Guided Mindfulness Meditation
Pay a little attention to the way you are sitting, which should be primarily relaxed and easy, but at the same time with a sense of steadiness and upright dignity: not collapsed or hunched up. If you’re sitting in a chair you might like to have your two feet balanced on the ground. If you’re sitting on the floor sit on the edge of a cushion, crossing the legs with your knees inclining to the ground. Close your eyes to limit the amount of stimulation coming in.
Immediately, allow a sense of arriving. Connect with what’s really happening right now, leaving behind everything that was. There is the body; there may be sounds from outside; there is the touch of the hands; there are a few thoughts passing by in the mind; but all of that is known and experienced in the now. Collect yourself and feel that you have come home into this moment: a place of ease, where nothing needs to be done, and nothing needs to be changed, or fixed, and there’s nowhere to go, and nothing missing.
Now begin to gently focus on part of your experience, the body and breath, as if your gaze is captured by the beauty of a lotus in the pond. Just allow the body and the breath to be in the forefront of your attention. The breath is arriving and leaving, accompanied by the rising and falling of the stomach. Alternatively, track the sense of bodily life flowing through our legs, arms, our tissues, our cells. Alive, vital, and peaceful.
When thoughts arise, they don’t need to disturb us. They can be like small waves in the ocean; you may notice them coming up, presenting a picture, changing and passing by. They’re not a problem, they’re also part of our lived experience. Just let the thoughts do what they need to do. Let them come and let them go. But keep giving a gentle priority to the breath and body. The rising and falling of the abdomen, the touch of the hands, the weight of the body sitting on the cushion or chair. And, behind it all, a sense of being, of presence, of wakefulness.
Allow both pleasant and unpleasant experiences, without preference. For example, if there is tension, stress, or discomfort in the body, give it some attention. Notice what kind of feelings are arising, where they are and how they change and move, and if there are any responses that arise in you. Relax the area and notice carefully how that changes the sensations. Pay attention also to comfortable pleasant sensations, such as the general sense of OK-ness, or places in the body such as the hands which are problem-free. Know that your awareness is able to hold and to be bigger than both the pleasant and unpleasant.
All through the meditation allow a sense of softness towards ourselves, a sense of kindness, no matter what we are experiencing right now. Being present is an act of kindness, a present that we give ourselves.
We can go a little deeper. Try and get close to the experience. Watch how it is flowing, dynamic and constantly changing. How is the breath now? What is its rhythm and texture? Where is it going and how far can we track it in the body? How are we with our body and bodily life? And how are we as the witness of this? Can we appreciate a background sense of knowing, or basic awareness – give it some space.
And we can invite a small insight: that bodily life is flowing, the breath is coming and going, the knowing of it exists, it’s all just happening by itself. We are less in charge. It’s a place of relaxation, of ease. It’s just happening, this life flowing through us. Just rest in that place.
After a while, we can take a deep intentional breath, and open the eyes gently. And, before we come back into ordinary life, just take a moment to reflect, what was new for us, or interesting for us in this meditation and what it is that we may have learnt.