and Tai Qi, I find these practices situated at the crossroads of several of my life passions – where stillness of motion and the motion of stillness fuse into absolute experiences of the nature of mind.

For Tai Qi and Qi Gong students like myself, implicit instruction in modern schools frequently lacks illuminating clarity in the Taoist fundamentals of the practices. Khandro Déchen beautifully and brilliantly establishes the foundations of Dzogchen Longdé from which this Tibetan yogic practice arises in a way that stands as its own treatise on the subject. The student may go forward with the implicit practice instructions within the rich context of a very lucid and clear understanding of the principles from which the functions of the practice are made possible.

Several components of sKu-mNyé are extraordinarily effective. Gazing and the practice of circling the gaze facilitate the emphasis on “focusing in space”. I have found that these “massages” of the optical sense field have a particularly amazing effect in combination with the other moving elements of the practice. Supine meditation posture (lying down immediately after each exercise, for up to three times as long as the exercise) is where the real magic of the practice is experienced. In the period immediately after practice, profound experiences (nyams and Zap-nyams) occur in the “meteorological” space around the body as these energies appear to move both towards and away from the “central channel” – the space of our being.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in Tantric Buddhism, enjoys Yoga, or practices any of the inner martial arts such as Qi Gong or Tai Qi. I feel my life as a student in several of these areas is vastly enriched by the beneficial teachings offered in this book. As I continue my preliminary study with only the book, I enthusiastically look forward to receiving transmission and instructions for these teachings from authorized teachers and adopting this as a principle yogic exercise practice in this lifetime."



Sergio DuBois is a senior practitioner of Tai Chi and Qi Gong and of meditation from the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. Beginning in the nineties, Sergio studied Tai Chi outer forms in the Taoist school of Master Moy Lin-shin, and studied Baduanjin ("Eight Pieces of Brockade") inner form Qigong in the school of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. Shortly after the turn of the century, Sergio was introduced to buddhism through an auspicious spiritual friendship with Getsulma Ani Pema Chödrön, and became a formal student of Dzigar Kongtül Rinpoche, her teacher and a Lama of the Longchen Nyingthig lineage from the Nyingma tradition. Currently, as a senior systems architect with EMC², Sergio aspires to living as a Ngagpa (a non-monastic, house-holding lay practitioner of Vajrayana) bringing a rich life with his wife and sons to the path of realization and self-liberation for the widest and greatest benefit possible.




Moving Being by Khandro Déchen
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-05-5 http://bit.ly/kdtmbx

Available from Lulu.com

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Relaxing into Meditation : Review in Spiritual Lounge magazine

The Indian magazine Spiritual Lounge have reviewed Relaxing into Meditation in their January 2011 edition [PDF]:


As a Buddhist teacher and a community education tutor Ngakma Nor'dzin has been teaching meditation for long. The book Relaxing into Meditation has been the product of all the years of teaching. The book is a no-frills, 'How to' guide to meditation that looks at a typical group meditation scenario.

Nor'dzin starts of with the techniques, which allow the students to arrive at a starting point to meditation. There are chapters on the best position for meditation, the technique of breathing with alternate nostril, the skill of just 'listening in', the essential breathing patterns and the actual posture while meditating etc.

Nor'dzin also makes a special mention of singing that the students should undertake in a group. She says, “Our voices are an energetic aspect of who we are. The sounds we make are 'material' in that they affect our senses, but their 'materiality' is intangible. Our voice is the intangible and energetic link between our mind and our body – between our insubstantial being and our substantial being. Practices using the voice help us become keenly aware of the power of this energetic communication.” She would advise practitioners to look at singing as a tool to relaxation, to let go of their inhibitions that might hold some back.

The book also carries a gentle warning against sitting in a room with incense sticks burning when the students are engaging in breathing exercises. The resulting deeper breaths will mean smoke is inhaled deeply into the lungs and will lead to coughing. For today's several New Age enthusiasts who are more concerned about the props that accompany any such practice, this advice should come handy.

Nor'dzin's writing is practical and, as she takes you through the steps, all of it seems like the most natural thing to do. I particularly liked the chapter on 'Walking Meditation' which is not very commonly known and which uses the physical process of walking as the focus instead of the breath.

Another interesting concept is the meditation that involves analytical contemplation and visualisation. It involves dwelling on a subject and attempting to deeply penetrate the essence of that subject in order to discover our preconceptions, our prejudices and our habitual views. The meditation 'Friend, Enemy, Stranger' looks at our concepts and feelings around people we like, people we do not get along with, and people with whom we have no personal connection. Writes Nor'dzin, “Our view is the basis of all our expectations of life, our interpretations of circumstances, and our responses to the experiences we encounter in our lives. Our view governs how we are as people in the world and causes us to create an inter-penetrating network of reference points.” She claims offer us an opportunity to look at our entrenched viewpoints and can unlock our previously closely held points of view.

The book also explains how meditation helps us discover that there are qualities and aspects of our lives that are not as we would wish them to be. When we begin to meditate daily, they often seem to show up suddenly, but the fact of the matter is that they have always been there and it is now that we are becoming aware of them. Visualization techniques help us to cleanse ourselves of them and eventually get rid of them to embrace more enlightened attitudes and conduct.

Nor'dzin's approach is simple and direct. Along with a short glossary of terms explained, she gives illustrated tips on making sitting equipment for the practice. Her line drawings explaining the postures have more of a utilitarian rather than an aesthetic value. The book, on the whole, seems rather unadorned but it's friendly, down to earth and, most importantly, useful.



Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

From Ngakma Nor'dzin:

"The new year is often a time for making resolutions.  Usually our resolutions are about shuffling or adjusting the pieces of our life – to lose weight, to change jobs, to take more exercise, to start a new hobby. . .  These may be desirable and worthwhile, but such alterations to lifestyle will not bring lasting fulfilment and happiness.  Only the development of greater awareness will bring lasting fulfilment and happiness. "

Read the rest of Ngakma Nor'dzin's article here:

http://ngakma-nordzin.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-new-year.html