Sitting Meditation

Sitting meditation is very easy.  We sit for the joy of sitting.  How wonderful that we can take time to just sit and enjoy our in-breath and our out-breath.

Some people think that meditation is supposed to be hard, tedious, requiring super-abilities.  But the essence of meditation is to bring about joy and bliss,.  The purpose of
meditation is to make us feel light, not to introduce obstacles in our lives.

We sit in a comfortable position, on a cushion or a chair.  The lotus position is not required.  Sit in whatever way you feel fresh as a flower, be it a peony, a chrysanthemum, or perhaps a lotus.  Let the spine be upright (not straight, just not slouching), with the whole back relaxed, the legs relaxed, shoulders and arms relaxed, and neck and face relaxed.  Allow a half smile to form on your lips, releasing the tension in your face and your mind.

All we do is pay full attention to our breathing.  Paying full attention as we breathe in and the air comes into our body, and paying full attention as we breathe out and the air
leaves our body.  You can say to yourself silently “in” as you breathe in, and “out” as you breathe out.  This is mindfulness of the breath.

The breath is natural.  We do not manipulate the breath, but simply observe it.  That mere observation tends to deepen and slow the breath.  We allow for that process to take place, and we do not make the breath deeper or slower, we simply keep it as it comes and enjoy it, be it short or long, deep or shallow.

Meditation sessions start with three sounds of the bell.  The bell is the voice of the Buddha reminding us of our precious true home, inviting us to come back to our breathing.  When we hear the bell we might say in our mind “listen, listen, this wonderful sound, brings me back to my true home.”  We can say it silently: “listen, listen this wonderful sound” as we breath in, and “brings me back to my true home” as we breath out, or we might just carry that feeling as we hear the sound of the bell.

We then enjoy 15-20 minutes of sitting, simply following our breathing, allowing our mind to fully relax.  If thoughts come up, we allow them to leave: we do not engage in
them (do not invite them to tea as Suzuki Roshi used to say).  If you need to adjust your posture, feel free to do so, simply do it with full awareness, for example “breathing in I feel discomfort in my knee, breathing out I move my leg, breathing in I reposition my leg, breathing out I feel wonderful that my knee no longer hurts.”

Every one finds themselves suddenly saying “where did all these thoughts come from, I am supposed to be meditating.”  It is totally natural.  All we do is recognize that the “monkey mind” has taken over, jumping around from thought to thought, and we bring ourselves back to our breathing, enjoying our in-breath, enjoying our out-breath.

You can use the following Gatha (practice poem) to start out your meditation.  Practice each two lines a few times, until you feel you have really settled with them, and then move on to the next set of two lines (one line for the in-breath, and one for the out-breath).  Rather than saying the full line, you can use the word that summarizes it.

Breathing in, I know I am                         In
brething In
Breathing out, I know I am                      Out
breathing out.

Breathing in, I feel calm                           Calm
Breathing out, I feel ease                         Ease

Breathing in, I smile                                  Smile
Breathing out, I release                           Release

Dwelling in the Present Moment          Present Moment
I know it is a wonderful moment          Wonderful moment

To dwell in the present moment, not be carried away by anxieties and worries, to know this is a wonderful moment because we are part of the stream of life, not separated from it, this is the great gift of meditation and the great insight it produces.

The Four Immeasurables

May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we not be separated from the great happiness that is devoid of suffering.
May we dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.