Meditation, Basic Instructions
Sit cross-legged on a cushion.
- The cushion should not be too wide, which could put pressure on the leg hip joint.
- The cushion should be narrower than the hips.
- Sitting on a chair or kneeling while sitting on a slightly angled bench is okay.
- Keep hands in lap, palms up, with dominant hand on bottom and other hand on top. There is no correct hand/finger position, other than the hands and fingers being relaxed. Slide the hands into position with either the thumbs gently touching, forming an oval shape; or letting the thumbs lie next to each other, side by side. You can also clasp all the fingers together, but remember not to hold them tightly. Keep the hands relaxed.
- Relax. Use just enough force to maintain good posture, then relax without collapsing or slumping. Pull up through the spine from the top of the head and let the rest of the body relax around the spine. Make sure you don’t hold the shoulders up; keep them relaxed and sinking into the body.
- The lower back, whether sitting cross-legged, or on a chair or bench, should not be tucked under. When sitting cross-legged, if the hips and groin area are tight, the lower back has a tendency to turn under (a pelvic tilt). Guard against this by turning the hips back, or sitting higher up by increasing the height of the cushion.
- If sitting cross-legged, do not develop the habit of keeping the same leg in. The legs should be reversed from time to time.
- For more precise cross-legged positions, look up Burmese sitting position, half lotus position, and full lotus position.
- Relax, Relax, Relax | Stay Alert, Stay Alert, Stay Alert
- Relaxed in the mind means not purposefully thinking or engaging in an inner dialog. It does not mean using effort to suppress any thought. For the meditation session, there is no worry. All life’s entanglements are put aside. You can go back to them after the meditation is over.
- Staying alert means paying attention, in the same way that you summon the force to pay close attention to a speaker, or danger, or a beautiful vista, or whatever. You simply put yourself in that state without focusing on any object, and stay there. It is called objectless attention. Often, maintaining alertness means either staring with the eyes or listening intently. Be careful not to stare fixedly. Relax the eyes and ears. Think relaxed attentiveness. Again, relaxing the eyes is important.
- If you feel the need to focus somewhere will help stabilize the mind, then rest your attention on either the breath, the entire body, or the center of the body at the chest or just below the navel.
- Meditation begins when you are able to be both simultaneously relaxed and alert
Meditation is natural. Just as you are born with the knowledge of how to perform many physical functions, you are also born with the innate knowledge of how to meditate. A teacher is someone who reminds you of this. Teachers themselves do nothing special. There is no passing of energy, etc. Those who say so are manipulating your imagination. An observant teacher, however, may teach some imagination exercises to help develop attentiveness. There can be synergy in the form of support when people practice together; however, ultimately, it’s all up to you.
Religions and doctrines can confuse the process, so don’t get caught up, but if you feel studying such helps motivate you then by all means do so. Just like training for a physical event, you must practice proactively; you’re not “just sitting there”. In physical training, you are “doing through action”; in meditation training, you are “undoing through stillness”. You are emptying your self so as not be full of your self, so that you may experience a deeper layer of the nature of mind.
Greece 2020, May 3 - 9 New Classes in Essex Junction, VT begin January 15, 2020