Meditation week 1-Exercises

This exercise is to be practiced at least twice daily for 5 minutes, for the duration of 7 days.

Week One Practical Meditation Exercise: Zazen​

For this exercise we’ll be using Seated Posture 2: Folded legs, and erect, but settled spine, with eyes partially closed and hands folded together into a simple mudra over the belly. Alternatively, a normal sitting posture (straight back chair, or using a wall or other sturdy surface to sit up against) will suffice. The important thing is to keep your spine erect but relaxed. Remember to choose a distraction-free environment, as well as to set a timer that does not make noise (no ticking timers) so that you neither focus on Zazen too long or too little. The timer helps remove the conscious need to see how long we have been sitting as well.

Steps:

#1) While seated rest your eyes forward in front of you but not focused on any object.

#2) Focus on your breathing for a few moments as your eyes rest, they should neither be fully open nor closed during this exercise.

#3) After a few moments of focusing on breathing, shift your attention to the action of sitting. For the rest of this meditation, you are to focus on sitting and the experience thereof.

#4) As thoughts come into your mind acknowledge them, but do not focus on them. Instead, place your focus back simply toward the action of sitting making note of your body, your awareness, and sense of self in the action of sitting.

#5) After the timer goes off make a note of what thoughts were hard to pull away from back to the Zazen practice of sitting and focusing on the act of sitting. These are thoughts which you are hanging onto and are concerning you. Zazen will help you pull away from their weight on your mind. Also, note the sensations and experiences you had during the act of Zazen. What awareness of your body was most easily noticed, what awareness was least easily noticed? Make notes in your journal on your findings!

Week One Practical Breathing Exercise: Calming Breath​

The “Calming Breath” is a very basic, yet powerful, Yogic breathing exercise you can use during meditations and in your everyday life. In stressful situations, it will help provide and maintain focus, calm and clarity. There are three stages to the calming breath technique; we will progress step by step as we go along in the workbook.​

Stage 1: Lie flat on your back with one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. Inhale so that the hand on your stomach rises, while the hand on your chest is still. Exhale so that the hand on your stomach falls and the hand on your chest is still. Repeat for 10 breaths, now inhale so that the hand on your chest rises and the hand on your stomach is still. Exhale so that the hand on your chest falls and the hand on your stomach is still. Repeat for 10 breaths. Practice both breathing techniques until you have mastered them before moving on.​

Feel free to do more breaths if you want, but we would like at least 10 breaths. You should practice this as often as possible to get the most benefit from it. For the sake of practicality, the best time to practice this is when you lay down for bedtime and upon waking up.​ Focus on nothing but breathing in this exercise. Thoughts, feelings, and sensations will come about while you are practicing; acknowledge them without judgment and allow them to pass. The goal of this exercise is to practice breathing into your whole system. Eventually, we will work up to the final stage of this practice and you will be able to accomplish calmness, focus, and serenity anywhere.

Week 1 Journal Exercises

  • Contemplate the following points. In your journal, write your responses.
  1. What is meditation to you?
  2. ​What brought you to study meditation? What is your personal history with meditation?
  3. What are your long/short term goals with meditation practice?
  4. ​Where did you first learn about meditation, was there a specific tradition or religion? Do you feel that meditation has to have a direct spiritual/religious tie in order to be useful?
  5. What benefits have you heard of or experienced?
  6. How will you prepare yourself and your environment to get the most out of your meditation practice?
  7. If you have tried meditation before, what kind of pitfalls did you experience when first learning?

Meditation week 2-Exercises

​For this exercise we’ll be using Seated Posture 2: Folded legs, and erect, but settled spine, with eyes partially closed and hands folded together into a simple mudra over the belly. Alternatively, a normal sitting posture (straight back chair, or using a wall or other sturdy surface to sit up against) will suffice. The important thing is to keep your spine erect but relaxed. Remember to choose a distraction-free environment, as well as to set a timer that does not make noise (no ticking timers) so that you neither focus on Zazen too long or too little. The timer helps remove the conscious need to see how long we have been sitting as well. … Continue readingMeditation week 2-Exercises

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