DAILY ONLINE MEDITATION
This is an easy and informal way to deepen your practice and to experience the power of meditating with others who are also practicing at home, often several time zones away.
We'd love to see you. We begin at 7:30AM MT and end at 8:20AM MT. Join us any day for all 50 minutes or just part of it.
ONLINE ETIQUETTE & NOTES
—Click on the Zoom link above or in the newsletter ZEN SUN WEEKLY.
—If you choose to have your video on, you can set up your device to create a side-view or slightly angled view of you as you sit.
—Select Gallery View.
—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, still, and alert sitting posture.
INSTRUCTIONS & OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
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 fully without reacting habitually?
Can you welcome whatever arises in the mind without clinging, judging, or rejecting? Can you be curious about the experience of breathing and the experience of stillness?
Proper posture is critical. If you sit in a physically half-engaged way, your mind will also 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.
Avoid leaning back against your chair unless you have an injury or health issue that makes this necessary. The belly should be completely relaxed and free to move in and out as you breathe. The chin should be slightly tucked in. Note the position of the hands: allow the left hand to gently rest in the right hand, palms up, thumbs lightly touching to make a gentle oval.
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 is stability.
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 example of this 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 the rate of breathing and invites the mind to settle.
Your mouth should be closed lightly, the tongue relaxed.
Inhale and exhale so 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" silently for the entire length of the first exhalation. Inhale naturally, being aware of the sensations of breathing in. And then say a drawn-out silent "two" for the entire length of your next exhalation. Continue until "ten" and then start over.
The point is not to get to ten, but rather to be intimate with "one," and then intimate with "two," and then intimate with "three," and so on.
Pour yourself completely into exhaling "one" so that there is only the experience of one, only two, only three, and so on.
When you get sidetracked by thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations, no problem. This is, in fact, inevitable and natural. Just notice that you're lost in thought and begin counting exhalations again, starting with "one."
If you find yourself counting past ten, notice this too and return again to "one."
Drifting from breath-counting, noticing the drifting, and then returning to breath-counting is the practice itself.
Eventually, with patience and sincerity, you'll begin to experience a deeper kinship of body, mind, breath, and earth.
When the body is still, the mind follows. See if you can experiment with becoming as still as possible for the duration of the meditation.
If you experience intense discomfort or pain and need to adjust your posture, first just notice the impulse to move. Be aware of the posture adjustment as you make it, and then return to stillness.
1.) Settle in to a stable sitting posture.
2.) Take one or two deep breaths.
3.) Count exhalations from one to ten and then 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 to the breath is the practice.
6.) Be as still as possible.
7.) Repeat daily.