Sitting. Breathing in. Breathing out. Slight loosening of the chest. Intention to focus on the breath: for ten minutes. Press "Play"...
[Before learning about meditation I was struggling to understand what the experience was really about. Perhaps this article may help someone with the same predicament. In a breathing meditation, one gathers attention to the breath, using it as an "anchor" to the present. Inadvertently at some time the mind wanders off. Where to? Who knows. So it's a play between living in and out of the present moment - while always watching the show. This is a live account. I have purposely kept it raw. It is important to communicate that it's both interesting and dull, joyful and challenging. It's a reflection of life. Regular practice can be quite insightful. And good training for the "attention muscle"].
...Press "Play". “Ding.” Listening to instructions on how to sit.
“Dignified posture..." A slight shuffle as I adjust my back and hips.
“Feet flat on the floor...” Awareness arises of the pressure on the bottom of the feet exerted by the contact between shoe and floor.
“Eyes closed, or unfocused on the floor in-front of you...” A decision is made to close the eyes. Field of vision is engulfed with a blackness covered in speckles of white, beige maybe other colours, continuously changing, like the static of an analogue TV with no signal.
“Bringing awareness to the lower part of the body, starting with the feet...” A very subtle tingling sensation. Maybe it’s my imagination. Maybe not. The thought passes. An image of my son in the school playground flashing for an instant. That too passes.
Back to the sensations. “…and becoming aware of the sensations where the body meets the seat...” Yes, an even pressure across the bottom and lower thighs, the cushion’s rough texture being identified through the tracksuit. No desire to make any adjustments. I’m sitting comfortably.
“...attention rising up the back… and becoming aware now that you’re breathing..." Gentle movement of the chest. Head subtly, barely noticeably bobbing back and forth, in rhythm with the breath. A mild pressure felt on the belly – it must be the diaphragm. A coolness through the nose and along the throat on the inhale. A brushing of air on the exhale, but no coolness.
A thought: "This time I’m relaxed. That’s nice because last time my attention to the breath brought a desire to control it and the rhythm felt unnatural."
Clouds of turbulence rummaging through the head. It’s the coctail of multiple thoughts waving across, mixed up together, changing so quickly that no particular one can be deciphered.
"Bring the attention back to the breath..." Gentle movement. The coolness of the inhale now felt in the chest. Is this real? Or imaginary? Do my lungs have sensory nerve endings? No need to answer. Go back to the breath; stay aware and make the transition gentle.
Nice. Pleasant. Has the cloud of thoughts dissipated? Is it diluting? No need to ponder. Go back to the breath. In. Out. A soft rhythm. Smoothness. Coolness on the tip of the nose. None on the throat. A movement on the shoulders. They have dropped a little. Some muscles below the eyes have also relaxed.
A fluffy warm softness premeating the torso and the head. I-i-in. O-u-ut. Breathing has slowed down. A noticeable pause between the inhales and exhales. The softness more prominent. Within it a flavour of joy, relaxation. Particularly noticeable between the shoulder blades.
A grey and green bookcover with two stern faces and the words “If this is a Man”. It’s the book I’m reading. The high street by my home. Cars, bicycles, traffic lights, people. The supermarket. Moving through the aisles. Fish counter. My kitchen. A plate of steamed salmon. The aroma of lemon and spring onions.
“Each in-breath, each out-breath...” The voice of the recording. Oh yes. My meditation. How long have I drifted? A sensation of pressure, different to before, shooting up my chest and head. A flavour of stress and disappointment. I must get back to the meditation. Back to the breath. Ok. But do it gently. The instruction has been instigated in the mind, now let it happen.
I-i-n. O-u-ut. Now it’s a bit forced. The abdominal muscles are slightly tense. Ok let it be. Notice it. Accept it. And I was giving credit to myself earlier for finding a peaceful rhythm. Of course my thoughts, my emotional state, in any given instant affect my breathing. There's such a strong interconnection between them and probably a multitude of other elements I’m not aware of.
Ok I’ve drifted in thoughts again. Let it go. Gently. I-i-in. O-u-u-t. Smooth. Gentle. Pleasant. A relaxation in the face muscles. A thought – "Don’t think, enjoy the moment, the meditation will end soon." A very subtle knotting on the stomach, and a surge of attention to the forehead. Some tension around the eyes. The attributes of anticipation. Only a few moments to go now. I’m in my thoughts. Doesn’t matter. Let it be. Enjoy.
“Ding” Meditation over.