Take a few moments to congratulate yourself for taking this time for meditation practice.
The recommendation for posture during meditation practice is to find a position in which you can be comfortable and fully alert. Some people prefer to sit in a chair or on a cushion on the floor, while others like to lie down or even stand. Any position is fine so long as you can maintain a good degree of comfort and attention.
If you take a sitting position on a cushion or chair, try to keep your back reasonably straight; an upright posture supports wakefulness. Try to find a good balance between comfort and alertness, making small adjustments as necessary, as if you were tuning an instrument.
If you choose to lie down, you’ll need to be diligent in maintaining your awareness so that you don’t fall asleep. You can keep your eyes partially open if that helps. If you still find yourself nodding off, feel free to stand up. Standing meditation is a wonderful way to practice and one way to make sure you won’t fall asleep. Just stand in one place, preferably not leaning on anything, and attend to your practice. If you get tired from standing and you need to change your position, you may do so mindfully.
(I find this to be very helpful in settling before other mindfulness practices)
Begin by doing a mindful check-in feeling into your body and mind and simply acknowledging any thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations that you are bringing in with you to this sitting. Perhaps this is the first time today you are stopping and checking in with yourself amidst a busy day. As you begin to enter the world of being rather than doing, you may notice the trajectory of the feelings that you’ve been carrying within you. There’s no need to judge, analyze, or figure things out – just let it all be… As you begin to acknowledge what’s present, it will help you settle into the here and now.
Now, gently withdrawing from the mindful check-in and shifting to either the mindfulness of breathing, listening to sounds, or feeling sensations…
It is important to offer a few options of meditation objects to support your practice. You can focus on either the breath, listen to sounds or feel sensations. All of these practices support the steadying of the mind by building concentration as well as developing greater insight and wisdom into the nature of change that may lead to taking things less personally.
Begin to find the place where you feel the breath to be the most prominent and distinct. It could be in the inner nostrils, the tip of the nose or the upper lip. You may also feel the breath more prominently in the chest, belly or other places.
Let your awareness begin to rest wherever your breath feels the most distinct and then mindfully breath in and out – breathing normally and naturally. There is no need to purposefully manipulate, visualize or analyze the breath – just breathing in and out in your own natural way. You may notice that sometimes the breath is short, sometimes long or in between so just follow the rhythms of your own natural breathing.
Breathing in and knowing you are breathing in, breathing out, and knowing you are breathing out. Taking your life one inhalation and one exhalation at a time, being present… Experiencing the ever-changing nature of the breath in and out.
There is nothing else to do, nowhere to go and no one you have to be – just breathing in and out with awareness…
There may be times when your awareness of the breath has wandered off and when you recognize that, just acknowledge wherever you went and with kind attending bring it back to the breath, breathing in and out, being present taking your life one breath at a time…
Mindfulness of Hearing
Another option of meditation you can focus on is hearing meditation. Begin to listen to any sounds that are present as they rise and fall. It is fair to say many of us live in noisy or busy environments so this is a wonderful practice you can do anywhere. If a particular sound is persistent or even annoying, such as a car alarm, loud music, kids screaming, traffic, or airplanes, simply bring attention to the sound itself without evaluation. On a more elemental level, the mind is simply hearing sound waves. Even if you isolated yourself in a deep cave or a soundproof room, you’d still hear internal sounds of your pulses, heartbeat, or ringing in the ears. There’s no need to judge the sounds as good or bad. Simply notice how sounds arise and pass away as impermanent events.
As you turn your focus to hearing, you can begin to transform any irritation with sounds. There is no need to like or dislike them; they’re just sounds. You may hear sounds outside or indoors, or as your concentration deepens, you may be aware of sounds within the body. All of these are just sounds, appearing and disappearing.
Mindfulness of Sensations
Bring awareness into your body to the field of physical sensations on whatever are predominant or distinct in each moment. The human body is a dynamic organism filled with a wide array of sensations (itching, tingling, warmth, coolness, dryness, moisture, heaviness, lightness, pain, and so on) that may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
And if you aren’t feeling any distinct sensations, you can bring awareness to any points of contact, such as your body touching the chair, your feet on the floor, or your hands on your lap—wherever you feel contact. In mindfulness meditation, there’s nothing to analyze or figure out about these sensations. Simply maintain attention on the field of sensory experience, experiencing as each sensation as it comes and goes. Directly focusing on the transitory quality of physical sensations will deepen your understanding of the nature of change.
Ending the Meditation
As you come to the end of this meditation, take a few moments to congratulate yourself that you took this time to practice and end with inviting loving kindness into your heart and to all living beings….
May all beings be at peace…