“We may ignore or deride the messages of the body but its rebellion demands to be heeded because its language is the authentic expression of our true selves and of the strength of our vitality.”
How to practice, where to practice, when to practice? These are all great questions that come up about meditation! And, ones that can sometimes become an obstacle to actually practicing, especially for those new to meditation or just returning to a practice. I’ll be sharing a few posts on this topic over the next month or so.
Today’s practice involves a bit of an exploration of posture and how to explore mindfulness through the body. This question of posture is one that comes up often in my meditation groups. And, it’s important to know there is not one answer! Depending on the style of meditation practice, certain specific postures can seen as beneficial. Sitting cross-legged on the floor or in lotus posture is a common suggestion; however, this is not comfortable for everyone.
It is very important to listen to your body. For most of us, as we move through our day, we tend to sit on chairs most often. So taking time to explore how to practice meditation in this way can help us to bring mindfulness into our daily life. It can also help us to begin to listen to and in a sense “befriend” our bodies. This might not seem to be what we think meditation is all about – but being present with our bodies is a way of knowing ourselves more deeply and can be an anchor for many mindfulness and meditation practices.
I invite you to be curious!
Here’s a simple practice to explore:
Sit at the leading edge of chair so that your feet are flat on the floor. Feel the support of mother earth beneath your feet. Allow you spine to be straight but not tense; shoulders and stomach relaxed. Place your hand on your knees or your lap. If you are comfortable, gently close your eyes or have a soft gaze on the floor a few feet in front of you.
If you feel tense, take a few deep breaths — breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five. If possible, begin to let some of the tension in your body go. Then, let your breath fall back to its own natural rhythm.
Begin to open up to observe your whole body; and then begin to notice any specific sensations you may be feeling. Perhaps feeling your body on the chair, your feet on the floor, or the feeling of your clothing against you skin. Noticing if the air is moving or still, are you feeling hot or cold, or tired or energized and so on. Focus on any sensations you notice related to your physical body. Just noting them and them moving on to the next sensation.
You might notice areas where your feel pain tension, pain or discomfort. Observe them and then continue on to other sensations that are present. This is a time to notice physical sensations without attaching to or resisting any one of them. You are simply noticing!
If you notice that your mind is wandering, which it will, (this is the nature of the mind) simply bring it back to the next feeling or sensation that arises in your body.
To finish, take another moment to tune into your whole body. Then, focusing on your breath, envision yourself breathing into and out of your entire body for a few cycles of breath.
Finally, take a moment to express gratitude for your body and all it does to support you in being alive and awake in each and every moment!
As always, feel free to share your reflections in the comments below.
Tashi Deleh (I honor the greatness within you!)