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The Practice of Meditation: making a start

I invite you to begin a process which has the capacity to change your life for the better. Before you read on, you may like to return to the main menu and look under the heading About Meditation. You will find two articles; one which tells you a little about the history of meditation; the other will give you an insight into the benefits of the regular practice of meditation. Over time, I will add more detail to these articles. It is the practice which is, of course, the most important thing for your well-being. However, I imagine that, like me, you are also enthusiastic to put your meditating into context. There is something quite thrilling about tapping into experiences and insights from other times and many cultures. Let’s aim, as we meditate, for unity in diversity.

Clearing a Space

I am sure that there must be people who can meditate on a crowded bus, but let’s not aspire to that. You might miss your stop. A much better idea is to find a corner of your own home and arrange it so that each time you go there, your mind associates the place with peace.

All you need is one upright chair, and a footstool or cushion. Place some object of delight on a small table nearby or on the floor. Choose something that has symbolic meaning for you, so that, as you direct your gaze at the object, it becomes a conduit for peace.

Take great pleasure in setting up your space. See this as the first step on a journey, first into yourself, and then outward to connect more deeply with the world.

Remember what we said about the manner of your sitting. Place your shoe-less feet on a cushion or small stool. Keep your back straight, relax you neck and shoulders. Some people like to turn their palms upward, as if they are waiting to receive a gift; others feel more relaxed with their hands placed comfortably on their knees, palms downwards.

Scan your body now, becoming aware of any aches or discomfort and then settle yourself. Either close your eyes (but not allowing your head to drop) or focus your gaze on your object.

Now, bring your attention to your breathing. Today, we will use the simplest technique of all.

With each inhalation, repeat silently

“I am breathing in”

With each exhalation, repeat

“I am breathing out”

Simple? Perhaps not as simple as it sounds.

If random thoughts interrupt the focus on your breath, then think of each thought as a child of your imagination who has wandered across your path. Just watch with kindness as the thought leaves and then return to focus on your breath.

“I am breathing in”

“I am breathing out”

Our breathing began when we left our mother’s womb. Our breathing will end at the point of death. Our breathing signals our own, unique journey. We call it life.

“I am breathing in”

“I am breathing out”

You choose the length of your meditation. To my mind, the benefit that comes from meditation results from the quality of stillness that you bring to your body and your mind. Over time, and when it seems right to you, then meditate for longer periods. Trust that changes will come.

When your session is over, open your eyes, stretch your body, and return your attention to the everyday world. Have a glass of water. Water is another miracle.

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