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MEDITATION EXERCISES

MEDITATION WORKOUT # 1

The Body Flame:

The body flame is an example of restrictive meditation combined with the use of mental imagery. Initially, it seems to work best when lying down. Once proficient, it can be done in any position at any time. Initially, try this technique for about 5 minutes. Add more time as your comfort level increases.

  1. Lay comfortably on your back, keeping your spine aligned from your head to your hips.
  2. Observe your breathing, making it comfortably deep and relaxed.
  3. Close your eyes and try to locate the center of your body, your center of gravity. If you are like most people, it will be about an inch or two below your belly button.
  4. Now imagine a flame hovering over that point of your body. Metaphorically speaking, this flame is a symbol of your state of relaxation. It feeds off your body’s energy. When the body has an abundance of energy nervous or negative energy, this flame will be quite tall, perhaps even like a blow torch. When you are completely relaxed your flame will be quite small. This is called a "maintenance flame," like the pilot light in a gas stove.
  5. Imagine the size of your flame. See its size relative to your body’s level of energy. Look at its color. It may be an intense brilliant yellow/white color. Now look at its shape. At the bottom it is round or oval shaped. As you look toward the top, you will see it comes to a jagged point. Your flame may even dance around a bit. As you look at this flame, feel it feed off the excess energy in your body. Let your flame burn off any excess energy you feel detracts from your ability to relax. If you happen to have any wandering thoughts that pull your attention away from the image of the flame, try to send these up through the flame and redirect your thoughts back to this image.
  6. As you continue to watch this image of the flame feel your body slowly become calm and relaxed. As your body becomes tranquil, notice the flame decrease in height. Soon you will notice your flame decreasing in size and becoming about only a quarter to one half inch tall. Continue to notice the color, shape, and size. Feel your body relax as your attention is affixed to this image. Continue to keep your mind’s eye focused on your body flame.
  7. When you feel completely relaxed and your flame is small and still, allow this image to fade from your mind, but retain this feeling of relaxation. Repeat this each day or as often as you like.

MEDITATION WORKOUT # 2

Grand Perspective Mental Video:

The grand perspective mental video is an example of inclusive meditation. In this exercise you invite any and all thoughts to enter your conscious mind freely. With this exercise try not to attach any emotional feelings with the images that appear on your mind’s screen. See the images, but detach yourself emotionally from each image. Should you find that you begin to sense some emotional attachment, simply allow that thought to fade and invite a new thought in. This exercise is often compared to free association and you may find your mind wandering a trail of thoughts that all seem connected, which is fine. Try this exercise for a 3 to 5 minute period and then each time you return to this exercise add a few more minutes. If one issue keeps appearing on the mind’s screen and you find yourself unable to be objective about it, this may be a message to deal with this issue as soon as possible. You may elect to do this exercise with some soft instrumental background music.

  1. Sit or lay comfortably, keeping your back completely straight. Take a deep breath and relax.
  2. Close your eyes and relax. Imagine that your mind’s eye sees all the mind’s thoughts and project these onto the mind’s screen. Typically, the movies that play on your mind’s silver screen are produced and directed by you, but now your primary role is that of an observer or audience member.
  3. Separate yourself from directing your thoughts. Just let them roll, unedited and uncensored. Take a back seat to the mind’s theater to get a grand perspective of these images. To do this effectively look at whatever thoughts come on to your mind’s screen objectively, without emotional attachment, ownership, or analysis. This may seem rather hard to do at first, but with time it will become easy. Just sit back in the audience and enjoy the show.

MEDITATION WORKOUT # 3

Mindfulness:

Meditation does not have to be done in the confinement of your room. The underlying premise of meditation is to enjoy the present moment. To paraphrase Buddhist Thich Nat Hanh, meditation can be done anywhere. Mindfulness meditation means to be conscious of the present moment in all that you do and to fill your body’s senses with what you are experiencing at the present moment. For example, mindfulness can be done walking, feeling your body’s weight shift as you place your next foot in front of you, feeling each movement of your body, or washing dishes, becoming aware of the feeling of the water and soap on your hands. This exercise asks that you try to increase your awareness and concentration by eating an apple. Depending on the size of your audience, you can bring one apple per student to class. When it comes time for this exercise, hand each person an apple and explain this technique to them. Then give them 5 to 10 minutes with the apple just to meditate on it with all their senses.

  1. Pick an apple and hold it in your hand.
  2. Sit comfortably with your back straight. You may choose to sit against a wall for support.
  3. Hold the apple and feel its weight in your hand. Feel the apple. Feel the texture of the apple’s skin. Feel the curves. Feel the stem if there is one. Notice all the nuances of the apple with your fingers.
  4. Look at the apple. What color is it? Look at it carefully. Study it. Know this apple so well, that if it was put back in a barrel of apples, you could find it.
  5. Now smell the apple. Close your eyes and focus your sense of smell on the apple. What does it smell like?
  6. Bite into the apple. Savor its taste, flavor, and texture. Feel your tongue and jaws move as you chew. Feel your breathing pause as you swallow. Make each bite of the apple seem like the first.
  7. Notice any other observations about this experience.
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