Building upon the Week 1 Exercise, this exercise is to be practiced at least twice daily for 15 minutes, for the duration of 7 days. We are also adding steps to the “Calming Breath” technique this week.
Week Two 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.
#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 Two 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.
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.
Stage 2: This stage combines the two breathing techniques learned in Stage 1. Lie flat on your back with one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. Begin by stomach breathing, when you feel you cannot inhale any more in this manner switch to chest breathing until the upper part of your lungs is filled. Exhale by chest breathing first, progressing to stomach breathing so that you empty the lungs fully. Repeat this process for 5 minutes and breath slowly, if you feel dizzy, slow down you are breathing too fast. If you are out of breath then you are breathing too slowly. Listen to your body, if you have difficulty in distinguishing between chest and stomach breathing then return to Stage 1.
Stage 3: Stand or sit with your back straight, using the calming breathing technique follow this pattern:You will have to count the following 4-4- 4 rhythm in your head.Count to 4 while inhaling, hold your breath and count to 4, and then count to 4 while exhaling. Once you have mastered this then you may use a 4-4-4-4 rhythm if you prefer. This adds an extra step of holding your breath after exhaling to the count of 4. Take care not to hold your breath too long, again listen to your body.
Repeat this for 5 minutes or until you are achieved a state of calm. Practice so that the calming breathing becomes effortless and inaudible. You should breathe no louder than regular breathing, once you have mastered this technique, you will find it an invaluable asset in almost any situation. 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 as you first learning and practicing this technique. 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 2 Journal Exercises
- After practicing the Week 1 and Week 2 Practical Exercises (Zazen and Calming Breath) contemplate the following in your journal.
- How long were you able to practice the meditation and breathing exercises your first few attempts? Were you satisfied with your results?
- What did you experience while practicing the exercises? Were they what you expected?
- What can you do differently in the coming weeks as you build upon your practice to ensure better results?
- What are your meditation practice goals for next week?
- Take this time to write some private notes and reflections for you about your experiences up to this point.
For this week we will learn and practice a Taoist meditation technique. There is a rich and vast amount of philosophy and lineage that goes with the Taoist tradition, with meditation being just one part of that. Not to be disrespectful of these ideals, but we will not be going into depth about these traditions. The reason is simple; this course is designed to expose you to different meditation styles and practices. To dedicate the proper amount of discourse on the deep and vast systems in which these meditations come from would take up more pages than one small course could provide. We always encourage our students to look deeper into what they find on the surface if that is their desire. … Continue readingMeditation week 3-Exercises
This is the cyberspace Home of the Knights of Awakening! For years, the KOA has been providing countless hours of conversation, learning, and entertainment on multiple media platforms. Starting out as a single radio show, the KOA has grown to encompass a larger multimedia footprint in the world! … Continue readingHome
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