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    Sunday
    Oct252015

    Review and Invitation to Thursday Night's Meditation Group

    Hi Everyone,

    Last week, in our weekly group, we began to explore the topic of mindfulness, specifically the "mindfulness" approach to formal meditation.

    Up to this point, our series had focused more on approaches to meditation that emphasize the use of mantra.

    To review, we're talking about the the formal sitting practice of meditation. Meditation in a general sense means deliberating or pondering a topic. We do this all day long. But when we sit in the formal practice of meditation, we dispense with everyday thinking and feeling for a while and practice deliberately focusing the mind in a very specific way, with the aim of refreshing, regulating and restoring the body/mind.

    Meditation practice is analogous to vinyasa practice, in that both our minds and bodies are in motion all of the time, moving in a variety of different ways. When we practice vinyasa yoga we move our bodies deliberately, in a highly orchestrated and intentional way. With meditation we sit and move our minds in an orchestrated and deliberate way as well.

    Meditation is the intentional movement of mind, more specifically, it is the movement of attention according to a deliberate method, with the intention of producing a more relaxed, open, adaptive and resilient state of mind and body, and ultimately, insight into the true nature of things.

    Meditation is procedural. One follows a prescribed movement of awareness. It is always a loop or circle. We begin with a focal point, experience distraction away from the focal point, then return to the focal point. There are two movements: focusing (toward a focal point) and releasing (letting go of distraction to return to the focal point).

    Meditation that relies primarily on sustaining a focused awareness using concepts and feeling is called mantra meditation, while meditation that relies mainly on releasing attachments and aversions to concepts and feelings is generally called mindfulness meditation. Both are useful, in different ways, and both are worth learning and practicing.

    In both types of meditation, one is "mindful" or paying attention in a very specific way. One is taught to focus the attention on a thought or sensation, and then, when the mind wanders to some habitual pattern of thinking or judging, to release the attachment to that habit of thought and return to "center," the focal point we began with, breath or mantra usually. This "centering" practice is the basis of all meditation.

    A further step in some versions of mindfulness meditation, mainly *vipassana* practice, is to learn to observe the contents of mind from a frame of "non-judgmental, moment to moment" awareness. Being able to consistently achieve this state of mind depends on our being able to systematically release judgement and fixed ideas, and that's where technique and skill in releasing comes into play.

    We began discussing this aspect of practice last week and we will continue to explore the techniques of releasing in coming sessions.

    Meditation, like asana, succeeds or fails on the basis of technique. Proper understanding of instruction, skillful and precise implementation of instruction are as important in meditation as they are in any other area of life. That's why we spend time clarifying, correcting and assisting people's technique and why regular "tune-ups" and group meditations are such a big help.

    This coming week we'll take it all a step further. There will be discussion and group meditation practice. All are welcome.

    Feel free to join us this Thursday evening, 10/29 at 7:30pm, Firefly Yoga, 311 Washington St, Westwood MA.

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