Guided meditation, by Sally Armstrong:
So, we begin with a thirty or forty minute meditation. We’ll see how long. You all look like you know how to meditate—sitting comfortably. It’s not about finding some rigid posture that you hold. No special mood rest. If you like to sit on a chair, that’s fine. Even if you wish to stand. Standing is a really powerful form of meditation. Very helpful posture to learn how to meditate in. If you need to move during this session, that’s also fine, but we do everything with mindfulness. So, we come in to the sitting posture with mindfulness that we’re sitting. So, attention to the posture that the back is relatively straight and upright. It’s kind of a dignity in the posture.
So, I’d like to invite people to start with a few deeper breaths, and on the in-breath, having that sense of uplift and expansion that really brings that sense of energy into the posture, and then on in the out-breath, releasing and softening, and after a few of those breaths, expanding and then releasing and softening, we find that middle ground. That balanced way to sit, that’s in between the sense of energy uprightness and then the relaxation.
So, just reminding yourself of that, as you go through the sitting. Because after, what will happen is that we’ll slouch or we’ll contract and that sense of balance between the uprightness and the ease as we develop that through the posture, it invites those same qualities in the mind and heart. So the posture really allows us to settle into the meditation. So the sense of dignity, of uprightness, the back is relatively straight and upright. ___ just a little down. So there’s some link at the back of the neck.
And also like to begin with simple body scan where you just touch places of your body with mindfulness to invite softness and relaxation. So again, letting the eyes gently close, having a sense just of sitting the whole posture, that balance of uprightness and ease. And in scanning the body, starting with the head, the ___, then the eyes, there’s softness there. Relaxation. The cheeks and the jaw, throat, letting the shoulders be dropped. Your arms are just resting naturally however you want them arranged. Same with your hands. Checking in with the chest and the belly. Can the air move easily in and out? Softness in the diaphragm. And the same with the back, the shoulder blades, you can let them lower and release. The middle and the lower back.
Then the pelvic area, just again, releasing into the sitting posture. Softening, letting go. Then letting the attention move down through the legs. Just scanning at your own phase. Softening and releasing if there’s unnecessary tension or holding.
So we’re inviting to sit as comfortably as possible. Not slouching, or slumping, that sense of dignity, but as comfortably as you. Aware of the body sitting in very open spacious way. And perhaps noticing the movement of the breath, in and out. Notice all the ways the breath impacts the body. A very spacious awareness of breathing. Your shoulders lift and move, chest and belly expand. And so is your back. Perhaps even your thighs respond to the movement of the breath, or your hands. Just encouraging a mindfulness that’s very soft and receptive. Not getting tight or narrow around the breath.
Some people like to stay with this very spacious awareness of breath. We call it whole body breathing. This is very wide field of awareness within which the breath moves in and out. Sometimes, it can be helpful to narrow the focus a little, breath at the nostrils. Specific area—at the top of the lip. The chest or abdomen moving. Seeing what’s helpful for you to keep you connected to this present moment. There’s no right way to do this. It’s the training of the noticing that’s important, not the breath itself.
And then as we sit and pay attention, everything happens. We think, we remember, we plan, the body, senses, hardness and softness, warmth or coolness, itches and tingling, we hear sounds. So we’re receptive, curious, open to, mindful of. All of these arising, they’re not interruptions or distractions. They are the meditation. You just notice how we respond to these experiences. Can we know them with mindfulness with equanimity? Do we push some things away and try to hold on to other things? What is the mind doing in relationship to the body, to the mind, to the sounds?
Encouraging into our attitude the same sense of balance what we invited in the posture. A sense of ease and acceptance, there’s still alertness, but we’re not pushing things away trying to get control or manipulate. We’re just training ourselves to be fully present, with our experience just as it is. So we notice that we’re thinking or hearing. Using the body and the breath to keep us connected to the present moment so we don’t get lost in the stories, the memories or the planning, we keep coming back with what’s here right now, right now.
Are you aware? What are you aware of? And how are you relating to that? Holding on? Pushing away? Perhaps spacing out, not connected. We can ask ourselves these questions to keep connected to the present moment. Am I aware? What am I aware of? And how am I relating to that? Those only aspects of the meditation together. The attention, the mindfulness and the equanimity. It doesn’t matter what’s happening. It is how we relate to it is what’s important.
So the structure of the class is we now have a 10 minute walking meditation. And in walking meditation, there isn’t a right way to do it just like the sitting meditation, there’s no perfect way to do it that makes it happen, which is training ourselves to be present and in this case, present with the movement of walking with the physical motion of walking.
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