What do you love so much in this life that you want to meditate on it, the things that tickle your soul.
To meditate, we sit and pay loving attention to the rhythm and pulsation of life renewing itself.
How does life renew itself? Life is always in motion, rhythmically pulsating as it heals and evolves itself.
The breath, for example. Breath is one rhythm we can pay attention to. Just for a few seconds, notice the way the breath is flowing into and out of your body. There are many little things to love about the way breath feels, and if you start paying attention in a loving way, you will settle into meditation. There are innumerable other rhythms, such as the heartbeat, or the rhythm of thoughts and silence.
Meditation allows us to access a naturally occurring rest state; it is resting in yourself while remaining awake and alert. It is different from sleep, in that the rest is much deeper and happens quickly, and you become more aware than usual. Meditation happens spontaneously for a few seconds or minutes when we gaze at the horizon, a sunset, a river, the ocean, or lie on our backs and gaze upward at the night sky.
We can cultivate meditation intentionally, we can set aside a time each day to meditate, and this has great benefits. Even a few minutes of meditation here and there can help your day to be more full of grace and good humor.
There are at least three ways that meditation helps with healing on a physical and emotional level.
– Meditation lets the body rest more deeply than sleep, even though you are sitting up and are awake.
– During meditation your body-mind system lets go of the past, and of the hurts of the past. As if a lot of time has passed.
– After meditation, you are less likely to get stressed over little things, so you will tend to have less stress-related illness.
Rest is one of the most profound human needs. We all need to sleep and dream. We all know how rejuvenating sleep is. Meditation gives us access to that kind of renewal, only on a deeper level.
Life organizes itself in a rhythm of action and rest, action and rest. And if we do not get rejuvenating rest, our performance degrades. Meditation gives the body a chance to reset its clocks and enter action and sleep in a more harmonious manner.
When we rest, the body (including the nervous system and brain) tunes itself up, repairs damage, gathers energy, and gets ready to go.
Think of the deepest rest you have ever had in your life. You woke up and you could hardly move. That correlates to about an 8 percent reduction in oxygen consumption. Oxygen consumption is an indicator of how much work the body is doing.
During sleep, oxygen consumption gradually declines over a period of four or five hours, to eventually reach this 8 percent reduction. During meditation, oxygen consumption decreases by 10 to 17 percent within the first 3 to 5 minutes. This is a spontaneous side effect of paying attention in a meditative way, and is felt as a powerful sense of physical relaxation and ease. In other words, the body spontaneously goes into this state when you practice a meditation technique that suits you.
Meditation is innate, and your body already knows how to do it. The human body has an instinctive ability to shift into profound rest states in order to heal, energize, integrate, tune itself up and assimilate learning. It is almost a sure bet that you have already experienced this many times in your life. Meditation can happen spontaneously, as when you are sitting on a hill looking at a sunrise or sunset, or when listening to music. Most people I work with remember meditating many times in the past - only they did not call it meditation. It was just a personal time, a special time they had with themselves or with nature.
Meditation is paradoxical in that you are resting more deeply than sleep, yet you are wide awake inside. It is similar in some ways to taking a nap but you don’t fall asleep, you fall awake. You can induce it by attentively doing anything simple and repetitive. We breathe all the time, and breathing is rhythmic, so you could pay attention to your breathing. There are so many ways in.
Meditation promotes a heightened awareness of the details of everyday life. Even a few minutes of meditation will help you move through the world with more relaxation and alertness.
Meditation is giving attention a chance to explore its full range, both inward and outward. It is a conversation between your inner and your outer life. This sounds simple, and it is. But there is no end to the delights of attention; there is always more to learn, more to explore, more to awaken to.
What's needed to meditate
- all of the senses
- movement / mudra
- dark or light
- smell and taste / rasa
- balance /
come out of meditation slowly - take a few breaths
An example of a "nutritional" meditation Buddha gave can be found in the Anapanasati Sutra,
"He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture.
He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure.
He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes."
Here the tone of attention is nutritious, nurturing. These teachings direct attention to be sensitive to rapture and pleasure. You are taking delight in simply existing. Your body, nervous system, and your senses can set their own parameters.
Meditation is selecting some aspect of life’s rhythms of self-renewal, and then riding that inward to touch your essence, rest in essence.
Life renews itself through rhythm: the flowing breath, the pulsing heart, cycles of activity and restfulness, flows of energy and passion in the body, all the subtle nerves (nadis) flowing with prana, the prana humming and singing mantras to itself as it flows through the bodies, rhythms of brightness and darkness, wakefulness and sleep and dreaming. These are just some of the rhythms of life.
The rhythm of life renewing itself feels like love.
Feels like falling, floating, melting, opening.
Love brings up our fears to be healed.
The physical body and the prana body love each other and love to play together, coordinate, in the way that your different muscles love to coordinate and synchronize. It’s a deep joy to flow together. Meditation is a way to let body and soul come closer, inter-permeate each other, care for each other.
Select aspects of life’s rhythm that appeal to you - use the same hunting instinct you use when finding music you love.
a whole meditation practice can be in movement, and at some point when the energy settles you will want to close your eyes and let yourself linger in the shimmer of sensation!
Now go meditate, delight in life renewing itself!