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Community Spotlight: Rosa N Schnyer

  • December 8, 2018
  • Blog
Where do you live?

Austin

How did you come to meditation?

I was introduced to meditation when I was 14 living in Mexico City. I was then fortunate to encounter Zen in my early 20’s. After practicing on my own for a while, I went to live at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Rinzai Zen community in upstate NY. My travels took me eventually to Boston, where the gentleness of the insight tradition helped rekindle my formal practice and where I was first introduced to the teachings of Pema Chödron and the Tibetan heart practices. In Austin, I found a steady source of wisdom and inspiration in the Quiet Mind, Open Heart sangha led by Kelly.

What inspires you to meditate?

Meditation allows me to fully inhabit my life and to bear witness to the unfolding of this precious but challenging human existence. It helps me to engage with purpose and meaning, to feel connected to others, to overcome self-centeredness. It really is the backbone of my day to day life.

What does your meditation practice look like?

I sit for a good while just about every morning. At this point, I combine quietly sitting, complemented by loving kindness and Tonglen. I try to sit and study with others a couple of times per week, to continue delving into the teachings and exploring the big questions. I aspire to infuse my clinical work with the foundations of practice, and try to attend tenderly to the human heart. Often, my work in clinic and my sitting practice blend together. It’s a bit trickier to stay present with other day to day tasks.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

A good cup of morning green tea, a sunrise bike ride, a brisk walk, and yoga practice.

How is your life different because of meditation?

There are moments when I can actually pause, before reacting, a huge task for my inner volcano! I see and feel with greater intensity what’s unfolding around me. I often feel immensely grateful. I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

I’ve gone through periods of agonizing doubt. I’m not a devotional person, and I’m rather pragmatic, I have to feel the truth in my bones to make it real. That can sometimes be a challenge. It’s difficult to juggle everything and still be able to devote as much time and energy as I’d like to devote to practice.

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Just sit and let your breath bring you home. With kindness and steadfastness, don’t get up until the bell rings. Let the practice ignite in you a sense of wonderment, and let the beauty of life as well as the suffering of the human heart, inspire your practice, everyday.

What does your heart most long for?

To make a long lasting difference somehow, somewhere. I would love to find courage and the know how to decrease homelessness.

The Perfection of Patience

  • December 1, 2018
  • Blog
The third paramita — kshanti paramita — is the perfection of patience. Let’s begin with a conversation about what patience is not, and what the perfection of patience is, according to the Tibetan Buddhist view:
Patience is NOT
Giving up
Resignation
Repression
Ignoring
Grinning and bearing it
Accepting everything
Not doing anything
Trying to get resolution on our own terms
Patience IS
“Getting smart”
Pausing and getting still
Being really honest with ourselves about how we feel
Creating space for our experience
Responding instead of reacting
Cultivating courage to sit with discomfort, discord, or disagreement (or any other “dis”)!
Patience is an antidote to anger and aggression. Here is a link to a great article from Pema Chodron:  The Answer to Anger and Aggression is Patience.
How Our Meditation Practice Leads to Patience
Our meditation practice helps us to cultivate patience because it teaches us how to be with our experience without repressing or indulging it, but rather witnessing it with kindness and curiosity. Meditation invites us to be fully present with ourselves in a kind and non-judgmental way, and this helps us to be more fully present with others….even those who push all of our buttons! No one said this was easy!
But Pema Chodron does say: “Patience is an enormously wonderful and supportive and even magical practice. It’s a way of completely changing the fundamental human habit of trying to resolve things by going either to the right or the left, calling things right or calling things wrong. It’s the way to develop courage, the way to find out what life is really about. … We discover that as a matter of fact joy and happiness, peace, harmony and being at home with yourself and your world come from sitting still with the moodiness of the energy until it rises, dwells, and passes away.” 

Community Spotlight: Kaleigh Carter

  • November 24, 2018
  • Blog

Where do you live?

Austin, TX

How did you come to meditation?

I came to meditation because my body forced me to slow down.  During this period of my life I was doing yoga five or six times a week and I loved the way the movement of my body could create a clarity in my mind—without having to sit still! “Yoga is my meditation,” was almost a mantra for me, which wasn’t entirely untrue; however, I recognize now that my relationship to it at that time was more about trying to escape my mind rather than make friends with it.

After herniating two disks in my low back I was searching for ways to continue to experience that feeling I’d come to cherish. Since I couldn’t move the way I was accustomed to, eventually I was led to meditation, which by no means gave me the same feeling when I started out, but has had so many more myriad benefits in my life since establishing a consistent practice.

What inspires you to meditate?

I’m inspired to meditate by my firm conviction that meditation can lead to a happier and more peaceful life that will ripple out to in turn create a happier and more peaceful world. I have a deep yearning to help make the world a better place, and I used to believe that this would be something I would accomplish through a job or career or by some act of going out into the world and doing.

Now I realize that I can make a huge difference by going within and learning how to be in the world. This doesn’t mean lack of action in the world, it means that because of my time in meditation that I can act in different and more beneficial ways. This is oftentimes what motivates me to get on my cushion when I’m feeling resistance.

I recently found great inspiration in this quote, which I feel sums it all up:

“The principle of nowness is very important to any effort to establish an enlightened society. You may wonder what the best approach is to helping society and how you can know that what you are doing is authentic and good. The only answer is nowness. The way to relax, or rest the mind in nowness, is through the practice of meditation. In meditation you take an unbiased approach. You let things be as they are, without judgment, and in that way you yourself learn to be.” – Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

What does your meditation practice look like?

Right now I’m in Dakini Meditative’s Meditation Teacher Training and we’re studying Culadasa’s instructions for shamatha meditation as elucidated in The Mind Illuminated text. So, every day my practice is 20-30 minutes of meditating with my breath as the object. My current focus within each session is on finding or conjuring a felt sense of joy in my body while I meditate so that it becomes something I automatically want to return to day after day.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

I have a little altar with my Dakini meditation cushions set up in front of it (I use both a gomden and a zafu for extra height and support for my low back). My altar has pictures of people who inspire me to meditate, pretty artwork, and crystals on it. I try to always take a few minutes to move my spine before I sit, and I burn Palo Santo to cleanse the space. At the end of every practice I dedicate my time sitting in the hopes that all beings will one day be happy and free from pain.

How is your life different because of meditation?

I feel like I’m a completely different person since meditation has come into my life. Since it’s one of the most important things in my life now I take it into consideration during most other activities of my life. I don’t drink anymore (which was a big part of my life pre-meditation) mainly because I know the headache the day after will prevent me from meditating. I try to stay well-rested so that I can have a shot at having a good practice.

In addition to practicing better self-care because of my practice I also have healthier relationships with myself and others in my life. Meditation allows me to have clearer seeing of my habitual responses, and often (not always) helps me find the ability to pause so that instead of reacting in my instinctual way I can choose how to respond to a situation. I have much more patience because of my practice and I feel like I’ve become more generous and more compassionate to myself and others.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

I’ve probably faced all of the challenges in the book: doubt, resistance, dullness, agitation, physical pain, finding consistency… One of the biggest challenges was when I was doing a practice that required elaborate visualizations. My brain isn’t that great at conjuring up images, so I constantly struggled to have the motivation to practice. Then I would hear about others who were doing the same practice and having amazing results and I would judge myself, leading to huge resistance to practicing. Another challenge I’ve faced is simply the ability to find the right time of day to practice. Even when I’m well-rested, it’s hard for me to wake up and feel alert enough to practice first thing in the morning, however if I wait until later in the day it’s easy to forget or end up just fitting it in right before bed.

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

There are three main things I would share with someone who is just beginning.

1) Don’t get discouraged when you begin meditating and it seems like you’re actually having way more thoughts now! It’s actually just that you’re becoming aware of all the thoughts that were already there. And, they’re not supposed to go away… Contrary to popular depictions, the point of meditating isn’t to stop your thoughts and only feel calm and peaceful. It is to welcome whatever is there, just as it is, with no judgment— even if that is a racing mind, angry thoughts, sadness, joy, boredom—whatever! It’s all okay.

2) There are many “flavors” of meditation. If you try one and it doesn’t work for you, don’t give up on meditation altogether! Keep trying different styles until you find the one that makes you want to keep doing it, while also keeping in mind that meditation doesn’t come naturally to us and that whatever type you land on will feel different to you every day according to your particular circumstances.

3) Find a meditation teacher. There’s only so much you can learn from reading about it on the internet. Finding a real, live meditation teacher will help you to overcome the resistance, the doubt, and other obstacles that will certainly arise in your practice.

What does your heart most long for?

My heart most longs for a peaceful, loving society that is based upon mutual respect and understanding of the fact that all beings (not just humans) want to be happy and free from suffering.

The Perfection of Kindness

  • November 9, 2018
  • Blog
The shila paramita, or perfection of kindness, encompasses all of the teachings on ethics and morality, and all of these teachings can be simplified into one word: kindness. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be kind to the world. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has often been quoted as saying “My religion is kindness.” He suggests that we contemplate this every morning:
“Every day, think as you wake up: Today, I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all of my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve Enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts toward others. I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” 
In much the same way that we begin our meditation practice by setting an intention and close our practice by offering a dedication, we could begin and end each and every day this way. The more we pay attention to the goodness that we sow in our bodies and hearts and minds, through our actions, words, and thoughts, the more we water those seeds of goodness so they can bloom.

Community Spotlight: Dana Wills

  • October 5, 2018
  • Blog

 

Where do you live?

Buena Vista, Colorado and Austin, Texas

How did you come to meditation?

From an early age, my interaction with the world has been very physical through dance, sports and outdoor adventures. Yoga asana felt very natural for me as a physical as well as a spiritual endeavor, so becoming a yoga teacher was part of my personal continuum. As injuries limited my asana practice, the spiritual side of yoga grew as I learned more about meditation. I attended a weeklong silent retreat in one of my favorite places on the planet: The Esalen Institute on the California coast in Big Sur. The teachers were an amazing team of Tibetan Buddhist and yoga practitioners: Sarah Powers, Tias Little, Richard Freeman, Patricia Sullivan & Ty Powers. I was inspired by the interplay of silence, meditation, yoga asana and philosophy, dharma teachings and science. I came home to an invitation in my inbox for Kelly Lindsey’s second series at Dharma on meditation preliminaries. Kelly picked right up on the topics in which I had just been immersed, and the rest is history.

What inspires you to meditate?

Being part of this sangha inspires me to meditate. The intellectual conversations, the emotional connections, the collective seeking. The calm and focus I aspire to in meditation comes and goes, but the community remains there always to encourage me, see me, and love me.

What does your meditation practice look like?

At first, I wondered if it “counted” to meditate in class. I worried that I wouldn’t develop my own daily practice because I relied on Kelly and her classes to get me on my cushion. In short, I don’t worry about that any more! Meditating with my friends is the anchor of my practice, whether in class, outside at Laguna Gloria, or now online through Mind Oasis. When I sit alone on days with no class, I miss the accountability and the instruction, which I always find new and informative. My practice is also fed by retreats, whether communal or personal. For me these are a time to get away to reevaluate what my heart most longs for what is precious to me. It’s a time to build clarity, courage and compassion.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

I have used the app Insight Timer for many years to bring that accountability to my personal meditation sessions. I’ll preferably use my own Nepalese singing bowl to begin and end my sessions if it’s handy. My altar had to move around with me quite a bit, and has currently been reduced to a Buddha keyring flashlight and some pocket reminders in a travel case! Every day is different for me. Rituals like preparing the body, reading passages, lighting candles, dedicating the merit of the practice and ending with journaling have come and gone over the years. Just getting on the cushion is the most important thing.

How is your life different because of meditation?

Meditation has brought a stillness in my life that I crave if it’s not part of my day. It nourishes the introvert in me. Meditating in a sangha has given me like-minded friends that, like me, seek an understanding of what no one can truly know. I feel warm and held and understood by them. I don’t feel like an outsider trying to explain my deepest questions and path. Instead, I’m walking it with good company.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

Consistency in practice remains a challenge. I had this “novel” idea that when I began teaching meditation, I would offer the accountability and consistency of a schedule that I myself needed. I just couldn’t figure out how I could be held accountable for that everyday. Then, voilà! Karuna created Mind Oasis and that consistency was born for free seventeen times per week for all who wish to enjoy it! I am currently trying to attend a class everyday, and I love it!

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Just sit. With or without a cushion, with or without an altar, with or without a schedule, with or without a timer, with or without the time. Just sit.

What does your heart most long for?

I try to see and understand all whom I encounter to create a true heart connection. I long most to be seen and understood, myself. This connection is a prerequisite for compassion, kindness and generosity. I’ll continue to strive to bring consistency to my practice, so that I can come back to each moment and each person I encounter with true seeing and understanding. I then, too, will be seen and understood.

Dana Wills graduated from the Dakini Meditative 300-Hour Meditation Teacher Training in 2017. She now teaches meditation online through Mind Oasis’ free program, Meditate on the 8s

The Perfection of Generosity

  • October 2, 2018
  • Blog

 

The Buddha described the practice of meditation as a vehicle that we use to go from one place to another, like a boat that helps us cross from one side of a body of water to the other. In one teaching, the Buddha outlined six qualities that we can cultivate on the path of meditation which help us on our journey. These six qualities are generosity, kindness, patience, joyful effort, meditation, and wisdom, and they are known in Buddhism as the Six Paramitas. Paramita is a Sanskrit word that means “going to the other shore” and is often translated as perfection or transcendent action.

The Perfection of Generosity

This month’s blog will take a deeper look into the perfection of generosity. In the coming months, we will consider kindness, patience, joyful effort, meditation and wisdom.

There are many ways that we can practice generosity as outlined in the Buddhist teachings. We can give material things, which is what we typically think of when we consider what it means to be generous. Another form of generosity is giving “freedom from fear.” This includes all the ways that we give love, our time, energy, and perhaps most importantly, our attention. Spiritual giving, is described by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as “helping others to be more joyful through the generosity of your own spirit.”

Often times, our generosity is limited by feeling that we don’t have enough. There are so many demands on our attention, time, energy, finances, and we can feel depleted. The practice of generosity does not ask us to give beyond our means. It asks us to give according to our capacity in each moment. As we practice generosity, our capacity for giving naturally grows.

Pema Chodron on Generosity

“The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is a sign that we are holding on to something — usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy, we hold on tight. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering what we can — a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement — we are training in letting go. There are so many ways to practice generosity. The main point isn’t so much what we give, but that we unlock our habit of grasping. The practice of giving shows us where we’re holding back, where we’re clinging.” [excerpt from Comfortable with Uncertainty]

Using Meditation to Cultivate Generosity

In meditation, we place our attention on the breath as it moves in and out of our bodies. When the mind wanders away, we acknowledge what we are present to, let go of thinking, and gently restore attention on the breath. A simple practice, but not easy to do. The breath has a lot to teach us about letting go. Simply sitting quietly and breathing is a way to cultivate generosity.

Community Spotlight: Marissa Knox

  • September 7, 2018
  • Blog

Where do you live?

Austin, TX

How did you come to meditation?

I have been meditating since I was around 10 years old. I learned from my mom about mantras and how repeating a mantra can be a way to calm myself. I made up my own word that I would repeat to myself in moments of anxiety and found solace and peace in that simple practice. Being in nature and birdwatching was a form of meditation for me throughout my adolescence (and still to this day). I meditated more formally through my yoga asana practice in college. Finally, in 2013 when I broke my fingers and couldn’t practice physical asanas anymore, meditation was a profound refuge for me and has continued to be so ever since.

What inspires you to meditate?

The inspiration to meditate comes from a deep desire to make meaning of life and its paradoxical mysteries. I have always been curious about life and death and how to make sense of it all. Meditation is a way for me to meet the uncertainty of life and cultivate a sense of trust and awareness of who I am and what life is.

What does your meditation practice look like?

My meditation practice is responsive to the seasons of my life. It has taken many shapes over the years. Currently, the simpler my practice, the richer and fuller my experience is. Resting in being, breathing, and feeling is deeply nourishing to me. In particular, I am inspired by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s instructions to find inner refuge in stillness, silence, and spaciousness. I am also inspired by poetry, nature, and music as ways to connect to my meditation practice. And always there are elements of self-compassion in how I practice. The act of showing up for myself in meditation and meeting myself as I am is a gesture of self-compassion and radical intimacy, which I define as a willingness to not abandon myself and to embrace all parts of the wholeness of my being. This is integral to how I aspire to relate to myself in both formal meditation practice and in my everyday activities.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

Journaling is an essential part of my meditation practice. I like to journal before I practice, and often afterwards too, as a way to connect with myself, process my thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and understand the ebb and flow of my practice. I also like to write intentions and remind myself of my core values at the beginning and end of my practice to keep me rooted in grace, love, connection, and presence.

How is your life different because of meditation?

Meditation points me back to the sacredness of being alive and illuminates what is most true to my heart. It is because of meditation that I am living with greater integrity, self-trust, and compassion for myself and others. By practicing meditation I can offer myself what I need and therefore be fully resourced so I can offer myself to others more generously and joyfully.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

I think the biggest obstacle for me is perfectionistic striving. This happens when I am in the “trance of unworthiness” as Tara Brach calls it and I start to believe that in order to become worthy I must meditate perfectly. This toxic belief snuck into my meditation practice for years. I thought that meditating, and meditating “right” or “perfectly,” would finally make me be enough, be worthy, be lovable. Now I’ve realized that I can choose to meditate because I already am worthy. When I meditate I am communicating to myself that I am worth the time, energy, attention, and effort it takes to practice. I also try to remember that a “good” meditation is any meditation that I show up for. Whatever appears as obstacles in my practice are not signs of my failure or badness, but rather signs of my humanness, my aliveness, my wholeness.

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Give yourself permission to be human! This means not judging yourself for having thoughts, feelings, daydreams, or ramblings. That is all perfectly natural and a part of being alive. Be kind and patient with yourself as you learn new techniques. There’s no need to rush to some moment where it’s all figured out. Spoiler alert: nothing needs to be figured out. You have all you need already and being just as you are is more than enough, it’s plenty.

What does your heart most long for?

My heart longs for collective liberation. I wish for all beings to know, love, trust, and rest in being fully who they are — divine wholeness.

Marissa Knox is a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin studying with Dr. Kristin Neff. Her research is focused on self-compassion and how it serves as an inner resource of resilience for healthy body image and stress management. Her dissertation will examine a self-compassion writing intervention specifically designed to help reduce college student body image concerns. Marissa is a trained Mindful Self-Compassion™ teacher, a certified Embody Love Movement facilitator, and a Level 1 iRest® Yoga Nidra teacher. She also teaches yoga asana, mindfulness practices, and meditation that is accessible to both beginners and seasoned practitioners. Her teaching is infused with her studies of Tibetan Buddhism as well as her love of being in nature and reading and writing poetry.

Creating a Space to Meditate

  • September 1, 2018
  • Blog

One of the most important considerations in developing an everyday meditation practice is thinking about where you will meditate everyday. Creating a dedicated space to practice can be very helpful in cultivating consistency in your practice, and a consistent practice is essential for realizing the benefits of meditation.

Your practice space doesn’t have to be big, and there doesn’t have to be anything really special about it, other than it’s a place that you choose to take your seat everyday to practice meditation. It could be a really simple, clean, quiet corner of a room in your home or office. It’s a place that you know is there for you every day.

In this space you could set up a small altar that reflects your intention for practicing meditation. You might put an image of something that represents to you a quality of wakefulness, or of peace. You might have a candle or incense or flowers – anything that reflects to you something symbolic of your deeper intention for practicing meditation. You might include photographs of people that inspire you in your practice or on your path. Having a beautiful meditation cushion can add beauty to your space and be a sweet reminder that it’s time to take your seat.

While it can be really supportive of starting a meditation practice to have a space that you return to day after day, the most important thing is to actually do the practice wherever and whenever you can. So whether for you that’s a quiet place in your house or somewhere more public like a park bench, what really matters is that you’re meditating every day.

Is there one particular place that you feel that you feel drawn to again and again, day after day, to meditate? Is there anything you can do to uplift this space so that it feels even more inviting?

Community Spotlight: Lacey Melguizo

  • August 15, 2018
  • Blog

Where do you live? 

Austin, TX

How did you come to meditation?

I started meditating when I first moved to Austin 13 years ago. Through my early days of learning, I came to understand the power of the mind and subconscious thoughts. I came to my real sitting meditation practice through the Dakini Meditative Teacher Training. It was the daily sitting practice that helped me to establish a truly grounded and embodied practice. My meditation practice has given me the courage to embody myself, be myself, and know myself.

What inspires you to meditate?

It’s like breathing for me now. It’s like food and water. It’s nutrition for my soul. I can’t be the me that I want to be in the world without it.

What does your meditation practice look like?

It looks different every day. Most days I have a dedicated sitting practice where I take my seat on my cushion and I take time to sit and breathe. I use my intuition to guide my practice each and every day. My practice also includes all the times I can remember to be mindful while I am playing with my children or doing the dishes. I try to incorporate my practice in my day to day experience, allowing life to be my practice.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

My Dakini cushion! I love it! It’s MY cushion. I have a prayer that I say to set the tone at the beginning and and other prayer at the end of my practice.

How is your life different because of meditation?

I am going to cry! Prior to having a grounded meditation practice, I looked outside of myself to understand who I was and to gain self worth. My meditation practice has given me the ability and the courage to love myself very deeply and have an immense amount of self worth that comes from a deep well within me and it allows me to love others in a more profound and authentic way.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

In the beginning, it was just the resistance to just sitting down and doing it. As my meditation practice matured, it was the unconscious stuff that bubbled up that I had to sit with. Being a mom, wife, friend, and entrepreneur, it can be challenging to find the time, but I’ve learned that when I create the space, everything else flows from there.

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Don’t stop. Don’t expect to clear your mind. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. If you just do it for a minute or three minutes in the beginning, celebrate that. Just do it a little bit every day.

What does your heart most long for?

My heart most long for all beings to feel connected to the love that they are.

The Importance of Meditation Posture

  • August 11, 2018
  • Blog

You’re welcome to print this to take yourself on a guided meditation with a supportive meditation posture.

The practice of meditation really starts with how we inhabit our bodies. There are a few important elements of a good meditation posture. The most important thing in a proper meditation posture is that your hips are really stable and supported. When the hips are supported, the spine can rise up freely out of that base of support. You want to sit in a way that allows your shoulders to be balanced right over your hips, and allows your head to be resting right at the top of the spine, so that you’re not leaning forward or leaning back, and you feel really balanced both from front to back and from side to side.

You may choose a firm but comfortable chair where you can place your feet flat on the floor, sit with your hips supported, but your back unsupported, so that you can sit with a long spine with all of its natural curves. Or you may choose to sit on a meditation cushion on the floor that is supportive of an aligned meditation posture. If so, you can sit with your legs either comfortably crossed in front of you or you can sit kneeling.

The eyes are open with a soft spacious gaze, downcast to the space in front of you. The eyes aren’t looking for anything in particular, you’re just allowing the eyes to see. Similarly, the ears receive the sounds that are in the environment around you, without listening for anything specifically.

Take another moment to notice everything else that is here for you to feel in the environment that you find yourself in right now. As you practice, you’ll continue to be aware of things arising in the environment around you. Whatever is here, arising in the present moment, is simply a reminder to be present.

Now, turn your attention to your body and take time to fine tune the alignment of your posture, feeling your body from the inside out. Feel all the points of contact between your body and the ground. Allow your hips and your pelvis to relax into the support of the cushion or the chair. From that ground of support, feel your spine gently lengthening, feeling an uplifted energy rising up through the core of you.

Bring your shoulders right into balance over your hips. Rest your hands palms down on your thighs in a way that supports this upright quality of your meditation posture and at the same time allows you to relax deeply. Feel your head resting buoyantly atop the spine. Feel the crown of your head lifting skyward. Relax your forehead, jaw, and throat. Allow the breath to flow naturally in and out through your nostrils.

See if there are any little subtle shifts that you can make to the alignment of your body to bring just a little bit more of a feeling of ease, so that you can settle in and really commit your physical body to stillness for the duration of your meditation.

It can be difficult at the beginning, as you settling into your meditation posture, to be truly still in the body. There might be a temptation to scratch every itch that arises, or to stretch, or to wiggle, or otherwise fidget. That tendency to move out of stillness is totally natural, but the invitation is just to notice the body, and to allow what arises in the body, and to recognize that we don’t have to scratch every itch, or stretch every time that instinct comes. We can actually allow the body to relax. You can rest your hands palms down on the thighs in support of this intention to be still and to be upright in your meditation posture.

Having arrived fully into stillness, feel for the movement of your breath. Attention to breathing is the heart of the practice of meditation. Notice what happens all by itself when you place your attention wholeheartedly and single pointedly on the feeling of the breath in your body.

Relate very directly and intimately with the feeling experience of the breath as it comes in and goes out, not simply thinking about the breath. As you sit and breathe, you’ll continue to be aware of sounds in the environment around you, sensations within the landscape of your own body, and thoughts and emotions arising in the space of your mind. Let everything be exactly as it is.

When you notice that your attention has been drawn away from the breath by a sound, a sensation, a thought, or a feeling, simply acknowledge what has called you away and very gently, but very precisely bring your attention back and reconnect with the feeling of breath in your body.

It really doesn’t matter how many times your attention is called away. Please don’t judge yourself or give yourself a hard time for becoming distracted. This is the practice of meditation. The only thing that really matters is that you notice when you’re distracted and that you bring your attention back and relax with this next breath, and this next moment. Be right here, right now.

Take a moment to rejoice in this opportunity to practice meditation. Recognize that the practice of meditation has the ability to benefit you by bringing greater well-being and happiness and peace. It also has the ability to bring those qualities of well-being, happiness, and peace to everyone that you come into contact with throughout your day, and to your whole world. Take a moment to offer a dedication of the goodness of your practice:

May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. Peace, peace, peace.

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