A gentle path into Meditation…. by Sarah Lo
Meditation may be the last practice you feel like factoring in to your day. It really helps to have the safety of someone around in the background when you want to investigate this way of stilling yourself. Another gentle way into the enquiry process is through Yin Yoga and choosing wisely for yourself the area you would like to have a bit more clarity in. Anger, hurt, pain, loss which all show up as sensation in our bodies somewhere. It doesn’t mean that we are hoping to fix or solve our problems …. although secretly I think we would all wish that for ourselves wouldn’t we?
Start gently and slowly, No one said you had to set a timer for half an hour but if feel you’d do better with a timer, then start with 6 minutes. In 6s, we can then go in multiples to 12, 18, 24 …. a full round or cycle or Ghatika, as known in ancient circuitry measurements which practitioners marked as being the amount of time it takes for our body to properly settle down. Well we know this now from biochemistry and it is true, the body does need time to absorb our driving chemicals and to be able to shift gear in our nervous systems. We expect so much from ourselves but it is only through a regular practice of shifting gears, that our bodies begin to know how to. It’s much easier going forward with some practice under our belts. And since we really do learn quickly from repetition, it becomes simpler to calm ourselves when we need to. It’s a method that can be invaluable when calamity strikes.
So that’s a good reason to start meditating and acquire a new skill, wouldn’t you agree?
Here’s some tips from Thich Nhat Hanh.
Shine the warm light of awareness on your thoughts and feelings, says Thich Nhat Hanh.
Observe the changes that take place in your mind under the light of awareness. Even your breathing has changed and become “not-two” (I don’t want to say “one”) with your observing self. This is true of all your thoughts, feelings and habits, which, together with their effects, are suddenly transformed.
From time to time you may become restless, and the restlessness will not go away. At such times, just sit quietly, follow your breathing, smile a half-smile, and shine your awareness on the restlessness. Don’t judge it or try to destroy it, because this restlessness is you yourself. It is born, has some period of existence, and fades away, quite naturally. Don’t be in too big a hurry to find its source. Don’t try too hard to make it disappear. Just illuminate it. You will see that little by little it will change, merge, become connected with you, the observer. Any psychological state that you subject to this illumination will eventually soften and acquire the same nature as the observing mind.
Throughout your meditation, keep the sun of your awareness shining. Like the physical sun, which lights every leaf and every blade of grass, our awareness lights our every thought and feeling, allowing us to recognize them, be aware of their birth, duration, and dissolution, without judging or evaluating, welcoming or banishing them.
It is important that you do not consider awareness to be your “ally,” called on to suppress the “enemies” that are your unruly thoughts. Do not turn your mind into a battlefield. Opposition between good and bad is often compared to light and dark, but if we look at it in a different way, we will see that when light shines, darkness does not disappear. It doesn’t leave; it merges with the light. It becomes the light.
To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe. Your smile proves it. It proves that you are being gentle with yourself, that the sun of awareness is shining in you, that you have control of your situation. You are yourself, and you have acquired some peace. It is this peace that makes a child love to be near you.
Adapted from “The Sun, My Heart: Reflections on Mindfulness, Concentration and Insight,” published by Parallax Press.