You are invited to join an open silent meditation class every morning on Zoom, 8-8:20AM Mountain / 10-10:20AM Eastern.
Fine to arrive late or leave early.
All participants are automatically muted.
You may join as early as 7:45AM Mountain / 9:45AM Eastern but the class begins formally with three bells at 8AM/10AM.
The class ends with two bells after 20 minutes.
WHAT IS ZEN?
The no-frills feel of this class is very much aligned with the Zen Buddhist tradition of silent inquiry. For more about Zen, you might find this helpful.
ONLINE CLASS ETIQUETTE
—Click on the Zoom link.
—Set up your video feed so we see a side-view or slightly angled view of you as you sit.
—Click Gallery View so you see everyone equally.
—If necessary, you may join late or leave early. Everyone's audio is automatically muted so don’t worry about disturbing anyone.
—Set aside all other activity and assume a comfortable and alert sitting posture.
MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS & OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Like other challenging and subtle disciplines, it's helpful to engage the practice every day. Even 5 minutes a day is better than 60 minutes once per week. Start with whatever feels comfortable and build slowly.
See if you can linger and be curious about any discomfort before adjusting your posture. Can you experience it nakedly without judging, rejecting immediately, or reacting habitually?
Over time, meditation changes your relationship with all kinds of discomfort and becomes a powerful way to build resilience so you're not so easily toppled by the vicissitudes of life.
Proper posture is absolutely critical. If you sit in a physically half-engaged way, your mind will be half-engaged.
Good posture is also important for minimizing discomfort and allowing for deeper inquiry.
Whatever posture you assume (please look closely at the six examples below), the back should be naturally upright. The lower back should be gently curved in. Experiment with this, whether on a cushion or in a chair, until it feels effortless to sit up straight. Do not lean back against your chair unless there's an injury or health issue that makes this necessary. The belly should be completely relaxed and free to expand as you breathe. The chin should be slightly tucked in.
If you're sitting on a chair, both feet should be on the ground about shoulder width apart. If you're sitting in a crossed-leg posture on a cushion, one or both knees should be on the ground or on their way to the ground, supported by a smaller cushion or cushions if needed. The goal here is stability.
Place your right hand on your lap, palm up, and then place your left hand, also palm-up, on top of your right palm. Thumb tips should touch lightly to make a gentle oval.
Eyes should be half-open, gazing down at about 45 degrees, gently focused. Keeping the eyes slightly open helps to keep you here, now.
Sway slightly back and forth to find and settle in to your posture's true center.
Important: if possible, do NOT sit in a "knees up" or "criss-cross applesauce" cross-legged position. See below.
This posture tends to stress the lower back and also the shins/ankles. Most importantly, it lacks the stability of other positions.
After establishing a stable sitting posture, take one or two deep breaths. Breathe through the nose if possible. This naturally slows down the rate of breathing.
Your mouth should be closed lightly, with tongue relaxed.
Breathe so that it feels like you’re breathing in and out of your belly. This can take some practice before it feels natural. Instead of your chest rising and falling, your abdomen should gently expand and contract.
Focus on the full-body sensations of breathing in and out for a few breaths.
When settled a bit, begin counting exhalations. Say a drawn-out "one" to yourself for the entire length of the first exhalation. Inhale naturally, being aware of the sensations of breathing in. And then say a drawn-out "two" to yourself for the entire length of your next exhalation. Continue until you reach "ten" and then start over.
The point is not to count to ten, but rather to be intimate with "one," and then with "two," and then with "three," and so on.
See if you can pour yourself completely into the experience of exhaling "one" so that there is just the experience of "exhaling one," only "exhaling two," only "exhaling three," and so on.
When this exhale-counting gets sidetracked by thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations, no problem. This is, in fact, inevitable and natural. Just simply begin counting exhalations again with "one."
If you find yourself counting past ten, notice this too and return again to "one."
Important: noticing when your attention drifts from the breath-counting and then returning to breath-counting is the practice itself.
It may feel at first like there are many moving parts and many things to remember. But eventually, with patience and sincerity, you'll
experience a deeper alignment of body, mind, breath, and environment.
Keeping the body encourages the mind to be still. The old analogy is that our minds are usually like churned up cloudy river water.
When the water is brought to rest and allowed to settle, the sediment naturally falls away and the inherent clarity of the water manifests. So experiment with moving as little as possible for the duration of the meditation.
If you experience intense discomfort or pain and do need to adjust your posture in some way, just notice the impulse to move, be aware of the movement, and then return to being as still as possible.
1.) Settle in to a stable sitting posture.
2.) Take one or two deep breaths.
3.) Count exhalations from one to ten and the start over.
4.) When the mind wanders, bring your attention back to the breath by beginning again with "exhaling one."
5.) Remember that wandering, noticing the wandering, and returning is the practice.
6.) Be as still as possible.