I would like to introduce here a very interesting practice which belongs to the Tibetan Tantric-Buddhist tradition. It is very useful in learning how to overcome a negative emotion when it happens. We witness almost everyday in ourselves and in others, the manifestation and the results of such emotions, and we also know the consequences they leave after they have happened, both for those who express negative emotion and those who suffer the reaction of the person who expresses such emotions. So, I believe this practice will be of interest. Similar to the usual sensing and awareness exercises, this practice also uses visualization which improves the effects of the practice.
Preparation: Begin this exercise by taking just a minute or two to focus on your physical body, finding the most beneficial position with your spine straight and erect, a position in which you can be aware and awake, but not stiff or rigid. Feel the weight of your body, its substantial, earthy character. Become present in the moment and place where you are.
Step 1: Now, perform the so-called “nine round breathing exercise. This is a pre-tantric purification practice in which you visualize the main 3 energy channels in the body. In Tantric Buddhism, it is used at the beginning of a meditation session to calm and clear the mind in only a minute or so. Make your breath somewhat longer and deeper, but don’t exaggerate, if possible. One should not hear the breathing. If you have a cold and one or both nostrils are clogged, just imagine breathing through the different nostrils.
Visualize the body as being completely empty and transparent, then inside it appears the Central Channel (visualize this channel).
The Central Channel starts between the eyebrows, continues back just under the skull, and from the crown of the head it goes straight down to the level of four finger widths under the navel. It stays a little in front of the spine. It is like a transparent blue tube, about the thickness of a thick drinking straw.
To the left and to the right are two side-channels, both transparent and the thickness of only a drinking straw. The right channel is red, the left is white.
The three channels are flexible and just below the navel, they connect with each other. During the first round of breathing, INHALE through the LEFT nostril, keeping the right nostril closed with a finger. We imagine the air going from the left nostril into the left channel, up near the crown and way down to below the navel. There, the left channel is connected to the right channel , and we BREATH OUT through the RIGHT CHANNEL by closing the left nostril with the same finger. Imagine breathing in pure white light, and when exhaling, imagine that all DESIRE AND ATTACHMENT which pollutes the left channel collects at the navel and leaves via the right channel as black smoke. The black smoke disappears beyond the universe. Repeat this 3 times.
Then, the next round we INHALE white light via the RIGHT nostril, and all ANGER and HATRED which pollutes the right channel collects below the navel and is EXHALED via the LEFT channel as black smoke. Again, do this 3 times.
The third round we INHALE white light via the LEFT and RIGHT channel together and imagine them both being connected to the central channel below the navel. This CENTRAL CHANNEL is polluted by IGNORANCE and CONFUSION which is breathed out as black smoke. Imagine that you BREATHE OUT via the POINT BETWEEN the EYEBROWS.
Normally, this preparatory practice is performed 2 or 3 rounds during which you might let all thoughts go as you focus on the breath as you inhale and exhale through each nostril, breathing in white light and breathing out black smoke.
Step 2: When the mind is calm and focused, create an altruistic motivation for the meditation session. Think that you are meditating not just for your own well-being or peace of mind or good reputation, but you are taking the time now to meditate and develop the wisdom of emptiness in order to attain the state of enlightenment where you can most skillfully benefit all beings and lead them as well from suffering and to enlightenment.
Step 3: Now, focus your attention to the concept of I: namely, repeat inwardly “I”, “I”, allowing the feeling of “I” to grow. Focus on the sense of “I” or “me”. One way to bring up this sense of I is to generate a strong emotion…for example, bring to mind an instance in which you felt strong anger or strong fear. Now, allow a small part of your mind to subtly act as an observer, observing this sense of I. That “observer” must be very sneaky and subtle, otherwise, this sense of I tends to disappear.
Investigate: How does the I appear? As one with the body? As completely separate from the body? As one with the mind? As completely separate from the mind? Often, the I appears as something independent, separate from the mind and body. Is this appearance accurate and true?
What is this I? Is it the body? The whole body? A part of the body? Is it the head? The heart? The brain? If it is any of these things, how could we then say “my head” or “my heart”, or “my brain”, or even “my body”? Contemplate this for awhile.
Now think: Is the I the same as the body, or is the I the “possessor” of the body? If the I is not the same as the body, is it completely different? If the I is the possessor of the body, does that mean it is completely independent of the body? Something separate? Contemplate this for awhile. Can the I exist without the body? Think about this.
Is the I the same as the mind, that which perceives and thinks and experiences, both perceptually (through the five senses) and conceptually (through thinking)? Is the I the same as the whole mind? As every moment of the mind? If the I is the mind, which moment of the mind is it? Which part of the mind? Contemplate this for awhile.
If the I is the same as the mind, why do we say “my mind”? Is the I the possessor of the mind? Is the I completely different from the mind? Completely independent of the mind? Something separate? Contemplate this for awhile. Can the I exist without the mind? Think about this.
The I is neither one with nor completely separate from the body. The I is neither one with nor completely separate from the mind. What is it then? How does it exist?
The appearance of the I as something completely independent of the mind and body is a complete illusion. It is a completely false appearance. And this appearance gives rise to all the afflictions of the mind, all the delusions and resulting karmic actions. This false appearance is the root of our samsara and our suffering. This false appearance is completely deceptive, and the I that appears to exist in this false way DOES NOT EXIST AT ALL. Thus, the very subtle I that does exist (conventionally) is COMPLETELY EMPTY OF THIS FALSE WAY OF EXISTING. The I is completely empty of independent existence, or of inherent existence. The I is a mere imputation, a mere label, that depends on the base of the body and mind. Contemplate this strongly. Once you have come to this conclusion, allow all your thinking processes to stop and merely concentrate on this understanding with single-pointed focus, so that it can penetrate into the deeper levels of your mind.