Meditation 1

Meditation 1

There are many sources that cover the mechanics of meditation (for example), but few go into very much detail on what it might produce. This is the first in a series of posts describing my experiences with sitting.

I try to sit every day for half an hour. I cross my legs, sit on a cushion high enough to put my knees in contact with the ground, and watch my breath. Just that. When I catch myself drifting off into thoughts, I stop and bring attention back to my breath. And again and again.

I experience the process like layers of an onion. Outermost are my thoughts. As these still and quiet, the layers below, my emotions, are revealed. Abruptly, without notice, my breathing deepens and speeds up; I am truly breathing from my abdomen. I neither encourage nor discourage this process, but just continue to follow the breath. It finally slows, the release, the catharsis is complete; I sit in peace, and my breath flows unblocked from entry to my abdomen.

This process may be intense or gentle; it may repeat, or may never occur. The end result is that I descend through the layers of emotion to a place where I am simply sitting and following the breath. There is no commentary on the process. No question of who is watching. Simply the experience of sitting and breathing.

First in a series of meditation posts. See the others.

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5 Comments on “Meditation 1

  1. If you were meditating at home, you could continue this process through your entire body — over the head, down the back, out the arms & legs to the tips of your finger & toes — but since our time is limited, I’ll ask you to return your focus now to any one of the spots we’ve already covered. Let your attention settle comfortably there, and then let your conscious awareness spread to fill the entire body, from the head down to the toes, so that you’re like a spider sitting in the middle of a web: It’s sitting in one spot, but it’s sensitive to the entire web. Keep your awareness expanded like this — you have to work at this, for its tendency will be to shrink to a single spot — and think of the breath coming in & out your entire body, through every pore. Let your awareness simply stay right there for a while — there’s no where else you have to go, nothing else you have to think about… And then gently come out of meditation.

  2. SIT UP STRAIGHT!!!? People are often asked to sit up straight. This rarely has permanent effect because by the time someone needs to be reminded to do so, their body has adapted to be more comfortable in the slouching position. When they attempt to sit up “straight” they actually tighten the already over-shortened frontal muscles and tendons and this causes restrictions in the ease of breathing volume; tightening these muscles even slightly to make oneself more erect causes tightness in the entire upper body and reduces the ease of deeper breathing. We intuitively do not like this and soon adjust back to where it was easier to breathe. That is why most people that are advised to sit up straight, remain erect for only a few minutes before reverting to the former slouch where breathing is a little easier. Their breathing is still held back from being fully deep, easy and balanced. For them it becomes easier and more what they have become accustomed to. Often what we perceive as satisfactory is a lack of adequate understanding. Extreme examples of this are called delusions.

  3. To test whether you are breathing properly, here’s what to do. Sit or lie down somewhere. You will see the effect more clearly if you are lying down. Put one hand on your upper chest and your other hand on your abdomen, just above your belly button. Allow your breathing to normalize for a minute or two, and then notice which hand is moving. The correct way to breathe is by moving your diaphragm, which means the hand on your abdomen should be moving up and down as you breathe, but the hand on the chest should be steady. If you find that the hand on your chest is the one doing the moving, then you are breathing wrongly, and you need to relearn how to breathe from the diaphragm. If you are sitting down, to test if you are diaphragm breathing, put both hands flat on your stomach, one on each side of your bellybutton, with the tips of the longest fingers just touching. When you breathe you should see a small gap appear between the finger tips. if not you are probably breathing at the top of your chest instead of diaphragmatic breathing.

  4. This meditation is a good place to start developing Zen awareness. Begin by sitting quietly and turn your attention to your breathing. People usually find that it is easier to notice their breathing when the close their eyes. Count each complete breath, where breathing in and then out again is one breath. Count up to ten and then begin again. Let your breathing be natural and relaxed. Keep your attention on your breathing as you count. Continue counting for several minutes.

  5. Scattered mental activity and energy keeps us separated from each other, from our environment, and from ourselves. In the process of sitting, the surface activity of our minds begins to slow down. The mind is like the surface of a pond – when the wind is blowing, the surface is disturbed and there are ripples. Nothing can be seen clearly because of the ripples; the reflected image of the sun or the moon is broken up into many fragments.

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