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Intro to meditation – part 1

Since coming back from Burning Man, I have stumbled upon a meditation technique that has been really resonating with me. It puts a spin on the principles I learned at Vipassana, a 10-day silent meditation retreat I went to in April. Here’s an idea of how it goes:

Find a quiet place where you can sit uninterrupted and make yourself comfortable. I usually sit cross-legged, but feel free to sit in the way that feels most comfortable to you. Now close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Just listen to your breath. Feel yourself breathe. In and out. Nowhere to go. Nothing else to do.  Nowhere else to be. Just sitting and breathing. Feels pretty good to just sit and breathe. As you begin feeling a little more settled, thoughts will most likely begin to arise. Don’t fight them. Don’t judge them. Continue focusing on your breath and allow these thoughts to run their course. What you resist, persists. Thinking, thinking. The mind is always thinking. But can you try to remain focused on your breath as your mind tries to chatter? Just breathe. In and out. Breathe. If you catch yourself getting lost in your thoughts, shift your focus back to your breath. In and out. The lull of the breath is so soothing. Feel its gentleness. Breathe in. Breathe out. Let go of guilt. There’s no right way or wrong way to do this. Let what feels good be the guide. Breathe in, breathe out. Let the breath slowly take over from the mind as the focal point of your sit. But don’t try to force this. You’ve got no agenda. Nowhere else to be. Just breathing. Breathing in. Breathing out. As you feel yourself beginning to settle into a place of gentle calm, feel the breath take over your attention. Start to feel it dancing within you.

Now start to tune into the sensations associated with the breath. What do you feel as the breath moves in and out of you? Feel the coolness of the breath as it grazes down your nostrils, bounces off the back of your throat like a pinball, and settles into the bottom of your throat, only to smoothly make its way back up, feeling warmer than when you first breathed it in. Breathe in. Breathe out. A little deeper with every few breaths. Whatever feels good. Whatever feels right. The are no rules. No right way or wrong way. Let what feels good be your guide. Just let go and feel. Trust yourself. The more the breath slows, the deeper it becomes and the further into the belly it travels. Breathe in, into the pit of the stomach. Breathe out, from the very bottom of where the breath last touched, breathe all that air back out again. Breathe in. Breathe out. What area of your body is starting to get warmer than the others? Where does the breath seem to stick? What do you feel as your breath travels within that space? Can you expand or “unstick” the area by concentrating on your breath filling up the space as you breathe out? Feel the expanse as your muscles loosen and the tension in your body starts to melt away. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Feels good, doesn’t it?!? At this point, you’re probably ready to shift gears into the second stage of the meditation. I’ll tell you what the involves in my next post in a week’s time. Until then, set the stage by playing with the above method for a few minutes each day. Doesn’t matter how long you do it for. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start with 5 minutes. Start with 10. Start and do whatever works for you. Most importantly, start with making a promise to yourself to give meditation an honest go… and let the changes it makes in your life speak for themselves… see you in a week!

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