In the beginning, to those who are new to meditation, the practice can be uncomfortable. It is important to establish a comfortable posture to begin with, and that can be sitting on a cushion on the floor, a chair or even lying down if necessary. But it is important to remember that initially, the posture can be challenging. There may be some aching muscles as we strengthen them, unused to sitting up straight or taking a position that our body is unaccustomed to. Give your body time to adjust and start out practicing meditation in short periods of 5, 10 or 15 minutes, depending on your comfort level. You want to establish a practice that is easy to return to, not something that was so uncomfortable that you resist coming back to. For those who are very uncomfortable in the body, I highly recommend taking yoga. Yoga is a practice that conditions the body for meditation.
Adjusting your attitude is also important. Sometimes we approach meditation with too much seriousness. It is wonderful to be earnest about learning to practice meditation and some seriousness is important. We want to start out learning the correct posture, how to breathe properly and what to do with our minds as we meditate. However, if we are too serious about it, it creates a rigidity that can interfere with our ability to meditate. So be serious, but not too serious. Come into practice with a smile on your face, think of this as a joyful activity. It is after all, a practice that is the ultimate expression of self compassion. That is something wonderful. Additionally, by sitting down to meditate and developing self-compassion, we are also contributing positively to the world around us. How? By developing compassion for ourselves, it is much easier to act compassionately toward others. Now isn't that something to smile about?
Set up your practice of meditation for success. Come at it with an attitude of lightness and joy. While it may feel a bit frustrating at the beginning, remind yourself you are just learning and it is okay if it feels strange to begin with. Smile just slightly as you meditate, to lighten your effort. Choose short periods of meditation to begin with so you do not over tax your body--it too needs to be treated compassionately. It is okay if you feel like nothing happened or if you don't feel particularly successful at the start. The true success in meditation comes each time you sit down (or lay down) on the cushion!
Thanks to all of those who attended the first Beginning Meditation. It was a great turn out and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to teach what I hope you all come to find an invaluable skill for living. I am so proud of you all for taking the step toward taking care of yourselves! You are all wonderful!
I will work on making more cushions for our next meeting. But it can be nice to have your own at home. Below are some links on how to make a zabuton. The first link is a very easy sewing project. The second link is for those who may not know how or want to sew. It is a very simple and inexpensive project using blankets to make sitting cushions.
Remember, above all, be kind with yourself. It will take some practice to get used to this. No need to judge or evaluate. Just practice. There is nothing to achieve once you sit down on your cushion! We will discuss, share successes and problem solve at our next group meeting. Do, however, feel free to email me during the week if you have any questions that are interfering with your daily practice.
I look forward to seeing you next week!
Hello! Thank you for visiting the Lotus Heart Zen blog. Here on this blog I will be posting about the practice of meditation, thoughts on Buddhist practice, my experiences training as a monk in the Five Mountain Zen Order, and just being present in the world.
I hope you enjoy learning along with me!
More to come soon!
A blog by the Lotus Heart Zen Meditation and Study Group members