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Precious Life Meditation with Scott Snibbe

precious life meditation

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Scott Snibbe reads a meditation from his new book, How to Train a Happy Mind, on the Tibetan tradition called the Precious Life.

Scott Snibbe: In this episode I’m going to lead a meditation that’s the first topic among the sequence of analytical meditations we practice in the Tibetan tradition called the Precious Life.

It’s different from the way Buddhists typically practice this topic, because it relies only on an understanding of the world the way science and psychology can currently validate.

It also draws on some of the profound wonder we can feel when we understand the place of humanity at the tip of history, 14 billion years of cosmic and biological evolution.

Because my book, How to Train a Happy Mind, just came out, I’m going to read the meditation, just as it’s written there, with a little bit of a longer introduction, and pauses for all its points to sink in.

I hope you enjoy it.

Settling in

First, settle yourself into meditation posture, cross-legged on the floor with your seat elevated. Or in a chair with your legs straight out and feet flat on the floor, straight spine, relax your neck, face, shoulders.

You can place one hand on top of the other with your thumbs touching. Your head slightly tilted down, eyes half-closed, mouth relaxed.

This meditation is on the precious life, and it helps us feel awe toward our place in the universe. Urgency in the face of our short life and enthusiasm for the opportunities we find in every new day.

Try to feel a sense of confidence as you go into the meditation that the deeper level of your mind, your personality is fundamentally good, kind, loving, patient, generous, wise. That the disturbing emotions we feel like craving, rage, jealousy, pride, they’re lighter, even though they can dominate our mind sometimes.

That if we just steer our mind towards its deeper fundamental goodness, those more disturbing thoughts, feelings, and emotions will naturally fade away.

Bring your mind to your breath for a moment, to your nostrils. As air comes in and out, or with the rise and fall of your abdomen,

For one minute try to focus only on the breath, and if another thought, feeling, plan, memory, regret, anything, comes into your mind besides your breath, just let it pass by, without pushing it away, without drawing it forward. You can naturally let whatever it is fade away and bring your attention back to your breath.

For one minute.

Reflecting on your good fortune

lotus flower in water

Now you could imagine that you’re waking up and as you wake up you think, I’m so grateful to have another day of life, to have this body, a safe place to sleep, a modest amount of comfort and security, family and friends.

Maybe I have everything I need to be happy.

There’s nothing better I could be doing with these few minutes right now than going inward to understand who I am beneath stimulation, stress, entertainment, and thoughts.

Getting to know the deep core of my awareness, to explore the mystery of being alive and aware right now.

In meditating on the precious life, you reflect on your good fortune. Of course, you may face hardships too, but for a moment, practice gratitude for whatever you have.

For simply being alive and aware, for your body and its senses, through which you can appreciate the beauty of the world, for whatever resources you have, food, shelter, safety, security, health, education, work, family, and friends.

Then feel gratitude that you’ve found an interest in going beyond striving, beyond competitiveness, beyond entertainment.

There’s a place for all these things in life, but there’s also something more. Feel grateful that you’ve been exposed to ideas, teachers, and friends, who value inner happiness, who contemplate the worth of an existence that rises above material accumulation.

Feel grateful that you’re not only curious and interested in finding the deepest sources of life’s meaning, but also have made an effort to pursue self-awareness, to read books, listen to teachers, and go on an inner adventure through meditation. To probe in an honest way what’s inside your mind and discover how to be happy and how to be of genuine benefit to others.

Feel grateful if you have the basics of life that many can’t take for granted. Those people experiencing poverty, illness, war, natural disasters, political, racial, or gender oppression, Those afflicted by unquenchable addictions to food, sex, drugs, power, fame, or wealth.

Maybe you have everything you need to be happy, and all you need is to make the effort to live this day aware of your precious life, remembering everything that you’re grateful for.

Contemplating your connection to the universe

painting of girl contemplating her connection to the universe, staring at the stars

Now contemplate your connection to the universe.

You sit in the center of a universe 13. 8 billion years old, with 100 billion galaxies.

There are at least 100 billion planets in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, an estimated 100 million of them with rocky planets, like ours, circling their own burning star.

One of them is our own sun, 4. 5 billion years old, where life on its third planet, the earth, has existed for at least three billion years.

Over that time, the scientific magic of evolution transformed simple chemicals into cells, worms, fish, snakes, dinosaurs, mammals, and monkeys.

Humanity arrives at the tip of history only 200,000 years ago. Some 10,000 generations of humans pass by, so many of them struggling, dying at birth, hungry, violent, afraid.

Then you are born, now.

Despite its drawbacks, discomforts, and injustices, you’re lucky enough to live in a world that is safer and more abundant for humans than it has ever been before.

There’s no evidence yet for any other life in the universe. What if humanity is the pinnacle of cosmic evolution? The sole way for the universe to know itself.

If being intelligent and self-aware is unfathomably rare and precious, how should you spend your day?

What’s the best way to achieve a happy mind and to live with dignity, meaning, and connection?

It may be nothing more than what you’re doing right now, going inward, going outward, probing your mind, cultivating the true causes of happiness in the present moment through gratitude and self-awareness.

Soon you’ll go out into your day to deepen your connections with others and to deepen your connections with others and make our fragile, beautiful world a little bit better for everyone else who shares it.

Rest in these thoughts for a minute in your profound connection to all the universe and all of history, your gratefulness for being alive.

How will you make the most of this day?


Hosted by Scott Snibbe

Produced by Annie Ngyen

Marketing by Isabela Acebal


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