Beginning Meditation Class
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Beginning Meditation Class
Beginning Meditation Class

This week expand your practice to 25 minutes each day.

For many of us, much of our time is spent not being present to our bodies. Try noticing your body more frequently. If you work at a computer or doing something else that is very intellectual and does not have much of a physical component, set an alarm (or a timer with a beautiful bell such as the one at http://www.mindfulnessdc.org/bell/index.html) to remind yourself to stand up and stretch and come into the body every so often. Check how your body is feeling. Does it need for you to move a little to balance too much sedentary time?

A practice in vipassana meditation is to do walking meditation to balance our sitting meditation. To do walking meditation, find a place where you can walk for 10 or 20 steps. Start by standing still, and coming into the body. Especially notice your feet and allow your entire awareness to sink into your feet. Now begin to take a step. Notice how you shift your weight to one side, and then notice your other foot lifting. The foot will then move forward, and finally you will place it back on the ground. Lifting, moving, placing. Notice these three parts of each step. You can quietly note "lifting, moving, placing" as you go.

When you get to the end of your 10 or 20 steps, stop and stand still for a minute, being sure you are fully present in your body. Turn around mindfully. Then walk back in the other direction. Continue walking back and forth working to be mindful of walking.

When you do walking meditation, keep your eyes soft and looking at a point on the ground about 4 to 6 feet in front of you. You can do the walking meditation very slowly, or if you feel the need for more vigorous movement, you can walk more quickly. The point is to stay mindful of your body while walking, especially your feet. In walking meditation, your feet become the object of the meditation, just like your breath is the object during sitting meditation.

 

Three exercises to increase your bodily awareness:

One: Eat a raisin miindfully. Take a box of raisins and look at it, open it, smell it. Spend a little time experiencing the many raisins in the box. Take one raisin and put it into your hand. Think about how this was a particular grape on a particular vine for many months. How it grew under the sunshine, was nourished by the nutrients in the soil, how it was watered by rain and blown by winds. How it was picked by field workers and taken to a facility. There it was dried and became a raisin instead of a grape. It then travelled through machines and was put in a box. The box was loaded onto a truck, and travelled to the store where you finally bought this box of raisins. All this to come to you.

Roll the one raisin around in your hand, noticing the feel and texture of it. Smell it and look at it. Put the raisin into your mouth, but do not bite down. Roll it around your mouth and experience the feel of it. Finally you may bite into the raisin. Notice how that feels, and notice the exquisite and intense flavor that fills your mouth. Gradually you may begin to chew the raisin, and notice what chewing is like. As the raisin disappears, you may swallow and chew until it is gone. Notice the after taste. Notice that this experience was intense, but is impermanent and has now ended.

How was the experience of eating mindfully different from how you usually eat? Did you enjoy the experience?

Two: Eat a meal mindfully. Try to pick a meal where you are alone in a quiet place, and not required to make conversation with anyone. Do not read, or listen to the radio, or have a television turned on. Focus completely on the food and your actions as you eat. Notice yourself picking up your fork, gathering food onto the fork, lifting it to your mouth and putting it inside. Notice the flavors and textures and colors and qualities of the food you eat. Notice the energy of the food--is it live, healthy, vibrant food that will nourish you? Or is it more convenient food that you need to eat right now to get by? Can you observe these things without judgement? It may help you with this exercise if you put your fork down between each bite.

Three: Pick a half hour period this week when you will be doing an activity by yourself. Set a timer to go off every 5 minutes, and when the timer goes off, notice your body. What is it feeling like? Is any part of your body experiencing strong sensations that you can focus in on? Notice which parts of your body are just feeling neutral? Are any parts of your body feeling pleasure? With each part of this, try to focus in on the actual feeling, labeling it, experiencing it for a few moments. Then continue with your activity.

THIS ENDS LESSON TWO.

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