In Daily Life:
You may practice this little trick anytime, anywhere. You do not have to stop what you are doing, nor do you have to be calm to take a snapshot.
Take a snapshot of yourself, as you are right now:
Where are you?What is going on around you?What is going on within you?What are you feeling?
These snapshots are like tiny moments of non-judgemental awareness. They are moments of stepping back into the sky-space. They are moments in which you can kindle presence and awareness like a small fire, tending the flames.
Throughout your day today, try to gently bring yourself back home to your body, noticing your outer and inner surroundings.
You may be surprised at what you find. You may find you feel angry, or sad, or rushed, or hungry, or tired. That is ok. Perhaps you can act on these realisations, perhaps you cannot. Remember, this is not about right or wrong. It is simply about coming home to ourselves, our awareness.
By coming back to ourselves during the day, we are cultivating our skillful awareness ~ watering seeds, forming new habits, opening pathways in our brain.
Remember - three conscious breaths can be a great method to bring ourselves back to our body. If you wish, you may use your breath as your 'snapshot' moment!
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"The sense of my life today is to be entirely available to the immaterial Presence in me through a state in which I will be completely passive and yet very awake."~ The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieffby Jeanne de Salzmann
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In Your Sacred Space:
A MEDITATION FOR PART 1
Vipassana meditation is a practice with deep roots! The method comes directly from the Satipatthana Sutta, or "Foundations of Mindfulness," a discourse attributed to the Buddha. The word 'Vipassana' can be translated as 'insight,' or 'clear-seeing.' It is distinguishable from the more commonly known method of meditation called 'Samatha' translating to 'concentration' or 'tranquility.' In Samatha meditation the practitioner focuses their mind on one object, prayer, candle, mandala, chant or construct. They rest their mind on this focus point, finding tranquility in the process.
While Samatha meditation calms the mind, in a Vipassana meditation the practitioner focuses the mind on the awareness, and on bodily sensations, in order to gain insight into the nature of the Self and the world. In other words, Vipassana is very much about non judgemental awareness!
While I won't be teaching you the formal method of Vipassana meditation, which is usually learned over ten days on a formal retreat, and honed over a lifetime, we can use this construct as a basis for uncovering our own awareness during sitting meditation.
A Gentle Method for Vipassana Insight Meditation:
Read over the following method, letting it seep in, then dedicate a time for your sitting meditation practice - it could be once a week, once a day, or just once. Just know that you are gifting this time to yourself, dear heart, and that is a wonderful gift.
1. Find your sitting space, a place where you feel comfortable. Perhaps you already have a sacred space set aside? Somewhere warm, with few distractions. I like to sit in the living room, by the plants and the giant windows. Really, your space could be anywhere. As you practice, your relationship with this space will deepen.
2. Come into a comfortable posture.This could mean sitting with legs crossed, back straight, or it could mean sitting on a chair for support if you have difficulties sitting on the floor. Make sure you are not going to fall asleep! And be gentle with yourself ~ relax a little. A great way to relax into a posture is to tense all the muscles in your body, from your feet up your legs, thighs, arms, tummy, face, back and fingers! Tense them all. Then release all at once, and melt back into that relaxed feeling.
3. Begin by focusing on the breath.Just as we used our three conscious breaths to come back to our bodies in previous excercises, begin to notice your breath...
inhale... exhale...breathing in I am here...breathing out I am home...Follow your breath naturally, letting it deepen as it will. If your mind wanders, do not worry. Just gently notice the thought you are thinking, then come back to yourself and your breathing. Take your time, there is no rush. There is nothing more important in this moment than being with yourself.
4. Move into awareness.When you feel you are centered, and your thoughts have settled the way sediment settles in the bottom of a pool of water, begin to notice your body. Much like the snapshots you have been taking throughout the day, you can softly ask:
Where am I?What is going on around me?What is going on within me?What am I feeling?
Open yourself to observe, listen for the answer... go deep into your senses and your body, noticing what comes up. Acknowledge your own answers without judging them, just letting them be. Everytime you come to sit with yourself, the answers will be different. Some days you may feel very successful and happy with your practice. Some days you may be distracted, or frustrated. That is ok.
5. Perform a body scan.When you feel a softening in your consciousness, a kind of hollowing out of your space, you can sit for a while longer, being with every sensation that arises. Or you may wish to focus your attentions on a body scan. Here I will provide an example of this beautiful practice, one to cultivate self love and gratitude:
Focusing on your eyes, let them relax. Notice how they feel - any pain or sensation. Then, thank your eyes for all that they do for you:"breathing in, I smile to my eyesbreathing out, my eyes smile."This part may sound silly, but this is good! Perhaps it will actually make you smile, imagining your eyes smiling back at you.
Move on through the body, directing yourself...
Focus on the brain, the nose, the mouth, the throat, the chest, the heart, the back, the arms, the hands and all the way down to the toes...- relaxing, noticing any pains or sensations that arise,thanking that body part for all it does, then saying"breathing in, I smile to my ...breathing out my ... smiles."
Get cosy, find a favourite pen, and take a few minutes to sit with these questions:
When am I most in touch with my awareness?
What keeps coming up for me? What feelings, patterns and sensations continue to arise, calling my attention?
Do I feel a resistance to a certain practice, or am I struggling with keeping one? What about this practice is difficult for me?
What do I love most about being in a that sweet state of awareness?
Can I be more present? How can I cultivate my presence in a way that fits perfectly into my life?