This semester, I was thrilled to be able to take Mindfulness instructor training. Basically, this class prepares students to teach the basic steps of meditation and also become a kinda meditation guide (Someone who can check in with you about your practice).
The first session we went over the basic procedure of mindfulness meditation.*
I figured this might be usual information for people starting out in meditation or people wanting a refresher. There is always some wisdom in coming back to the basics when you are feeling ungrounded in practice…
Basic meditation Instruction in three steps:
1. Working with the posture:
We began meditation by taking our seat and grounding into the body. Beginning with bringing attention to one’s seat, making sure we are seated in the middle of cushion. Then, moving to the legs, place them in a comfortable relaxed position. Legs do not need to be in lotus pose but one leg can be place in front of the over, slightly crossed in front of the groin area. Knees also should be lower than the hips. If in a chair make sure you are seated with feet firmly placed on the ground. If necessary place a pillow under your feet. Now, move one’s attention to the arms, they should be loose, relaxed with hands placed slightly above the knees (or a comfort distance depending on the length of one’s arms.) Next, imagine the torso raising up, like a string with a balloon at the end is moving toward the spine and out the crown of the head. The back should be upright but not stiff. The shoulders should be relaxed with chest and heart open. The head floating up, relaxed with a slight tuck to the chin. Relax the jaw with mouth slightly open and tongue placed behind upper teeth. Finally, the eye gaze, about six inches ahead or a comfortable distance, lids can be partially open, with a gentle soft focus. If one becomes sleepy, opening the eyes more and raise the gaze.
2. Working with the breath:
In order to practice mindfulness of the present moment we bring our attention again and again to a particular object. In this way, we are learning to keep coming back, returning to our direct experience. Usually in mindfulness practice we use the breath as our anchor. In order to practice with the breath we simply breath normally and notice where in our bodies we feel the breath. We do not hold on to the breath. We experience and let it go as it fades away. Then we return to the newly arising breath and continue that process.
3. Working with thoughts:
When we lose awareness of our breath it is because we are thinking. We label the thought “thinking” and there is no need to have judgment about the thinking. Thoughts are not a problem and are a part of the meditation process. Just label them and come back to the breath again.
Finally, if you like writing, you can journal afterwards by asking yourself what you observed or experienced during the meditation.
*meditation is taught in a Shambala Buddhist fashion though can be used by non-Buddhists, of course.