In this final post of this series, we come to the final step of the Eight-Fold Way: True Composure or, as I like to think of it, feeding the spirit.
This step traditionally is associated with concentration, meditation, absorption or one-pointedness of mind. The original term, “samadhi,” literally means to be fixed, absorbed in or established at one point, thus the first level of meaning is concentration when the mind is fixed on a single object.
True composure, or “right concentration” as it is often translated, is most often associated with meditation. Buddhist meditation is not a relaxation practice, nor is it about having visions or out-of-body experiences. It aims at cleansing the mind of impurities and disturbances, such as lustful desires, hatred, ill-will, indolence, worries and restlessness, skeptical doubts—and cultivating such qualities as concentration, awareness, intelligence, will, energy, the analytical faculty, confidence, joy and tranquility.
Following the pattern of the last two questions, here’s mine for this step:
True Composure – What can I do for my spirit?
Meditation itself may well be the answer, though this is the broadest of all the questions. Everything actually or potentially in your life is a possible answer. What does “your spirit” even mean to you? What could feed it? What occurs to you when you ask this question, at the moment of asking? Whatever it is, note it and let it go. The recognition itself is all that’s needed at the time.
Finally, to sum up the these five blog posts I would suggest you take a few minutes every morning, right after you get out of bed and before breakfast, to sit quietly, empty your mind as well as you can, maybe focusing just on your breathing, and then ask yourself the eight questions, taking just a moment on each one:
What am I paying attention to?
What do I need to understand?
What am I lying about?
What am I putting off?
What am I not doing well?
What can I do for my body?
What can I do for my mind?
What can I do for my spirit?
If taking the time in the late evening or before lunch works better for you, do that. Whatever the time of day, don’t look for answers. This is not a time for thinking about what you need to do. There’s the whole rest of the day for that. This is the time to touch on what you might miss the rest of the day. If something crosses your mind in response to a question, note it for a moment, recognize it, and move on. If there’s no answer, that’s the answer. Nothing more to it than that.
It’s an easy practice and it could reshape your life.