How to make the best use of Imagine Clarity?
We’ve had consistently positive feedback about our application, but one question that often comes up is how can one best use the material in the long term to develop a stable practice. People have different ideas about how long the sessions should be. Should one go through each course one after the other in strict order or can one pick and choose? Should one go through the same course several times or go back to parts that seem challenging or interesting?
I think the first thing to be said is that each course approaches similar themes in a slightly different way. Here is an overview.
Learning what it’s all about
Matthieu Ricard’s videos, under the rubric “Learn”, are probably the first thing most people look at. The series consists of modules of seven videos, with the idea that one can view them in order, one video a day. In the first module, “How to Meditate”, he explains what meditation is, why it’s useful and how to go about it. The second module, “Mindfulness, Meditation and Genuine Happiness”, discusses specific techniques to develop mindfulness. The third and fourth modules, “Meditations on Altruism” and “Deeper Insight” explain what you can do next: use your meditation to develop an altruistic mindset and a deeper insight, and of course connect your meditation to the rest of your life.
I think it’s important to start with at least the first module before going on to anything else, since it sets the scene and gives a context for what follows. As with all the courses each individual will find their own rhythm, but following the order is important.
What’s next? - Practicing every day
If you then look at the rubric “Practice” the first thing you will see is my own series “Meditation Practice Foundations”, which in fact covers the themes that Matthieu has already discussed, but in the form of a very simple course which is easy to follow even for complete beginners with no background knowledge.
This course is also arranged by modules of seven 10 minute audio lessons, with the idea of listening to one a day to get into the habit of a regular practice. If this rhythm doesn’t fit for you, you can find your own pace, but it’s important to follow the steps of the course in order, since each new element builds on what has been acquired so far.
An alternative, or a complement, to this, is B. Alan Wallace’s course, “Focused Mind and Open Heart”. Alan, in addition to his deep knowledge of Eastern philosophy and Western science, is an extremely experienced meditator, with very precise personal experience in the techniques of shamatha or ‘calm abiding’. I think even experienced meditators will learn from the first module of his course, “Mindfulness of Breathing”. We will soon be out publishing second module, “Settling the Mind in its Natural State”.
Matthieu always emphasizes the importance of “caring mindfulness” and altruism, and we can really develop those qualities on the basis of our everyday experience. I have constantly emphasized this in the Foundations course, and my second course,”Awakening the Heart” provides further techniques to really develop an altruistic kind heart.
To enhance your experience, you can listen to the extracts from Matthieu’s book, “The Art of Meditation” which are arranged in ten-minute themes for reflexion and meditation.
Finally, you might like to try “Introducing your Child to Meditation” as a family activity. Dominique Butet’s simple meditations for children are targeted at the very young (from 4 to 8 years old), but you could present the meditations in a style adapted to your older children as well. Feel free to experiment!
Establishing your practice
The courses contain a lot of instructions with relatively little time to meditate. This is because it’s very important to know as clearly as possible what to do, and also how to recognize and deal with any difficulties that might crop up. On the basis of those instructions you could establish a short period of meditation practice on your own, starting with the right motivation and concluding by dedicating the benefits to the happiness of all. Some people have found it useful to listen to the same course more than once or to come back to a particular topic that seems specially interesting or challenging.
The goal is to integrate these techniques and ideas into your own life in the most fruitful way. If you need advice about the practice, or have any particular difficulties, I will do my best to respond, and Sébastien is there for any technical questions. We are immediately reachable via the message button. If you simply feel like dropping us a line and sharing your experience with the app, we would be delighted to receive your feedback.