Special Topics

A Guide to Meditation Practice

How do we arrange a meditation practice activity suitable for ourselves? The DDM Meditation Center has designed a series of meditation practice activities, ranging from a few hours to several days in duration, catered to different levels of practitioners. Practitioners can therefore arrange a progressive journey towards spiritual purification according to their individual levels of practice.

Beginner's courses
This series of lessons is the best entry-level course for those who are  new to meditation practice. This eight-hour Elementary Meditation Class consists of four separate lessons. Our monastic Dharma teachers will systematically introduce topics such as: the functions of meditation; the required mentality for practice; basic meditation concepts; sitting postures; meditation equipment; practice methods; Eight-Form Moving Meditation; walking meditation; lying down meditation, and, finally, the application of meditation in daily life. This class offers a comprehensive general knowledge on meditation. Other courses for beginners include the two-day Intensive Meditation Class, as well as the Two-Day Meditation Training Camp for Beginners, in which  participants are required to spend one night in the monastery.

In addition, should you have between two hours to a few days' free time, you are welcome to  participate in various activities such as guided meditation,, Outdoor Meditation, the One-Day "Relaxing Fun" Chan activity; "Meeting the Mind"; Learning Chan With Ease; and, finally, Chan Delight Camp (a 2-Day Meditation Training Camp for Beginners, plus One-Day Outdoor Meditation), all of which are aimed at helping participants experience meditation in a relaxed manner.

Basic courses
After completing the beginner's course, participants can attend a One-Day Chan Retreat, Two-Day "Living With Ease" Camp, and Sitting Meditation Group Practices, to further practice the methods they previously learned in the beginner's classes. They are also encouraged to sign up for the Intermediate Meditation Class, to gain a deeper understanding of meditation methods and concepts. For a longer period of meditation practice, they can join the Two-Day Intensive Chan Retreat, a preparatory class for seven-day Chan meditation retreats in which retreatants participate in silence for the whole of two days, with rules and daily routines identical to those of a seven-day Chan meditation retreat.

Advanced courses
Having attended the Two-Day Intensive Chan Retreat, practitioners can proceed to retreats of seven days or more, starting with the basic seven-day retreat. During the seven-day retreat, retreatants participate in silence, get up at four o'clock in the morning to start the day of Chan practice, and watch four sessions of video Dharma talks by Master Sheng Yen every day, to establish the correct concepts of Chan practice.

Practitioners who have attended Basic and Intermediate Chan Seven, and are proficient in the methods of meditation, can sign up for the more advanced Seven-Day Silent Illumination Chan Retreat, Seven-Day Huatou Chan Retreat, and Chan retreats of seven days or more. This level of Chan practice is stricter, more demanding, and requires longer meditation sessions. It is suitable for practitioners who aspire to further hone their spiritual practices.

Extended Reading:
Q&A for Meditation Beginners
2. Five Basic Trainings for Meditation Practice
3. What are the Regulations in the Meditation Hall?
4. A Guide to Meditation Practice
5. Dharma Instruments Used in Meditation Retreats

Resource: Issue 370 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Cheng-Yu Chang (張振郁)
Editing: Chia-cheng Chang (張家誠), Keith Brown