Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Western Mail – How to: meditate

The Western Mail—a prominent South Wales newspaper—features a ‘how to . . . ’ article in their Lifestyle section every Tuesday.  Today they featured my article ‘How to : meditate’.  They shortened and altered the text slightly for publication.  Below is the full article in its original form:

how to . . .

… relax into meditation

Many people want to learn how to meditate because they believe it will help them with stress and teach them to live contentedly with a sense of well-being. It is true that meditation has the potential to achieve this in our lives, but this will only be possible if meditation becomes a regular activity – preferably a daily practice. Trying to meditate even for as long as half an hour when you have little experience can become a daunting prospect.

So how can we start to meditate and establish a practice that is enjoyable and sustainable? A good place to begin is with relaxing the body:

Either lying down or sitting in a chair systematically tense muscle groups throughout the body and then breathe away tension on the out-breath. Tense the arms and then relax them as you breathe out. Tense the hands and then relax them as you breathe out. Then do the same with the legs and feet. Next move to the shoulders tensing them forwards and then relaxing, backwards and then relaxing and bringing them up to your ears and then relaxing. Always relax on the out-breath. Then follow the same procedure with the stomach muscles and then the buttock muscles, tensing and relaxing. Finally stretch the neck muscles relaxing into the stretch on the out-breath: gently roll the neck first to the left and then to the right; lift the head back to stretch the neck under the chin, and then bring your chin to your chest to stretch the back of the neck; tip your head first to the left and then to the right trying to bring your ear to your shoulder to stretch the sides of the neck. Relax into the stretch on the out-breath.

Repeat this process of tense and relaxing until your body feels heavy and relaxed and your breathing is slow and regular. Remain for a few moments focusing on your breathing and luxuriating in the experience of warm relaxation.

Once your body is relaxed and your breathing calm, you are ready to move into meditation. Slowly and gradually adjust your posture so that you are sitting with the back upright, the body supported, and in a position that the blood can flow freely around your body. This may be a cross-legged position or in a chair – whatever is comfortable for you. You want to take the relaxation of the previous exercise into your sitting posture.

Meditate by bringing your attention to your breathing, particularly noticing the out-breath. As you breathe out let go of thought – let go of whatever is in your mind. If you find this difficult count the out-breaths from 1 up to 21 and then back down to 1. If you get lost in a thought story—planning your next shopping trip, revisiting a memory, going over a problem at work—just let it go on the next out-breath. Every time you realise that you have lost focus this is a moment of re-emerging awareness. Gradually it will become easier to let go of thought and remain focused, and you will start to experience moments of mind without thought.

Practice this meditation of letting go of thought for ten minutes every day and you will start to discover the quality of mind when it is no longer dominated and defined by thought. Thought is a natural process of mind but thought is not the essence of mind. The nature of mind is spacious. It is clarity. As spacious clarity is discovered in meditation it will start to sparkle in everyday life. Habit patterns lose their power to dominate our responses. Sensory experience becomes enlivened.

Meditate every day for just ten minutes and you will become more open, patient, tolerant and kind through the spaciousness of mind you have discovered. Relax the body, and then take this into meditation to discover relaxation of mind.

Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 http://bit.ly/nrprim

Available from Lulu.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and other bookshops worldwide. 

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