Meditation

River

Active member
I've been sporadically practicing meditation for some years. In recent weeks and months I'm committing to more regular sitting. Today I had a kind of breakthrough. I was taking my meditation as medicine, a slightly unpaletable medicine. (Please forgive typos or misspellings; I'm too lazy to google www.dictionary.com right now). And now I'm really starting to enjoy just sitting there attending to breath and sensation while letting go of chasing after thoughts. It's starting to get restful, peaceful -- even fun, exciting -- an adventure.

And you?
 

River

Active member
Breathing ...

Yesterday morning: The new zafu and zabuton (Japanese words for stacked sitting cushions) certainly make sitting upright, spine aligned with gravity, more comfortable and easeful. Anyone who's ever practiced mindfulness on the breath, with the instruction just to watch or attend to the breath, will have noticed at some time that that's not so easy at first. It's an attitude and practice of just allowing and attending, not of affecting, forcing, causing. It's a fascinating fact that breathing is both voluntary and involuntary. One needn't choose to breath for breath to happen, yet it can be difficult to attend carefully to the breath without influencing it. (Try, find out for yourself.)

So I chose to play -- as often I do when sitting. To mix things up a little. To find my own way. And so I attended in a non-interfering sort of way for a while. And then I started choosing deeper, carefully attended to breaths. Fuller, deeper. Where does it go, what muscles are involved? How does that feel? How is gravity involved here? What emotions, however subtle, arise? And so on. Already I had come to a sort of calm, an ease, a quietness. Why not explore it? Gently.

I could feel the front of my body behaving as armor, as a shield. It was saying a kind of silent "no". It's "no" was felt as a dullness, a moving away from vitality, vulnerability, feeling, tenderness..., all those things I want. Or so I tell myself. So I decided to play like this: Can I say "yes"? "Yes" with my body where it said "no"? Can I breathe to say "yes"? Breathe directly into those places in my body which are saying "no"? I could! I did.

I felt the whole front of my body, the face of my facing of life, saying "yes!" I felt the knot behind my heart, in my back, also loosten its grip. I felt a calm joy, physical pleasure. And I knew I need not ever be bored with sitting still like this. This may be medicine, but it needn't be imagined as bitter, a chore in need of doing. It needn't be a strain, an effort against the river or the wind.
 
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Somegeezer

New member
I have no idea what you're talking about in your second post.

I do like the idea of meditation though. I've tried it a few times. I would like to try it more often. I have no idea why I don't. It feels great. I think maybe if I had someone to do it with, it would be a lot easier to push myself to do it often.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
I like to do yoga for meditation. Well, it's not exactly the same thing, but I think it has a lot of the same effects. We always start in constructive rest position, which involves tuning in to your body and becoming aware of it.

The reason I prefer yoga over sitting meditation is that my mind gets restless and bored when I meditate. I know, I know, that's the whole point of meditating, but right now I just have too much trouble getting there on my own. I find that with yoga, I still stop thinking about life and thinking in general, and start to focus on alignment and the present moment.

I do Iyengar yoga, which uses props and is slower paced with held poses more than flowing from one pose to another. I've done faster yoga and I find that I never get the proper alignment in one pose before we're moving on to something else.

We often sit either on foam blocks or bolsters, allowing our pelvis to roll so that we're sitting on the front of the sitting bones. This helps keep the spine long and straight.

It's truly amazing how much of a change I've experience since I started doing yoga. The whole rest of my life has seen benefit, I'm calmer and more relaxed, I don't get anxious or worried as often, I do homework with a good attitude rather than as a chore. Even my test marks went up. My whole mind is just more focused.
 

River

Active member
I have no idea what you're talking about in your second post.

It's about the practice of mindfulness on the body (as breath), which is the foundation and heart of Buddhist meditation. It may be that you have no idea what I'm talking about because you've not sat still and payed careful, extended, attention to your own breathing. It may sound like a silly thing to do, an absurd waste of time, but the practice has had powerful healing and transformational affect on lots of people. Check out Jack Kornfield's little book, Meditation for Beginners. (I think I have that title right.)
 

River

Active member
I like to do yoga for meditation. Well, it's not exactly the same thing, but I think it has a lot of the same effects.

Well, I'd say LOTS of things can be done meditatively, though not all meditation is sitting meditation (stillness meditation in a sitting position). Lots of movement arts are practiced meditatively, and are very helpful and have much the same kind of affects.

I think hatha yoga is a great compliment to sitting practice, and vice versa. (Regular sitting will re-align the spine in lots of folks, and strenghening certain muscles in the torso will certainly make sitting go easier!) Tai chi, chi gung, massage/bodywork, psychotherapy..., and other practices are also complimentary, I feel.
 

Somegeezer

New member
I understood the breathing thing. I've always done that. Focusing on your pulse is another good way. I just didn't understand a lot of the words. Maybe I was not reading carefully enough, but it just didn't make sense to me. Meditation is certainly very helpful though. I try to do it more and more.
 

River

Active member
.... I just didn't understand a lot of the words. Maybe I was not reading carefully enough, but it just didn't make sense to me.

Or maybe I wasn't writing carefully enough. What I wrote was a quick sketchy thing meant just to convey where I'm at at the moment in my practice of mindfulness on the breath--which as I said is a very basic Buddhist meditation practice. I'm blending various techniques into a sitting, so I don't exclusively focus on breath. I allow shifts away from breath as a focus to other bodily sensations and awareness. Including emotional stuff (which is very bodily). It's possible (I can't say!) that you may have lots of somatic self-awareness, or very little. People with very little such awareness may have trouble knowing what I said, or why -- especially if they are not engaged in a similar type of meditation practice.

A lot of folks imagine / think that meditation is all about attempting to "stop thoughts". This just isn't so. It's a common misunderstanding. I do, however, think that compulsive thoughts become fewer and fewer with more and more practice.

How do you practice? For how long have you practiced? Have you had benefits?
 

Somegeezer

New member
Or maybe I wasn't writing carefully enough. What I wrote was a quick sketchy thing meant just to convey where I'm at at the moment in my practice of mindfulness on the breath--which as I said is a very basic Buddhist meditation practice. I'm blending various techniques into a sitting, so I don't exclusively focus on breath. I allow shifts away from breath as a focus to other bodily sensations and awareness. Including emotional stuff (which is very bodily). It's possible (I can't say!) that you may have lots of somatic self-awareness, or very little. People with very little such awareness may have trouble knowing what I said, or why -- especially if they are not engaged in a similar type of meditation practice.

A lot of folks imagine / think that meditation is all about attempting to "stop thoughts". This just isn't so. It's a common misunderstanding. I do, however, think that compulsive thoughts become fewer and fewer with more and more practice.

How do you practice? For how long have you practiced? Have you had benefits?
You probably wrote it fine. I often find myself not understand what people have said. Even reading over it a million times, I can still miss the point entirely. I have no idea why or how to "fix" that.

I never thought of meditation as stopping thoughts. When I do it, I just feel so relaxed and inside a bubble with just myself. I first started when I was young. I just wanted to try it and see what it did. Why people did it. I think everyone has their own reasons for doing it and gets something diffrerent from it too.

benefits... I'm not sure exactly why or how, but I just feel better doing it. Feel like I gain something each time. No idea what it is or why it makes me feel good though.

I don't do it that often like I said though. I might do it more often, but there are many things I do to feel good.

Computer games are another one of those things I enjoy doing. I get immersed in it and could sit there for hours in an almost trance like state playing. It's very engaging. Music is another. From the heaviest of Metal, to the most soothing of Ambient. Ambient music is actually really good to have on when I meditate too. I start daydreaming a lot with it.
 

Karma

New member
I found your comment about "mindful breathing" to be familiar, River. It's something that I was taught to do/use in martial arts - not just mindful breathing, but being mindful of all the bodies movements.
 

River

Active member
I'd heard that about martial arts practice, Karma. One day I might like to study Aikido. That practice has always attracted me.

+++


Excerpted from this morning's email to a dear friend.:

The other morning, while "sitting" (as we call it), everything went utterly silent--and remained dark--and something in me which was me (?) was suddenly falling rapidly through space, toward Earth's center of gravity. Actually, it's difficult to discern what was falling through what. Was some part of me falling through me? I dunno. The curious thing was how there was nothing. Nothing at all -- no thought. Nothing -- except the sense of breathing. Maybe some faint sense of gravity. I was awake in black space, though on the verge of sleep, perhaps. Kevin asked when I told him of this if it felt as though I might die. I agreed. He knows this one. He said "If you return to the breath (awareness of), It'll work out. I did thrust my eyes open when I "fell," instinctively. I didn't know where I was! It wasn't the first time this happened, only the most intense. It's now happening most recent "sits". I think I'll just see what happens. It scares me, but Fuck, so what? I'm sure as hell not going to stop this ride. Meditation owns me now. Or ...? Who's meditating, anyway?
 

River

Active member
Why write about or discuss meditation in a forum on polyamory? Well, it seems to me that
polyamory is simply an approach ("a style") of loving relationship. And it seems also equally clear that relationships with others are grounded in our relationship with ourselves. And meditation both excellerates and assists changes in one's life: Specific changes. Changes in the direction of greater and greater awareness and freedom. Freedom from compulsion, habit....

That's why. Meditation empowers us to choose, and to choose love.
 

River

Active member
Here's what my friend said in reply to what I said about falling through empty space while sitting.:

"I recognise the meditation experiences you're talking about - there's even a name for it in Sanskrit. It's supposed to just be a loosening of the normally rigid connexion between senses and perception - which can in itself be scary enough! Just shrug your mind's shoulders and sit on."

Gosh. I never made much distinction between senses and perception, so I'm not sure what this means, quite. Yet, I can see that perception is something that includes sensory inputs but is also something sort of distinct -- largely because of the relation of intentionality (as the phenomenologists call it). Which is to say that perception involves directed awareness, not just the senses, per se, naked and raw.

Anyhoo, there's a whole lotta shaking going on, as the song goes. Had a lovely mindfulness while eating breakfast experience with my Sweetie, this morning. It arose as naturally as breathing. But I did note that if I really give myself to each bite of food, well, it doubles or tripples in tastyness!

Bowing.
 
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Charlie

Member
All things being equal...

The most sage words I have ever been fortunate enough to have directed towards me came from a very generous friend and teacher.

An incredibly skilled craftsman and sculptor in his own right, he was referring to the understanding of the intrinsic nature of materials.

I have applied this one sentence, at one time or another, to every aspect of my life:

"If you go far enough into one material, you arrive at all other materials."

Go far enough into ourselves, and we arrive at everyone else, and vice versa. By way of experiencing love in a limitless way, polyamory if you like, and delving deep into the hearts of CF and RC, I have arrived at the hearts of everyone around me. I am fast arriving at the heart of the World.

I have only ever practiced walking meditation with discipline, a residual benefit from my years as a distance runner. Perhaps I was actually being trained to take all things in stride...
 
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River

Active member
I have only ever practiced walking meditation with discipline, a residual benefit from my years as a distance runner. Perhaps I was actually being trained to take all things in stride...

This I need to look (or walk) into more!
 

Charlie

Member
Walking Meditation

This is another one of those "form follows function" aspects of my life.

After putting up my running shoes and putting on work boots, I found myself in college without a vehicle and relatively no money. So I walked. Everywhere.

Having already been exposed to the "runner's high" and the mental ease to which long stretches of sustained running put my brain, simply walking was, well, a walk in the park. I would look forward to the two miles between my apartment and the shop as a way to clear my mind before getting down to a long night creative problem solving.

The walk home was even more beneficial, as it relieved the tension of lifting, pushing, moving, straining, thinking....

I should add that I am a fast walker, and I tend to move in a "tangent to tangent" path, always seeking the most efficient way to move from point A to point B.

Somewhere along the way, I adopted this way of moving in the shop as well, using the short distances between machinery to breathe and center myself for the next task. To the observer, I appear determined and intense, which I am, but my mind is unattached and calm.

The nice thing about walking meditation is that it only requires that you walk...the breathing happens naturally, following the rhythm of your pace, and soon after comes the centering.

Walking railroad tracks, however hobo-like it may seem, is a fantastic trick for learning to let go of controlling the pace of one's stride.

Provided, of course, that you aren't hit by a train, in which case, your awareness of the oneness of all things becomes immediate, interrupting one's peaceful journey to enlightenment.
 

yoxi

New member
Who said the journey to enlightenment was peaceful? ;) (a white-water canoe extravaganza from where I'm sitting... lovely scenery, though!)
 

River

Active member
Not to nit pick, but I wanted to say that I doubt it is either helpful or true to speak in terms of a journey to enlightenment. Instead, I prefer the notion of a journey of enlightenment. (And, yes, it's more of a white water trip than a walk in the park, much of the time.) Both are tiny words, but each packs a lot of punch in two letters! But the word "to" seems to imply that there is a getting there. "Are we there yet?" And for there to be a getting there there has to be a Not There Yet. An image arises of a wall, a fence, a door, ... a border crossing, with the line being sharp and distinct. But I think what happens is that the light is on a dimmer switch, not an on/off switch. And there's no final finish line.

That will be twenty dollars at the door please.
 

River

Active member
Good luck finding the door!
 
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