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What is Meditation? - Part I

A practical explanation

In the last post, Monkey Brain, Heart Brain, we took a journey through monkey mind collecting data on the way into the heart of our being. This was a journey of self-discovery, a new relationship with all aspects of our being. Monkey brain is often associated with the less-favorable or less-desirable attributes of our journey.

We shook that notion, using our self-discovery through monkey mind to illuminate our patterns and unconscious mechanisms. In this way, monkey mind transformed into the path as we observed our monkey patterns to inform direction. This is the art form known as observer mind, witness mind or silent witness. Simply becoming aware of the mind's patterns without attachment, judgement or even the predilection to change the mind transforms the monkey pattern from unconscious fodder for monkey action, to conscious opportunity for transformation. It's a bit like turning horse manure into compost. In this way, even monkey mind is a form of grace, fertilizing the potential path forward.

Sure, monkey brain will slowly dissolve when we continue this practice, and, eventually watching monkey brain becomes a tool itself to quell the impulse to act from monkey mind. Since we are practicing a radical self-acceptance of all our attributes, the changing nature of monkey mind can be embraced from incessant chatter to a calmer more serene state in an unfolding flow.

We have slipped quietly into meditative techniques. We approached this from the back door. Maybe it snuck up on you. Did you notice?

Meditation is releasing control of thought patterns and resting into the inner stillness of your true Being (according to the Yoga Sutras codified by Patanjali).

Or, put another way, meditation is the effortless flow of cognition toward the object of meditation (Sri Swami Satchidananda).

Observing the thought patterns is a necessary step in the process. Rarely does one arrive at the celebrated meditative state early in one's efforts with meditation, though this can happen. Permission for the monkey mind to flow releases the attachment to achieving meditation.

One does not achieve meditation, one arrives into an already established meditative flow like stepping into a flowing river. But first you have to get out of the way. Our monkey brain is so accustomed to trying to navigate daily life, that naturally it steps in when we choose to sit for meditation too.

By allowing the monkey to do it's job, sometimes incessantly, and simply witnessing the patterns it soon exhausts itself. One day, effortlessly, the vast emptiness of stillness opens up and you merge into it, returning home to yourSelf. You remain unabashedly aware. There is nothing passive about your presence with the stillness or your relationship with the silence. It is the most awe inspiring stop on the journey and, quickly, it reveals itself as the most real.

Now, release any attachment to being here again. It will come, it will go, but it will come more if you are not engaging the monkey to push for it, will it or insist on it. Over time, the openings become more reliable, and sometimes they cease for a time.

Trust the flow. It's all in right timing.

And welcome to meditation, whether for the first time, or the hundredth time.

Practice Offering

  • Rest effortlessly on your back fully supported, possibly with a pillow beneath your knees to support the lower back.
  • Place your hands on your abdomen.
  • Inhale, feeling your hands rise.
  • Exhale, feeling the hands release back toward the spine. 
  • Do several breaths, feeling the breath arise in the abdomen. 
  • Rest the breath, allowing the body to breathe naturally. 
  • Leave one hand on the abdomen. Place the other on the chest, centered near the heart. 
  • Inhale, sensing the hand on the abdomen rise, followed by the hand on the chest. 
  • Exhale, the chest releases first, then the abdomen. 
  • Continue this for several diaphragmatic breaths.
    • You will notice a three part rhythm to the breath. 
    • Abdomen, lower ribs, upper ribs and chest expand on the inhale.
    • Chest, lower ribs, abdomen release on the exhale.
  • Rest in natural breath.
  • Repeat the diaphragmatic breath flow - active breathing, resting phase. 
  • When you are ready to release into meditation, sustain resting phase natural breath and release all control of the breath. 
  • Enjoy.

Copyright 2018

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