I am starting this thread to respond to some of the questions that Loong posted in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying thread about meditation, as I think many people have the same questions. Here is some of what he wrote when I asked if he also did sitting meditation practice in addition to his mindfulness practice. I think his experience is very common:
"...you asked if I did sitting Meditation.Bluntly .no.
I Have tried many times,sitting on a chair because I have no knees,to say of. I cannot grasp the necessity of such an exercise.Hear me now,All the great masters do sitting meditation.
If someone could clearly explain ,the necessity,the advantages,
the wellness obtained I am ready to listen .
For 3 months ,I did sitting meditation every day for 10 minutes
and could,nt wait for the 10 or15 minutes to finish.
Cannot be more honest than that.I often have breakfast with a guy ,kind of a Sagnace on the Jesus side.He meditates every day.
He writes one page a day.He is leaving for 2 months in India ,soon.Do you know what he does for a living?He's a dope importor and dealer.
I know a few who meditate,never see them with half a smile on their face.I had a friend that meditated 3 times a day 30 minutes at the time.He has been meditating for ,oh close to 20 years now,always in a bad mood.
I am in no way defending myself ,but the exemples I have in a close area ,is nothing to push a man to meditate.
I knew this subject would come up some day ,and when I started reading TNH,with his active meditation,It showed me that I was not that far of..."
First of all, I will say that absolutely I agree sitting meditation is nothing on its own. I also know many people who meditate and are basically jerks - they don't seem to get any kinder or happier. Just sitting down to do it guarantees nothing. Some people just sit down and think about themselves, and then develop a sense of self-righteousness about it, so that doesn't help.
There are also so many different things that go under the name 'meditation' now that I am almost reluctant to use that word. I myself teach several different forms of meditation, and some are more oriented around energy healing, and do not on their own lead someone to greater self-awareness of awakening, although they do aid healing. Many of the mindfulness techniques that you mention in relation to your own healing would be called 'meditation' by others.
All that being said, I think there is great value to a sitting meditation practice, even for a short period each day. It is like putting a fence around a baby tree - it protects it and helps it develop strong roots for when you take the fence away. A sitting meditation is just like that. It is just mindfulness practice sitting still:-) You notice your breath. You notice your thoughts. You notice your sensations. You notice your emotions - even your impatience and restlessness. You just notice and let go.
You are already doing this in daily life as mindfulness all the time. So the time sitting is just some practice 'with a fence around you'. The value of this is that what you notice will more likely be internal. This enables you to see the structures of your mind itself - the way perception works within you. And as you begin to let go of that, you delve ever deeper into the nature of reality and your mind.
You are already doing this. You mention experiencing bliss - bliss is a byproduct of whenver we let go on another level. It is not a goal in itself, but is a stepping stone sometimes (and what a nice one:-)
You asked for books - there are many books and articles I could send you too, but I am reluctant to give you much more to read, as you already have plenty of 'food' for your mind! You already have a lot of knowledge, I think just opening to practicing again will bring about new insights for you.
But here are a few articles of mine from the past that you can look at if you like: Starting a Meditation Practice
- this is very basic, but may offer a good starting point for anyone reading this and trying meditation for the first time. Thinking vs. Sinking Mind
- a way of working with some common hurdles
And since you have been reading about Dzogchen, here is an article on that: Dozgchen
Dzogchen is sometimes thought of as 'Tibetan Zen'. Do not get caught up in the academic arguments for or against. It doesn't matter in terms of meditation.