True meditation is a living practice that can’t be defined in terms of particular steps to take – there is nowhere to go but to be right here in this moment. It’s helpful to let go of thinking that you just need to find and master the right technique for peace to happen. That being said, I find there are a few guiding principles to meditation practice that can be helpful to help to lead you to your natural, peaceful, and free state.
1. Set aside at least 25 minutes of free time.
Make sure you are in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and get into a comfortable sitting position.
2. Remind yourself, meditation is your natural state.
There is no need to control your mind, your breath or any other details.
3. Guide your awareness to your physical body.
Begin to notice where your awareness is drawn to. Let awareness be free rather than forcing it to any particular place. Are there any sensations particularly prevalent in your inner body? Let awareness settle with an attitude of openness, curiosity, a willingness to allow it to be as it is. When thoughts come up, allow them to be as they are and guide awareness back to the body. Notice how sensations change and how awareness will naturally be drawn elsewhere according to an innate guidance. Let awareness follow this. This step may last awhile as you work your way down through various layers of the body. Again, trust the body’s wisdom as it guides you. Awareness will dissolve the energy patterns in the body and the mind will begin to become less dominant. I find this step a key component to quieting the mind.
4. Notice what is noticing.
In other words, you are aware of thoughts and sensations and sounds, etc., but as you allow these to be as they are can you notice the presence that is noticing? This presence is not somewhere in your body, nor can it be defined in any way. It is spacious, free, unchanging and unaffected by details. Sort of like the vast infinite sky that surrounds and encompasses everything.
5. Abide in the presence.
Rest as awareness. When you find yourself contracting on thoughts or sensations or emotions, allow these to be as they are. Leave them alone and suspend entertaining them in any way. This will unhook awareness from the object and allow you to experience more presence.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to get into meditation.
Contract on an object . . . allow it to be as it is . . . rest as awareness . . . contract on an object . . . allow it to be as it is . . . rest as awareness.
7. Over time, you will catch awareness faster.
You will enjoy deeper presence for longer periods of time.
8. Ask yourself if you are trying to control your experience in any way.
Are you avoiding particular thoughts, sensation or emotions?
9. 25 minutes in the ideal minimum amount of time to practice.
It often takes a good 15 or 20 minutes to unhook from the persistent draw of the mind. If you shorten your practice on a regular basis you will rarely get the opportunity to bathe in the sweetness of presence.
Remember that meditation is an ongoing practice. Enjoy the journey!
Image via Take Back Your Health Conference