*Note: Last Class of 2018 is December 6th
I am very happy to be back from Italy and now have my feet on the ground. It has been a while since I have traveled to a destination with a 9 hour time discrepancy!
We have been meeting on Thursday nights now for 6 sessions and are currently discussing the chapter An Overview of the Ten Stages.
The sessions are supporting personal practices at any level within the TMI Stages 1-6. Bring your experiences and questions for a lively discussion that will surely be of benefit to your practice.
In a given session, the reading may be a section of TMI that you have already read. Not to worry! I have read the book three times now and am still gleaning valuable information. Know that as your practice matures, your understanding of the material will, too, mature and you may be open to something that wasn’t accessible to you the original time(s) that you read it.
Here are some recent questions that have arisen from various practices:
I am still having difficulty establishing my practice even though I really want to meditate. What do I do?
As James Brown sang soulfully “ Sayin’ it and doin’ it are just two different things”.
Although talking about meditating enthusiastically is great, actually doing it is the goal. Sometimes, setting up a special location for the sole purpose of meditating can be helpful. Just walking by my meditation spot gives me a warm feeling and the desire to go to that place like I did a fort that I had created as a child. I think of it as a place of nurturing and self-care. It doesn’t need to big a large space, just enough for your cushion or chair.
Also investigating why one is procrastinating or resisting can yield good information about one’s self. In sitting practice, we encourage being with and moving through resistance. The resistance will usually soften with even a little bit of inquiry. Also, if you are experiencing the resistance to get on the cushion and start your practice, consider your attitude. Are you setting your expectations high? Approaching the practice in a relaxed manner will feed into your motivation and help to make the experience pleasant and joyful. Remember, you are not seeking perfection, but doing your best at being present with what is as you practice the Stages.
Taking the time to set up the best posture to minimize discomfort in the early stages of meditation is worth the extra effort and can help reduce any reluctance based on physical pain. Finding the right cushion or chair is really important. There is a lot of variety to choose from….thousands of years of meditating have yielded a lot of options!
Is it okay to recline for a meditation session?
Although I have heard of reclining meditators, I have never seen one. This doesn’t mean that they do not exist. That being said, I would never recommend anyone meditate in a reclined position unless there was some sort of physical limitation. Injuries and other types of limitations may dictate that one must recline to meditate and that is absolutely fine with some specific instructions to help indicate to the mind that it is not time to sleep.
When one considers the strong relationship between what the body is doing and the activity in the mind, it makes good sense that you would want to support the activity of meditation with a somewhat alert and still position. What we do ninety-nine percent of the time when we are reclining is sleep. So when you recline, your body is not saying be alert, be aware; it is saying sleep! Why fight the conditioned signals you have been sending your body your whole life?
Examine why you want to recline. Are you getting enough sleep? Perhaps the desire to recline is a form of resistance to the challenges of a seated practice. Only you know and if you do not, it is worth an inquiry. If sitting on a cushion is too overwhelming due to the physical challenges, it is fine to sit in a chair.
I’m confused, can you clarify the process for a Stage 5 Body Scan?
For this question, we actually did a body scan meditation that helped to clarify the general steps.
The body scan in Stage 5 is meant to increase your overall conscious power through focusing on progressively larger areas of the body. This increase is noticeable when one returns back to the smaller area at the nose as your ability to focus will become more easeful and effortless. The more you practice the bodyscan, your overall conscious power will be strengthened and will ready you for Stage 6 practices.
I look forward to seeing you on November 1 at 7:30 for more meditation talk!