WHAT IS MEDITATION?:
Meditation is a way of training our awareness in order to develop a better sense of being fully present for the moments of our lives. Meditation is a simple process of focusing and steadying the attention on an object, in this case the breath, and bringing the mind back to that object again and again. We let go of thoughts about the future and the past, of the stories we spin for ourselves in our mind, and bring the mind back to what is actually happening, in this very moment, through feeling and touching the breath and the body as it is. Meditation helps us to balance the reactivity of our mind. Our minds are innately reactive concerning what we like and dislike as we engage in judging, comparing, and analyzing. Our minds often go on auto-pilot as we relive a conversation or event in our mind and then loose the present moment we are actually in. Have you ever driven anywhere while recalling a disagreement with a boss or co-worker, arrived at your destination and not remembered the trip? It is truly wonderful that the ancient sages actually discovered that the mind could be trained. Today science has confirmed this through FMRI scans. Science calls this neuroplasticity as new synapses are forged in the brain. Through focused meditative practice you can actually change your mind on a cellular level, while reducing reactivity to “stressful” events.
Begin either sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, or on a cushion with your hips rocked slightly forward to release your back.
Your hands may be placed on top of your thighs or folded on your lap.
Eyes may be closed with your chin slightly lowered toward your chest.
Allow your shoulders to relax away from your ears and your belly to be soft.
Begin by following your breath as you feel the sensations of air on your nostrils and noticing how the breath fills your abdomen and your chest as they rise and fall. You may follow the sensations of breath ebbing and flowing, in and out of the body. When the natural space occurs between breaths, simply release into that space, or notice a touch point on your body, perhaps hips on their supporting surface, lips touching, or hands on your lap. Perhaps notice the feeling of cool air at the tip of your nose on an inhalation and where in the body you feel this in-breath. Sometimes the breath may be short or long, soft or smooth or rough and just notice that and then how the breath changes. Bring a sense of discovery to the process of breathing. When the mind wanders off, which it will at regular intervals, just notice that and then bring the mind back to the breath. If something distracts you like a sound, instead of thinking voices or loud trucks, simply noting sound and hearing. Stay with your direct experience and then come back to the breath. If a sensation in the body becomes the main focus of your awareness, allow your mind to be there completely noticing what is really happening and how the sensation tends to change. If it is uncomfortable and you must change your position, simply bring your full awareness to the process of shifting and then resettling. When thoughts arise, just note what they are e.g. planning, judging, wandering mind. If you find yourself spinning off into a long train of thought, when you realize what has happened, simply and gently bring yourself back to this present moment and the next inhalation or exhalation. It is important not to think you have failed in any way when this happens, as this a natural part of how our human minds work. By returning to this practice again and again we are able to develop a spacious, accepting and open way of working with our own awareness.