In my previous journal entries, we discussed meditation as tool for self-actualization. We have discussed the need to be mindful of the present, to have our thoughts rooted in the now. A good step forward is to label all the incessant thoughts that careen through our heads as guests: Be aware of your “in and out” of breath and label those thoughts as just visitors, letting them freely originate and dissolve as this is the natural processes of the mind. In this latest journal entry I was just going to focus on the set and setting of meditation, discussing posture and the more mechanical aspects of practice. In my new book, The Responsive Universe, I am devoting an entire chapter to meditation therefore in the interest of not repeating myself, I have decided to move beyond set and setting and move to one of my actual guided practices. Still, I will briefly outline the anatomy of a meditation:

Set and Setting: Finding time to meditate, selecting a quiet place to meditate. Being mindful of posture, rhythmic breathing and labeling our incessant thoughts as guests. Above all do not get frustrated. When your mind gets side tracked, simply refocus and move forward, not backward.

Deepening and Appreciation: Once thoughts and rhythmic breathing become a back drop to the experience; a mantra and, or primary meditative focus becomes the main emphasis. Further, find confidence and energy in the mindfulness of the experience.

Exit and Daily Life Practice: Take the meditative session and experience into daily life. Continue to be mindful and aware throughout the day.

A good meditative technique to experiment with is what I call “mindfulness of the body”. After your set and setting is established and you are comfortable and breathing has become secondary to the experience, turn your attention inward. Begin with your toes and mentally visualize these parts of the body, beginning with your feet and ending at your scalp. Mentally visualize your ankles, shins, knees and thighs. Be mindful and work your way through your stomach, fingers, spine and brain. Taste the feelings of comfort and discomfort. Are your feet sore? Can you feel your stomach churn from within. Is there a hum discernible from within the brain? Are your muscles tense or relaxed? Can you feel a tingle from the scalp? Being mindful of the body helps you connect to something more personal and intimate. This exercise also helps keep your mind in the present – rooted in the moment. I find this simple exercise as a great way to start any meditative session.

John C. Bader

 

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