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How to Meditate

By Dr. Adrian Robichaud, adapted from Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior book by Chögyam Trungpa and what he has learned from meditation with the Oshawa Shambala Meetup.

Focus on your out-breath.

There is much more to meditation and really in some ways, much less. I once thought meditation was about trying to fill my mental space with a thought or trying to see only white in my mind and trying to shut out all outside stimuli (sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings). Meditation, in the form I propose, is about being present. It is about feeling, seeing, smelling, tasting and hearing what is actually happening while you are sitting. It is what is now, then now, then now and now. Always what is current. Like watching rapids always there, but never the same.

meditation statueWhen you sit, sit with a comfortable, erect/upright posture. Use cushions to get comfortable. Keep your eyes open, neck upright and look with your eyes off in front and downwards. Allow your vision to be both in and out of focus at the same time. See what is in front of you and around you all at once. You cannot do this and have perfect focus. Human eyes do not work this way. Now sit. Put about 25% of your focus on your out-breath. The out-breath is the most important. You will breath in naturally once you have exhaled. The pace and depth of your in-breath is guided by your out-breath. If your out-breath is slow and calm, your in-breath will match it over time. When anxious, people tend to hold their breath and even try to breath in more air. This leads to hyperventilation. Hyperventilation results in the wrong kind of air in your body. It results in poor oxygenation and more carbon-dioxide in your body (the wrong kind of air) resulting in a fear reaction in your body, as if you cannot breath. This creates what is called a positive feedback loop in your brain-body leading to more anxiety, more attempts to breath in more and more bad air in your body. If this happens, return your focus to your out-breath and allow your in-breath to happen naturally. Be careful, not to force your breath or to count seconds of in-breath or out-breath. Your body knows how to breath. Remember, you do not need to be awake to breath!

When your mind drifts, acknowledge that it has and return your focus to your out-breath and what you sense around you. Be present. Do not seek a goal of any kind. Do not try to be calm or happy or in any state in particular. Become aware of how you really feel – physically. If you feel sad, where do you feel sadness? Is it in your face, if so where, is it hot, cold, tense? If you are happy where and how do you feel happy? Do not hang onto the feeling. If it changes be with how it changes. If you feel pain, where do you feel it? How does it change (it always changes)? Is it sharp or dull? Again, do not hold onto it, simply watch it happen.

Meditation may be difficult for you. Your mind may wander a hundred times in a ten minute setting. Just return your focus to what you sense and your out-breath every time you wander.

If you wish to learn more about meditation, I encourage you to seek out a Shambala group in your community. You may do a web search for Shambala meditation in your community. My group may be found here. You may also read the book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa.

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