Adaptation Practice

Sitting meditation

These notes are only for those already engaged in the practice.

Sitting meditation

The most conducive time of day to meditate is in the evening, shortly before going to bed. But any time is better than none.

Decide how long you will sit for and, as far as possible, keep to the same time each day, six days a week. As with physical exercise, it is necessary to meditate regularly.

Aim to sit for one hour a day or, if this is not feasible, decide on a shorter time: half an hour or even twenty minutes. Less than twenty minutes is too short to learn to meditate. If sitting for twenty minutes, increase it to thirty minutes as soon as possible. With regular practice you will soon find that you can sit for longer.

You will need an alarm. Put it to the side and out of sight. Then there is no need to check how long you have been sitting.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.

If able to sit on the floor in the lotus, or half-lotus, posture you will need a suitable mat and a small top cushion or a folded towel (not a stool or anything else), as long as it lifts your bottom enough to tilt the pelvis forward. Both knees must be firmly down on the mat. Do not tread on the mat, even in bare feet.

Meditation posture on mat

This picture shows how a small cushion under the back of the bottom tilts the pelvis.

If you cannot sit on the floor with the knees firmly on the mat then sit on a firm upright chair. You might need a small cushion or folded towel to put under the back of your bottom to tilt the pelvis forward. Sit back on the chair: not near the edge. You do not need to remove socks or shoes.

Posture

Make sure your back is straight and is supporting itself.

If on a chair make sure your back is not touching the back of the chair, and your feet should be flat on the floor, a comfortable distance apart with your lower legs vertical from the knees to the feet.

Hold your hands together by placing the left hand on your lap with the palm facing up. Put your right hand onto the left hand with its palm facing up as well. Slide the hands together and slightly turn them towards you so the right hand can grasp the left thumb and the left hand hold the right hand.

The head is facing straight to the front, neither looking up nor down, neither to the left nor to the right, neither tilted to the left nor to the right.

Keep your eyes open all the time. Let your gaze drop comfortably to the floor about two metres (yards) in front of you without focussing on anything and without looking around.

Keep still

You should now be ready to start. Once you have adjusted your posture as instructed, keep completely still. Do not fidget or shuffle or scratch. Be willing to tolerate and bear irritations, itches, discomforts and pain.

The only movement you will need to make is if you have slumped. In this case correct your posture, bringing the body upright, and try harder not to let it slump again.

If not used to sitting up in this posture you might feel uncomfortable at first. Keep trying each day until you get used to it. This posture is conducive to settling down inside into a clear, calm and attentive state.

Count the breath

Now, silently count one to ten on the outbreath. Each out-breath is one number. It will go like this: the breath comes in and then, as the breath goes out, silently count ‘Onnnnnnnnnnne …’ for the whole of the out-breath …. Then a pause … and then the next breath comes in followed by the next out-breath and ‘twooooooooooo’ … for the whole of the out-breath, and so on up to ten and then back to one. It will go faster or slower depending on how the body is breathing at the time. Continue this for the whole period.

Do not interfere with the breathing. The body knows how to breathe! Let it happen and put all your attention and effort into the counting.

Every time you catch yourself away from counting start again with ‘Onnnnnnnnnnne’ …, ‘twooooooooooo’ … and so on, with renewed effort. Do the same when you forget where you got to in the counting; always start again with, ‘Onnnnnnnnnnne’.

It is normal to spend entire periods only counting up to two or maybe three and having to start again with, ‘Onnnnnnnnnnne’, over and over again.

If emotions come up while sitting, stay with the counting and let the emotion be in you, in your body, as the counting continues.

Your role is to keep the body still and to put yourself, with all your effort, into counting on the out-breath.