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Bhavana

In different religions, there are different concepts of how to be closer to the divine power or look into yourself to find your soul and comfort your heart. In Buddhism, the concept of Bhavana is very common. If literally translated, it means development or producing. The aim of Bhavana is to clear your mind and induce calmness inside the body, which reflects in your words, thoughts and actions.

Understanding Bhavana

Most of the times, Bhavana is not used alone but in conjunction with another concept. There is citta-Bhawana which refers to the development of mind. This concept deals with the cultivation of thoughts, positive attitude and ideas in your mind. On the other hand, metta-bhavana is the development of kindness. This concept deals with cultivating love and kindness in your heart. Different parts of your body are doing different things and they can all be developed in the right way to produce positivity and goodness. Panna-bhavana refers to the development of wisdom, which is very important throughout your whole life. Samadhi-bhavana is the development of concentration. You will not be able to excel at anything or understand anything until you develop a certain level of concentration. Kaya-bhavana is the development of the body, which is inevitable and very important. There are different compounds made by different Theravada teachers. Bhavana is the name of spiritual cultivation, whether it is of the heart, mind or the body.

Etymology of Bhavana

Bhavana comes from Bhava which means ‘becoming’. To understand it better, you can think of it as the arousal of the state of mind. According to Glen Wallis, a farmer does Bhavana when he prepares his field for planting seeds. He says that Buddha chose this specific word because of its connection with the earth. While other words like meditation are devoid of a connection, Bhavana is connected to the Earth. It is ordinary and natural, yet serene and earthly in its own way. Bhavana also represents hope. It cultivates a sense of hope in people that no matter how damaged a field is, it is not barren. This means that no matter how damaged your heart or mind is, there is still hope that it can be cultivated and developed. As a result, the end of the season will see a nourishing harvest. One might think of Bhavana as meditation but it is much more than that. It brings attention to detail and makes meditation a calming activity rather than a mechanical one. Claude Marechal explains it perfectly in the article ‘Teachings’.

From the article ‘Teachings’ by CLAUDE MARECHAL.

I thought this was an eloquent way to describe Bhavana.

“Bhavana is a mental attitude, the intention that allows the student to maintain his/her attention during the execution of postures and of pranayama. This psychological orientation stops the practice from becoming mechanical, it amplifies its effects and improves self-knowledge.

Bhavana aims to make the mind very clear, very calm, to improve physical and mental health and to induce a state of meditation or of prayer.”

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