A short method to return to a state that most of us have known but not realised to be meditation.
Relax! It Takes No Time At All
‘Yes, I know it would be good for me but I just don’t have the time to meditate! Given the full-on lives most of us lead, and the misconceptions about what meditation is, that is an understandable response. After all, doesn’t meditation mean taking a huge lump out of our precious time to sit still and silent?
Actually, meditation does not take any time at all because it is not just another item of your ‘to do’ list. It is a certain quality you bring to whatever you do on that list – whether it is mowing the lawn, helping the children with their homework, or surfing the Internet. Almost certainly you have experienced this state of being many times in your life, though you may not have recognised it. Those moments when you are present, open, aware … in a very relaxed, easy way…when, inexplicably and without even trying, you feel absolutely content.
Sometime later, recalling that experience, you want to get back there…to know that wonderful sense of tranquillity again. But how to find the way? The many meditative techniques are just so many routes that can return you, voluntarily and consciously, to the experience of silence, harmony and a sense of all being right with the world. Those techniques are needed to access the quality of meditativeness. But once that quality has become intrinsic to us there is no need to practise them any longer.
Try one right now: it only takes a few minutes and will give you a taste.
Tuning into the Moment
Find a comfortable position. Any is fine, but lying down does make most of us fall asleep. That’s why sitting up is generally suggested for passive techniques.
Letting your eyes close, become aware of all you can hear: maybe the sound of traffic, of someone opening a door, or maybe you can hear laughter. Do not label what you hear: ‘Horn … turning door handle … laughter.’ And do not make judgments such as: ‘This sound is disturbing,’ or ‘That is beautiful.’ If at any time during the meditation you need to adjust your position for more comfort, do it, but consciously. Let it be part of your meditation. So do it very very slowly; then you need not disturb the seeds of silence that may be starting to sprout inside. Just note whatever you can hear, like a scientist, dispassionately observing. And do not forget to keep breathing!
Now expand your awareness to include smell. A perfume, burnt toast, roses – noting them in just the same, detached way, without bringing in the commentary of the mind. Next, extend your awareness to the temperature of the room and of your body: the warmth of your clothing, the coolness of a breeze…. Now, still remembering to breathe, bring your awareness to your body. Note the feel of where it meets the chair or cushion on which you are sitting. Be aware of the relaxed bits, the tense bits – without judging them. Finally, bring your awareness to your breathing – not changing it any way but just watching the way your chest or belly is rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation. Then, when you are ready, gently open your eyes.
That probably took all of ten minutes. You are almost certainly more relaxed, as well as more aware of yourself and your surroundings. That’s meditation, and it didn’t hurt a bit, did it?
[This article first appeared in The West Australian]