Meditation: Living Presence, by Tara Brach:
The following meditation is led by Tara Brach, meditation teacher, psychologist and author.
You’re sitting in a way that allows you to be tall, so there’s a quality of alertness that your posture encourages. And also relaxed. Sense that kind of inner peace, feeling balanced, comfortable.
We’ll begin in the simplest sitting of breathing together. You might take a full, very conscious, deep in-breath. So, breathing in. Fill your chest. Fill your lungs. And then a slow out-breath. Slow enough, so you can feel the sensations of the breath as it leaves the nostrils. Slow out-breath. And then again, inhaling and in deep, full in-breath. And then a slow out-breath releasing consciously. And with the releasing, the sense of letting. Letting go, letting go.
And again, inhaling deeply. And that slow out-breath, relaxing outward, releasing, letting go. Allowing the breath, now, to resume in its natural rhythm, and just feel a sense of relaxing with the inflow. Relaxing with the outflow. Noticing the quality of presence. Perhaps a difference in presence from when you first started, and just this moment.
Now as you rest in presence, take some moments to reflect and sense what your deepest intention is for being here tonight. Your deepest intention for this meditation. What does your heart wish for?
Let yourself with the quality of sincerity. Realizing what really matters to you. It’s from that sense of open-heartedness of caring about life, about presence, that we chant together in a simple way to open a ___ as community. ___ and ___. If you’d like to bring the palms together gently touching, centering at the heart, and letting the sound current come from the heart.
We’ll begin by inhaling nicely and deeply. Nice strong in-breath.
Taking some moments now to gently scan through the body with awareness. Relaxing and waking up from the inside-out. You might begin by softening the eyes, letting the brow be smoothed. As your eyes are receptive, like orbs floating in a pool of water, you can sometimes sense smiling into the eyes. Let the corners of the eyes be—the outside corners be lifted up again. Here, you’re relaxed.
You might sense a slight smile at the mouth. The inside of the mouth, smiling. And you relax right down to the root of the tongue. And just feel the sensations in the inside of the mouth. Tongue, gums, teeth, lips. Letting the throat feel the whole neck area and just feel the neck from the inside-out.
Allow the shoulders to fall away from the neck, relaxing back and down. And see if you can place the awareness inside your shoulders. Very receptive. Just feel the light inside the shoulders. Perhaps, you can imagine a melting sensation from ice to water. A kind of dissolving. And then, water to gas.
Let the hands rest in a very easy, effortless way. Softening the hands, feeling the hands from the inside-out. Can you notice the tingling that’s there? The vibrating. You might try softening the hands a little bit more. Feeling from the inside-out. Noticing that the more you relax, the more aliveness you can perceive.
Let the chest be open. Let the awareness feel the heart area, the chest. And just feel again from the inside-out, the play of aliveness.
Continuing to scan down the body. Bringing the awareness inside the belly. You might let this next breath to be received in a softening belly. This breath, and now this one, and then again.
Relax, soft belly. Filled with awareness, if you can feel from the inside-out—the play of sensations and energy. Extending down to the whole pelvic area and just letting that reach and be filled with awareness. Relaxing, opening to the play of sensation of energy.
Gently reconnecting with the area of the eyes, softening the eyes, smiling into the eyes. Slight smile at the mouth. Hands, soft. Belly, soft. This feeling of scanning down to the legs, feeling the feet, feeling the feet from the inside out. As you’re aware of the sensations, the movement of energy on the feet.
And then opening the attention, you can feel your whole body now as a field of sensation. Doing everything simultaneously, this whole dance of energy.
Not stopping anything, or opposing anything. Letting this whole life live through you. Noticing the play of heat or cool. Pulsing, vibrating. Perhaps, tightness, flow. Maybe pleasantness or unpleasantness. Letting this life live through you.
Widening to include the play of sound. The closing sounds in the room. And the more distant sounds. And then sitting enough just with your ears, with your whole awareness. So that you’re listening to, and feeling the whole moment.
Sensing in the foreground, the changing play of sounds, sensation. And then sensing in the background—that alert, inner stillness. The awakeness. The space of awakeness, that’s your deepest nature. This, being that presence. Awake. Open. At ease.
It’s really natural that the attention gets distracted. When you notice that, it’s an opportunity to practice this pathway of coming back. Just invite your attention to re-open to sense the sounds around, the actual sounds right in the moment. To re-open in the body and relax areas that might have tightened. Maybe soften the shoulders a little. Soften the hands again. The belly. Know that you’re here. Right here. And you might let the breath be a kind of anchor home base, if that’s helpful. Just feeling the inflow and the outflow. And resting with the changing phenomena. The sounds and sensations.
Just know that you’re here. Right here.
You might ask yourself if you can let go or relax. Just a little bit more right now. Relaxed and awake. Just noticing the moment to moment flow of experience.
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