Some people like to create businesses that never existed before, some people like to make music on a guitar, some people like to watch a lot of television — but I like meditation. I love all aspects of it. I like the extremely long kind, the truly grueling, intensive meditation. I like sitting, standing, and moving meditation. I like all the various schools of meditation. In my opinion, it's one the greatest tools for happiness.
I do meditation because I'm fascinated with how the mind works. One of the goals of meditation is to recognize how the mind produces emotional states. To be able to train yourself to separate from harmful emotions is one of the most beautiful and freeing feelings in the world. For example, everyone gets rejected; when you get rejected, you feel an intense emotional response. The goal is to recognize the mechanism that's producing this feeling and realize that it's not truly who you are.
The question is: How do we achieve this blissful happiness that Eastern traditions speak of?
By focusing on energy. One thing that's clear in Buddhism and Taoism is that your mind is a boundless energy field that isn't trapped in your brain or body. Meditation is a way to clear your mind, and to look at life through a clear lens to reach blissful states of happiness. When I speak of Taoism and Buddhism, I’m not speaking in terms of religion. I’m looking at the meditation strategies and techniques that Taoist and Buddhist used to achieve positive qualities of mind.
In Taoism, you’re told to bring your awareness to your “Dan Tien.” In Zen Buddhism they call it your “Hara.” In both of these traditions, they would say a real person acts from these energy centers in the stomach. An artist places his mind in this area before he paints; a chef places his mind first in this area before he cooks; a businessman makes a decision by placing it here. This area was believed to steady the emotions in the mind. The samurai did meditation and focused on their “Hara” before going to battle to settle the fear in their minds. Most the time our minds are up in our brains, burning up our life energy.
Your mind produces a projection of your body, your feelings, the reality you see. One of my meditation teachers used to say, “There is no ground, your mind just projects this into your visual field.” This is what the Buddha meant when he said in the Heart Sutra, “Form does not differ from the void, and the void does not differ from form. Form is void and void is form.”
In the Heart Sutra, it says, "Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond." Buddha wasn't talking about just following the breath; he was talking about being in this energy field, also known as Sunyata (emptiness). In Taoism, it's called "Wu," meaning emptiness.
Our minds are not confined to our bodies. This is why Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching said, "It is because I have a body that I have misfortune." We tend to associate a considerable amount of attention throughout the day on the body. People look at unattainable ideals of physical attraction in magazines and think that's what the body should look like, then they get depressed when it doesn't. We associate with the negative feelings going on in our body. Lao Tzu and Buddha were talking about meditating your way into the boundless energy field and breaking free from the constraints of your body.
In Taoism, one of the highest achievements in meditation and life is to have the mind of a baby, a kind of detached mind that doesn’t engage with the chaos of the world. It’s a mind that lives in astonishment and wonder for everything. At this level, a person literally radiates happiness.
There’s a powerful principle that helps you recognize this ego projection of the mind. In Taoism, it’s called “No Self, no enemy.” Taoist monks would put this on the wall in the temple, to remind themselves of this principle. You can put it on your desk, carry it in your wallet, or place it in your meditation space. The goal of blissful happiness is to recognize the ego’s projection of the world.
So in your meditation practice work on bringing your attention to your stomach region; this will help you separate from the activity going on in your mind. Your mind is a boundless energy field full of possibilities. Through persistent practice, blissful states of happiness are possible for everyone.