By Ven. Jonghatchapat Kulatharo (May 13,2013)
I am from Thailand and have been a monk for 12 years . I have been teaching meditation to western people for 10 years, since I was a third-year monk. I can also teach meditation in Norwegian because I now live in Norway. As I am experienced in guiding meditation, I can make it easy for everyone to learn how to meditate.
Meditation is a way of understand our feelings and learning how to feel calm and peaceful, for example when we come back home to relax after a hard day’s work. Moreover meditation can give a deeper meaning to relaxation and also bring benefits to our lives.
The benefits of meditation are as follows:
a) Meditation can make us feel relaxed. This is the time to focus more on our feeling of relaxation for both body and mind, It is quite different from the other kind of way people use to relax in everyday life as their might be attention not focus inside the body.
For example, when we choose to relax by playing sport, like playing football, the eyes focus on the ball, and running after the ball. They are not focusing much on the feeling of the body.
When we are watching a movie, focusing on what happens on the screen, feelings would come to the mind, sometimes exciting, sad, happy or others.
But when we meditate, we focus more on the way to make us feel relaxed and comfortable in both body and mind.
b) Meditation can bring us inner peace.
We don’t need to fight with anyone. We feel more content with our lives. We are not going to harm anyone. This is the way of bringing inner peace to ourselves. We could be kind to everyone around us, and create a peaceful atmosphere at home and in society.
c) Meditation has healing power. There is much research on meditation for healing. Meditation can help people ease chronic pain, anxiety, stress, and improve heart health.
d) Meditation makes us understand more about spirituality. When people reach the deeper state of meditation. they could sometimes have some kind of experiece of inner energy that is different from other feelings they have experienced before.
First of all, before we begin to close the eyes and meditate, I want to inform you that normally people are tense throughout their bodies, The body should be relaxed, It is of fundamental importance that the body is relaxed.
So please decide if you can really sit on the floor or not. Today we will meditate for about 30 minutes. If you feel that this might be too long for the body to remain relaxed and will make you feel pain in the legs. I recommend that it would be better if you sit on a chair.
Please keep the neck and the back straight when you sit. This is good for the spine and to prepare ourselves to sit for a long period of time, such as one hour.
Relax the shoulders, We should not lift up our shoulders when we meditate. To make the fingers relaxed, place the right hand on the left hand like this.
For those who sit on the floor, sit cross-legged and place the right hand on the left one. Use a sitting position that makes us feel most comfortable and keep the back straight.
The way we place the hand at the proper position and use the right index finger to touch the tip of the left thumb, can also keep the back straight and protect us from falling asleep. This is a very good position.
Now we will begin to learn how to meditate.
Close our eyes gently.
The first step… is to relax the muscles in the body. Begin to relax the muscles in the head down to the neck. Then the shoulders mucles, and both of the arms down to the hands.
Relax the muscle around the chest, back and abdomen.
Then relax the muscle of the legs down to the feet.
This is the technique to remove all tension from the body
Remember this feeling of relaxation. Keep the body feeling relaxed all the time ,as this will make us feel at ease everytime we meditate.
The second step is to prepare the mind to meditate.
You know that normally the mind is always wandering. In fact…, mind-wandering appears to be correlated with unhappiness. We cannot force the mind to stop. So now I will suggest you the proper way of relaxing the mind.
Imagine that we are sitting alone at a place in nature that makes us feel most comfortable, for example under a tree in a forest, on the top of a mountain, in front of a river or anywhere else… this place is quiet, there’s no one or nothing disturbing us. Take in a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the silent nature around us. Feel as if we are one with this beautiful, clean nature atmosphere.
Feel like we never have no problems and have never known any people before, like the sun or the moon that have no worry of any people or any problem in the world. Just keep silent and be still.
There is nothing to think about in the past or the future, Don’t be worried if we still have another thoughts coming into the mind, Just let them go, Feel as if we don’t care about anything, like when we are sitting at the bus stop and many many cars drive pass us, and we don’t need to follow them. We feel content and relaxed at this moment. Feel that this relaxed feeling is satisfying.
Then imagine that we are sitting at the middle of the empty space or the empty universe, There’s nothing around us. And inside the body is empty space, looks like a glass bottle. Your body structure looks like glass that is bright and beautiful. Don’t worry if the picture we are imagining is clear enough. It is good enough to start imagining.
4. INTO THE CENTER
In this meditation technique we allow the awareness of the mind to be present at the center of the body, two finger-widths above the navel.
It is the center of gravity of the body that we call the home of the mind.
To start with, we don’t have to worry about the exact location to place the mind on.
Just place the mind or keep focused on the comfortable feeling of the middle of the stomach (inside the body) for as long as we can.
We can continue to do so, as long as the body still remains relaxed all the time.
4.2 CONFIRM THE CENTER OF THE BODY
The center of the body is at the end of the deep breath. We can feel the stomach expanding when we breathe deeply inside. That mean the breath ends at that point.
Keep the mind focused continually at the center of the body with relaxed feeling for as long as possible. The mind will then get calmer og calmer as if it always rests here at the center of the body. We can feel like we are not doing anything, but being still.
We can also imagine that we have a crystal ball or a transparent sphere, the shape of the sun, at the center of the body as the object of meditation. We can choose to imagine any size that makes us feel comfortable, such as the size of a watermelon, a lemon,an orange, but there’s only one object inside your body. And if the object starts dissapearing we can just imagine a new one.
If it is not easy for us to imagine anything, we keep the feeling at the center as before.
4.3 CONFIRM EXPERIENCE
When the mind comes to a standstill, Some of us could feel that a part of the body has disappeared. We can experience different types of deep relaxed emotion, when the mind is expanding or floating at the middle of the large empty space. Some experiences that are different from before and make people love to sit longer to reach deeper happiness inside, and feel lighter. Sometimes they can see the light from inside.
We can feel bright light going much deeper into the center because at this stage the mind attains the peace energy inside which it could never have made with any kind of material.
5. COPE WITH EXPERIENCE
If we have some experiences that make us feel as if we are falling down from the sky, we are feeling a strong movement. Just keep observing at the center without fear, panic or wonder. Always be still as in the past. As this is the first time we have this kind of experience gradually we will feel more comfortable with what is happening. Stillness is the key to success. Be content with whatever happens to you. Accept it as it is.
Before the end of this meditation. We can try to breathe in slowly and deeply 3 or 4 times…. We feel our fingers moving a little bit and hear the sound of the wind…. We feel like we are one with beautiful nature….
Still keep the mind at the center of the body with a comfortable feeling then we slowly open our eyes.