With tonight’s sitting, I’d like us to start with the object of the meditation being the breath going out and the breath coming in.
So attention on the in and out breath.
And, if your mind wanders off, just coming back.
We’ll practice that way for a while — and near the end we’ll shift to awareness just of the breath going out.
And if the mind wanders off, acknowledging that as “thinking” and coming back to the breath going out.
So starting with the more tight form of the śamatha practice.
The practice of being fully present.
Starting with a more tight form.
And then at the end moving into a more relaxed form of the same practice.
So starting with awareness, attention to the breath in and out
And then near the end I’ll say, “Let’s now give the attention just to the breath going out.”
More of a relaxing outward.
More of a letting go.
And if the mind wanders off, acknowledging that as thinking.
So hopefully that’s clear.
And we’ll start with a gaze that’s slightly lower…
It can be quite a tight gaze actually.
And awareness of the breath as it goes in and out.
And this is a support for staying fully present.
And whenever we wander off, we just simply, in a very relaxed and non-judgmental way, we turn again to the breath of going in and out.
Let’s begin with the four limitless ones chant:
“May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
“May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.”
“May they not be separated from the great happiness, devoid of suffering.”
“May they dwell in the great equanimity — free from passion, aggression and prejudice.”
To begin the regular practice of meditation, of looking into ourselves.
Let’s arrange to spend this time on a regular basis in a place where we can comfortably still the body in a time when we will not be interrupted.
Allowing this to be a time in which we set aside the usual mode in which we operate — that of more or less constant doing — and switch to a mode of non-doing.
A mode of simply being — of allowing ourselves to be.
Of becoming aware of our being.
This of course will tend to slow time down and is best accomplished by making this time and coming to sit in an erect and dignified posture.
Either on a sit back chair or on a cushion on the floor.
And as we allow the body to become still — just brining our attention to the fact that we’re breathing.
And becoming aware of the movement of the breath — as it comes into your body and as it leaves your body.
Not manipulating the breathing in anyway or trying to change it — simply being aware of it and the feelings associated with breathing.
And if you feel comfortable with it — observe the breathing deep down in your belly.
The abdominal wall as it expands outwards with the in-breath.
As it falls back towards your spine on the out-breath.
And simply being totally here.
In each moment.
With each breath.
Not trying to do anything.
Not trying to get any place.
Simply being with your breathing.
Just giving full care and your full attention to each in-breath.
And to each out-breath.
As they follow one after the other.
In a never-ending cycle and flow.
Now of course you will find that from time-to-time your mind will wander off into thoughts, fantasies, anticipations of the future, worrying, thoughts of the past, memories, whatever.
But when you notice that your attention is no longer here, no longer on your breathing, and without giving yourself a hard time, just intentionally escort your focus and attention back to your breathing and pick up wherever it happens to be.
On an in-breath or on an out-breath.
And just observe.
And keeping your attention here.
As if you were riding the waves of your breathing.
Fully conscious of the duration of the in-breath and the duration of the out-breath from moment to moment.
And as the tape finishes, recognizing that you have spent this time intentionally nourishing yourself by dwelling in this state of non-doing.
This state of being — intentionally making time for yourself to be who you are.
And you might just want to congratulate yourself for taking the time and energy to do this.
And allowing yourself the occasion to do this on a regular basis.
And nourish yourself in a deep way.
And to allow the benefits of this practice to expand into the active expression of your life in every domain as it continues to unfold.
This meditation is drawn from Theravada, or southern Buddhism.
It’s called Anapana and it is just bringing you to right here and it is done through the breath.
So it is common to everyone in this room at this moment.
Of all of our individual differences, we are all breathing in, breathing out.
This process is one that is like, if you can imagine a flower and the center of the flower and then the petals coming out of the flower.
And the center is called your primary object in meditation and the petals are all the thoughts that keep coming out from that center.
In this case our primary object of meditation is our breath.
We will focus on our breath going in and our breath coming out.
You can do this two ways.
One is by focusing on a muscle that is in the solar plexus that every time you breathe in it moves in one direction and every time you breathe out it moves in another direction.
Rising, falling, rising, falling.
Or you could focus at the tip of the inside of your nose.
And as the air goes by you will feel a slight whisper of air on the in breath and as the air goes out you will feel a slight whisper of air on the out breath and you are like a gate keeper at the gate.
The cars go in and the cars go out.
You don’t follow them to see where they go you just notice the breath going in, breathing in, the breath going out, breathing out.
So whichever one is easiest for you, pick one now and stay with it for this period of 15 minutes, either the muscle in your solar plexus, that is rising and falling or the air going by the tip of your nose breathing in, breathing out.
Your job in the most gentle possible way is to merely keep your awareness focused on your primary object.
Now it is going to wander.
Your awareness is going to be grabbed by many thoughts.
You’ll sit down and you’ll say, breathing in, breathing out. And then the thought will come, “this will never work.”
Now you can either take the thought that this will never work and immediately go off on another train of thought, even though I am giving you instructions you just ignore them, and then the meditation is over.
Or at some point you’ll say “gee, all I was going to do for these 15 minutes was watch my breath and this is another thought, I’ll just let it go and I’ll go back to my breath.”
The art is not to get violent with your other thoughts. Don’t get guilty because you are thinking them.
Don’t even try to push them away.
Merely very gently again and again bring your awareness back to the primary object of meditation.
Let each thought be another petal in the flower. Keep coming back to the center, back to the center, back to the center.
So with eyes closed and body straight as is comfortable for you to sit, it’s good to keep straight if you can – your head and neck and chest – bring your awareness either to the muscle in your abdomen or to the breath passing the tip of your nostrils and notice the breath either rising and falling or breathing in and breathing out.
If your breath gets fast or slow it doesn’t matter, just notice it.
Don’t change it but just notice it. You are merely remaining aware.
Any sounds, smells, sensations just let them come and let them go and bring your awareness back to either rising and falling or breathing in and breathing out.
If your mind wanders just notice it and bring it very gently back to breathing in breathing out or rising and falling.
Wherever your mind is now, just notice where it is and very gently bring it back to rising and falling, breathing in, breathing out. If it helps to say those words inside yourself with each breath it is perfectly okay.
All the sounds, everything that comes into your ears, just notice it as another thought and come back to your breath. There is nothing you need to think about now other than breathing in, breathing out or rising and falling.
Notice the shape and form as the breath goes by – beginning, middle, and end of the in breath, the space, the beginning, middle, and end of the out breath, the space.
If you experience agitation or confusion or boredom or bliss or anything just see it as more thoughts. Notice it and bring your awareness back to rising and falling or breathing in and breathing out.
If you begin to doze take a few deep intentional breaths. Rising and falling or breathing in and breathing out.
All the feelings in your body, the sounds, the sensations, the tastes, the smells, the sights, just notice them coming and going bring your awareness back to the primary object of meditation.
Firm your seat, head straight, rising and falling or breathing in and breathing out.
There are three more minutes left. Use these three minutes consciously. Gently but firmly each time your mind wanders bring it back to rising and falling or breathing in and breathing out.
Be vigilant but gentle. Bring the awareness back to the basic primary object of meditation. Basic attention to the breath.