Sunday, November 14, 2010

A SIMPLE FORM OF MINDFULNESS SITTING MEDITATION

Mindfulness is simply the presence of a calm, alert, steady, open, deliberate, "curious" but choiceless (that is, accepting, non-judgmental and imperturbable) awareness of, and bare attention to, the action of the present moment ... one’s body, body functions and sensations, the content of one’s consciousness (thoughts, feelings, images, memories, etc) and consciousness itself. Mindfulness is training in self-culture, self-improvement and self-help.
Although most, if not all, Mindfulness instructors and practitioners advocate some individual, personalised tuition and guidance in the beginning ... for very good (and not self-serving) reasons ... what follows is a very simple or basic form of Mindfulness Meditation for use at home, in the office ... or anywhere for that matter.
Please be aware that what follows is offered for general information purposes only, and is not, and is not intended to be, professional healthcare advice to be relied upon as a basis for action on the part of any individual in respect of any matter in relation to which there could be loss or damage nor is it a replacement or substitute for any such advice:

* Sit up in a chair (alternatively, sit on the floor Burmese style [see photo below], cross-legged, or in a half-lotus or full lotus position) … straight back … feet flat on the floor (if seated on a chair).

* Gently hold your hands in your lap or lay your palms up (or down) on your thighs. Feel, without any resistance, the weight of your body on the chair or floor.

* Close your eyes lightly, and take several deep cleansing breaths. Turn your mind "inwardly" and silently.

* Start breathing in an even pattern, and continue this pattern throughout the period of your meditation. Let your breath go slow and deep … into the centre of your being. Let your awareness gradually fill your body. Notice where your breath is most vivid.

* Be mindful of and follow the rise/expansion and fall/contraction of your lower abdomen. Alternatively, you may wish to be mindful of your breathing. I find that works best for me - a mouth breather - is to fix my attention on the upper lip as the "point of touch" against which the breathing air strikes. Many others fix their attention on the nostril tip as the relevant "point of touch". Whatever you do, it is strongly suggested that you do not follow the breath - the so-called "breath-body" - on its way down the body and back again, nor count the "entrances" and "exits", nor take note of the "area of touch" of the breath. Your awareness should only be of the sensation of touch of breath at the relevant "point of touch".

* Whatever is your "point of touch", that is your “anchor” or “primary object of meditation”. Your anchor helps you to remain fixed and focused in, and to be mindful of, the moment. We need an anchor because we can’t focus our mind on every changing moment without a certain degree of concentration to keep pace with the moment. Please keep in mind that this is not a breathing meditation per se. The breath as an object of meditation arises naturally in the mind. We are talking about mindfulness with breathing as opposed to mindfulness of breathing. Buddhists refer to this as "right mindfulness".

* Keep your mindfulness at its post of observation even if, as will ordinarily be the case, you are aware (mindful) of the breath's passage through the body. Just give the latter bare attention at most. That means you should never anticipate sensation nor reflect upon it.

* Be with the moment. Be and remain embodied in the moment. Whenever a body sensation, sense perception, thought, feeling, emotion, image, plan, memory, reflection or commentary arises, do not resist it or try to expel, drive it away or change it. Simply be mindful of the sensation, etc, in the immediacy of its arising or vanishing ... that is, in the now. (Remember and practise the “law of non-resistance”: “Whatever you resist, persists”.) Don’t try to actively bring thoughts or feelings up. 

* Simply observe and notice, with passive detachment, and without attitude, comment or judgment, what your body (including your mind) is experiencing - label it if you wish - and immediately return to your anchor ... that is, return to following either your abdominal movement or your breath (as per above). Wait and see what comes up next. Let your mind penetrate whatever sensation, etc, arises ... or whatever be your predominant experience ... in the moment ... from moment to moment.

* Rest in choiceless awareness ... moment by moment ... that is, keep your mind at the level of bare attention, without judgment, evaluation, self-criticism or condemnation. Let it be. (You must first "let be" before you can successfully "let go" all over.) Observe directly and objectively ... with "effortless effort". Let your mind be peaceful ... undisturbed ... not restless. Maintain a "soft" acceptance of whatever is.

* Avoid "noting" or "labelling". Although some Mindfulness instructors and practitioners teach and advocate "noting" and "labelling", my own view - which is not an original one of mine - is that making a mental note of, or labelling, what is occurring tends to result in the formation and arising of thoughts, ideas, concepts and images ... that is, mental phenomena ... which prevent you from having an immediate and direct access to reality, that is, to what is occurring in the moment from one moment to the next. How? Because the consciousness which tends to arise from the act of noting or labelling is one of an event in the past, which has gone, but which is nevertheless re-experienced as an after-thought or a memory. Please remember this fundamental principle: your mindfulness should be simultaneous with the occurrence of touch or sensation. Dwell in the sensation of the moment. Watch that sensation ... without thinking any tought connected with the sensation ... that is, without judgment, evaluation, self-criticism or condemnation. (Having said that, I do not altogether eschew "noting" and "labelling". At times, noting or labelling can assist where a sensation is particularly persistent or troublesome, but it is not, in my view, something to be done routinely. Indeed, it should, in my view, be done very rarely, if at all.)

* Continue as above throughout the period of meditation. Remain poised and relaxed at all times. A deeply relaxed person breathes about 5-8 times a minute ... at the very most. Don’t rush off immediately at the end of the meditation session. Evaluate the experience.

* Practise meditation gently ... but steadily ... and regularly. Meditate, mindfully, preferably twice daily … for about 15 minutes on each occasion. As with all things, practice makes perfect ... and meditation practice is just that - practice.
Mindfulness Meditation is not about stopping the mind or stopping thoughts. Mindfulness Meditation is about allowing thoughts to be present but not letting them run you.

One final, most important, matter. Mindfulness Meditation needs to be brought into every aspect of one's daily life. In the words of Lama Yeshe, "Whether you are walking, talking, working, eating ... whatever you do, be conscious of the actions of your body, speech and mind."



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2 comments:

  1. That hand gesture is a up side down pyramid door for demons to enter a person.

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    Replies
    1. Really? That is superstitious nonsense that has no place in the mindset and life of a rational, enlightened human being.

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