I started my meditation journey with a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (Burma). We meditated in the temples, at times up to an hour, in what turned to be a very strict meditative practice.
I often don’t teach this method as an intro to meditation as it utilizes pain as a motivation to go deeper. It’s a strict discipline. Westerners often need a softer intro meditation.
However, if you want the karate kid-style traditional zen intro to meditation…read on grasshopper:
- Begin by sitting cross-legged with your back straight. Breath in and out your nose.
- Set yourself a time. I recommend 10 minutes to begin. Set a timer.
- Focus on your breath. There are several variations to this:
- Try to stop “controlling” your breath. Instead, be the observer of your body breathing automatically.
- Try to notice only the temperature of the air as it comes in and as it goes out.
- Try to see how far you can feel the air go into your body
- Understand the power of the statement: “I am breathing.”
- Anytime you lose yourself in thought, bring yourself back to your breath with softness. Observe any self-judging thoughts such as, “I am terrible at meditating.”
- Your back and body will likely hurt. Resist the urge to move. Observe the urge to move.
- Use the pain to go deeper. Observe how the pain is not constant, it comes and goes. Bring your awareness very, very deeply right into the place from which the pain emanates. Watch how the pain disappears when you do this. The pain will keep you conscious, because if you ever drift off, it will bring you back.
- Observe the desire to stop meditating.
Begin upping the time towards 20 minutes and then 30 minutes. If you do this enough and you keep yourself very conscious during the meditation, constantly observing your mind’s resistance, you will breakthrough to very deep places.
Essentially, imagine yourself falling back through layers upon layers into consciousness. Almost like Inception. You can be aware of what you are feeling. You can be aware that you are aware of what you are feeling. You can be aware that you are aware of your awareness of what you are feeling. And so on.
The second type of meditation of meditation we will explore is a loving-kindness meditation.
- Begin in the same cross legged, back straight position.
- Quiet your mind using the same technique as above.
- Begin to visualize a person in your mind’s eye. See them very clearly to the point that you can feel them sitting in front of you.
- Feel yourself awash with feelings of love towards them. This is easier to do with someone who you really feel lots of love towards. Until you hone and memorize this feeling, make it easier on yourself.
- Imagine what it would feel like for their whole body to be filled with warmth and relaxation and pleasure, almost like they’re resting their cold hands near a warm fire. Feel the sensation pass up their legs, into their arms, and throughout their whole body.
- As you practice this meditation, practice with different people (reserving each for a different meditation):
- Practice towards someone you love
- Practice towards yourself
- Practice towards someone you feel neutral to
- Practice towards someone towards whom you feel anger or hatred
These are two traditional zen meditation techniques I learned. More to come later.