HOW TO MEDITATE: BRIEF INSTRUCTIONS
1. Decide on the amount of time you want your session to last.
2. Get in a comfortable position.
Avoid laying down, because you will probably fall asleep. The best position is sitting upright, with the spine straight, but not tensed.
3. Set your motivation.
Recall your purpose or intention. Why are you meditating? What is your highest motive or aspiration for doing so?
Think of something that inspires you.
Recall that all of life is interconnected. Like a tree, whose roots are beneath the ground, intertwining with the roots of other vegetation, there is more to our being than our external personality. None of us exists in isolation. Everything we do or say has reverberations that extend out through this web of interconnection. Silently request to be supported in your intentions by the deeper parts of yourself and the world you are embedded in.
4. Ground yourself by letting awareness settle in your body. Notice the contact points to the chair and the floor. Feel the weight of your feet being held by the floor. Feel the weight of your torso being held by the chair. Feel sensations where your buttocks and thigs are pressing into the surface of the chair. Notice your heatbeat. Notice your breathing.
5. Go more deeply into the sensations of breathing. Notice the different places that you feel the breath. If you place your hand on your abdomen you will feel it moving with the rhythmic contractions of your diaphragm. If you place a hand on your chest you will fill your lungs filling and emptying. Your shoulders also rise and fall, and the ribs can be felt expanding and releasing at your sides and in your back. Even more subtle sensations can be felt in your throat and in your chest. If you focus on the entrance to your nostril you can feel the breath coming in there. If you look for really subtle sensations it may even seem to you as though your whole body is breathing.
6. Now sharpen your concentration by counting your breaths. Count from one to ten, then start over again. Anytime you get distracted return to one. For example, you may count to three, get distracted, realize that you have lost count. . .so go back to one and start over.
a. You can count both the inbreath and outbreath: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, etc.
b. You can count just the inbreath, or just the outbreath: 1-breathe out, 2-breathe out, etc.
or breathe in-1, breathe in-2, etc.
7. After you have been counting for awhile and you feel that the mind has become focused
to some degree, let go of the breathing and just be aware of the sensations of the breath
in the background. Letting go of the breathing is like pushing off from the raft you were
hanging onto, and letting yourself float on your back in the water.
8. While your awareness rests with the sensations of the breath, you will notice sounds,
bodily sensations, emotions (or other feeling states), and thoughts come up on their own.
Just notice them and return to your breath (just as you returned to "one" when you
were counting). For some people it can help to make a note of what's coming up
such as "thinking," or "hearing," or "feeling." For some people, that helps them let go
of the thought, sensation, or feeling.
9. Sometimes your mind will be snagged by a thought and there will be a train of thoughts
that occupy you, until suddenly you remember, "I'm being distracted." Notice how the
awareness spontaneously arises that you are distracted.
10. Notice that judgmental thoughts may arise about being distracted. Notice any judgment
that "I am doing it wrong!" or "I'll never get this!" or "I mustn't get distracted!"
11. When the session ends, don't get up abruptly. Let yourself transition slowly. Move your body gently, stretch, or rub your hands or face. Allow yourself to hold some residue of stillness in your being as you return to regular activity.