This is part three of our How to Meditate series in which I will explore the step of silent present moment awareness. If you haven’t done the first meditation exercise yet, you are building a house without a proper foundation. Please make sure to complete the previous techniques before you move on, that way you will learn properly from the beginning.
As discussed in the previous articles, we start every session in exactly the same way. You want to explore the technique in detail and go deeper each time. It’s about discovering the different layers of an onion rather than collecting many onions. Some people like to move on to the next step but trust me – this is one of the worst obstacles in meditation practice. I am therefore inviting you to relax into one step until all other steps are becoming irrelevant.
I would like you to take the time to discover your posture. Take a few minutes and feel your body. Sit upright but make sure that you are comfortable. If you can sense some tension in the popular spots such as shoulders, hands, belly or legs, try to relax some of the muscular tension. After a while, move on to take a few deep breaths with your belly. Allow the air to ventilate every cell. Let it flood every inch of your body and breathe out old air. Then smile with your lips and your eyes. Take your time and allow the smiling sensation to spread out into your whole being together with your breath. Do this until you feel that every cell in your body smiles. I call these three steps the “essential starters” of good meditation practice.
1 Posture should be comfortable and upright
2 Deep breathing with your belly for a little while
3 Smile into every cell of your being
While practicing precisely as you have learned in the past two months, you want to watch out for a deeper perception of your physical sensations as you relax through every body part. Can you feel as if the inhalation would be filling or inflating the body-part you are paying attention to? Can you sense the release and relaxation that comes with your exhalation on more subtle levels? Good! Continuously work on sharpening your attention to such a degree that you can “listen” to the slightest energetic movements below your skin. Feel your breath moving through your body, refreshing all the cells, purifying and healing you from the inside out.
Make sure to practice with great love for detail, consistently polishing your skills of quiet observation. Allow your breath to flow naturally at this stage. Just breathe in a way that feels comfortable to you. Spend as much time as you want with every body part and remember that this practice is also helping the body to heal itself – so why not stay a little while and enjoy? If you feel that you want to rush towards the next step, you are not relaxing. So please take the time to discover some joy in each breath and offer this gift of healing to your body.
You have passed through the first two stages of practice. As a result your mind will naturally be more quiet. The impact of thoughts is less frequent while there is a general sense of resting calmly in the space of present moment awareness. You want to relax into that space – forget the next step! Now shift your attention more and more away from thoughts. Look at what happens in between two thoughts. There’s a little silent gap every time. That’s where we are resting our attention at this stage. Let thoughts come and go as they please – wait for them to finish and see every time.
Listen to the sounds or feel your body and notice all the various details. How sounds vibrate and buzz when some are close-by and others quite distant. Notice the different energetic patterns of your physical sensations. Temperature, expansion, contraction, friction, weight etc… Notice how all the details are “dancing” each and every second. The more you are absorbed in the details, the more your mind will forget to talk and verbalize. There are sounds and feelings but no verbalization or no commentary at all. That’s silent present moment awareness. You can’t force it. You can only allow it to happen gradually by shifting your attention away from inner noise towards the moments of silence. If you feel that this is too difficult, please spend more time with the previous step. Inner silence should be a natural consequence of having done the previous steps correctly, consistently and thoroughly.
Instead of ending your session at a specific moment just keep the state of internal silence alive. Come back to it throughout the day and make it your refuge or your inner home-base. Cultivating this stage requires much practice throughout the day. You want to seek out silence at any time. While waiting at the traffic light, while sitting in a bus, while waiting in line, while grocery shopping etc. You can do all these things without inner noise. This is where the magic happens. In this inner space, you are accessing true spiritual growth and expansion. Therefore just keep dwelling in this state and familiarize yourself with it as good as you can in any given situation.
This does not mean that you should not cultivate a formal meditation practice. Sitting down regularly and quietly is essential for it all to work. Finding the right balance between sitting practice and day-to-day mindfulness is the key. Remember that you are learning the art of relaxation. Some people go to a gym to build muscles. You are building happiness and inner peace. That’s great – keep going and let me know if you have any questions on the way!
This was the third step of the practice, covering silent present moment awareness. Please do this particular exercise for an entire month, following the above guidelines, and let me know in the comment section below how this is working out for you. I want to know – since I wrote this article for YOU! I hope that this tutorial on how to meditate will help you to get a more solid practice of meditation, because it’s such a wonderful thing to learn! And I am very happy to be putting this out there for you.
Part 4 is Here: Silent Breath Awareness. As usual I hope this article inspires you to continue well with your practice and reap the joyful fruits of commitment and discipline.
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