Adopt a “split-level” approach to all instructions: On the one hand follow the instructions exactly, so that you can discover the experiences to which they point.
On the other hand be sensitive to yourself and your own body. Assume that only sound expansive experiences are worth having. The moment doing it feels wrong in your body,stop following the instruction and back up slightly. Stay there with your attention until you can sense exactly what is going wrong.
- to become a better friend to ourselves
- and more open minded and open hearted in the world
- to meet life as it is, fresh and alive without telling ourselves a story or running our lines on it, without repressing or indulging in our stuff
- to be awake in the moment of the ordinary and the everyday
- to practice compassion (rather than empathy) and thus reduce vicarious traumatization
Why meditate every day?
So that we meet whatever is there, not just meditating on the days when we feel good about ourselves, and our world.
How do I start sitting meditation?
Give yourself about 20 – 30 minutes in a place and at a time where you are likely to be free of interruptions. In a seat or if cross legged, on the floor on a cushion or cushions with your bottom raised sufficiently for the knees to be a bit below the level of the hip bone; torso comfortably upright, chest softly open rather than uptight or sunken; palms open, facing down resting on the thighs;
Eyes softly open, gazing slightly downwards one to two metres in front of you; jaw relaxed and teeth slightly open, lips touching; tongue soft curled backwards and underside tip touching the roof of the mouth (makes room for the saliva), ears soft, all facial muscles soft, expressionless; and then,
Gently aware of the out breath, soft almost peripheral awareness on the out breath, just the out breath. Just noticing. When the mind wanders, kindly name the process ‘thinking’ or ‘planning’ or ‘story telling’ or not and come home to the out breath.
Start where you are and lean softly into the difficult stuff, going gently into places that scare rather than puling away in fear or loathing
If you prefer you might start with eyes closed and full awareness on the movement of both in and out breath, natural spontaneous breath.
I often begin with this, settling myself in to my breath and then slipping into the practice above. Experiment with lips open; tongue resting flat; hands in lap; walking, sitting in a moving train or bus. Find a way that fits you and then find a way to do that with less and less effort.
In this mindfulness awareness practice, the out breath is the object of meditation. It is the nearest thing to the natural state of mind – relaxed and open whilst still having an object of meditation to return to, to bring the mind back home.
We don’t think about the last breath or that story about a breath we had decades ago, nor do we plan the next breath or worry about our breath way into the future. Breath is spontaneous and ever changing in the here and now. Mind is like that too.
In summary of all of the above – ‘open the mind and relax’ or ‘calm mindful awareness’.