Within the Tibetan Tradition the practice of meditation is said to unfold along Five Paths which have both a sequential relationship and an interdependent one. Each path unfolds as the student cultivates the appropriate View, Meditation, and Conduct or Activity. While particular schools and individual lineages vary in their specific application of this system, the basic pattern is shared by most Tibetan Buddhist lineages:
-The Path of Preparation on which the student develops a life style and a commitment/intention which is non-harming, calms the mind, and provides the basis for "discerning the real;
-The Path of Accumulation on which the student clears away interference and entanglement and 'accumulates' the causes and conditions (including skills) that will allow 'Discerning the Real' (direct apprehension of what is, just as it is);
-The Path of Seeing which unfolds as the student has freed her capacity for remaining (in a beginning way) in an alert,open state beyond thought;
-The Path of Meditation on which the student engages the real directly;
-And, The Path of No-Meditation where the student has stabilized and integrated the Path of Meditation.
Both the plenary presentation and the workshop will introduce these stages as outlined by Longchenpa in the three volume text Kindly Bent to Ease Us and then present the presenters' experience with the particularly stubborn difficulties western students often have as they begin to move along these paths. Calming the mind includes many elements which are introduced and cultivated. The student learns to combine deep relaxation, alertness, and a stable, aligned, balanced and relaxed posture. This can be quite difficult for those of us who have associated relaxation with drowsiness and mild trance, and who have associated alertness and/or an erect posture with effort and tension. The use of both peripheral (GSR/EMG/HEART) and neurofeedback to support students in developing this capacity will be illstrated and discussed. At more advanced stages of practice a student may find herself in a loop in which progress is blocked and motivation and interest wane; illusions may develop about what is happening and where one is in her practice. Examples will be given illustrating the use of neurofeedback to resolve or ease these blockages. Participants in the workshop can expect to get an overview of one system of meditation and how biofeedback may be used as an aid to trditional techniques and practices; experiential excercises will be include to help make some of the points presented.