MEDITATION CLASS INVITATION & INSTRUCTIONS

You are invited to join a silent online meditation class every morning, 8-8:20AM Mountain / 10-10:20AM Eastern.

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. 

There are no instructions or teachings given before or during class. See below for an overview of basic instructions, or contact me for a free, private lesson or refresher.

Enter your email below to receive the Zoom link.

 

ONLINE CLASS ETIQUETTE

—Click on Zoom link that you'll receive by email. This link is the same every morning.

—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.

Note: this is a free class but if you feel moved to throw a coin in the guitar case, you may do so here (secure PayPal connection).

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.

 

As you sit for longer periods of time, the experience of discomfort (whether physical or emotional or both) is natural. See if you can just be curious about it before immediately adjusting your posture. Can you experience the sensations nakedly without judging, rejecting immediately, or reacting habitually? Over time, meditation changes our relationship with discomfort and becomes a powerful way to build resilience so we're not so easily toppled by the vicissitudes of life. 

POSTURE

Proper posture is absolutely critical. If you sit in a physically half-engaged way, your mind will be half-engaged. Good posture is also critical for minimizing discomfort.  

 

Whatever posture you assume (see examples below), the back should be naturally upright. The lower back should be slightly and 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 just 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.

 

If at all 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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BREATH

After establishing a stable sitting posture, take one or two deep breaths. Breathe through your nose if possible. Your mouth should be closed lightly, the 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. Then put your mind in your belly and focus all your attention on the sensations there of breathing in and out. 

MIND

When ready, 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.

 

Try to give yourself entirely to the counting. See if you can pour yourself completely into the whole package of "one" so that there is only "one," only "two," only "three," and so on.

 

When your counting gets sidetracked by thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations, no problem. This is, in fact, inevitable. First, just notice that you're no longer counting. No need to be self-critical or judgmental but if any of those thoughts arise, notice them too. And then just simply begin counting exhalations again with "one," gently but firmly giving your full attention to each breath. If you find yourself counting past ten, notice this too and return to one. Can you appreciate the gift in these little moments of cleaning the slate and beginning again?  

 

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 this becomes a seamless and natural process, like riding a bike or swimming. 

 

STILLNESS

Keeping the body still helps to encourage the mind to be still. The old analogy is that our minds are usually like churned up 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 try to move as little as possible for the duration of the meditation. If you fidget or need to adjust your posture in some way, just notice the movement and return to being as still as possible. 

 

To summarize:

1.) Settle in to a stable sitting posture.

2.) Take one or two deep breaths.

3.) Place your attention in the belly, being aware of the sensations there of breathing in and out.

4.) Count exhalations from one to ten and the start over.

5.) When the mind wanders, bring your attention back to what's actually happening by beginning again with "one." Wandering, noticing the wandering, and returning is the practice

6.) Be as still as possible.

 © 2020 Hoag Holmgren