Awareness Meditation #1

Three steps to sustained awareness – meditation made easy/easier.  A guided meditation you can play with while reading it, and then do it on your own.  When you practice it on your own you don’t have to follow it exactly, just utilize the principles of the three steps to help yourself stay present, focus the mind and allow the meditation to arise.

The action is the bringing yourself back, the concentration of the mind.  The meditation – sustained awareness – spontaneously occurs.

Be still in a comfortable position you can sustain for a little while, sitting on the ground or in a chair or lying down, with a straight spine if possible.  Fair warning – it can be difficult to not fall asleep if you are reclining…

Step 1 – body scan to orient yourself into the body…go slowly with this to really feel sensation in each of the focus points.

Feel breath awareness between your eyes, as if you were breathing in and out between your eyebrows.

Once you really feel it there, bring breath awareness to the tips of the nostrils.  Then across the roof of the mouth to the back of the throat.  Then down into the lungs, feel the lungs expand and contract with the breath.  Feel your heart beat.

Feel the diaphragm descend on the inhale, allowing your whole lungs to fill with air and the belly expand.

Feel a warmth building in your belly, as if you are gently warming in the tailbone.  If this is uncomfortable, you can skip it.  Or gradually build your resilience to feel the uncomfortability, or even the lack of feeling if there is little or no sensation there.  The shadow of sensation.  Or intensity of feeling.  Noticing, with as little judgment as possible.

Feel awareness spreading from your belly all the way down into your feet.  Once again, you can skip this if it is uncomfortable or you don’t feel anything, or you can play with it like you are pulling awareness like taffy down towards your feet.  Like a warm river flowing down your legs, through your knees, your ankles and into your feet and out into each toe.  Feel your whole legs.

Feel awareness spreading from your belly up to your heart and out into your hands, spreading warmth out into each finger.  Feel your whole arms.  Then up through your whole torso, neck and into your head and brain.  Feel your whole torso and head.  And then as far into the entire interior space of your body as you can at once.  Grounded just below the navel, the awareness spreading out into your whole body.  Stay with this for a little while to allow the awareness to build.  Shift from thinking about it to the direct felt experience.

Step 2concentration, to sharpen the mind with the ability to focus and relax the mind from its continual over thinking. 

Focus awareness to your heart and lungs, and feel the sensation as if the heart was being breathed by the breath.  Keep bringing your mind here.  The sensation at the area of your physical heart and the pulse of the breath the anchor that keeps you present right here.  Stay with this for awhile.   When the mind wanders – and it will, no need to fight it – keep bringing your mind back to the breath and the heart with as little judgment and commentary as possible.  Over and over again.  No big deal, just come back.

Start to feel the sensation of the breath spreading from your heart all the way to the periphery of your skin, and then as the breath spills out, your body condenses back to the center at your heart.  Whole body expands as you fill with breath, whole body softens back in as the breath spills out.  Little by little control the breath less and less while allowing the breath to stay deep and full.  Stay with this.

Step 3the meditation spontaneously occurs.

The effort in bringing yourself present starts to sustain itself and you can sit and experience the waves of thought and emotion that pass through you, just as the breath does.  Without blocking, without embellishing, without judging.  As much as possible.  The waves rise from stillness, from silence, crest, peak, and dissolve back into silence, stillness, the space.  Over and over again.  As we still the mind, our awareness can deepen.  This sustained awareness, perhaps meditation, is the result of the concentration of the mind.  The anchor of the breath holds you steady, brings you back when you start to drift away.  The seeming distractions just a part of the whole experience.

Both watching, and experiencing, with as little judgment as possible.  The potential not so much to make yourself feel better, or to deaden or detach yourself from the full experience by simply observing, but to deepen your ability to stay calm, at least on some level, and fully feel what it is like to go through the waves of your consciousness.  All aspects – the parts you want to avoid and the parts that are overwhelmingly ecstatic and it is hard to stay grounded in.  The dull parts.  This is very practical – if we can cultivate the ability to stay present in all sides of the experience of being awake and alive than we better our ability to skillfully respond to whatever comes our way.

The action is the bringing yourself back, the concentration of the mind.  The meditation – sustained awareness – spontaneously occurs.

When you are ready to finish the practice, take a few deep breaths and feel the belly expand to ground yourself.  Open the eyes and be still a few moments – and by the way, this whole meditation or even just parts, can be done with eyes open, soft focus on the ground a few feet to six feet in front of you.  Blink a few times and slowly stretch the body as feels right.

The more you practice, the more likely you will stay calm and present and maybe even skillful in real time when things come up that threaten to throw you off balance.

May we find this as we need it.

…love…

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