An Introduction to Meditation
Another stressful day? Work or home got you all wound up?
If so, you may be feeling the need for a break... after all, it doesn’t take long for wound up to become worn out.
Maybe it’s time to invest 30 minutes in meditative indulgence, let go of your worries and relax!
The Sitting Posture of Bodhi Meditation
In Chinese, stillness meditation is often referred to as “lotus sitting,” or “Chan practice.” The Meditation of Purity belongs to this category of meditation—you need to understand and be comfortable with the essentials of the sitting posture if you are going to practice this enjoyable skill.
1. The Lotus Position
The lotus position is often assumed in meditation—sitting cross-legged with one ankle on each thigh. If you can’t sit in the lotus position, you can also assume the “half lotus” (cross-legged with one ankle on the opposite thigh and the other on the ground), sit with a single leg crossed, or assume whichever position feels best to you.
Initially, your legs may feel numb or sore while you are in the lotus position. If the feeling gets too uncomfortable, you can switch legs (so that the leg initially crossed over
|top is now crossed beneath), or temporarily unbind your legs until the discomfort has faded. Better yet, if you are comfortable working through the numbness, then just let it be. After you’ve practiced the lotus position a few times, you’ll notice it getting easier and easier.
2. Body & Posture
You should keep your back straight and steady, allowing the posture to feel as natural as possible.
You may also bend your chest forward slightly to lower the position of your heart and relax your diaphragm—this encourages easier breathing. The bottom tip of your spine may bend out slightly, giving the lower back a gentle inward curve—this will allow you to stay seated for longer periods. The lower abdominal area should also be relaxed to stabilize the body’s center of gravity. In addition, you should keep your neck upright, but not stiff. Try to endow each aspect of your position with a sense of relaxation and lightness.
3. Mudras (Hand Forms or Hand Patterns)
Mudras are hand forms (also referred to as “seals”) or hand patterns, used for a variety of purposes in traditional meditation. Each one has its own meaning and function. In Bodhi Meditation, three mudras are commonly used to help reinforce our samādhibala (Sanskrit for meditative composure and its ability to quiet troubling thoughts):
||Place your hands, open and relaxed, on your knees with the palms facing up.
||Namaskāra Mudra (The Salutation Mudra)
||Place your palms together and hold them against your chest with your fingers
||Dhyāna Mudra (The Meditation Mudra)
||Palms up, place your left hand in the palm of the right one. The tips of your
thumbs should touch and your hands should be resting on your lap. Simply
put, the right hand is cupping the left.
4. Final Motions
After you’ve finished meditating, rub your hands together until they’re warm and slowly run them over your face, starting with your chin. Relax your legs, then pat and massage your whole body.
1. Breathe naturally during meditation. Keep your eyes and mouth lightly closed, let your tongue rest against the small ridge behind your upper teeth (the alveolar ridge) and breathe through your nose.
2. Listen to the music in the Meditation of Purity if possible (available for purchase from any Centers). It was created by Master JinBodhi to promote concentration and relaxation.
Visualization in Bodhi Meditation
Clearing illusory concepts and controlling troubling thoughts is the primary goal of meditative visualization.
Visualization is particularly vital in the practice of the Meditation of Purity. Listening to music while you meditate and concentrating on the images created can help you gradually achieve states of tranquility and composure.
Step 1: Attaining Tranquility
Attaining tranquility is preliminary to entering the state of composure. Try to purify your mind by clearing it of troubling thoughts. It is helpful to harmonize your mind with your breath. Allow yourself to feel as though your body is as light as air; allow your physical self to feel less and less defined, as though the boundaries that define your form are fading away.
You might try listening to a guided meditation by Master JinBodhi (CD or DVD). Listening closely and visualizing as guided, you will be able to enter a state of tranquility with greater ease.
Step 2: Attaining Composure (Samādhi)
The state of composure (sometimes, “true concentration”) is somewhat challenging to describe. Thoughts are further purified; the universe and the individual enter a state of synchronicity. People who have attained composure generally feel energetic, cheerful, lucid and physically comfortable. Time does not seem to pass—they may feel as if they’ve only been meditating for a few minutes even though several hours have gone by.
Scientific evidence suggests that the body’s metabolism slows down while it’s in this relaxed state of tranquility—as does its oxygen consumption, which lowers to about half of what it is during sleep. Meanwhile, the brain reaches a state of optimum recuperation and is provided with more nourishment than during any other state. The body also begins to generate greater heat than usual.
Phenomena During Meditation
> Images may appear before you. These come into being naturally and vary depending on each individual’s physical and mental state. You should neither seek after them, nor attempt to avoid them. Just let the images, without becoming overly concerned or entranced with them.
Let them go.
> Your body temperature may go up and you may perspire slightly—this is a sign of increased circulation. If your tongue is touching the ridge behind your teeth, you may find that you are producing more saliva than usual. Do not be disturbed if you find yourself swallowing often.
> During meditation, your body may shake and sway, which is to be expected when the body relaxes and the vital energy of internal organs flows—don’t worry.
> Your stomach may make noises and your muscles may twitch; this is also normal.
Things to Be Aware Of
1. People who have tried other meditation methods can also practice Bodhi Meditation. Nonetheless, two different methods should not be practiced in conjunction with one another. An interval of at least 30 minutes should be allowed between each.
2. Wear comfortable shoes or go barefoot; dress in loose-fitting clothing; take off your watch, glasses, jewelry, etc.
3. If you practice outdoors, find a quiet, clean location in which to meditate. Meditating in adverse weather conditions is not recommended.
4. Do not force yourself to meditate when you are exceptionally emotional (overjoyed, enraged, etc). Wait until you reach a relative emotional equilibrium before beginning.
5. Time and location are arbitrary; you can meditate any time and any place that suits you.
6. Do not meditate when you are over-full or ravenous.
7. When you finish meditating, perform some closing actions (rub your hands together, rub your face lightly, pat and massage your entire body). Do not wash your face or hands in cold water immediately after meditation.
8. Before you begin, make a conscious decision not to be violently startled by haphazard noises or disturbances. Be at peace and allow yourself to remain so.
9. Don’t be intimidated by phenomena such as nausea, vertigo or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these things, open your eyes, breathe deeply for a few minutes, and then gently pat your body all over. You’ll soon feel better.
10.Don’t be frightened by images or visions that appear before you, but don’t encourage them either. Try to stay calm and receptive.
11.Women can meditate during their menstrual period or pregnancy, so long as they monitor themselves and avoid strain.