How to Meditate


The hands form a so-called Dharma Realm Samadhi Mudra. The open right palm is underneath, and the open left palm rests in the right palm. The thumbs lightly touch to form a closed circle or oval. The hands are placed in front of the abdomen, and rest on the legs.


Let the shoulders be relaxed, the arms hanging loosely. There should be no sense of your shoulders, arms, or hands. If you have any sensation of these parts, there is probably tension in those areas.


The tip of the tongue should be lightly touching the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. If you have too much saliva, you can let go of this connection. If you have no saliva at all, you can apply greater pressure with the tip of the tongue.


The mouth must always be closed. At all times, breath through the nose, not through the mouth


The eyes should be slightly open and gazing downward at a forty-five degree angle. Reset the eyes in that direction, trying not to stare at anything. Closing the eyes may cause drowsiness, or visual illusions. However, if your eyes feel very tired you can close them for a short while.


Regulating the body by walking consists of slow walking and fast walking. Walking meditation is especially useful for a change of pace when engaged in prolonged sitting, such as on personal or group retreats. Periods of walking can be taken between sittings.

In slow walking, the upper body should be in the same posture as in sitting, the difference being in the position of the hands. The left palm should lightly enclose the right hand, which is a loosely form fist. The hands should be held in front of, but not touching, the abdomen. The forearms should be parallel to the ground. The attention should be on bottom of the feet as you walk very slowly, the steps being short, about the length of one’s foot. If walking in an enclosed space, walk in a clockwise direction.

Fast walking is done by walking rapidly without actually running. The main difference in posture from slow walking is that the arms are now dropped to the sides, swinging forwards and backwards, as in natural walking. Take short fast steps, keeping the attention on the feet.


Sitting and walking are the two basic methods of regulating your body. There is a supplementary aspect which is to exercise for a short period after sitting, even if you only do one sitting per day. The form of exercise is a matter of individual choice, but it should be moderate, such as Tai Chi or Yoga.


Regulation of the breath is very simple. It’s just your natural breathing. Do not try to control your breathing. The break is used as a way to focus, to concentrate the minds. In other words, we bring the two things – regulating the breathing and regulating the mind together.


The basic method of regulating the mind is to count one’s breath in a repeating cycle of ten breaths. The basic idea is that by concentration on the simple technique of counting, this leaves the mind with less opportunity for wandering thoughts. Starting with one, mentally (not vocally) count each exhalation until you reach ten, keeping the attention on the counting. After reaching ten, starting the cycle over again, starting with one. Do not count during the inhalation, but just keep the mind on the intake of air through the nose. If wandering thoughts occur while counting, just ignore them and continue counting. If wandering thoughts cause you to lose count, or go beyond ten, as soon as you become aware of it, start all over again at one.


If your wandering thoughts are minimal, and you can maintain the count without losing it, you can drop counting and just observe your breath going in and out. Keep your intention at the tip of your nose. If, without any conscious effort, your breathing naturally descends to the lower abdomen, allow your attention to follow your breathing there. Do not try to control the tempo of your breathing: just watch and follow it naturally. A less strenuous method, also conducive to the peaceful mind, is to just keep your attention on the breath going in and out of your nostrils. Again, ignore wandering thoughts. When you become aware that you have been interrupted by thoughts, just return to the method.


A third method of regulating the mind is to focus the attention on the dan tian, which is a point located below the navel. the dan tian is not an organ, but a center of psychic energy similar to the Indian chakras. This method is best employed when your breathing has naturally descend to the abdomen. The technique consists simply in mentally following the movements of the dan tian as the abdomen moves in and out as a natural consequence of breathing. This method is more energetic than the methods of breath counting or following, and should be used only after gaining some proficiency in those methods. In any case, the method should not be forced.


Although the methods of meditation given above are simple and straightforward, it is best to practice them under the guidance of a teacher. Without a teacher, a meditator will not be able to correct beginner’s mistakes, which if uncorrected, could lead to problems or lack of useful results.

In practicing meditation, it is important that body and mind be relaxed. If one is physically or mentally tense, trying to meditate can be counter-productive. Sometimes certain feelings or phenomena arise while meditating. If you are relaxed, whatever symptoms arise are usually good. It can be pain, soreness, itchiness, warmth or coolness, these can all be beneficial. But in the context of tenseness, these same symptoms may indicate obstacles.

For example, despite being relaxed when meditating, you can sense pain in some parts of the body. Frequently, this may mean that tensions you were not aware of are benefiting from the circulation of blood and energy induced by meditation. A problem originally existing may be alleviated. On the other hand, if you are very tense while meditating and feel pain, the reason may be that the tension is causing the pain. So the same symptom of pain can indicate two different causes: an original problem getting better, or a new problem being created.

A safe and recommended approach is to initially limit sitting to half an hour, or two half-hour segments, in as relaxed a manner as possible. This refers not only to your inner, but also your outer environment. For beginners, if the mind is burdened with outside concerns, it may be better to relieve some of these burdens before sitting. For this reason, it is best to sit early in the morning, before dealing with the problems of the day. Sitting times may be increased with experience. But people who meditate for extended periods may become so engrossed in their effort that they may not recognize their tensions. This frequently exists because their minds are preoccupied with getting results. So to work hard on meditation means to just put your mind on meditation itself. If you can just do that, there is no reason for tension to arise. On the contrary, deeper relaxation, and calming of the body and mind should result.

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