Our culture is rich in exercises on mindfulness and meditation.
This is a brief general summary of various approaches.
a) willpower and concentration
b) devotional methods
c) a routine
a mixture of any of these
Willpower and Concentration
Some meditations develop willpower, discipline and concentration. Focusing single pointed on something specific. Some people may need to or want to follow this way, but it is not often used in body mindfulness meditations.
Focusing and concentrating on a beautific image, a new lover, anything awesome, is easier than focusing on something without emotional or spiritual meaning.
Devotional MethodsThere are many beautiful devotional practices. And many can be combined with inner-body awareness. For example : breathing in the great spirit, or letting it breathe me, and giving myself to it on the out breath.
If you use a form of prayer or mantra, this will pacify the thoughts. It can be combined with most forms of body mindfulness.
This deserves mention, but i leave it to each individuals own beliefs and creativity.
A RoutineA routine may start with relaxing the breathing, move on through a series of mindfulness exercises or visualisations, and end with a prayer. This gives us a sequence, something slow but interesting to do. It is often used in led meditations.
If you already have an habitual routine and this is an effective method to contain your thoughts and relax your body and mind, then there is no need to change.
A Flexible RoutineI have a number of different exercises which i use them flexibly. Meditation develops and changes each time i do it. I find the element of creativity (instead of a fixed routine) keeps me interested, so i enjoy doing it and want to repeat it.
Different people have different needs. But my first and central idea is to avoid closed-mindedness. Always meditate experimentally.
I only do any exercise if it is interesting or enjoyable, because the practical question is : how to meditate in a pleasurable and therefore a self generating, self-perpetuating way – so that we want to repeat it.
My basic meditation is the whole breath-body, filling up and emptying out, expanding and contracting.
Counting with BreathsConventional meditation methods often use the breath as a counting measure.
A very useful meditation idea with breathing is 'being conscious and letting go'. There are various ways to combine the breathing with 'being conscious and letting go'. The simplest is "conscious i breathe in, letting go i breathe out".
Use the breathing as a counting measure, and focus on a sequence in the body. One breath at each focal point gives us a slow rhythm with enough movement to hold our attention. It's practical, it's something slow and peaceful to do.
Go through your whole body, step by step: feet, knees, hips; shoulders, elbows, hands; bowels, stomach (diaphragm), lower chest, upper chest; neck, face, head; at each step thinking "conscious of my feet i breath in, letting go of my feet i breathe out; conscious of my knees... " etc.
Don't worry if your breathing becomes unsteady as you let it go. This is just your lower brain allowing your body to adjust to what it needs and wants, instead of being controlled by your routine habits.
Then come back to the whole breath-body, filling up and emptying out, expanding and contracting.
I often start a meditation by counting through my fingers. Conscious of and letting go of each finger – from the little fingers to the thumbs – both sides at the same time – then i count through my toes. If i can't actually feel the second and middle toe, i imagine them, i know they're there, so i count them anyway.
ImaginationThe enjoyment of any meditation or mindfulness exercise depends on if you are in pain in any way. Also if you are emotionally blocked with stress and tension. 'Being conscious and letting go' can be focused on any pain or body stiffness as a healing technique, at the least as an inner massage.
Use your imagination in any way you want to heal stiffness or pain. There are a number of other ideas on the next page.
Extra Body Breath Exercises develops all these ideas.
Back to Chapter Seven : Creative Dozing
Back to THE PANORAMA SENSES Priority Pages