Oct 22, 2014
Recently I offered a mantra that can accompany the out-breathing: Relax, Rest, Reveal. These words encourage us, respectively, to let go of unnecessary tensions in the body, to let go of unnecessary mental effort, and to be open and receptive to whatever is arising in our experience.
I’d like now to offer a corresponding mantra for the in-breathing: Energize, Inspire, Enjoy. As with the previous mantra, each of the words has a specific function.
“Energize” connects us with the natural energy of the in-breath. Inhalation is dominated by the sympathetic nervous system, which isn’t always about “fight or flight” but is involved in any physical or emotional …
May 03, 2014
I’m currently co-leading a retreat with Sunada on the topic of Freeing Your Creative Potential with Meditation.
This morning Sunada led a body scan meditation, and I led a session of mindfulness of breathing. This version is loosely based on the four stage form of the practice that I normally teach, but since we were already in the swing of things thanks to Sunada’s meditation we didn’t include any counting.
The emphasis here is more on relaxing into a complete awareness of the breathing in its four-dimensional nature; that is, being aware of the full spectrum of sensations taking place in three-dimensional space, and also being aware of how the arising of sensation is changing moment-by-moment.
Aug 20, 2013
Sometimes I have meditation students who have problems learning a particular meditation technique because it appears to be fundamentally different — even contradictory — to other approaches to meditating that they’ve learned.
In fact, I’ve had experiences myself that are similar in some ways to this. I once went on a retreat run by teachers who have a different approach to me in order to learn more about their techniques and perspectives, and I found that some of the things they said plunged me into doubt and confusion — and aversion.
I found myself in my meditation continually arguing about things that they had said and about how I thought they made no sense. There was …
Aug 18, 2013
The video below is another recording from one of the Google Plus Hangout meditations that I lead from time to time.
This one is a form of the mindfulness of breathing. It follows the traditional form that’s taught on this site, but with more of an emphasis on setting up conditions for the jhana factors to arise.
I incorporate a few elements which have become distinctive in my teaching: the principle of paying attention to a broad band of experiences connected with the breathing, so that we use up as much mental bandwidth as possible in order to …
Aug 15, 2013
I used to practice and teach mindfulness of breathing largely as if it were “mindfulness of the breath.” The difference is that when we think about “the breath” we think about the stuff that flows in and out of our airways, and the physical contact the body makes with it, while if we think of “the breathing” we are free to consider “the breath” but also any other physical sensations that arise as we breathe in and out. These sensations include:
- The contact the body makes with the breath in the nose, head, throat, and lungs
- The movements of the abdominal muscles, not just on the front, but on the sides and back
Aug 02, 2013
This is a guided meditation that I led this week in a Google+ Hangout (that’s a form of videoconferencing, if you’re not familiar with it) with some meditation students.
After 100 Days of Lovingkindness practice I felt the need to get back to exploring mindfulness of the breathing again.
The sound quality’s not perfect and the video is — well, there’s no video. Due to a technical problem of some sort the video stopped being recorded a few minutes into the Hangout, so I just took it out altogether.
Still, I hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from the talk and the practice.
Apr 23, 2013
Do you find it a bit much doing lovingkindness practice every day? Do you feel the need to stay in balance by doing other practices, like mindfulness of breathing? I don’t blame you!
In our last special project, which was to meditate for 100 days (the 100 Day Meditation Challenge) we got about a week into it and then I realized I’d become a bit clearer about the intention behind the challenge. It’s happened again!
Someone wrote in our Google+ Community (a place where people are sharing their experiences of participating in 100 Days of Lovingkindness and giving each other support and encouragement) saying that she was getting a bit …
Oct 29, 2011
There are many different types of meditation practices. Most familiar, perhaps, are mantra meditation, Mindfulness of Breathing, Metta Bhavana (Development of Loving Kindness), and the candle meditation. Recently I was asked by a student if I thought she should add a third meditation practice to the two forms of meditation she already practices. As a “good teacher”, I responded to her question with a list of questions to consider before she made her decision. I hope these questions will be helpful to you as well, if you are considering adding other practices to your meditation repertoire.
Regarding adding another form of meditation to your meditation practice – there are differing …
Oct 18, 2011
One of my Skype workshop participants recently wrote with a request for advice, which (slightly edited) was as follows:
I am aware during my meditations that sometimes my awareness of the breath is quite superficial, distant and coarse. And I suspect that part of the reason for this distance is that my brain filters out the finer physical details of the experience, and just works with the coarse-grained concept of the breath – which is basically a fixed construct in memory rather than a direct experience of change happening now. I’d appreciate any tips on how to deal with it.
Here’s my reply (also slightly edited to include one …