THE MEDITATION CUSHION

pillow-for-meditations

Meditation:  Where do we do it?

Meditation isn’t mysterious, isn’t difficult, doesn’t require special equipment nor does it require a special place or a specific spot.  You can meditate anywhere, if your intent is right.

Sitting meditation can be conducted on a comfy cushion, a hard bench, amoung the grasses on the ground, while a passenger in a car, on a train, a plane, or while sitting quietly in the Doctor’s office waiting for an appointment.  Anywhere you can find five minutes to sit without talking or visiting with someone is a place you can meditate, as long as your intent is to meditate and not to show off how well you meditate.

Walking meditation, conducted by walking up and down a designated lane or path, in your house, garden or forest, focusing on one of the five body points and silently repeating a word of prayer or mantra with your eyes hooded and downcast, is part of the Samatha tradition, which was discussed in the second post of the “Meditation Cushion”.

You can designate a walking path in your living room, a garden or somewhere in the woods, a place where you can walk in quiet, peacefully concentrating on the point of focus and the word of prayer or mantra.  You can walk with your shoes on, in your socks or your bare feet, depending on what is appropriate.

Walking meditation conducted while walking along the street, in a park or on a nature pathway, is part of mindfulness training and differs from Samatha meditation.

During mindfulness walking meditation, your eyes are fully open, you are aware of your surroundings.  Your focus is the experience of the moment.  What can you see, smell, or hear?  Can you smell the trees, the flowers; can you hears, birds, dogs, squirrels, bells.  Pay attention to one of these sensations.  When you find your mind has wandered off, thinking unhappy thoughts, of work or about the shopping list, remind yourself to be in the moment – recapture the sensation you were focused on and enjoy the walk.

Take advantage of your schedule, meditate whenever you have the opportunity, conduct meditation wherever you are.  Try mindfully washing the dishes, folding the laundry, gardening or washing the car.  Be there, in the moment.  Make an appointment with yourself to meditate in a more formal fashion, sit for five minutes when you wake up, another five minutes at lunch time and another five minutes before dinner.  Nothing on TV?  Do a half hour of walking meditation and half hour of sitting meditation instead of letting yourself become bored.

Whether you choose to practice Samatha or mindfulness walking, meditation provides your body with gentle exercise.  It allows the mind and consciousness a moment to rest and connect with a bit of peace and calm.

Meditation is easy, its’ conduction depends on you.  You reaps its’ rewards and its’ benefits, wherever you meditate.

By Cheryle L. Baker                                      March 31, 2015

The Meditation Cushion

Meditation:  What are we doing

What is It we are doing, while we sit with our eyes closed, our rhythmic breathing coming and going quietly?

Our mind is running amuck, all of the thoughts are coming forward, begging for attention.  Look at me, I am significant, I can make you look smart, beautiful.  I am lonely, you are failing, not worthy, hide beneath the dark blanket of shame and all will be well.  Your shopping list for today includes………. Don’t forget to drop the kids off.  What a jerk, who does he think he is, treating me like a minion, I am not worthy.  I just want to disappear, let’s go shopping…. Never ending conversations with yourself, running your mind ragged with their interference.  Too much to focus on not enough mind.

sitting meditation

Our backs straight, shoulders relaxed, hands gently resting on our laps, right over left.  We are ignore the aches, pains and itches our bodies are giving us in retaliation to the unfamiliar stillness.  It wants to run, jump and play.  Move as it pleases.  We are keeping these impulses in check, they are there, we do not pay them any attention.  We remain still, they will disappear we will become oblivious to the wants of the body.

Take a slow deep breath, hold it for just a moment, let it go slowly, pay attention to the quiet it brings, breathe in, – slowly, hold for just a moment, breath out slowly.  Drop your shoulders, they are starting to tense, hold you back straight, breathe in —-hold —- out.   Relax, maintain the position.    Where did I leave my keys, did I finish that memo?  Your mind breaks in on the silence, driving your concentration away.

Your thoughts create your reality, but what of your emotions.  They bring you joy, pain, and fear.  Sadness overwhelms your happiness, Joy launches you to the sky and beyond.  Up and down, High and low, how the drama of your life comes and goes.

To retain your equilibrium repeat a single word over and over until it disappears and your emotions are filtered through it.   Buddho, Jesus, Allah, a word of prayer, or any word you wish.  A word which does not carry an emotion.  Table would work well, unless you stubbed your toe earlier in the day, then, the word table would be fraught with pain and anger.  Emotional words will only make it impossible for your mind to calm and relax. Unable to slip into the stillness that is a natural part of your makeup.

Your mind, the naughty two year old has gotten loose trying to run your thoughts again.  Like a toddler your mind needs a focus to keep it occupied, to overcome its’ wanton desire to be in charge, looking, touching everything and anything all the time forever.

As any good parent would, gently take your mind, focus all of its’ energy on one thing. The spot on your forehead between your eyebrows, the tip of your nose, your throat, your heart or your navel.  Select one, touch it with your finger if you need to feel the sensation of where this is.  Keep your attention focused on this point.  It is called the focal point. This is where the work begins.

Any irrepressible child will resist training, any discipline, wanting only to do as it wishes, when it wishes and how it wishes. When you catch your mind wandering back to the thoughts looping through each other, refocus its’ attention, gently, back onto this point, in the middle of your forehead, between your eyebrows.   Every time it wanders, bring your mind back, lovingly, gently, to this point without recrimination that you are failing.  You are not, you are learning, slowly, improving your willpower over the itinerant wanderings of the wild child, your mind.

You are learning to be in charge of your thoughts, increase the strength of your willpower.

By Cheryle L. Baker                              February 3  2015