There are traditionally 9 stages of shamatha meditation. Thinking about these 9 stages is like looking at a roadmap for our practice. These stages give us a framework to help us understand the changes that are happening as we are transforming ourselves on the path.
Here they are.
1.Resting the Mind: we sit down and draw into ourselves. We attempt to place our minds on our breathing and thought patterns. At this stage we have learned about sitting and might be able to be still.
2.Continuously Resting: We are able to experience moments of complete attention on the object of our focus. We are able to extend our practice, not giving in to distractions.
4.Closely Resting: We can maintain our attention on our practice throughout the meditation session. We have begun to be aware of little flickers of thought that exist but don’t command our full attention.
5.Taming: In this stage we have a deep relaxation and we are able to focus on the future benefits of our practice. In this way we are able to give ourselves encouragement and cultivate diligence.
6.Pacifying: When it’s hard to sit, we have the ability to acknowledge the positive, that practice is joyful and exciting.
7.Thoroughly Pacifying: We are able to bring the attention back to the breath, even when the three poisons arise.
8.One Pointedness: We can bring the awareness of meditation into daily life. We can go right back to following the breath at any time.
9.Resting Evenly: This is where we are absorbed in and making friends with our practice. At this stage we can maintain a meditative state for hours without interruption.