Meditation, Awareness, Peace research

What’s in a name?

MAPr, established North-Holland in the Netherlands, has displayed the following activities:

1. Offering meditation days and courses in 'shamatha’ (concentration-calm) mindfulness meditation and the Qualities of the Heart and Tonglen, combined with body-oriented exercises; providing workshops, and lectures. The programs presented include practices that form the basis for practice in Mahamudra and Dzogchen (the so-called Essential Practices, namely in Tibetan Buddhism).

2. Doing research: among others, concerning shamatha, Heart Rhythm Variability and heartcoherence (together with drs Kees Blase), regarding ways of experiencing 'Settling the mind in its natural state’ practice, and the effects of participating in a 8-weeks shamatha retreat.

3. Sponsoring research in the context of Meditation, Awareness, Peace, from the MAPr fund.

In what follows, we elaborate somewhat on the brief information at the homepage.

Within all wisdom traditions, religions, spiritual approaches - Christianity to Humanism, Buddhism to Islam, Hinduism to Judaism, Shamanism to integral approach - forms of meditation are practiced. The term 'meditation’, connecting with the Latin 'meditari’, refers to thinking about, considering, preparing and practicing. Meditation not only connects with the mind, it also includes physical practices, like walking meditation and certain yoga practices. While MAPr feels much inspired by Buddhism, this is not the only source of inspiration as to the four notions that the name rests on. MAPr is open for all kinds of meditation, contemplation, reflection and practice, in all traditions, for women and men from all backgrounds. In some Buddhist practice lines the following meditation approaches are distinguished: concentration-calm (samadhi, shamatha), insight meditation (vipassana, vipashyana) and the Essence traditions. Shamatha and vipashyana complement each other. The Essence approaches, increasingly refining, aim at direct recognition of our true nature. With various practices they support realising our true nature, with resting of mind and awareness in the natural state. Scientific research shows that cultivating the mind and specific changes in the brain are clearly correlated ('train your mind, change your brain’).

As awareness (in relative sense) in 'Western' views is mostly linked to something of which you are aware, you can subjectively reflect on it. In wider, and for instance 'Eastern' approaches, awareness in the absolute sense is viewed as beginning and end, the basis of all: a timeless, boundless awareness that includes and transcends human awareness. It is without object, and can’t be penetrated and understood with the currently prevailing scientific research methods. Awareness, in the end, is nondual ('not-two’), there is no separateness, we are awareness, ultimately all is awareness. Meditation can offer an indispensable contribution in a more-encompassing form of 'contemplative consciousness research’.

Peace is our natural state. Persons that are genuinely happy, peaceful, and secure don’t wake up in the morning with the urge to kill others. A fundamental shift in our perspective, in our hearts, in our approaches is necessary and possible. Inner peace coincides with embodied compassionate relational 'activism' , 'showing up' in actions like reaching out to others, in giving of - and inviting for trust, letting go of anger, expressing of regret and making reparation where appropriate; with 'celebrating’ what life offers. Inner peace connects with non-violent action, for instance in handling conflicts, for equal rights, for a sustainable society. Seemingly short-term (economic and political) interests of specific groups threaten the world, the planet, including the persons in these groups. Cultivation and maturation, coinciding with inner peace-practice increases our capacity to cherish wider perspectives, to be less attached to a limited view: from ego-centric to group-centric to world-centric.