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There are 3 principles that are really basic to meditation:

1) The right intention: You have to make up your mind that you’re going to let go of all thoughts and preoccupations dealing with the world. You aren’t going to keep them to think about. Every thought and concept dealing with the past or future is an affair of the world. Make up your mind that you’re not going to do one thing right now, just the work of meditating and nothing else. In other words, you are going to work on the immediate present. This is called right intention.

2) The right object: This means the right theme or focal point of the mind. We’re going to look at the four properties that make up the body: the properties of earth, water, wind and fire. The earth property covers the hard parts of the body such as the bones. The water property covers the liquid parts, such as urine, saliva, blood. The fire property covers the heat and warmth in the body. The wind property covers the feeling of energy that flow in the body, such as breath. Of all these properties, the most important one is the wind property or the breath. If other parts of the body get damaged – say eyes going blind, ears go deaf, our arms and legs get broken – it can still survive. But if it doesn’t have breath, we are dead. So the breath is an important object because it forms a basis for our awareness.

3) The right quality: This means the feelings of comfort or discomfort that arise in the body. When you take care of the in-and-out breath so that it flows freely through the various part of the body, it’ll give rise to results. Take good note of whether the results that the body and mind reap from the breath are good or bad. Does the body feel open and at ease or does it feel tight and constricted? Does the mind feel calm, quiet and pleasant or is it irritated, distracted and chaotic? If the body and mind feel at ease, that counts as good results. If the opposite is true, it counts as bad results. So you have to gain a sense of how to adjust the breath so that it becomes comfortable.

As for the right qualities of the mind, those are mindfulness and alertness.

Try to keep following these three basic principles every time you practice concentration. Only then will you get results that are full and correct. As for the rewards of concentration, there are lots of them.

The Heightened Mind

translated from Thai

This talk is first given on 6 July 1956 by Ajahn Lee

more basic principles of sitting in meditation for newcomers who’ve not done it before 🙂