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Basic Meditation Instructions

  • Choose a quiet corner or room in the house or a shaded protected spot in nature, which will become your favorite and regular place for practice.

  • Sit upright and steady, without strain but with an energetic and relaxed dignity, like a king. If on the ground, sit on the edge of a cushion or two to bring your knees closer to the ground and reduce the tendency to roll backwards. Your legs can be crossed in any way that is easy. If on a chair let your two feet touch the ground and sit erect.

  • Close eyes and gather yourself together, mind and body present in this moment. It is like arriving home. Feel the luxury of simply being.

  • Remind yourself that meditation is about being, not doing: There is nothing to be fixed, nothing to be gained or obtained, nothing wrong and no struggle. The only effort needed is to be present as consistently as possible.

  • After some time choose the breath as a primary object of mindfulness, and a natural place to consistently rest the attention. Notice how each breath feels, track it as it enters and travels through the body, expanding the stomach, and then its journey out with the stomach contracting again. Let each breath be natural and soft, just as it is, closely embraced with your attention, as if the breath is breathing you.

  • Notice how breath and bodily awareness are experienced together. Sometimes move the attention to this sense of embodiment, the sensations of aliveness that move and change in the body, such as the touch of the hands.

  • Meditative attention does not need to hunt for a particular ‘right’ experience. It is a direct knowing of what is actually going on, with a radical acceptance.

  • When thoughts, commenting, memories, pictures, stories about the past or future or any other mental content or pattern arises, let them appear and pass by like clouds in the sky, in background. If the mental content is insistent and dominant it can be helpful to step back and give it a label such as ‘judgmental thought’. If you identify with the thought and it carries you away with it to the past or future, step out of the train of thinking onto the platform, and return to the breath.

  • All kinds of experiences and impressions can arise naturally. They can be at the level of the body, such as stress, tension, pain, ease or peace. They can be at the level of feelings, such as tiredness, boredom, agitation, sadness, enthusiasm, blankness, irritation, or any other. They are not disturbances or problems which stop meditation, they are the raw material for meditation. Leave the breath and turn your attention to these experience as simple phenomena, that arise, stay for a while and pass. Try to identify them but not identify with them. Be aware of the actual experience as it is and what if any is the reactions to it. Be aware if it is pleasant or unpleasant.

  • Be kind to yourself. No need to judge yourself as a success or failure. No need to measure progress. No need to label any psychological or physical experience as problematic. Allow whatever arises to be just as it is, even if it is difficult, let it be, and let it go. Be aware that everything passes by.

  • Gradually get a sense that you are not on automatic pilot, but are able to hold your changing inner life with kindness, appreciation and interest.

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