Karma Shenden: The Power of Meditation

From the very beginning, I wanted to embrace Mingyur Rinpoche’s vision and impart the basics of meditation to the children in the school. This challenge, however, turned out to be more difficult than I originally anticipated. This led to self-doubt and I questioned whether or not I was the correct person for the job. Regardless, I’ve embraced the challenge and approach this task with a full heart, trying to do my best and paying close attention to the students’ experiences. The following describes a bit about my experience. 

To begin, I instruct the students to assume a comfortable posture with a straight back and relaxed muscles. We sit together and rest for a little while. Like the light that envelops us from a lit candle, I explain that the foundation for all meditation practices is simply knowing and being present. To help illustrate this, as Mingyur Rinpoche often does, I ask them if they have a mind. Some say “yes”, others say “no,” and some can’t answer. I point out that regardless of their answer, simply reflecting on this question is evidence of their mind. 

Another day, I share with them that awareness is simply knowingness, as Mingyur Rinpoche has taught me. I ask them to raise their hand and query if they know that their hand is raised. They say yes, and I use this example to illustrate the truth of awareness.

I also share why meditation practice is essential. I explain that each of us wants happiness, and we often think happiness comes from outer phenomena. Every moment, we take actions in hope of achieving happiness. I work with my students to shift this view and start to ground their actions in love, kindness, and compassion, a better way of fulfilling our shared wish for happiness. The true nature of our mind is always happy and peaceful. We lose the connection with our true mind as we grasp onto outer phenomena and depend on sensory pleasures for happiness.  As a result, our happiness becomes transitory.  I emphasize that the path to lasting happiness is knowing our mind and developing familiarity with it. “Why?” they ask. I answer: the true nature of our mind is intrinsically peaceful and calm. 

Seeing restlessness and chatter on the rise, I ask the boys to sit loosely, straighten their spines, and to make themselves comfortable. Resting together, we count our breath. Starting at five, we breathe in. Hearing full exhales, we count down to one. I can sense them shift inward.  Inviting them to feel their breath, I suggest that they touch their chest and feel the movement.  

I often remind myself that as a teacher, short times, many times applies here as well. I see the students’ awareness, compassion, wisdom and joy emerge on the playground and in the classroom. It is not always linear, but they are learning to respect and appreciate each other. I witness our community developing a culture of inclusivity and empathy, and I can feel the benefit for everyone in our Tergar school.

Karma Shenden, Learning Leader