Learning to Meditate
Whenever people come to our Zendo in Doncaster for meditation instruction we offer up four pieces of advice:
1, Get as comfortable as possible
3, Thoughts aren't a problem
4, It's a practice
They are very simple principles but also very profound. After all for anyone that has tried to sit still for 30 minutes and do so comfortably will know the first instruction alone always easy! It can be a challenge to get comfortable. In Zen there is a lot of emphasis on the posture, in fact the posture and all its precision is a path to comfort. We sit with dignity upright but not uptight!
Then to relax; of course feeling comfortable and relaxing have a close relationship. This instruction is about being relaxed in body and mind, we could say that it is the most profound of the four. Just relax with whatever comes up. Relax in the posture, relax with the thoughts and feelings. Relax with following the breath. Rest and relax.
Next, we're not trying to get rid of thoughts. They come and go on their own, just let them. The challenge is when we add something to the thoughts; our reactions. That's why in the practice where we meditate on the breath we are trained to just label whatever sensations that arise as 'thinking'. Very simply, like a feather touching a bubble. Eventually we may experience what the 16th Karmapa described as 'thoughts come, thoughts go'. It's a lot easier if we can, well ...relax!
Then finally; it's a practice. Sometimes we can't get comfortable so we adjust our posture or take a break. Sometimes we can't relax, then we notice and we let go. It's ok it's a practice. Sometimes we forget we are following the breath, then we remember and come back. It's ok, it's a practice. Not doing something doesn't become a reason for beating ourselves up but instead it is a gateway into seeing more deeply that it's ok; it's a practice.
In essence we keep going at every stage - then not knowing where we are going and never getting there is very relaxing and the path stretches out endlessly in all directions. What a relief. May we all keep going together. Meditation instruction is best given in person or live get in touch below if you want to explore further.