Pleasure and Enjoyment of Meditation

Michael guided our discussion November 26 on the topic “Pleasure and Enjoyment in Meditation.” Here are some of the key sources brought together in our discussion.

Many meditators treat practice as a duty, and the role of pleasure is ignored. But both canonical texts and contemporary neurological research point out the importance of pleasure in cultivating a meditation practice.

For example,

The 5th and 6th steps of Buddha’s detailed instructions on breathing meditation in the Anapanasati Sutta are
“[5] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’ [6] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’

Contemporary meditation master Sayadaw U Tejaniya, author of “Awareness Alone is Not Enough” among other books, puts it this way:
When you experience good mind states, actively remember them.
Remind yourself that you are experiencing a good mind state, 
that good mind states are possible,
that this is how a good mind state feels.
In this way you reinforce the understanding
of the good states you experience.

The effectiveness of utilizing pleasurable experience to cultivate the meditative mind is corroborated by the neurological research of Ron Hanson, whose 20-minute Ted Talk on the “Hardwiring Happiness” can be found on Youtube.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu stresses the importance of finding and cultivating a deeply pleasant experience of breathing in his transcribed talk “The How and the Why of Meditation.

If you are a subscriber to Tricycle, you have access to the archive of dharma talks on their website. Of particular interest is the last session of a course offered by Culadasa and Matthew Immergut, March 2016, in which our management of mental drifting and forgetting is managed.

Dharma Talks Archive

And finally, the wonderful book “Meditation for the Love of It,” by Sally Kempton offers much good guidance to practitioners in many traditions, including Buddhism.