Basic Meditation Practice

This practice is basic, yet it is one of the most important practices in meditation. It involves focusing on the breath, which is a way of duing the practice of meditation to become more mindful of one’s thoughts, thereby enhancing our ability to be more focused and less stressed.

Sit (comfortably in a chair. An arm less chair is preferable, but if one is not available, then you can sit in a chair with arms, but DO NOT use the arms on the chair as a place to rest your arms.

Place you hands on your thighs just above your knees. If it is possible with the chair you are in, your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.

Straighten your back as much as possible. (Move an inch or two from the back of the chair so that your back is not resting against the chair.) If it is painful to sit forward a bit, then gently move back so that your back is straight and as lightly as possible against the back of the chair.

Let your tongue rest behind your upper teeth.

Breath through your nose if you can, but if not, breath through your mouth. Do not breath heavily or lightly, but breath normally.

Close your eyes and sit quietly for at least thirty seconds before starting the actual breathing practice.

……after approx. thirty seconds….

Relax as much as possible and begin to focus on your breath as you breath in and as you breath out. Focus on the sensation of the incoming breath, and on the sensation of the outgoing breath.

As you are focusing on your breath, you will find that thoughts arise. Some thoughts are about the past, some about the future and some are about now. The thoughts might come very rapidly or not rapidly, but they still come up. You might be planning a trip or a big event and thoughts bombard your mind about the trip or the big event. Whatever it is, just let the thoughts flow through your mind without placing any emphasis whatsoever on them.

When you realize that you are thinking, just say silently to yourself, “thinking” and go back to focusing on your breath. The truth is that you will have to bring yourself back many times to the focus on your breath. The object here is to observe the working of the mind. You will observe that thoughts constantly flow, but as you become a more skilled in your meditation practice you will be able to just let the thoughts go by without allowing them to effect your emotions.

This is a kind of preliminary to mindfulness practice. But we will say more about that in subsequent lessons.

Sit for five, ten or fifteen minutes engaged in the practice of focusing on your breath and letting the thoughts that arise just go by without considering them as important.

As you end you meditation period, continue to relax as much as possible. Allow yourself to move a bit, your legs, your arms, you neck and head. If you closed your eyes, open them. If you kept your eyes open, look around, gently and let yourself become fully aware again of what is happening around you.

You are back! Continue this type of practice for up to twenty minutes once or twice a day, or as often as possible.

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