Embrace Your Senses – Preparation for Meditation
This is part two of a series on beginning a meditation practice that will appear in this blog on Mondays.
Preparation for meditation will take some time. Learn to enjoy practicing hip opening and back strengthening postures – they will become your best friend. Until your physical body is ready, use pillows, blankets or yoga props to make your seat feel supported and restful. If sitting on the floor is still not an option then find a comfortable chair or lie with your legs up the wall.
Close your eyes and connect to your breath. Observe the rise and fall of your belly or the expansion and softening of your ribs as you breathe. Just observe and be aware of every breath. If your mind wanders, observe the thoughts as they arise and then watch them pass. Be aware of the breath. Perhaps today you will commit to a number of breaths as your warm-up – 27 inhales and exhales.
Then become aware of your senses. Scan your nose, tongue, eyes, skin and ears. Is one sense organ more stimulated than another? If so, focus on that one and hone in on what you are sensing. If there is something you smell, really investigate it and try to stay with it. If there is a lingering taste on your tongue, do the same, explore the nuances of the flavor. If your mind wanders, return to a different sense organ. Perhaps it’s the ears this time. Scan the many sounds all around you both in the distance and close by.
In order to sit in meditation, it is necessary to withdraw awareness from the senses. This practice is called pratyahara. However, for most people, this can be a challenging practice as we are quite attached to our senses. We react dramatically to pleasant or offensive odors. We have a hard time not wiping perspiration or scratching an itch. We can’t concentrate on finishing a document because of an irritating noise. The practice therefore, is to do the opposite! With your eyes closed, take some time to investigate your senses. In order to disengage from a sense, you must fully investigate it. Pick the one that causes the most surprising reaction – the one that irritates you.
Let’s review. Steps to prepare for meditation:
Find a comfortable, supported seat.
Spend some time observing your breath – every inhale and every exhale.
Scan your sense organs and pick one that is stimulated.
Spend time investing one or more senses
Return to observing your breath.
Slowly open your eyes and feel the effects of the practice.
Record in your journal:
How long did you sit today?
How/what position did you sit in? did it change during the practice part way through?
What breath pattern did you observe? Did you practice a certain number of breaths? Was that comfortable or not?
What happened when you scanned your senses? Which sense organ was dominant?
Did you scan more than one sense organ?
Were you able to return to observing your breath for a while before you opened your eyes?
Overall, how do you feel?
Do your best to practice sensory awareness throughout the day. Close your eyes for a few moments and get to know your sense organs. Over time, odors will dissipate more easily, sounds will be easier to ignore and physical sensations will become less noticeable. Overall, you will feel calmer and far less reactive.
Next week we’ll look more closely at the restless mind and go over a few breathing techniques.
Integrative Healing with Sadhana offers instruction and guidance as a full healing package or you can choose individual practices such as Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Space Clearing or Intuitive Readings in Gibsons BC. Either way, you will be met exactly where you are at and together, we will adapt practices to fit your individual needs improving your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.