I have learned so much about practice through the group chanting The Vows of Samantabhadra every Wednesday evening, as well as the “reading meditation” I have been doing with our online group.
Putting my mind on one word, just this word, then the next, then the next, over and over, has been such a helpful way to let go of past and future and just give my full attention and mind of meditation to the word I am currently pronouncing.
It reminds me to do the same other times of the day. Put my mind on washing this dish, then this, then this. Slow down — not rush; not worry; not trying to just get through a task. Be present and meditative in every activity — Dust this surface, then this, then this.
With each word and each movement, let go. Let go of attachment.
Kindly, gently, patiently, be fully present with each thing, each word, each moment. Keep the faith that the profound simplicity of this practice really works.
The chanting practice has helped me to see when my attention does move away from the meaning of the words, to the sound of the notes, or paying attention to pitch, or paying attention to volume, or paying attention to the blend of voices. The shift of attention from one thing to another is no problem — I still pick up the deep meaning of a line or phrase from time to time. If I notice my volume is too loud or too soft, I make an adjustment. I notice the beauty of the music. I notice the deep meaning of the words. The mind keeps moving. The attention keeps moving. But all the time, being aware, fully.
Chanting with the mind of meditation is a deep practice. Reciting sutras together is a profound meditation practice. With each movement of the mind, let go of the previous one. Although there is so much going on with group chanting, none of that gets in the way of the meditation, or gets in the way of the teaching of the scriptures, or gets in the way of this profound practice.
The reminder of “reading is a meditation practice” has also been so helpful. With such a reminder, doing dishes is a mindfulness practice; sweeping the floor is a meditation practice; being present with Sangha members, family and friends is a mindfulness practice.
Simple, yet profound.
(Shared by D. C., member of the chanting and reading meditation groups.)