The third principle or training in the Noble Eight-Fold Path is Samadhi: concentration, reflection, inquiry, mindfulness, meditation. This training includes the final three steps of Wise Effort, Wise Mindfulness, and Wise Concentration. These are the Buddha’s instructions that help us cultivate the energy and courage to engage our thoughts, emotions, and bodies in a way that is open, compassionate and non-judgmental.
The journey of the spiritual seeker in meditation is compelling and challenging. As we sit, we begin to notice our thinking, actually hear what we tell ourselves moment to moment, and discover that these thoughts guide our lives. We begin to have a deep experience of the suffering we create for ourselves. We experience the noble truths of suffering and the causes of suffering. Because of this experience in meditation, we are able to let go of our habitual ways of thinking. Consequently, the wisdom and ethics trainings of the noble eight-fold path become more natural. We cause less harm to ourselves in the ways we speak and act.
Sharon Salzberg, wrote in her book Faith, “It is a great turning point in our spiritual lives when we go from an intellectual appreciation of a path to the heartfelt confidence that says, “Yes, it is possible to awaken. I can, too.” A tremendous joy accompanies this confidence. When we place our hearts upon the practice, the teachings come alive.”
This is the power of meditation. We begin to embody the Dharma and live from it’s truth. Our mistakes become teaching tools rather than weapons we use against ourselves. Our skillfulness, an indication that we are living from our innate wisdom. The inevitable ups and downs of life are more easily met. Our experiences help us awaken to our own Buddha-Nature.