During rohatsu sesshin, I worked with the gate gate mantra. I got this explanation from Dan Brown who is a Tibetan teacher and i have really enjoyed contemplating it:
Let’s work with “beyond thought”. this is part of the three bases under samadhi. Learning to concentrate is one of the essential tasks. Can we learn to place our mind where we want it to be rather than be a slave to the director/mind. Meditation practice of returning to your object of concentration is the practice that starts to cultivate one-pointedness.
In the sutra of the full awareness of breathing, there are wonderful phrases that help you calm the mind into stabiity. They have a formula of: breathing in I ……., breathing out I…….
Here are some of the phrases that are used to stabilized and ultimately liberate the activities of our minds. The calming of the monkey mind.
Now when I sit down to meditate, the first thing i say is “stabilize your mind”. How to do that?
Observe and notice the mental processes and thru breathing try to calm the mind. I particular like “gladden the mind” which is part of en-LIGHT-enment. Making the mind lighter. To gladden and open the mind actually is fairly easy. One turns the mind to connect with the mystery and awesomeness of life itself. Add to that, contemplating your gratitude, and usually the mind will gladden.
To stabilize the mind moves us into non-thought. Where are minds are basically quiet with an occasional thought floating through which is not grabbed on to. This is a very restful place. It is a place of non-production and is a place where we can “just be” or “return to silence” as Katagiri Roshi would call it. Very still.
Samadhi or concentration is very important and yet, it is only one aspect of actualizing our life that is already there. There is also the understanding of wisdom (prajna) and the incorporating that into our actual expression and behaviour (Sila).