The Art of Meditation
The practice and Benefits of Meditation and mindfulness have been well documented, and by now we are all starting to explore with interest this ancient art form that has the potential to relieve us from our day to day stresses and anxieties. The practice of basic meditation and mindfulness can not only relieve stress, Anxiety, Depression and worry but it has the potential to bring a deep sense of joy and wellbeing into our lives. With so many meditation websites and endless mindfulness chatter out there where and how do learn the essentials of basic meditation?
Meditation is best done in a sitting position, preferably crossed legged on the floor with a straight spine. Meditation once understood can be done wherever and whenever you find you have moment to yourself, standing in a line at the supermarket checkout perhaps, waiting for a lift, in the bathroom or maybe while sitting at traffic lights, are all perfectly good examples.
The basic meditation posture and positions are sitting meditation, standing meditation, Walking Meditation and lying meditation, although the last position isn’t recommended for beginners as the tendency to fall asleep is a common issue. Today we are going to learn meditation at the most basic level, however first we must grasp what meditation is really all about.
Meditation is a one pointed concentration and in the most usual instance we focus our attention on our breathing. Our breath is used as a focus tool because it is always with us wherever we go, our breath must surely be. To calm ourselves and to reconnect with our breathing it is good practice to take a few slow deep breaths. As you feel your breathing returning to normal keep your attention on the movements or feelings of each rise and fall.
This is the one pointed concentration. Watch closely to the feeling of the in breath as it passes through the nose filling the lungs and expanding the abdomen and chest. Now watch in detail how the reverse process takes place on the out breath. IN BREATH, OUT BREATH
To start you may find your mind wander from the breath onto something else, a shopping list, a fantasy or start to day dream. This is perfectly natural and ok, always be kind to yourself, never scolding, always patient and gently bring your attention back to your breathing. The more you practice the better you become at anything, and this is the same with mindfulness and meditation.
Now we have the basic idea and grasp of the mindfulness and meditation one pointed concentration we can now begin to use it in our everyday lives. We don’t have to shave our heads, build a shrine and spend hours painfully sitting crossed legged on the floor. This method is best used in everyday situations you may find yourself free, waiting for a bus, sitting at lunch in the park, the back of a taxi or even in a busy cafe. To experience just one moment fully, you automatically feel uplifted and fully energised, to experience that one moment fully brings all the benefits of meditation flooding to you.
Ajahn Chah, a Thai forest Buddhist monk with tens of thousands of hours meditation experience under his belt and a true meditation master of our time, used to stress
“If meditation was all about sitting for prolonged periods of time, then all chickens would be enlightened”
It really isn’t about sitting for long, long periods, it really is about being 100% involved, occupied, absorbed in the one pointed concentration of your breath. Breathing in I’m really aware Of the air filling my lungs, breathing out I’m really aware I’m breathing out.
Try right now, while your reading this, wherever you are right now, take a couple of long slow deep breaths and relax into following your breath. Let’s start to meditate, let’s start right now to bring mindfulness into our lives.