Generic Steps for Meditation
Here is a generic meditation procedure that you can adapt to your needs, modify to fit.
1. Wherever you are, notice a desire to meditate. You might want rest, a pause, comfort, relaxation, pleasure, relief, time for yourself, or anything. The meditation can begin with you standing in the middle of your living room, realizing you can give yourself this time. You might also turn off your phone and put a note on your door, "meditating," if there are other people in the house.
Orienting to your needs:
- a quick vacation
- time for yourself
- . . . or any other need you might feel
2. Find a place to sit, preferable with your feet on the ground and some back support.
3. With the eyes open, give yourself a chance to settle in. If your eyes close by themselves, go with it. If your eyes are still open, appreciate the space around you. Just let your awareness delight in space itself. Savor panoramic vision, or peripheral vision, for a minute – the extended visual field all around you.
4. Savor a breath a few times. Simply be appreciative for the flow of breathing.
5. Select an aspect of life you love and want to be with. The sensations of breathing, the light flowing from the sun and blessing the earth, the rhythm of the heartbeat and breath, the sound of internal music such as a mantra, a thought that represents a quality you would love to be infused with.
6. Be with this aspect of life you love. Allow yourself to be called. Awareness is called toward what we love. Allow yourself to be enchanted. Welcome the sense of being flooded and permeated.
7. Ride your rhythms. There will be times when you are absorbed, and times when you are absorbed in your to-do list. Welcome the flowing through the R's. (know what the R's are.)
8. When you become aware that you have completed a cycle, be delighted. Welcome yourself back to the beginning. If you have time, continue for another round.
9. When it is time to stop meditating, give yourself a 5-minute transition time of just sitting there, being.
10. If you are tired, lie down for 5 minutes and absorb deeper relaxation.
Generally a good time to meditate is first thing in the morning, before the day's action begins. Then the blessings flow over into your day. It is best to think of meditation as a preparation for action. Then meditate again before dinner, so that you have three or four hours after meditation before you go to sleep. If a day is 24 hours, and you give an hour to meditating, that is 1/24 or a bit more than 4% of the day. It's an investment that should pay off every day.
Let's look at a "generic" day.
10 pm to 6 am - sleep
6:15 to 6:45 meditation
then you can meditate for the second time in the afternoon or evening
a 3 pm meditation 8 hours after your morning meditation, and 7 hours before sleep
a 5 pm meditation is 10 hours after your morning meditation and 5 hours before sleep
So consider these action cycles, of awakening in the morning and the day's activity, as the first action cycle of 8 hours, and late afternoon into the evening as the second action cycle of 8 hours.
It is handy to have meditation time at the beginning of each action cycle. Meditation is preparation for action, to help you be at your best.
Sometimes, it might be appropriate to do a chore first. You might want to straighten up the house, or organize something. Cleaning out a closet can teach you how hard and satisfying cleaning is. Then meditating seems easier.
At times, you may need to work on your to-do list first, so that you have a feeling of organization there and your brain will have less sorting to do during your meditation time.
There are a LOT of things you can do for a few minutes before meditating that may help. Some of the things I have done over the years:
watch a few minutes of comedy or listen to standup on audio
- go outside and do Tai Chi
- take a cold shower
- put on music and dance
- do an asana sequence
- chant Sanskrit for awhile
Check out the instructions in Meditation Made Easy (Harper, 1998) which are a condensation of the instructions I have been giving since 1969.A meditation technique is:
Some mix of instincts + engage the senses + mix of elemental relationships + some style of attention
are the propulsion, the energy source, the drive
are the doorways, the way the art of the universe comes in
are metaphoric ways of organizing the universe
there are many styles of attention
The power source for meditation: the need for rest, the craving to retreat in to a cave, the urge to merge with the life essence, the urge to dissolve into love and orgasm, the desire to explore and hunt, the desire to gather soul food, the need to feed and be nourished, the need to digest and be emptied, the instinct to wonder and be curious. All these urges are powers of life, currents of creation and creativity flowing through our bodies and minds and hearts and souls. When we align with these powers and find the way to cooperate with them, it is as if we are riding a powerful horse or wave or car.
Bring all your senses. Leave none behind. All the senses are welcome. Touch, motion, hunger, temperature, balance, smell, thirst, vision, hearing, internal vision and internal hearing.
When we experience the elements, they are generally in a mix. Standing on the banks of a river, there is dirt or sandy soil or mud beneath your feet, the river streaming, the sun or stars shining, the fresh air drenched in water liveliness. We experience combinations of elements, like a recipe. A bit of this and a tad of that and a preponderance of the other. On a cellular level, our bodies are sustained by a steady flow of oxygen flowing in through the lungs, being picked up by the blood, circulating to all our trillions of cells, along with sugar, and the oxygen and sugar burns to create the fire of life. Everything is an exquisite mix of elements at play with each other.
Style of Attention
When we engage with the forces of life, we move through different styles of attention: wonder, gratitude, delight, awe, appreciation, love, adoration, aesthetic joy. Occasionally you may need to exercise scrutiny or clinical skepticism, but this should only be called in when needed because there is a disease. Beware of people who overly emphasize scrutiny: they are like people who advise sprinkling your food with antibiotics.