Meditation of the Month
Life is Complex. Meditation Is Simple.
There is an old story that someone once asked a meditation teacher:
What is meditation?
The answer: It’s alive, it’s alive.
There are so many meditation methods. So many explanation of the benefits. Sometimes, all the choices are another distraction. Start simple. But always start.
Here is a simple meditation. Approach your practice with loving curiosity and let the flow begin.
- Find a Quiet Space
Choose a quiet and comfortable space where you can sit or lie down with minimal distractions. A corner of your bedroom or a peaceful spot in your living room will do just fine. Everything is a part of the path, and that includes sound. But it is nice to minimize sounds to the extent you are able.
- Sit or Lie Comfortably
Get comfortable. You can sit cross-legged on the floor, on a cushion, or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. The key is to find a posture that allows you to be relaxed but alert. While lying down is often discouraged, if lying down “gets you to the cushion”, go for it.
- Settle with a Short Focus on Your Breath
Take a few conscious breaths to settle in. Pay attention to the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen. There's no need to force or change your breath; just let it flow naturally.
- Counting Your Breaths
Try counting your breaths. Inhale, counting "one," and exhale, counting "two." Continue counting each breath up to ten, then start over, at 1. This simple technique is NOT a beginner practice, yet it is still a great place to start. Another approach to counting that is a great way to settle for a longer sit (and is also useful for a shorter sit) is to count from 1 to 20 and then backwards, back to 1. This "20 Up & Back" counting does not have to match your breath. If you lose your place in either of these approaches, start over, at the beginning (as in, back to 1). You can go an entire meditation session and not get past 3. That is fine. Begin again and again. Your mind will eventually settle with either counting. Simple: breath and counting.
5. Set a Timer
For daily or regular practice in your own space, this is a helpful tool. Set the timer for some amount that seems like a reach, but not a stressor. If you have no idea what to start with, try 5 minutes. Set it & forget it. This limits the “mental noise” that can come up with time when you sit.
6. Develop an End.
This too, should be simple. Nothing fancy. It can be a phrase or a saying that resonates with you. Perhaps you want to express gratitude for the ability to breathe, the mental acuity to count, the freedom to sit. Move slowly and return to your daily activities with a renewed sense of calm and focus.
QUESTION: Eyes open or closed?
This sometimes depends on the method you choose. There are benefits to both, and reasons for both. For the instructions above, try it with your eyes closed. Close them gently, as if the bottom lid and the top lid want to dance, meeting in the middle.
These straightforward meditation instructions can serve as a foundation for your practice and your path. Consistency in a practice, even a few minutes, helps familiarize yourself with how erratic thinking can be, and this is a big part of a practice: Realizing you are not your thoughts. After a consistent practice, notice if you sense what the meditation teacher in the quote above was getting at. Have a go, it’s one of the fastest ways to arrive here.
Click below for info on two monthly meditations in Knoxville, led by Tammy:
SECOND SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH: monthly Zazen at the Meaningful Life Center, 116 Carr Street, Knoxville TN 37919 - 9-noon. Sitting and walking meditation. Very simple!
FIRST THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH Koan Meditation at Lotus Light Contemplative Center, 6:30 - 7:30. A way to meditate that invites your whole self. Very immediate!