|Posted on December 23, 2015 at 6:25 PM|
Meditation the Way of Mastery.
So we begin!
The path has opened before you and we are at the begining of the long road towards greater understanding and self discovery. For the beginner, meditation can be a daunting task. Who knew there was such a plethora of noise, such a storm of excuses and so many pressing things that arise despite every intention to find solace and peace within. The inner realm is laden with shadows, light and many colorful thoughts and ideas. So how does one navigate the uncharted waters of the concious and uncouncious mind when diving into the deep sea of meditation? Multitudes of directions, many thousands upon thousands of electric pathways to follow. Impulses, emotions and other things triggered by the mind in endless space of silence. How strange that in what is supposed to be silent, there is so much commotion. The mind is so unruly, and the pressing nature of the past and future are such strong deterants from staying present and centered. So how can anyone find peace in meditation at all?
Lets start with the basics!
Step 1- Begin with a comfortable seat! While this sounds easy it is very challenging for all those but seasoned practitioners, monks and the like. The body, accustomed to slouching, easy chairs and other forms of lazy sitting; has trained the muscles to form around structured weaknesses. Years of poor habits are readily felt when attempting to sit in what is know as Sukasana, A.K.A easy seat. Easy seat is not so easy for most Americans, something I see everyday when I teach yoga classes. For many sitting in an Indian Style Seat may be likened unto a form of mideval torture. The Hips are tight,the back is weak, the core is not strong and the shoulders and neck somehow seem to compensate for what is lacking everywhere else.
Try a pillow or cushion and sit to the edge of it! If this is still too intense, sit in a chair with feet firmly planted on the floor, or lay down but dont fall asleep!
Step 2- Relax
So you finally have found a seeminly comfortable seat! Now notice your muscles! Are you clenching your jaw and teeth? How about the eyes? Are you squinting in over concentration striving to see in the dark screen of the mind with no avail? Are you sitting too straight? Think natural and relaxed. Systematically go down from the head to the toes and notice each area as you move downward. Ground down throught the sitting bones and relax your shoulders.
Step 3- Breath
Notice your breath. Notice,... is your breath is ragged and uneven? Begin by slowing bring your breath into a natural flow. Imagine your breath as an ocean wave. Feel the breath open and expand, while it moves in and through the body. Visualize and feel your body open. Then, onthe exhale....relax let the breath flow out of the body. Feel the belly fill on the inhale and the ribs expand, soften and deepen toward the earth as the breath begins to move freely out of the body on the exhale.
Step 4- Guide yourself towards stillness within
This is a bit tricky to get to and to sustain for the beginer and intermediate practitioner. Depending on the situations preceeding your meditation and those things that are happening in your life at the time, there may be alot to work through to get to the place of stillness within. Some are confronted with several situations
A. Restless body. The first distraction will be some itch, pain or discomfort. This is common especially if you are begining a fitness regimen after a long period of being sedentary and have not developed physical stamina and strength. This will happen not only in meditation but also if you practice yoga. You will have to begin patiently and learn to differenciate complaints from reality. This will be tough to work through but not impossible. Remember this is a practice and takes practice. So start with a do-able amount of time, such as 5 minutes to start. It may take years to reach 20 minutes, but do not fret. Shift to a more comfortable position like laying down to continue if need be but try and avoid constant movement and complaints. The undisciplined mind will create many false sensations to distract you from this process.
B. Mental Checklists. Once you master the body you will find the mind is a tricky thing to contain. This is where the real meditation begins. Notice if you begin with mental inventories or even sermons. You may find your mind will not remain still or quiet. The mind is like a wild horse that has been running wild for a long time. Expect to be bucked off a few times and perhaps even taken on a few wild rides or tangents. Return to the breath and if need be....say to yourself I am breathing in and I am breathing out.
C. Unpleasant emotions. Often times when the mental checklists or thougths go on too far or long in the space of the meditation time, a thought will arise that will trigger an emotional reaction. Anger, frustration, depression and sadness will arise. This is not a bad thing, but it is a tell tale sign that there are things to work on. Many of us rush around our lives attending to checklists and or us distractions to avoid confronting real emotions that exist and have perhaps been supressed in your walking life ( the non meditation part of your life). It is not wrong to use your meditation time as a processing time, however the trick is to not let it take over your time. So allow the feelings to be there. Witness them as they arise, watch the thoughts come up and acknowledge them but use your breath and centering tools to prevent yourself from being hijacked by them. So allow the feelings to come up acknowledge them. Then, derail any thougths that will cause your mind to get stuck in a whirlwind of fixation. Return to the breath and stay present keeping your eye on the prize of peace!
Step 5- Be patient.
Continue to keep bringing yourself back to center if you find yourself distracted by any of the above challenges. The most important thing is to not judge yourself or pressure yourself to much. It is ok if you dont get to a Zen state. Slow and steady wins the race. Even if in the moment you feel not so peaceful, keep breathing and coming back to the stillness and be the observer of your own inner world. Be open to explore and learn. In order to master anything you must be open to the fumbling nature of baby steps! You are learning to meditate so dont pressure yourself to be a master in one day!
Keep to your meditations! The more you try the more you will understand!