Friday, October 22, 2010

dhyana-the group

Centering Prayer & Meditation
October 21, 2010

Tonight we’ll talk more about the MECHANICS of meditation. Posture is really 95% of the issue, in my book. For most it may not be. But I have persistent issues with body pain and stiffness. So being at ease in meditation is the biggest hurdle. Once my body is taken out of the equation, then my mind can go to other places.
Here’s an interesting checklist I found on a Buddhist meditation site called
“…it is a good idea to become accustomed to sitting in the posture of Buddha Vairochana. If we cannot hold this posture we should sit in one which is as close to this as possible while remaining comfortable.
The seven features of Vairochana’s posture are:
(1) The legs are crossed in the vajra posture. This helps to reduce thoughts and feelings of desirous attachment.
(2) The right hand is placed in the left hand, palms upwards, with the tips of the thumbs slightly raised and gently touching. The hands are held about four fingers’ width below the navel. This helps us to develop good concentration. The right hand symbolizes method and the left hand symbolizes wisdom – the two together symbolize the union of method and wisdom. The two thumbs at the level of the navel symbolize the blazing of inner fire.
(3) The back is straight but not tense. This helps us to develop and maintain a clear mind, and it allows the subtle energy winds to flow freely.
(4) The lips and teeth are held as usual, but the tongue touches against the back of the upper teeth. This prevents excessive salivation while also preventing our mouth from becoming too dry.
(5) The head is tipped a little forward with the chin slightly tucked in so that the eyes are cast down. This helps prevent mental excitement.
(6) The eyes are neither wide open nor completely closed, but remain half open and gaze down along the line of the nose. If the eyes are wide open we are likely to develop mental excitement and if they are closed we are likely to develop mental sinking.
(7) The shoulders are level and the elbows are held slightly away from the sides to let air circulate.”
To be honest, the best advice I can give about posture is to find what works for you each time. And I say “each time,” because it’s just going to vary depending upon how you are feeling each day. Here are some of the postures I’ve used:
1.    Legs up the wall. This is a great way to bring relaxation and support for a tired body. But it can also be dangerous because you can fall asleep! (yep, I’ve found myself an hour later slumped over on the floor)
2.    Lying down with legs on a chair or other piece of furniture
3.    Seated on the floor, cross-legged. Maybe on a cushion
4.    Seated in a chair
5.    Meditation seat
6.    Facedown, either in child’s pose or just spread-eagled. The later can be a problem because you have your head turned one way. The former can be an issue if your lower legs tend to fall asleep. You can prop up in the pose, though.
I used nothing but legs up the wall when I got started. But I also started during a time when my body was very upset. Now I sit most of the time. Sometimes on a meditation seat, sometimes on a cushion.
What it really boils down to is that you need to find that comfortable spot that eliminates physical discomfort from your practice, so that you can take your attention elsewhere.
Yogi Erich Schiffmann has a podcast on his website where he describes getting into a position. Listen especially to minutes 3 to 7.

During meditation we listened to Ashana's "The Aramaic Lord's Prayer" and then had 10 minutes of silence.

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