My First, in person, Meditation Class

This is the script from my very first meditation. So nervous I am working on the video at the time of this writing. I had wrote a script because of the nerves. Keep your eyes open for the video and shortly after after… Eventually I’ll put this outline out to everyone, til then enjoy your exclusive access!

Welcome my name is Jim Martin and this is my very first meditation class. A little about me: I am a 34-year-old father of 3, soon to be 4. I have been married for nearly 15 years.  I founded theunusualbuddha.com. It is a site built for one purpose; to make spirituality, meditation, and, Buddhist philosophy more available and accessible to regular people.

Who do I mean when I say “regular people”? I mean people who are good, hard working, and, not necessarily mainstream.  Those of us who exist at the fringes of spirituality. We aren’t affiliated with a particular church or practice nonetheless we are seekers of truth. Also you have to be a fan of modern day communicating techniques… like memes and stuff.

If you’re anything like me you grew up in a setting of either complete secularity or immersed in the bs piety of lip service belief. I say let’s follow these ideals and topics because of our own interest. I want to light a fire within you my friends; a fiery thirst for knowledge and a means to know yourself. Not just a passing knowledge of self but an intimate and well-travelled path to self-awareness. That being said let’s dive in…

Here’s what we’ll be discussing today:

What is meditation, how do we go about it, what is it for, and finally, we’re gonna do this!  We’ll meditation for 20-30 minutes and we’ll finish up with a little Q&A if anyone is game.

That was my initial reason for contacting Rebecca at Pranapiloga. She took a gamble on me… Hopefully it pays off.

So, what is meditation?

The best description I have heard I believe was from Thich Nhat Hahn he said “Meditation is an intimate encounter with the present moment. Let’s think about that. How often do we spend our days thinking about tomorrow and our plans, thinking about the past and our mistakes, or, generally just escaping our daily existence? Meditation is a tool serves to break that cycle.

Historically speaking, the earliest evidence of meditation, that I have found, dates back to around 10,000b.c. with carvings and paintings from the Indus River Valley peoples. This is well before the time of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gotauma, which is debatable but generally accepted as being in the 560s to 480s B.C. In that time it was common for folks to leave their families for spiritual more pursuits

Simply stated meditation is a means of taking ownership of the activity of our minds.  It is expending effort to direct the mind focusing it on an object of our choosing. In some belief systems it’s said that this can take someone to a point of total release from all the pains that are part and parcel with life itself.

Realistically, mediation is a tool and like any other tool it is, in itself, ambivalent.  Most basically it can be used for good or bad. We’re going to learn

Regardless of what we see or read out there in the meditation and ‘McMindfulness’ blogosphere, meditation does not exist to cure or treat anything.

What is it for?

I could sit here and tell you meditation will help you balance your check book, make you a more gracious lover, open your chakras, allow you to levitate. There a lot of claims surrounding meditation and what it can do for you and the world at large but just let me be quoted as saying “It’s not for that!”.

Regardless of what we see or read out there in the meditation and ‘McMindfulness’ blogosphere, meditation does not exist to cure or treat anything. However, like most habits it does come with side effects which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Better stress metabolism
  • Better sleep
  • Slowing or quieting mental chatter
  • Greater level of empathy

It is for the express purpose of better experiencing the present moment more directly and without embellishment.

How do we go about it?

Posture – Sitting on the floor or in a chair, back straight, alert but not tense.

Sitting on the floor as we usually associate with meditation. We can sit:

full lotus

half lotus

quarter lotus

*demonstrate as best as possible*

If you choose to sit on the floor in the stereotypical criss-cross applesauce fashion I’d recommend elevating your bottom and a bit of stretching

*demonstrate*

If you have chronic knee or back pain or just aren’t in a place where popping a lotus, as I call it, is terribly practical you can meditate in a straight back chair.  That usually helps avoid back tightness and drowsiness

It’s important to match your level of comfort.  There’s no sense in trying to get into or hold a position while in pain. We’ve got internal work to do let’s not waste our effort here.

Walking I usually aim at a mindfulness practice which we will discuss the difference of in a moment.

Standing is self-explanatory.

My position preference is the quarter lotus.  Once you’ve arrived at your position of comfort, like I said take a second to stretch

*demonstrate*


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Common Questions

-Eyes

At this point you have reached yet another choice… eyes half-open or closed.

This is largely personal preference I choose between the two situationally. If I’m tired, I tend to use eyes open to prevent sleepiness, and if I’m looking to really dive in, I’ll close my eyes. Try either way and go with what works in your situation. Go for practicality over an ideal. Don’t make it an experience you’ll hate.

-Hands

Hand positioning is another matter of choice we can really get into the weeds as there are many.  You can place your hands on you thighs palms down or you can place your hands in a more receptive position: palms up one hand in the other with your thumbs lightly touching. Go with what feels natural.

-Mind

We come to finally the mind. What do we do once we get here? That largely depends on the practitioner and their goal. Largely speaking there are only a few kinds of meditation and many more that are variants based on the main kinds. The ones I am versed in and use regularly are Serenity, Insight or Mindfulness, Loving-Kindness, and, ChantingWe’ll stick to Serenity for now.

Serenity Meditation

In Sanskrit anapannasati is the most easily applied technique and is generally taught to new practitioners first. It is also considered to be the oldest form of meditation. In this practice we sit in our position of comfort and breathe. We focus our mind on where in our body we feel the sensation of the breath. Some will say “At the tip of the nose”, or, “on the upper lip” those places are perfect, as is where ever you personally feel that sensation. Alternatively, some find it difficult to focus on that place for those folks I like to recommend another popular object and that’s the area just below the rib cage, the diaphragm as it is popularly known.  As you breathe in allow your belly to fill with your breath and exhale collapsing your stomach.

You may find that breathing in an exaggerated way can help in the beginning but I would recommend breathing as naturally as possible. No need to cause a hyper ventilation situation.

We are here to practice 2 phases of meditation; Initial Application and Sustained Application. Imagine initial application as lifting the mind from it’s normal activities and applying it to the object of meditation, in this case the breath. Sustained application is staying with that object. So if meditation were compared to a bell, initial application would be like striking a bell and sustained application would be like the reverb effect of the bell.  And you thought you were just here to breath

So now that you have a nice amount of base work let’s jump into the practice itself

In Conclusion…

Anyone who has followed The Unusual Buddha on social media knows I am terribly introverted much of the time. I have spent way more time in front of a video camera making videos about meditation. Time to make the changes I want to see in the this community

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