Summary: Even though you may have been meditating for a long time, this introduction to meditation by Sathi is filled with excellent reminders, helping you focus and stay mindful during your meditation practice.
- Sit Mindfully (and with good posture)
- Be an Observer, Not a Reactor
- Notice the Negative and Positive Ways Your Mind Becomes Distracted
- Select a Place to Observe Your Breath
- Each Breath is Unique
- Be Friendly to Your Mind, To Your Thoughts
- All Thoughts Are Equal (even though your mind will think that some are more equal than others)
Since we have a few new meditators I would like to talk about technique a little bit before we begin our meditation.
With this meditation class, we are practicing breathing meditation, simply focusing on our breath. What do we do? We just sit in a supportive posture. A supportive posture means you have to find a way to straighten your back and let go of all the tensions and stress in your body. We call it sitting down mindfully.
When you sit down mindfully you are giving permission to yourself by disconnecting yourself from all other obligations. You are disconnecting yourself from outside obligations by turning off your phone, not expecting any phone calls or text messages. You are giving freedom to your mind.
Even though we are practicing this meditation as a group, once you close your eyes, you are just by yourself. You don’t have to care for anyone around you. The only person you have to take care of is yourself. Your mind.
Be an Observer, Not a Reactor
As a meditator, one of the basic things is that you are not going to be a reactor. You are going to be an observer.
Observer when you engage with something. If it is outside of your intention, your practice, bring your attention back to your practice. Which means you are bringing your attention back to your breath.
Consider it as an exercise. It doesn’t matter how often or how many times your mind wanders off. Your job is catching yourself and bringing yourself back to your breath.
Notice the Negative and Positive Ways Your Mind Becomes Distracted
At the beginning, you will find [your mind wandering] all of the time. But later, you will see your mind is settling down. That is the moment you have to recognize. When your mind gets excited. Your mind will get excited in two different ways. Negative and positive.
Negative Ways. When something happens outside of you; when you hear a sound; when you happen to have any pain or sensation, you will begin to engage with it. Then, you will blame yourself. You will blame the sound. That’s the negative way [your mind will get excited or distracted].
Positive Ways. Sometimes you will think, “Oh, I’m having a good meditation today!” That’s the end of meditation. Then, you are struggling to bring back your mind again. Practicing meditation means you are practicing not to do anything. Stopping or helping you not to run away from yourself. Our object or intention is observing your breath.
Select a Place to Observe Your Breath
As a meditator, you will notice a place to observe your breath. Select a place. Once you select a place, stay with that place. It can be your upper lip, the tip of your nose, inside your nose, your chest, or your stomach. Allow your body to breath naturally.
Even though you are observing your breath, what will you be observing? You will observe the feeling. The feeling of air coming in and going out. The people who observe the stomach will feel the rising and falling of the belly.
The most important thing is, you are staying with the present moment of the breath. This present moment is either the beginning of the inhale the middle of the inhale, or the end of the inhale. The gap in between the in-breath and out-breath. Beginning, end, and the gap.
Each Breath is Unique
You will find each breath is unique. You don’t know what your next breath is going to be. It may be longer than the present one or it can be shorter than the present one. You don’t have to measure your breath. But, I’m encouraging you to just observe the present breath as it is.
This is the technique we are using to stop your mind from running away from yourself. Because your mind only has the capacity for one thought. We are giving it that thought or that experience is your breath.
Be Friendly to Your Mind, To Your Thoughts
As a meditator, you have to do this practice in a friendly way. You are your own best friend. When your mind happens to engage with another thought or feeling or sensation, you have to recognize this in a friendly way and then bring your attention back to your breath in a friendly way. Be happy to catch yourself.
This is how you practice meditation. If you happen to experience any emotion or memory or feeling related to your mind, by knowing you are experiencing it, bring your attention back to your breath.
Remember, you are not denying anything. You are not running away from anything. You notice it. And, at the same time, you are not giving it power. If you happen to give power to it, it will drag you away from yourself. If you give power to any thought it will take you away from yourself.
As a meditator, just notice it and smile at yourself and then bring yourself back to [focusing] on your breath.
All Thoughts Are Equal
All thoughts are equal. As a meditator, you are not discriminating against any thoughts. No better or bad thoughts. Feelings are also equal. You only have feelings during the meditation. No pleasure or pain. You only hear sounds during the meditation. No noise or music. Whenever you happen to engage with some sound as music, then it is not the experience of your ear. It is the experience of your mind. Because you like it. If you happen to blame a sound, then you are engaged with that sound. You [should] experience it only as a sound, not as a noise. So, we are maintaining a neutral mind during meditation.
Any questions before we begin?
Okay, let’s start.
Recorded on September 9th, 2019, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mankato, Minnesota.
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