What does the word “Meditation” mean to you? Is it synonymous with prayer, contemplation, or visualization? Is your meditation a sitting practice? Or does it involve action; being outside, observing the interplay of natural elements while you’re walking, running, or gardening? Do you find your meditative state through music, ie., playing an instrument, singing, or chanting? There are countless teachings and methods on the subject of meditation, as well as definitions dating from antiquity, and in these contemporary times, scientific research. The technique one chooses to use to meditate doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is that the method is stable and reproducible, so that the map you use to travel inward can be refined, and used again and again. This map needs to take us into the general territory, where we have access to the energy of the meditational field. This field reveals itself by radiating a tremendous sense of well being, which both attracts and amplifies our inner awareness.
Actually, we are in a state of active or awake meditation all the time. This type of meditation occurs naturally when we let go of daily thoughts as they go through our mind. This process of letting thoughts flow is natural, inherent, and imperative in the human experience. Functioning underneath our conscious awareness, this process of awake meditation allows our qi (energy) to flow smoothly. If we get stuck in thoughts and rumination, our qi begins to stagnate, and if we fester and obsess in our thinking, our qi can get very stuck. In order for us to function in our world we rely on our natural meditative ability to let go of thoughts.
This next section talks about preparation and practice of Conscious Meditation. Using this tool can amplify our innate ability to clean up sticky thinking, and with practice, enhance deep connection with well being. Here we will spend 15-20 minutes away from the active world and dedicate this time to the sole process of withdrawing our senses and journeying inward. Sitting quietly, observing body, breath and mind, we begin to inhabit deeper and deeper aspects of our internal being.
Many readers have developed a practice that feels comfortable and satisfying to them. Here, I’m offering a few steps that can greatly facilitate the learning of some optional techniques, and if you are new to Conscious Meditation, perhaps these steps can give you a jump start into developing an easily accessible meditation practice. Due to the necessity of explanation, these steps may appear very linear, but as you practice, they will become natural and can be integrated easily into your practice. The following steps are very important because they relate to balancing your body and environment, so that it’s easy to journey inward.
Balancing Your Body and Environment
1.Set aside a 15-20 minute space of time, preferably in the morning, when you’re rested and undisturbed by the world. Turn off your phone.
2. Find a comfortable sitting position where you can relax, breathe easily, and feel stable. A simple sitting position is on the edge of a firm but comfy chair. Place your feet on the floor. You might choose to use a shawl and socks or slippers to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Place a pillow on your lap for your hands; this keeps the shoulders relaxed. You can gently rest your hands within one another to make an energetic connection, and to stabilize your arms and hands.
3. Set a timer for the desired length of meditation, so that you can let go of time.
4. Check your posture. Are you stable and comfortable?
5. Close your eyes softly. Keep the room lights dim. Observe your breath. Take a couple of deep inhalations and exhalations. Become aware of where in your body you’re inhaling to and from; are you breathing into your chest, or stomach area? Keep your mouth closed and your tongue on the roof of your mouth, breath through your nose gently and smoothly. Try to maintain quiet breathing. Take a few breaths into your diaphragm, which is located just below the rib cage.
Having prepared one’s body and mind by following the steps listed above, you can now enhance and deepen your inward travel by practicing the following exercises:
1. Gentle Breath Extension. Begin to lengthen your breath by doubling the time spent on your exhalation that it took to inhale. For example: as you inhale, with your mouth closed, silently count to 8 (or a count that feels right for you), and as you exhale, with your mouth open, silently double your count to 16. Whatever time it takes to inhale, double on the exhale. One inhalation and one exhalation counts as a set. Repeat approximately 10 sets of this “Gentle Breath Extension”.
2. Let go of any of the breathing techniques you’ve just been using, and allow your breath to come into its natural flow.
3. At this point in your meditation, you will be very deeply relaxed and expanded within. More of your inner thoughts and impressions will be observable as they arise within your mind. Do your best not to latch onto any one thought. Not hooking onto any part of what is coming up in your mind is easier said than done, but when you realize that you’ve fallen into a particular thought or story, you can begin to remember your breath or your counting.
4. Stay in this Meditation phase for around 10 minutes. With practice you’ll become proficient in managing your time.
Creating your Inner Workshop
Using the energy and the clarity that you have just accessed during Meditation, you can now enter into the “Inner Workshop” and easily begin to work with various healing techniques, prayer, and visualizations. I look forward to sharing this information with you in future articles and my soon to be released ebook.
This article is excerpted from Teo Merlino’s upcoming book titled, “Living a Life of Meditation in Action ~ A Users’ Manual.” The truth about meditation and how darned easy it is to do. There’s NOTHING to IT!
Health Safety: The meditation and breathing techniques listed here are general in nature. Please practice breathing exercises directly with a teacher of meditation. Though meditation is a safe and healthy practice, consult a medical practitioner if you have questions regarding proper use of breathing techniques.