How to practice meditation in everyday life

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    When we are strangled by stress, we are like a mountain surrounded by clouds. To engage in meditation is to let the wind clear the sky and open its blue. This poetic metaphor belongs to Marc de Smedt, our guide to the world of meditation.

    Mark de Smedt is keen on spiritual search, but believes that it is not necessary to be a religious person to meditate. You can simply “include meditation in your daily practice to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

    This will help us take care of our spirit, just as we care for the body: souls for purity, gymnastics for strengthening the muscles.

    From zen to tantra, from yoga to taichi, the techniques are diverse, but they are all based on the same thing: correct posture or movement, work with breathing, presence in this moment. Here we are talking only about meditation in immobility, which is easy to practice at home.

    “Such meditation is easier than it seems,” assures our expert. “Many deprive themselves of the benefits that it brings, because they set the bar too high.”

    Go in search of your own path, until you find something that suits you best

    It’s not about suffering two hours a day in the lotus position, but about giving yourself two or three times a week – and in a pose that we can withstand! – 15 minutes of calm. If you practice meditation regularly, it allows you to improve self-awareness and to be more harmoniously present in the world around you.

    Therefore, the slogan of this session will be: “Try it.”

    Do not try to strictly observe what we are offering you here. It is better to go in search of your own path, until you find something that suits you best.

    “The body knows what it needs,” says Marc de Smedt. Let him find the most suitable time and position in which he feels grounded, the breath that allows him to recover. Search. You do not need to achieve anything, it’s about just being. Here and now.

    1. FIND THE TIME

    It all depends on what you expect from meditation. You can meditate in the morning to start the day better; in the evening, to get rid of the accumulated stress, or in the middle of the day, to replenish the charge of energy halfway.

    When we understand the process of meditation, which, in fact, represents a return to ourselves and our conscious breathing, we can meditate anywhere, even in the metro or office, and at any time – for food, for its preparation – if we feel that we need to get ready.

    Ideally, you need to allocate a certain amount of time, for example 10 minutes before breakfast, and try to stick to it. Do not shorten your sessions if they are given to you with difficulty, and do not lengthen them when they are more pleasant. To learn constancy is part of our task.

    2. CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT

    Try to always meditate in the same place, preferably in silence, sitting facing the wall. Try to avoid anything that can distract your view or take your thoughts. You can create a more soothing atmosphere if you spread a carpet, light a candle or incense.

    Choose spacious and comfortable clothes that you can always wear for meditation, and do not forget to take off your shoes. You can also choose quiet music without words to accompany.

    3. RELAX THE BODY

    Before you start meditation, you can take some time to relax. Lay down on your back, stretch, yawn. Breathe through your nose with your eyes closed, calm and deep. Relax your stomach, allow it to expand with inspiration and decrease as you exhale. Realize the points where your body comes in contact with the floor: heels, calves, buttocks, shoulder blades, back of the head, elbows, palms.

    Focus on the toes, imagine how they straighten, feel their tension, relax them. Do the same for each part of the body, climbing along the legs, waist, back to the back of the neck, then descending from the shoulders to the fingers.

    Let your joints and muscles relax. Feel how you swim in space. When you are ready, open your eyes and look at the point on the ceiling. Stand up.

    Before and after meditation, do “gasho”: fold your palms at the level of the face and worship as a sign of concentration and respect for what you will do or have just been doing.

    4. CHOOSE A POSE

    In the Buddhist tradition, one usually meditates in the lotus position, or zazen. Sitting on the round rigid pillow zafu, cross your legs, holding your knees at the floor, the left foot lies on the right thigh, and the right one on the left, the soles turned to the sky. It is in this position that the Buddha, immovable as a mountain, attains enlightenment.

    But do not try to twist into the “lotus”, if you do not have enough for this flexibility. Just remember that the posture should give your body what you are aiming for at the mental level – stability, straightforwardness, openness.

    You can choose also a half-lotus, when one leg lies on the lower leg of another, a pose of happiness, when the sole of each foot is between the thigh and the shin of the other leg, or a graceful pose – ankles near the pubis, the soles of the legs are pressed together. You can just kneel down on a zafu or sit on a chair, not leaning on the back and putting both feet on the floor.

    In any case, be careful to keep your back straight, slightly bent in the lower back, straightening the spine and freeing the solar plexus.

    Slightly bring your chin to your neck, relax your shoulders. Place your hands, folded like a bowl, on your stomach, in the energy zone of the hara – three fingers below the navel. The back of the left hand lies in the right hand. The thumbs touch the tips horizontally. Thus, your hands take the form of an egg, a symbol of the origin of life.

    After a while you can feel that your muscles have contracted. Usually the unpleasant sensation passes by itself, as muscles relax. If it does not pass, change the pose.

    5. LISTEN TO YOUR VOICE

    Thoughts randomly swarm and dissipate? To stop this mental process, mantras are used in the yoga tradition. This is a repeated repetition in a low voice or to himself of sound (the famous “ohm”) or sacred words (“Sri Ram, Jaya Ram”).

    The mantra is pronounced as long as possible. Its symbolic meaning and the strength of its vibrations help to free consciousness and leave a sense of peace in it.

    The donkey looks into the well, the well looks at the donkey. Do not run away

    The Zen tradition also includes koans designed to take our intellect away from the road. The Koan is a paradox or a mystery, for example: “The donkey looks into the well, the well looks at the donkey. Do not run away. “

    But while mantras lead to the dissolution of thought, the koans, on the contrary, force the meditator to reach the limit of his meditations and stumble upon the wall. In both cases, the mind gets rest from the daily bustle.

    5. AIM THE LOOK

    Eyes are half-closed, the sight is directed to the point a meter away in front of you, but does not cling to it. You need to cover your eyelids enough to direct your attention inward, while remaining connected with the surrounding world.

    In the beginning, if your eyes often turn to surrounding objects or a source of light, it is better to close your eyes completely. If you feel that you are sleepy, open your eyes completely to restore your waking state.

     

    6. FOCUS ON BREATHING

    Breathing is the second, after the pose, foundation of meditation. Anapan’s technique, “breathing observation,” requires concentrating on the “gates of the nostrils” – a triangular zone between the tip of the nose and the upper lip. So you become aware of your breathing and allow it to be as it is, then free, then intermittent until it slows down and becomes easier.

    In Zen meditation, attention is directed to the exhalation: we try to exhale the air towards the hands and the zone of the hara, in order to overcome our propensity to breathe only the tips of the lungs. Spreading in the abdomen, breathing relieves stress and gives us a sense of harmony.

    Practicing in the ability to concentrate on breathing, we can overcome the absent-mindedness of thoughts. This exercise at the same time calms and teaches our mind to gather and strengthen.

    7. CLEAR THE MIND

    Work with the help of postures and breathing is designed to discipline the body and focus on our mind. One of the most ancient Indian Buddhist techniques, vipassana (“piercing gaze”), is aimed at regaining the true nature of our mind beyond illusions. In it one must allow his thoughts to float, without forcing or holding them, without condemning or disapproving.

    Just watch what appears to you, like the emerging and disappearing footage from the film. Let the gloomy thoughts fill your mind, and then leave you as pus comes out of the wound. Accept grief, anger, fear or shame.

    Try to learn from them a lesson, thinking about the antidote to what brings you suffering: sympathy for hatred, joy for grief, and so on. Soak with this feeling. If the exercise is too painful, focus again on breathing until your mind is ready to continue the study.

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