How to Meditate

First off, what is it?   I can't tell you how many times I've heard: I can't meditate.  Right away that tells me that there's some ideal people think they are not reaching.  But reaching is exactly what we don't do when we meditate. So, how do you not reach?  How do you not do?  Start with the certainty that you absolutely cannot do it wrong.    

Technically speaking, please let your spine be straight so that you can feel the connection between your tail and the crown of your head.  Use your breath to feel this connection.  Notice the breath descending to your hara, a point about 2 inches under your navel. Notice the breath ascending to spread your collar bones.  Notice how this column of breath supports and relaxes your neck, head, and face.  Notice your feet.  Now, as you breathe, let the sounds in the background enter your awareness. 



Your thoughts are part this moment.  Include them, but decide not to chase them.  (That decision is really all that separates meditation from the rest of your life.)  Then watch as you chase them.  Remember again to notice your breath.  Your body is still there, breathing, heart beating, ears hearing.  Thoughts are being generated by your brain cells as a result of your genetics and history and what is happening right now.  You can't directly stop the thoughts but you can give them a little less attention.  Usually we are so captivated by our thinking that we can barely tell the difference between reality and our thoughts.  

Meditation, just sitting in one place--deciding not to act on thoughts or emotions--teaches us that we are more than the immediate thing in front of us.  We outlast the waves of thought/emotion/sensation and begin to sense the underlying ocean.  This is not some lofty new-agey spiritual transcendence; it's a simple matter of shifting attention.   Just notice, don't engage, and bring your attention back to your breath as it includes everything you hear, feel, think, and sense.  No matter how you think you are evaluating your meditation, any practice in shifting attention away from what you cling to will generate huge benefits in equanimity, creativity, and mental agility in dealing with your teenager-- or whatever !  

If you find this method too loose (meaning that your mind is all over the place), try counting 'one' on the inhale then 'two' on the exhale.  But be gentle, and consider any result a success.

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