The last blog left us in the foothills of meditative practice, using a breathing process to settle into a quiet, comfortable zone. One’s back should be relaxed but straight for meditation, any way that can be achieved. You can sit upright, unsupported if your back is in great shape, or up against a wall, or in an armchair and so on.
I close my eyes and look into the darkness, as this simple act helps keep me focussed. Maintaining a deeper, slower breathing process also anchors me in the present, as does being aware of my body and how it feels as I sit. This immediate experience of physical stimuli can include contact with the floor, body sensations, the ambient temperature, sounds, smells and so on. Rather than distract me they can keep bringing me back to my focus should it stray off the job of attentiveness.
My next process is to become aware of the activity of the mind. Should thoughts arise, I basically document them according to their genre. The Zen approach would call this ‘naming the thoughts’. My predominant thought flows can be categorised as:
· Projection, that is, looking ahead in time (often with a niggle of anxiety)
· Retrospection, looking back in time (often with a sense of regret)
· Check listing (for the next day or week)
· Day dreaming (fantasies, unfinished business etc)
· Problem solving
As a thought manifests I note its theme or character and breathe in and out and return to my attention to the darkness. The Zen tradition suggests that after some thousands of notations, such repititious thought patterns will tend to fade away. One can expose many of the habits of the restless mind and gain much clarity by using such a technique. This can be a useful stepping-stone in personal development as well. So the path into meditation is also a path to self-discovery.
See if you can begin to crystallise the workings of your mind by entering the meditative zone and come in and share your experiences with me, during your treatment sessions. This type of ‘inner work’ counselling can assist with much fine-tuning in terms of the technique and the experiences that will begin to arise for you. I am sure you will find your nocturnal dream life will go up a few notches as part of the process as well. Take note of any poignant dreams as they are useful ‘grist for the mill’ on the journey as well.