Mindful Techniques (training the mind)
Concentration on body or objects:
Sit in a crossed legged position. You can use a cushion or mat if it is comfortable. This is a position that works as you need to maintain a small amount of tension in the body so that you don’t go completely unconscious, and should you begin to loose consciousness, this position will support your body so that you don’t fall over! This position also enables a smooth path of air from the pit of your stomach through the nostrils. Put your right hand on top of your left hand (men), left hand on top of right hand (women), in your lap. Take one breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. You should breathe “into” your abdomen and exhale fully. Repeat this three times and you will already feel very relaxed and your body will feel a little lighter.
Consciously scan your body for tension and release each body-part from your feet to your scalp. Pick a specific body part to focus on (I usually use my hands, feet or lips as these seem to be the most sensitive). Focus solely on (eg.) your hands. Begin to question the hands…where do your hands start? See if you can pinpoint their boundary. Where do they finish? Again, try to locate the exact position. When you concentrate on the hands as they are placed together, can you experience them separately or do they feel like they have merged into one? Do they change size? Do they stay the same? Are they hot, how do they feel? Soft? Hard? What does the space of the hands feel like? Do the hands identify with the normal feeling of hands in this state? What is the difference? Focus ONLY on the hands- is that possible? Does the feeling of the wrists impact the feeling of the hands? You may start to feel your hands seem to disappear and become water-like or balloon-like. Don’t panic! This is simply you becoming aware of the energetic imprint of the hands. Now try to make the hands expand, will the feeling of the hands to move to the left or to the right. Don’t move the physical hands, but feel how the energetic hands seem to move and expand. Keep expanding them- play with this feeling! When you have explored one body part, explore another. When you are ready to come out of meditation, count backwards from 10 and picture yourself re-aligning with your physical body. Gently move your fingers and toes before opening your eyes. Move out of the position very carefully as you may have to re-remember your physical limbs!
This is a great exercise for practicing concentration of mind, when you reach the point of focusing solely on this exercise, the mind will not wander as much as it once did and you will be ready to take you awareness training a step further.
Meditation Techniques (realising who you are)
The viewing of thoughts:
This is a great way to practice non-attachment. Observe what happens when a thought arises. When you notice a thought, there is the thought there but there must be someone that thought is appearing to. Notice the space between you and the thought…are there two of you? Is there one thinking the thought and one observing it? Who is the “real” one? Which one is you? Are you the thought or the thinker? Experiment with this, sometimes the things hardest to see are the most obvious. When you begin to be able to “see” the thought, you are able to create space to it. After practicing this, apply it to your daily life. When somebody says something that makes you happy or sad or angry… take a breath, give it space. Are you the one that thought or feeling is completely attached to? Or are “you” really just a witnessing for that action? Does that thought or feeling come into immediate contact with the witnessing? Does the witnessing have nerves or sensitivities or is it just an awareness? Practice this with any feeling or object you come into contact with. Does the thing you come into contact with ever really affect the you that is the witness? Does the taste happen TO you, or does it appear IN you? What is the difference? This identification to arising thoughts is what we call attachment, and it persists with a false identification of self. Learn to see the attachment WITHOUT attachment.
Get comfortable. Observe the breath as it enters the nostrils. Are you the one breathing? If you relax, what happens to the breathing? Stay with the breath. Are you in control of the breath? What happens if you deliberately try to alter the breath? Do you have FULL control over the breath? If you try to stop breathing by holding the breath, can you? If it is not you that is in control of your breath then who is it? Are you the one breathing? Or does the breath appear within you and operate of its own accord? Are you in complete control of its rhythm? Feel your heart beating… are you in control or does it beat of its own accord? Who is making the heart beat? Stay with the breath and contemplate its action, movement and feeling. Where in the body does the breath change from an inhale to an exhale?