STOP FOR A FEW MOMENTS. Sit quietly, with a straight back and gently close your eyes. Feeling the rhythm of the breath as it enters and leaves the body, allow yourself to let go of past and future, and come into the present moment; being with exactly what is - now. Bring your attention to the feeling of the body, accepting it just the way it is - with kindness. Allow yourself to accept all the sensations and feelings of the body completely. Breathe in deeply, with a sense of trust and well-being: breathe out, letting go of tension, allowing any tightness to dissolve. Then, focus on the normal breathing; just the feeling of breathing in, breathing out. Imagine yourself surrounded by light - perhaps a golden-coloured light if you like gold. Being with the sensation of the body breathing in, breathing out, draw the light into the body as you breathe - maybe through the nostrils, the heart or the head. Imagine light saturating the body, through every pore. Think to yourself: 'May this being be well,' and turn the calming effect of the meditation towards this being: 'May this being be calm.' Suffuse your whole body with this calm and kindly attention. Then, let your awareness explore the body: moving around the head and face, gradually down the neck, the back and the chest, spreading right down the finger-tips; then down the legs, to each toe; drawing on the good energy of the breath, expanding and embracing the heart. Focusing more on the out-breath, let go of the memories, the grudges, the grievances; let it all go. Begin again with each breath. Picture yourself in your mind's eye as you are now. Make peace with this view of yourself, through forgiveness, compassion, gentleness. 'May this being be well.' Suffuse this picture with gentle, warm light from the heart, then let it go. Next, picture your parents, let them into your mind. Make peace with their image: 'May you be well,' bathing them with soft light, with gratitude. Observe thoughts arising. Memories of yourself as a child, perhaps something painful or something you have never made peace with. Let it be in the mind, in the light. Then bring up an image of your daily situation, at home or wherever, with the people it involves. People you like or dislike, feel conflict with, love, fear or worry for. 'May these beings be well.' Put aside aversion, fear, worry, guilt; at this moment, allow yourself to be kind. Think of someone you know who is having a difficult time; send these feelings of kindness towards them. Breathe in light, breathe out wishing them well. Gradually open up more and more, from the people you see every day to nobody special; and even those for whom you have hardly a memory. Recognise them as human beings with ambitions, hopes, problems, anxieties, joy - just like you! Give them some life in your perceptions. And, even more remote, acknowledge all the people you can conceive of in this world. This may be a faint feeling, but open up the heart to allow them into consciousness, to be felt. See what the mind does, how it reacts indignantly about some people - such as political figures. Let go of that indignation for this moment. Allow a sense of peace to envelop all beings: the liked, the disliked, familiar and unfamiliar. And then imagine the planet Earth as seen from space. Extend this sense of peace to the planet we live on, embracing it with your heart, surrounding it with light. Turning your attention to that sense of peace and light allow it to expand outwards, without limit, letting the sense of 'me' and 'the world' dissolve in the stillness of the present. Then turn your attention back in towards itself; upon the feeling of knowing 'the screen of the mind', the place where images arise. Let it be quite empty or full, choiceless, being illuminated by the soft light from the heart, light from the breath; warm, gentle; beginning, letting go, patient kindness. Gently come back to the rhythm of the breath, and when you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
Zen meditation allows the mind to relax, please follow theses easy instructions. Sit on the forward third of a chair or a cushion on the floor.
Arrange your legs in a position you can maintain comfortably. In the half-lotus position, place your right leg on your left thigh.
In the full lotus position, put your feet on opposite thighs. You may also sit simply with your legs tucked in close to your body, but be sure that your weight is distributed on three points: both of your knees on the ground and your buttocks on the round cushion. On a chair, keep your knees apart about the width of your shoulders, feet firmly planted on the floor.
Take a deep breath, exhale fully, and take another deep breath, exhaling fully.
With proper physical posture, your breathing will flow naturally into your lower abdomen. Breathe naturally, without judgement or trying to breathe a certain way.
Keep your attention on your breath whilst practicing this zen meditation. When your attention wanders, bring it back to the breath again and again -- as many times as necessary! Remain as still as possible, following your breath and returning to it whenever thoughts arise.
Be fully, vitally present with yourself. Simply do your very best. At the end of your sitting period, gently swing your body from right to left in increasing arcs. Stretch out your legs, and be sure they have feeling before standing.
Practice easy Zen meditation every day for at least ten to fifteen minutes (or longer) and you will discover for yourself the treasure house of the timeless life of zazen -- your very life itself.
A sun salutation is a series of yoga postures. Its Sanskrit name, surya namaskar, stems from surya, “sun,” and namas, “to bow to” or “to adore.” Yoga practitioners in India have been bowing to the sun for at least a century, and possibly as long as 2,500 years.
Start each movement with a breath.
1. Tadasana (mountain pose): Stand with feet directly beneath the sitting bones, hip-width apart, second toes pointing forward. Lift your toes to direct your weight equally between the pads of the feet and the heels. Keep the arch in your feet as you inhale, rotate the shoulders back, and raise your arms with the breath. Extend through your torso to the top of the head. Don’t arch the lower back.
2. Uttanasana (forward bend): Exhale, bending forward from the hips. Release the head completely.
3. Ardha uttanasana (half forward bend): Inhale and fully extend the spine, rising halfway up from the hips, until muscles engage on either side of the spine.
4. Exhale while jumping back to the plank position. Press your hands against the floor directly beneath the shoulders, with your body straight behind you. Look forward. Continue exhaling as you lower down to your knees, chest, and chin.
5. Inhale as you slide forward to baby cobra: Press your legs together, reach your tailbone slightly toward the heels, lift and extend the chest, and raise the hands one inch above the floor.
6. Adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog): Exhale, press into your forefingers and thumb pads, raise your tailbone, and lift your knees off the floor. Avoid hyperextending the elbows.
7. Inhale, jumping up to uttanasana (forward bend): Use the breath to “float” up. Aim for a silent takeoff and landing. Exhale and release the head completely.
8. Tadasana (mountain pose): Inhale, and rise to standing, hands in namaste.
First of all, it’s important that we find a time when we can quietly just sit and do nothing for a while. So don’t do this while jogging, doing yoga, or eating dinner. I mean we literally sit still with no other agenda.
We begin by bringing our awareness inward to ourselves. As a warm up, it’s helpful to start by sensing all the parts of your body from the inside, one by one, from your toes all the way up to your head. We allow ourselves to fall into a comfortable, relaxed, and open state of mind and body. What’s interesting is that by doing this, we’re already practicing kindness toward ourselves. This is a great start!
Next we notice how we’re feeling. Literally just notice. We don’t need to analyze, judge or change anything. Is it a good feeling – happy, easy, content, calm, or peaceful? Or an icky one – restless, angry, impatient, bored, or depressed? Or is it sort of gray or blank, with no particular feeling tone at all? Maybe you’re feeling “something,” but you can’t put words on it. That’s fine. Any of this is fine. We’re just noticing.
We … accept the feelings that have already happened, but then train ourselves to respond to ANYTHING that’s there in the kindest possible way. That’s the practice.
What we’re doing is opening up to and receiving whatever we’re feeling RIGHT NOW. The degree to which we can be mindfully aware of what state we’re presently in, the better off we’ll be. How clearly are we seeing it? How willing are we to be with it, and not try to push it away or fix it, judge it as “bad” or “good,” but just be openly present with it?
Because we think this is supposed to be a practice of loving ourselves, we might be tempted to try to make ourselves feel happier and more lovey. Or that we somehow shouldn’t be feeling any of the bad feelings that might be there. In the traditional method, it’s suggested that we repeat the phrase, “May I be happy” to ourselves. That’s never worked for me, because it feels like I’m trying to change whatever bad feelings that are there. So I don’t do it. We need to start by simply accepting ourselves right now, in this moment, as we are, in whatever way works for you. There is no right or wrong.
Every time we turn to ourselves with patience and forgiveness for our supposed “failures,” we’re training ourselves to be kind. I find a sense of relief in being honest and authentic with myself in this way.
Once we have a clear picture of what’s happening, then what’s our response? Is it kind, positive, helpful? When we practice the Metta Bhavana, on one level we’re learning to see the difference between what we can and can’t change. We need to accept the feelings that have already happened, but then train ourselves to respond to ANYTHING that’s there in the kindest possible way. That’s the practice.
So then what if we can’t stop the judgmental, critical thoughts, or that “I must fix this” sort of feeling? Well, how would we respond if we found our best friend in that state? Would we tell her she’s being bad? Or tell her to just stop it? I doubt it. I’d want to sit down with her and be supportive, find out what’s underneath all those thoughts, and why she’s feeling that way. I’d want to at least just listen and let her know I care. Can we do that for ourselves? Now THAT is a practice of kindness.
Every time we turn to ourselves with patience and forgiveness for our supposed “failures,” we’re training ourselves to be kind. I find a sense of relief in being honest and authentic with myself in this way. It’s not an admission of failure. I’m not condoning my critical thoughts, but I AM forgiving the person who is having those thoughts.
When we open up and receive life as it is – without adding anything to it — everything flows to its natural conclusion.
So the whole idea here is to learn how to BE kind, right now, and not to try to shape myself into some future-oriented image of what I think I should be. The more we practice the act of being kind now, the more it becomes natural to us. This is the practice.
The Buddha was right. He said that in all things, when we eliminate the cause, the result ceases to exist. When we stop our negative responses, our habitual negative tendencies begin to weaken and fade away. When we open up and receive life as it is – without adding anything to it — everything flows to its natural conclusion. Like water flowing downstream into a lake, it eventually settles to a naturally calm, clear, and peaceful state. Effortlessly. *
It is in the stillness of our heart that we find the peace we seek in the world. It is the connection deep within to the very source of our being where we recognize the oneness of life. It is here that we transcend the duality of perceived right and wrong thinking, judgment, control and attachment. In this awareness, we let go of the need to have the world behave according to our preconceived expectations and we dare to love unconditionally. We embrace love for love’s sake and in doing so, we also experience peace. To know unconditional love is to know peace. When we love without condition, we naturally engage the dynamic quality of peace and allow this energy to permeate our outer experience as well. We balance the inner and outer reflections with a grander perspective that sees beyond the obvious before us. We know we are simply experiencing life from our unique viewpoint in the moment and we have the power to choose love and peace. Although many assume peace to be quiescent, idle and quiet, it is truly an energy that is vibrant and alive. It is colorful, engaging and encouraging. It is filled with potential and enhances our creativity. It calls to us to explore without limitation and to express ourselves with a distinct sense of freedom. Peace is also something we easily share as it is in limitless supply. We joyfully convey it to others and witness its expansion in ever growing waves. Peace begins with us. It has always been this way. The more we express our love, the greater our sense of peace. The more peace we radiate, the more profoundly we comprehend the sublime beauty it reveals. Since love and peace already exist as a state of consciousness within us, it ensures that it will become our collective reality. Peace prevails in you and in me. Together, we are the establishment of peace on earth.
Imagine yourself on a sunny beach, where you walk across the sand toward the water. It’s a beautiful, calm day, and it appears easy to swim past the surf to where you can see the fountains spouting from the backs of the whales that are playing just off the coast. As soon as you enter the water and start swimming, you can hear their song. Tune to it.
Whale music moves through you like energy, penetrating to your core and entering your bones. There is no separation between you and the sound, for it is the beginning and end of everything. It is the intersection point in time where now, then, and everywhere come together.
There is amazing healing power in this song, providing a way to connect with all consciousness. Notice how you can get folded up in it. Release yourself completely and get lost in the song. Even sight vanishes within this feeling.
Once you start vibrating to this sound, you understand your connection to the entire creation. This knowledge brings with it a great feeling of peace that can enhance your healing of yourself, each other, and the world. Once you vibrate with this song, it never leaves you. You are tuned, and you can always enter the song, for it is the song of the universe.
Gradually your consciousness differentiates the sound of the waves on the water from the song. You are back on the beach, under a night sky filled with stars. The music is still there, and all sense of separation is gone.
Heart meditation helps you with your ability to love and also your ability to let things go, both of which are very important in everyday life when dealing with other people, whether its loved ones or just acquaintances. Your ability to love effects your relationships on many levels, the ability to let go is also very important as resentment and anger can build up to dangerous levels if left unchecked.
Heart meditation helps on both of these matters by activating two important chakras, the heart chakra and the navel chakra. The heart chakra is in the heart centre which is located between the breast and slightly to the left. The navel chakra is located about 2 to 3 inches below your navel.
To practice the heart meditation firstly take your usual meditating position (heart meditation is not dependent on position and can be practiced in any), my favorite is to sit on a meditation cushion cross legged, with my knees touching the floor and my back straight.
Heart meditation is aligned with your breathing so you might want to take a minute to relax and take a few deep breaths. When you are comfortable, breathe in and imagine the breath going into your heart center.
The second stage is, when you breathe out, imagine your breath is flowing down to your navel chakra; this stimulates a feeling of letting go.
The third stage of heart meditation is when you breathe in you imagine you breathe in from your navel chakra to your heart center.
Stage two is then repeated with an inner feeling of letting go.
Stage three is repeated again, as you imagine that you breathe in from your navel to your heart center.
The process is repeated between stage 2 and stage 3 until your meditation is over.
When you have practiced and mastered the heart meditation technique, you may like to imagine when breathing to your heart center that a white light and a feeling of love is engulfing the heart, some yogi have said that the feeling of love is so intense that it has brought such joy and a inner peace that is unrivaled.
The Loving Kindness meditation, taught by the Buddha, is to teach
selfless or altruistic love. Buddha said that “Hatred cannot
coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted
with thoughts based on loving-kindness.”
This easy but very profound meditation can help you to make friends with yourself, give you greater capacity for empathy with other people, reduce your animosity, open your heart, and boost your capacity for love.
Learn here this meditation to teach you loving acceptance of
yourself and others.
1. Sit in a relaxed but alert posture.
2. Focus your intention. Remember that during this meditation you want to get in touch with your own heart and your innate feelings of goodness.
3. Let your mind and body relax. Let go of any thoughts that are currently preoccupying you.
4. Recall a situation in which you felt a complete sense of well-being and contentment. Recall exactly where you were, who you were with, and precisely how you felt. Take time to reestablish that scene, and feel the sensations in your body.
5. Find words that describe the feelings of well-being you had. You might choose words such as contentment, well-being, happiness, delight, ease–whichever feel most fitting.
6. Let go of the details of the remembered scene. At the same time, continue to pay attention to the feelings of well-being that accompanied the scene. Remain with the sensation of well-being, and allow yourself to feel it intensely. Let the words and feelings arise together.
7. As you experience the well-being, repeat to yourself the phrase, “May I be happy,” or “May I experience ease and contentment.”
8. Recall a friend or someone who has shown kindness toward you. Begin with someone for whom you feel kindness. It is better to recall a friend than a lover or family member. Keep the image of that person in your mind.
9. Recall the feelings of well-being or happiness you generated in the first part of this meditation (steps 1 - 8). Let those feelings of goodness move to the area around your heart.
10. As you are experiencing those feelings of well-being from your heart center, let them radiate to the person you were thinking about.
11. Recite the same phrases you repeated before, this time saying, “May he/she experience ease and contentment,” or “May he/she be filled with loving kindness.”
12. When you feel some familiarity with radiating loving kindness to people you love, gradually extend the feeling to others: neighbors, family, work colleagues, animals.
12. Gradually extend the feeling further, to people you find difficult–those who have power over you, people who might dislike you, or those you feel negative toward.
14. If you are unwilling to extend the feeling of goodness in this part of the meditation, don’t worry. This is natural.
15. When you feel that resistance, try to generate the feeling of loving kindness. If you can’t generate positive feelings, don’t force it; be gentle and patient with yourself.
16. After 5-10 minutes of working with this loving-kindness meditation, sit quietly and reflect on your experience. Having engaged all of your emotions in a new way, contemplate what you have learned.
The natural ease of walking can be used as a direct and simple way to bring centeredness and peace into our life. Walking becomes a meditation when we bring a careful and present attention to each step we take. Walking becomes a meditation when we feel ourselves fully here on the earth.
To learn walking meditation, select a place to walk back and forth at a leisurely rate, fifteen to thirty paces in length. Stand at the end of this "walking path." Feel your feet on the floor, on the earth. Sense the environment around you. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings until you feel quiet and composed. Then begin to walk. Focus your attention on your body, feeling each step as you lift your foot and place it back on the earth. As you sense each step, return your foot to the earth with care.
Walk upright in a relaxed and dignified fashion. When you get to the end of your path, pause briefly and then turn around, Stand and center yourself then and be aware of the first step as you begin again. You can walk at whatever speed keeps you most present.
Walk with careful attention to each step for fifteen or twenty minutes. Usually when we walk we are distracted by a hundred other things. As you walk in meditation, try to let the thoughts and images that arise remain in the background. Even so, you will regularly get carried away by thoughts. When this happens, simply stop walking and be aware of the thoughts. Then quietly re-center yourself and take the next step. Keep coming back to your footsteps in this simple way. At times you may wish to do a period of walking meditation alone. On other days you might walk for ten or fifteen minutes before beginning a sitting meditation.
After some practice you can learn to use walking meditation to calm and collect yourself, to become truly present in your body. You can extend this walking period in informal ways, when you go shopping, when you walk down the street or to and from your car. You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of combining it with the usual planning and thinking. In this simple way you can move through life wakefully, with your whole body, heart and mind together in harmony.
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