The Meditator’s guide

Index:

Mindfulness Meditation
OSHO: The Spiritually Incorrect Mystic
The Microcosmic Orbit
Releasing the Past
Heart Meditation
Zen Dishes
Music and Meditation
The Chakra System
What is Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation

Sometimes we need to reconnect to our body. If we are not careful, we can live in our heads, unaware from the neck down. It is important for us to balance both body and mind, to become aware of tensions and blocks, leading to improved emotional and physiological health. Certainly in Tantra this unification of body, mind and spirit is central to its experience. This month’s meditation is a simple mindfulness meditation designed to be used when you feel you wish to connect to your body and its sensations, to begin the process of connecting to your body.

It is useful before starting this meditation to lie down comfortably and scan your body from toes to head looking for signs of tension or general physical sensations, this will provide some idea of the location within your body where the meditation will be most effective at that moment.

Sit on a cushion or chair with your back straight and notice the flow of your breath in and out of your body. Cultivate a sense of release and letting go on the exhale, do not attach to thoughts but allow them to happen and be released on the exhale. Allow the mind to gently quieten.

Imagine that your breath is moving to another part of your body a part where you have noticed tension and sensations. Focus all your awareness and breath at that spot. Fully experience and become one with the sensations/tension. But do not judge it as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Simply observe.

What is the sensation: is it a single experience or a series of different sensations? How would you categorise it: Tingling? Burning? Tickling? Tightness? Is the sensation constant or does it change over time? Again, experience it but do not judge or attach, simply observe and accept. It is important that you keep your awareness and breath centred on that part of your body. If thoughts arise, simply bring your awareness and breath back to the spot and allow them to be released. But allow yourself to fully experience all that is happening.

You can end the meditation when you have fully explored this area or move onto another section of your body and repeat the process. Go at your own pace and take your time. Over time this practice will deepen and intensify. Allow this practice to seep into your life and bring this awareness of the physicality of your body into every moment, become aware of every feeling, every sensation that is occurring within your body. 

Mark Sutton   October 2013

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OSHO,  The Spiritually Incorrect Mystic

If I asked you to not think of an elephant, what would come to mind?

Traditionally the Vipassana meditation technique used by Guatama Buddha nearly two and a half thousand years ago employed passive sitting and self-observation. Times change and what was once easier to practice has become more difficult due to increased mental and physical stress, worry and a variety of factors, associated with modern living.

How then do we experience a truly meditative state when closing our eyes and attempting to still our thoughts, feelings and body is nigh on impossible. In fact the reverse can happen as we struggle to relax: We are unable to release suppressed emotions and tensions that accumulate in our body.

An alternative is active meditation: It is the process of witnessing while being engaged in activity. The structured activity and movement releases stress, rebalances the mind and body and releases suppressed thoughts and emotions. When you are able to express freely, yet in an aware and organised way physical and mental relaxation naturally occurs, this then is followed naturally by self-observation and witnessing. Osho realised this and developed a series of active meditations: Two of these OSHO Chakra Breathing Meditation and OSHO Kundalini Meditation are regular favourites at our meditation groups at TantraAwakenings.

Osho Chakra Breathing Meditation: The Chakra Breathing meditation can help you to become aware of and experience each of the seven chakras. This meditation is active and uses deep rapid breathing and body movement, accompanied by musical sounds to open and bring awareness and vitality to the chakras.

Osho Kundalini Meditation:  Known as the “sister meditation” to Dynamic, with four stages of fifteen minutes each this method is a gentle yet effective way to release all the accumulated stress of your day. Kundalini Meditation lasts for one hour and has four stages, three with music, and the last without. You begin with shaking, then dancing, and end with stillness and silence, first standing or sitting, then lying.

Both these meditations are available on CD, and are useful in any individual practice. However, the experience of these in a group setting and with initial guidance is highly recommended. We recommend that you wear loose clothing and have a yoga mat for comfort. Further, a water bottle is very useful to have as the activity can generate a thirst. Also, go at your own pace and simply allow yourself to experience whatever is happening and give yourself the permission to do so: Any feeling or emotion, any sensation simply accept and allow it to occur. You are releasing that which has been holding you back, what has been suppressed and once released opening yourself to the natural flow. What happens is a uniquely individual experience and reflects where you are in that moment. Both intense and playful these are transformative and energising. Simply enjoy and experience!

We are delighted to say that we are running a 6 week drop-in class alternating between these two meditations and the details are given below. We look forward to seeing you there, but if you cannot make it, bring these into your life one breath at a time.

Classes start on Monday 9th September at 7.30pm at Yogilibrium, 4 Hynd's Square, Portlaoise.

Mark Sutton   September 2013

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The Microcosmic Orbit 

This is also known as the “Self-Winding Wheel of the Law” and is a Taoist Qigong or Taoist yoga Qi energy cultivation technique. Deep breathing combined with meditation and concentration techniques develop the flow of qi (vitality or energy) along certain pathways of energy in the human body. The Microcosmic Orbit rises from the sexual organs and travels along the spine to the head, down through the tongue and front of body to the navel and back to the sex organs. There is a natural gap between the front channel and the back channel and this is bridged by touching the tongue to the tip of the mouth (the palate). It is through this indentation that the energy moves most easily from the brain, through the tongue, down the throat and chest to the abdomen and there are natural reservoirs of energy at the Brain, Heart and Abdomen. Blockages occur within this circuit and this can lead to fatigue and illness. Moving energy around this circuit can promote healing, prevent illness and keep the organs in balance. This month’s meditation is concerned with exploring the microcosmic orbit to keep the energy flowing smoothly.

Exercise

Sit on a chair, back straight, feet firmly pressed on the floor. Keep the body relaxed throughout this exercise as this aids energy flow.

Breathe deeply and regularly, allowing the mind to settle, do not attach to any thoughts, but keep your awareness on your breathing.

Imagine a ball of glowing energy in the region of your belly button, if possible try to feel this energy. Imagine yourself guiding the energy down through to your perineum and back around through your tail bone. Try to feel the energy moving through this area.

Now imagine it rising up the spine, past the ribs and up to the base of the skull. As it reaches the skull, press your tongue against the palate and imagine the energy reaching the crown of your head. Focus your attention on the 6th energy centre between you eyebrows and imagine the energy being drawn down from the crown, through the spot in the forehead then down through the throat and into the heart finally, imagine it being drawn down through the solar plexus and into the naval area.

Repeat this cycle as many times as you wish (trust the body on this, it will let you know) and allow the practice to soften and rest for a while in whatever feelings and sensation have arisen.

Note: Don’t try to force energy, allow it to move of it’s own accord. You may not feel anything, that is perfectly fine. Energy follows thought, so on by imagining energy moving it IS moving.

Ensure that the circuit is complete and that energy is drawn downwards as well as upwards.

Enjoy!

Mark Sutton   August 2013

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Releasing the Past 

releasing_the_pastBeing present is an important part of Tantra. However, we can frequently hold onto things that have hurt is in the past and which stop us being fully present. An old relationship, poor childhood an event that hurt, embarrassed or ashamed us, if held onto makes it difficult to be open to new opportunities, new relationships and new happiness. This month’s meditation is about letting go of the past. Prepare for this meditation by writing down what happened to in the past that still hurts.

Find a place to be quiet and stretch out on a mat, if cold cover yourself in a blanket. Breathe deeply noting the flow of breath in and out of your belly for a few minutes and give yourself permission to relax.

Bring to mind the emotions from the past that are holding you back or still causing you pain. That event and its emotions: imagine it now as an old, scuffed hold-all or bag that you are dragging around with you all the time. It was useful at the time helping you to process what happened, acknowledge that, but now the feelings no longer serve. So imagine letting go of the hold-all or bag and see how much lighter you feel.

Go through the list in your memory, choosing each emotion and idea that is holding you back. Imagine them as old worn out luggage. Acknowledge that they were useful but now simply let them go as it is time for you to let them go.

Finally, imagine yourself as lighter, freer, more expansive. Breathe deeply and continue to relax for a few minutes. Feel the openness, feel the possibilities for the future.

Mark Sutton   July 2013

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Heart Meditation 

The Heart Chakra, the fourth energy centre, located in the centre of the chest and linked with the Thymus Gland, the heart, lungs and circulatory system. When this centre is blocked we exhibitnegative patterns of resentment, hatred, guilt, fear, being unforgiving, feelings of being undeserving and suspicion. When activated and open we feel joy, bliss, love, compassion, serenity and peace. We give and receive love unconditionally, transcend small minded judgments, criticisms, let go of vengeance, grievances, self sabotage. We experience self love and feel worthy of love and acceptance, hold a deeply felt compassion for others and our relationships take on true lightness.

This month’s meditation is centred on the heart chakra and aims to open the heart, release negative emotions and encourage self-love and compassion.

For this meditation you will need to sit on a chair or meditation cushion. It is important that you sit with your spine straight, tall with your heart open. (If you do not know the location of the heart chakra, please look in library books or search for images on the internet).

Bring your hands together in prayer and place the knuckles of your thumbs to the centre of the sternum. Try to locate the notch at the level of the heart. Bring your awareness to the thumbs, close your eyes and feel the beating of your heart there. Focus your awareness for approximately 5 minutes.

Place the palm of your right hand on the heart space and place the left hand over the right. Imagine and feel the energy at this point in the centre of your chest, imagine it as the green light of growth, of new plant life, feel the heat of this energy in your heart. Imagine and feel it radiating from your heart and through your body and back again. There is no set time for this, just trust your body and instincts to know when to move onto the next stage.

Turn the palms out and away from your body, visualise the light and heat and energy moving out from your palms and out into the world, the cosmos, infinite, boundless. Finally imagine that you are gathering all the love and compassion available, anywhere and bring it back into your body and into the heart centre.

Repeat this any time you feel the negative effects associated with this centre, open to yourself and capacity for love and compassion.

Mark Sutton   June 2013

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Zen Dishes

In this month’s meditation guide we are going to explore the first of our meditations. Meditation can take many forms and be incredibly simple to do, some of them utilise the most mundane of tasks. For this meditation you do not need a special area for this, or the ability to sit or still. I have chosen the most mundane activity for this exercise: Washing up. How many times have washed up and your mind has been elsewhere? Perhaps you have even dropped a glass or chipped a plate, even cut yourself on a knife hidden in the water, where is your focus? Your awareness?, Your thoughts?. This meditation can help to bring mindfulness and focus to doing the washing up, it can turn even mundane tasks like these into a spiritual practice:

Prepare the kitchen sink with warm soapy water, clean excess food off the plates and stack them next to the wash basin. You should be alone for this practice, no music or radio.

Take the first plate and slowly, with all your attention, clean it. If you notice thoughts intervening, simply bring your attention back to the plate. When it is cleaned, place it carefully on the drainer.

As you are doing the washing, notice the water: Its Warmth, the soap suds, the way it flows over your fingers. Notice too the feel of the dishes, cutlery, pots and glasses, how do they look as you clean each one individually?, notice the patterns, the gleaming metal, porcelain and glass: Treat them as if it is the first time you have done them. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the task at hand.

Yes, it will take much longer to clean the dishes, it is an exaggerated procedure. But by bringing this level of awareness and concentration to what you do, your mind is present and engaged and it can have positive benefits in terms of relaxation and a sense of peace.

If you have a dishwasher, rinse each item mindfully and load into the dishwasher with all your awareness, focussing your attention on everything you do. Even closing and starting the dishwasher.

If you wish bring your breathing into the meditation, make your inhale deep and full and your exhale complete, simply let go and relax on the exhale. Still focussing your attention on the individual item, follow this regular slow pattern of breathing.

Think now of other mundane tasks, any can be changed into a meditation: Ironing, Clothes Washing, Pegging out, Making the beds, Dusting for example, all can be used. At the start, you may find your attention wandering or you may become bored and have difficulty bringing all your attention to what you are doing: you simply are not used to being so focussed on menial tasks, but by practicing mindfulness in any mundane task regularly notice how different you feel and how your concentration and presence improves over time.

Mark Sutton May 2013



Music and Meditation

“One thing” the client feedback form said at the end of our level 1 Workshop “The Music was amazing, it really helped”. Music can enhance a meditation or can disrupt one. As a general rule, I tend to choose music that has no vocals, I find the mind focuses on the song and distracts from the meditation. But what style of music to choose? That depends on the type of meditation and the atmosphere you wish to create. It’s known, for example that rhythmic music affects alpha brainwaves with considerable therapeutic effects and one Stanford Symposium in 2006 highlighted the potential benefits in ADHD and other conditions *. Further, ritual drumming and rhythmic prayer are found in cultures throughout the world and are used in religious ceremonies to induce trance states.

Ask yourself what are you trying to achieve in your meditation?

If it is to relax and de-stress, then African drumming may be too discordant, too rapid to entrain the mind waves. If it is to be active, to shake loose, or focus awareness on cultivating and moving energy then many of the gentle mindfulness cd’s or MP3’s are not generating the correct atmosphere and mind-state.

Have a look through your music collection:

 When you are deciding on a particular meditation you wish to practice look at what you have already. It takes a little time but play the beginning of each track you may find interesting and see if it matches what you want. If it does then either Play it all the way through or listen at regular intervals to see if the theme is continued or something discordant creeps in. If it’s what you want then note it for keeping, if it’s not right ask can it be used for another meditation? If the answer is no then move on to another. In that way you build up slowly a list of music tracks you can use.

How long do you wish to meditate for?

Bear in mind how long you want the meditation to last: If you are lucky you may have a piece that lasts sufficient time, but generally you may have to combine two or more tracks: That may require you to look at creating a playlist and you may need someone with tech savvy if you cannot do it yourself.  Also, choose pieces that compliment each other: the separate pieces do not have large changes in pace, tone and volume. Choosing complimentary tracks allows a smooth transition. One additional benefit of having your playlist timed, especially when you are beginning, is that when the music finishes you know that your meditation is finished: No temptation to peek at the clock then.

Is there a specific piece you are looking for?

If you have heard a track or piece of music you feel will be perfect, can you get the individual track rather than the whole album? There are many sites where you can legitimately purchase individual MP3 downloads, many also have a preview of the track that enables you to listen to part of the track to ensure it’s what you want. Again you may need help with this, but it is easily done.

Be Creative

Don’t limit yourself to one genre, look at other areas, classical music can be very useful. So, in fact, can film-music. As an example of this we have the original Quantum Light Breath meditation by Jeru Kabbal. This is quite simply an amazing guided meditation for accelerated personal transformation, where the focus is the breath: The intensely evocative music is from differing Genres: New Original instrumental work, Classical and one notable film score (The Mission, Ennio Moriconne). So be creative in your use of music and draw from what sets the mood.

Voiceovers

Perhaps now a little word on voiceovers for your meditation: In essence guiding yourself through a complex meditation in stages by voicing over your music. Where a meditation has several stages or visualisations it can be helpful to voice over your music with the steps. This can be tricky, it has to be timed so that the spoken steps comes in at the right place, that it is clearly spoken (write down what to say, when to say it and what tone it needs to be said in). It pays to practice, to talk through several times before committing to recording. Though one piece of advice is to get someone else to do the voice recording, it can be terribly distracting to hear your own voice.

So now you have some hints on incorporating music into your own meditation, there is nothing quite like tailoring your music to suit your practice. Enjoy and have fun!

* http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2006/pr-brainwave-053106.html


Mark Sutton April 2013


The Chakra System

Body systems/organs & issues with positive affirmations for each

 

Root or Base Chakra - Muladhara (Vam)

Endocrine glands: Adrenals (Childhood issues)

Body systems/organs: Intestines, spinal column, kidneys

Issues: Physical sensation, the body, vitality, earth connection, survival, security


Blocked:       Life is a struggle/difficult. Family obligations come before the individual = Fear, insecurity, anxiety, restlessness, frustration, alienation, separation

Activated:     Life is worthwhile, enjoyable, and good. Individual creativity is important = Safety, security, stability, constancy, commitment.

Open:             Feels safe, trusts process of life, open to change = Trusts self, natures self, can manifest creative desires.


Affirmation: ‘’I am safe and secure at all times. The energy from the earth heals and nourishes me. I love my body and give it what it needs.’’


Sacral Chakra - Svadishthana (Lam)  Creative/sexual

Endocrine glands: Ovaries, Testes

Body systems/organs: Reproductive system, lymphatic system, body fluids.

Issues: Emotions, sexuality, pleasure, physical creativity.


Blocked:       I am not sufficient, I am not enough. I am inadequate. I am a failure. Love and pleasure are blocked out = Gives self away to prove worth, or through fear of rejection. Manipulation to get wants. Does not trust the sweetness of life.

Activated:     Feels good about self, harmony, peace, vitality. Honours and cares for self = Does not over extend. Feels self worth. Self respect. Rest. Relaxation. Good diet

Open:            Looks after needs. What is best for us. Allows pleasure. Expresses feelings.

           

Affirmation: ‘’I enjoy the miracle of life in each moment. I release everything that blocks my experience of pleasure. I enjoy my sexuality fully. I am enough. Who I am and what I do is enough.’’

 

Solar Plexus Chakra - Manipura (Ram)  Personal power/decision making

Endocrine glands: Pancreas

Body systems/organs: Stomach, liver, gall bladder, spleen, some aspects of the nervous system

Issues: Thoughts and opinions, 'digesting' of experience, confidence, self-worth, personal power.


Blocked:       Needs status, power, achievement, validation, to prove worth, adequacy and confidence = Sense of unworthiness, fear, giving away power, feat of failure, victimhood.

Activated:     I am whole as I am (without success, status, achievement)Others can't make decisions for me. I can take my own life in my hands,                            can break away from dependencies. Will seek people who help us to know  our inner worth. Can go against acceptable. . .

Open:             We choose who and what we want in life. . .We choose experience which  enhance our well being and self esteem. We do not depend on external  factors for self worth. We can say 'yes' or 'no' boundaries. We are confident about ourselves, have self worth, respect. We know what is good for us and go for it.   

 

Affirmation: ‘’I release judgment and let my life flow. I live my strength and power naturally. I love and respect myself at all times.’’

 

Heart Chakra - Anahata (Yam)

Endocrine glands: Thymus

Body systems/organs: Heart, lungs, circulatory system.

Issues: Unconditional love, compassion, sharing, willingness to change.


Blocked:         We put conditions on love . . .if. . We have negative patterns = Resentment, hatred, guilt, fear, unforgiving, undeserving, suspicious.

Activated:       Energy holds joy, bliss, love, compassion, serenity, peace.  We give and receive love unconditionally. We transcend small minded judgments, criticisms.  We let go of vengeance, grievances, self sabotage. We are open to love. Surrender to the healing power of love. Experience self love.

Open:             Strong feelings of acceptance and lightness. No need to perform or be someone. There is joy in the moment. Feels worthy of love and acceptance. People blossom and true giftedness emerge. Deeply felt compassion for others.  Relationships - life- work take on true lightness.

 

Affirmation: ‘’I say 'yes' to all my feelings. I open myself to the healing power of love. Love is the purpose of my life. I follow the path of the heart’’

 

Throat Chakra - Visuddha (Ham)

Endocrine glands: Thyroid

Body systems/organs: Bronchial and vocal apparatus, alimentary canal, joints.

Issues: Communication, creative self-expression, speaking your own truth, speaking things into being.


Blocked:       Suppressed emotions (anger, sadness). Vital energy is posited. Created energy is destroyed = Gossip, criticizing, boasting, lies, nothing worth saying.

Activated:      Enhances development of will powerWe express our personal truths. Express creativity - song, poetry, painting. Accepts validity of feelings and take responsibility for them.

Open:             We reach for and touch realms of the spirit. Energy passes freely through our bodies and enlivens sensations and  feelings. Creative expression allowed freely.  We express who we are and reach out to others. We express needs and speak up for self

 

Affirmation: ‘’I am free to express my feelings, thoughts and inner knowing as appropriate. I release the fear and doubts which block the way to my creative expression.’’

 

Third Eye Chakra - Anja (Om)

Endocrine glands: Pineal

Body systems/organs: Lower brain, nervous system, sinus, ears, nose, left eye.

Issues: Balancing the higher and lower selves, trusting inner guidance, intuition, visual consciousness, clarity on an intuitive level


Blocked:       Reflect, ideas, theories, ideologies. Fear and doubt overactive. Attitude can block the goodness we long for = Coldness, intellectualism, unfeeling, mean, tight, ungracious.

Activated:     We trust insight and intuition. We are open to universal, creative energy and go towards fulfillment and  purpose. We feel oneness with the divine               

Open:             Enlightenment - glimpses to higher realms. Opens to healing. Deepest knowing. Unconditional love. Increases selflessness and understanding.  Positive thoughts about self and others. Sees the divine everywhere. Faith in innate goodness of life. Life has meaning - can say 'yes' to life.

 

Affirmation: ‘’I open myself to my intuition and my deepest knowing. I trust whatever comes to me is for my greatest joy and highest good. I accept that I am an unlimited being and I can create anything I want.’’

 

Crown Chakra - Sahasrara

Endocrine glands: Pituitary

Body systems/organs: Upper brain, right eye

Issues: Cosmic consciousness, pure knowing, connection with the divine.


Open:             We receive Universal energy which guides us on our path and allows our  true destiny to unfold. We surrender our small limited egos to a protective  and guiding force which moves us through life. Move to a lighter, freer place, more energized within ourselves. Vibrant, radiant, happy. We radiate love which nourishes our self esteem, inner peace, well being. We're receptive. We accept and surrender.  We embrace life passionately.

 

Affirmation: ‘’I am open to the goodness and the abundance of the universe. I am one with all there is. I allow the creative source to express itself through me.’’


Mark Sutton March 2013


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What is Meditation?

What do you think meditation is? An exotic practice linked to eastern religions? Sitting postures that require you to be tied in knots? Or a practice that only holy men can do?

The answer to all of the above is no.... thankfully. Any form of focussed awareness, of consciously choosing to focus your mind on something is meditation. It could be the TV, a book, food, lovemaking, or breathing. Or it could be a specific practice or focus where you set aside time. Meditation is anything in fact that brings you into a state of present awareness and focussing the mind in positive ways. It can be passive or active, in active meditation we focus on breathing and/or movement, the results of which can be quite staggering. Our western mind has no choice but to stop thinking, and as a result we start feeling, de-stressing and opening. It can be helpful to have a group or facilitator to guide you through the practices, to nurture, support and provide companionship.

But why Meditate? What are the benefits?

There is a reason why many cultures have used meditation throughout the centuries: It is known to improve health: de-stressing, lowering blood pressure, slow heart rate and reduce anxiety for example. Wilhelm Reichs and Alexander Lowen believed that many diseases and ailments were caused by blockages of energy in the body and consciously allowing energy to flow freely could significantly improve health.

Not only do you become more aware of your body and mind when you meditate, but you realise that multi-tasking is just another form of Attention Deficit Disorder with competing external stimulii and demands of the modern life leading to confusion, stress and a general shutting down. Meditation brings you into the now and allows you to focus and sharpen your mind and to live your life in the present.

Emotional intelligence has been identified as a reason for success in life. Emotional intelligence is essentially the ability to be aware of and manage your emotions. Think back to times when you were ruled by emotions such as anger and Jealousy? What happened? How did you feel (feelings are different from emotions, but that is another article for another day)? Meditation is a means of becoming conscious of your emotions and thereby developing emotional intelligence.

Meditation is also a wonderful support if people are getting help for psychological problems, it is a companion on the healing journey. Meditation can also help if you wish to simply concentrate on the mysteries of life, depending on your beliefs it allows for connection to the divine or simply be open to the idea that there is more to life than meets the eye.

If you would like to read more about Meditation, there are many on the market, but here are two books for you:

-       The Meditation Bible: A definitive Guide to Meditations for Every Purpose by Madonna Gauding

-       -Meditation: The First and Last Freedom by OSHO.


Mark Sutton Feb 2013



 


Copyright Mark Sutton and Karen O'Moore, 2012

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