Like a fisherman who catches a fish by the hook of a string
Similarly, catch your mind by the hook of your breath
Inhale and Exhale, Breath IN and Breath OUT
Now you are in meditative equipoise and concentrating on your breath. Breath in and then Breath out all the way to liberation and you are completely blissed out after few minutes. Now you are imagining yourself to be a Himalayan yogi up in the peak, bare chest at extreme cold and doing sky walking. And the next moment you are buying the upcoming model of Tesla and with full visualization rejoicing the moment. What about the Monk who sold his Ferrari, maybe you are telling yourself, I will be the yogi who will sell my Tesla.
You are supposing to be meditating on your breath but within seconds you are meditating on your day dream.
Word of Caution
Consider my writing only as a guideline or a structure and NOT a meditational manual. I cannot put more emphasis on the danger of practicing meditation off Youtube and articles. If done wrongly, you might face some serious long term consequences that can even make your mind completely DULL or non functional. Most of the translation of classical texts are done by experts, and even with that it has been reviewed over and over again by several masters. It is so precise that even “A” and “The” can make a whole lot of difference on the meaning.
So how do someone practice in the best possible way?
Best is if you can find some very good meditational retreat center around your area. And if not, instead of spending a week vacationing in Mexico, try going to some meditational centres. Below are some listings which are quite popular –
Also, check who will be leading the retreat. You definitely want someone who is a qualified teacher. Also check the structure of the retreat. Lots of new age meditation centers are coming along proclaiming to have the key to success. Not too long ago I also saw an ad of Love Making Meditation. Seriously? Be wisely careful of what you sought. Also try staying away from any ‘Tantra’ sort of meditation. Tantric practice is extremely secretive and is done only after attaining certain stage and is done in front of Guru after taking initiation. But West took this exotic word and made it sound like sexual awakening of chakras. Be very careful!!!
If going for a retreat is difficult then I would suggest taking a very good online course from a very experienced teacher who at the same time can be interactive. So that if you have any questions, the teacher can be there to answer you. I found the following course to be extremely useful for someone who is starting out and needs a solid direction.
Once you have a very good direction then you can venture out in more deep topics by reading authentic meditational manual.
How to Practice?
Following is the meditational manual that I have received for my practice. Different lineage will have different sets of practice so please do not consider this to be the only method. Try practicing the methods that you are officially trained in and not alter too much. For beginners, it can be good to practice on one lineage and see how that is helping. At the end, meditation has to help, what good will it be if it doesn’t help right?
7 steps of meditation
1. 7-point meditation posture
The detail can be found in the article “7 points posture” . A quick review on the posture –
- Sit either in Vajra position/Half Lotus/Crossed Legged or on a chair
- Back should be completely straight like stacks of coin
- Place the right hand on the left hand with thumbs touching and loosely placed on the lap 2 inch below the navel
- Eyes should be slightly open, enough to let the lights in
- Jaw should be relaxed
- Tongue should be touching the upper pallet to prevent accumulation of saliva
- Head should be centred and slightly tucked in, not too high or not too low
2. Set your Motivation
Like we discussed on the importance of proper motivation in the following article “Setting up Motivation“, remember the kindness of all being who are contributing to the wellness of our life. Imagine your both parents sitting on each side beside you, friends and families behind you and all the neutral people in front of you. Also, all the sentient being who are indispensable part of our lives. May all be happy and free of suffering.
3. Ground and Centre Yourself
Feel the base of where you are sitting and holding the weight of your body. It can be your buttock or the legs. Feel the stability of the ground. Feel the spine, which is straight like coins stacked on top of each other. Bring your awareness inside your body by feeling the posture. Fully grounded and centered.
4. 9 round breathing meditation
This breathing meditation is based on the subtle energy which is also known as wind energy. It says the Mind rides on the Wind Energy, so in order to make the mind more serviceable one needs to stabilize the wind energy. This technique is some what synonymous to practices like Chi and Prana Yoga.
So what to visualize and how to visualize?
Imagine a radiant light tube (central channel) from the middle of your eyebrow, moving up to the head and then all the way down below your navel. This radiant tube is 1 inch in diameter and flows parallel to your spine. Now imagine, 2 more radiant tubes, smaller in radius flowing from your nose, up to the head and down below the navel on each side of the central channel. Below the navel, all the tubes join each other.
1st Set – Take the right index finger and block the left nostril. Deeply breath in through the right nostril. Imagine that the air you breathing in, going down through the right channel. Now with the same index finger, block the right nostrils and breath out through the left channel. Imagine the air you breathing out, going up the left channel and out through your left nostril.
2nd Set – This will be exactly the same but on the opposite side. With the left index finger block the right nostrils. In comes the breath through left nostril, down through the left channel and out goes the breath through right channel while blocking the left nostril.
3rd Set – Now breath in through both nostrils. Imagine that your breath is simultaneously going in through the the left and right channels. And while breathing out, the wind is going up through the central channel all the way to your head and out through the middle of the eyebrows.
With every breath you inhale and exhale, relax on your thoughts. Let the thought of past and future go and be present at this very moment. We keep on wondering on the events of the past and ponder what will happen, but never present right here, right now in our own domain.
5. Scanning the Body
We will do a very basic scanning of the body to bring mindfulness within our inner sphere.
Put your mindfulness on the lower part of the body where you are in contact with the ground. It can be your buttocks or legs or soles of your feet. Feel the weight of your body in that area and bring your concentration on this sensation.
Slowly, start scanning your legs, one by one, slow but attentive. Feel the sensation of your thighs, the touch of your feet on the thigh, the knees, lower legs, the ankle, the feet and the toes. Be absolutely mindful. Slowly come up your legs and move your attention upwards through your body. Be a keen observant on any sensations, pleasure or pain, feel or touch, without getting attached to any of it. Keep moving upwards through your body to your shoulder, neck and then face. Notice the movement of your breath. Do not miss any part of the body while scanning. Slowly move upwards and rest on the crown of your head and be in this moment for a while. Now with the same mindfulness, start coming down from the back of your head, spine and all the way to your cushion.
Stay in this experience of knowing your body for a while.
6. Counting the Breaths
Before starting let us quickly go through the function of concentration, mindfulness and introspection. Mindfulness is when you are holding the object of concentration and introspection is the little part of the mind that scans if your mind is still on the object. So basically, you are focused on the object and at the same time scanning to make sure that you are still mindful.
Sometimes we simply sit on meditation putting the focus on Inhale and Exhale. Nothing wrong, but if we do not have a proper set of focus, slowly the concentration will become weak. So it is important to spend few minutes on determining what to meditate on.
Lots of people meditate on different objects. You can concentrate on rise and fall of your abdomen while breathing, but since it is a bigger object, the concentration is gross. Although, concentrating on the abdomen will help you to relax a lot. When you breath, there is a subtle sensation in the opening of the nostril. You can put your mindfulness in this part which is much subtle. Or you can have your mind focused on the area between nostrils and upper lips. Or you can imagine a little white dot made of light in between the nostrils and upper lips. Experiment with it and see which suits you better.
Now focus on the opening on the nostrils. Once your concentration gets stronger, you will start noticing different sensation of your breath. For the first time, you are fully present within you and every discovery will bring certain curiosity (however, one has to maintain equanimity without being attached or frustrated). You will start noticing the nature of the breath according to the mental state. In a relaxed state, the breath is deeper and with agitation breath is shallow.
Keep your focus on the sensation and after breathing out, you count 1. Then you breath in and breath out, count 2. Likewise, do a round of 21. Take 5 seconds of break at the beginning when you are starting out, and then do another cycle of 21. It is always better to do short session than long, what matters is the quality and not the quantity. So maybe, keep the session for 3 cycles of 21 with a break of 5 seconds in between. If the mind goes astray, using the introspection bring your mindfulness on your breath once again.
Even if you have meditated for 5 minutes, but still the merit gathered is immense. Dedication of the merit accumulated through the practice is equally important as the motivation before starting the meditation. You can simply remain in the meditative posture and send out the altruistic love to everyone around you. Send out the powerful energy back in the world to all the sentient being wishing them to be truly happy.