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Basic Relaxation

 For this one lying on the floor is actually best. Please try not to fall asleep though! Put your palms down on the floor by your sides. Your feet should be just a few inches apart.

OK. Now just lie still for a few seconds. Let your thoughts gradually quieten down. Without any force at all let your breathing become naturally deep and regular. Now feel the weight of your body on the floor.

Now we're going to very quickly just 'name' some parts of the body in turn. Centre your consciousness briefly on each of these parts as you name them to yourself. Toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, thoughs, groin, midriff, chest, shoulders, hands, arms, neck and head. Be aware of any areas where there is particular tension. OK? Now I'll just explain the next bit before we do it.

What we're going to do is spend five seconds making our whole bodies as tense as we possibly can. Then we're going to release all of that tension in one go, pushing it out and up and away from us. But before we do this, on the count of three take a long deep breath in. One, two, three -now tense as many muscles in your body as you possibly can, and when I count three push the air in your lungs out at the same time as you let go of every last little bit of that tension. One, two, three -push away the stress!

Now concentrate on your breathing. Breathing in through the nose and out through the nose is best here, but find some other way if that is uncomfortable for you. Let your breaths be deep, and let your mind be still. Just watch the way you take in the air and how it fills your lungs. Hold the air in your lungs for just for a second or two before you breathe out, and wait for just a second or two before you breathe in again. Just watch your breath for thirty seconds or so. If you get distracted or your mind wanders, then gently bring it back.

Now try and maintain the sense that by letting the body relax, and by allowing the mind to be still, so you are letting all parts of the system become more integrated. By simply being calm, and aware, you are letting bodymind become more balanced. More efficient. More energised. Be calm in this attitude for another minute or so.

Now gradually bring yourself out of the meditation, slowly bringing your attention back to where you are.

by Richard Ebbs

Link: Meditation

Category: Meditations and reflections

Tradition: Buddhism

· meditation · relaxation · daily · spiritual practice · Richard Ebbs

Dzogchen Mindfulness Meditation

 This meditation is taught in a number of traditions in Tibetan Buddhism. Like Zazen, the practise is essentially very simple indeed, but, as you will discover if you do it consistently in the right spirit for some time, this is actually a very powerful meditation technique. It is said that this technique helps develop self-awareness, non-attachment and a feel for what Buddhists call 'Mind'.

Note that after you have done this meditation a few times, you can do it looking directly ahead or you can even do it during every moment when you are active in some activity or activities during the day.

 

Sit in a posture that feels comfortable, with a reasonably straight back. (See Posture.) Your hands should rest on your knees, with your fingers drooping down over your kneecaps. Keep your eyes open, and look at a spot in front of you: your eyes should look downwards at an angle of around 45 degrees.

As a way into the meditation, concentrate on your breathing. Allow it to become naturally deep and regular, feeling each breath as it passes into and out of your body, energising the whole system.

Let your thoughts subside. Let your feelings be calm. You are looking at one spot in particular, but you don't need to analyse what you it is that you are seeing. On the other hand, try not to let your eyes go 'fuzzy': just let them rest on that one place without effort.

When you find yourself thinking, following one thought to the next in the way that we normally do, then don't repress the thought, and don't indulge it. Just gently bring yourself back to being centred somehow in what might be called 'the observer' in you, that part of you that is able to stand back from your thoughts, and watch as they happen.

When you find yourself experiencing feelings, following one feeling to the next in the way that we normally do, then don't repress any of those feelings, and don't indulge them either. Gently bring yourself back to being centred somehow in 'the observer', so that you can stand back from your feelings, and watch them happening.

What we are aiming to do here is reserve certain amounts of the 'energy of our awareness' for different things. So when you find your awareness temporarily taken over by thoughts, or by feelings, or by sensory input from your eyes and so on, then gently 'bring it back' trying not to let more than 25% of your 'awareness-energy' be used up in this way. Reserve 25% of your awareness-energy for 'the observer'. The remaining 50% of the energy of your consciousness should be used to maintain, if possible, a sense of the void that, according to Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, underlies all apparent phenomena: the void from which all apparent phenomena arise, and into which all apparent phenomena subside from moment to moment. All things change in the long term, and all things change even in the short term. Nothing has any real substance. Thoughts, feelings, sense-perceptions and even the sense of 'I' that we all have are illusory. At base, there is sunyata, or voidness.

It's also important to remember at this time that we don't want to get too attached to the idea of 'the observer': 25% is about right: the fact that we reserve 50% of our consciousness for some kind of awareness of sunyata should underline the fact that even the perspective gained from observing ourselves closely can be limited insofar as it may be a limited, or dualistic, perspective.

Be fully present in the moment, here and now.

If a thought arises, you could say 'there is a thought'. If a feeling arises, you could say 'there is a feeling'. If looking arises, you could say 'there is looking'. If hearing arises, you could say 'there is hearing'. And gently bring yourself back.

You are sense-perceptions, thoughts and feelings, and you are the observer. You are also the ground of being, the Buddha-mind in which all these things have their basis. Be aware of the gaps between your thoughts, the gaps between your feelings, the gaps between different sense-perceptions.

Remain in this state of mindfulness.

When you are ready, prepare to come out of the meditation.

Make an 'intention', explicit to yourself, by way of sealing the energy of this meditation in your being, so that it can be used in ways that you feel good about. (See Opening And Closing A Meditation.)

In your own time, come out of the meditation.

by Richard Ebbs

Link: Meditation

Category: Meditations and reflections

Tradition: Buddhism

· meditation · Dzogchen · daily · spiritual practice · Richard Ebbs · mindfulness

Zazen meditation

 Zazen is the classic Zen meditation. (Perhaps deceptively) sometimes described as 'sitting quietly doing nothing'. A common practise among Japanese Zen Buddhist monks and nuns.

 

It's traditional to sit in the lotus or half-lotus posture here, (see Posture) but if this is uncomfortable for you then sit in a straight-backed chair.

Your hands should rest in the lap, with the both hands palm uppermost, and the left hand resting on the right hand. The tips of the thumbs should be lightly touching each other.

Make sure your spine is straight. Push your lower back forward slightly and expand your chest while making sure your head is upright. Gently move from side to side until you find the balance point that is most comfortable.

Keep your eyes open just a tiny bit ('neither open nor closed') and look at the floor a few feet in front of you. Breathe in and out through your nose, keeping your mouth shut and the tongue resting gently against the roof of the mouth.

Take a few deep breaths, exhaling all of the air in your lungs each time, and then let your breathing find it's own natural deep rhythym, without force of any kind.

Watch the breath. When the mind wanders, gently bring it back again to that simple awareness. Be still. Relax. Be easy on yourself. Don't judge yourself harshly. Just keep the attention on your breathing, and when the mind wanders, just gently bring it back again.

Be here now. Engage fully in the moment. Breathe, and be fully, vitally present.

When you choose to come out of the meditation, first come back to a full sense of being engaged in all of your body. Then gently move your your upper body around in small arcs before stretching your legs out. Don't stand up too soon if your legs are stiff!

by Richard Ebbs

Link: Meditation

Category: Meditations and reflections

Tradition: Buddhism

· meditation · relaxation · daily · spiritual practice · Richard Ebbs · Zazen · sitting