by John Winternitz, MA, LAc., Meditation Instructor
On our journey towards greater health and fulfillment of our lives we know that acupuncture is a huge support and we also know that we have to do our own work to shift our lifestyles in a positive way. Step by step we can begin to shift our patterns so that we can live a life that is in greater harmony with the natural world and its elemental forces. I am going to introduce meditation to you so that you can take the next step towards allowing your innate intelligence to shine.
Acupuncture and Meditation can be two sides of the same coin when done well. With acupuncture we are receiving support to bring our natural elements back into harmony so that we can experience health and healing. With meditation we are creating an environment where our elements can come back into harmony on their own.
So what is meditation? It’s the process of unlearning deeply held myths and relearning the direct experience of openness. Why can meditation be such a challenge? It can seem at first to be a difficult task because in our modern day we are inundated with a vast array of distractions and have been taught that a life of “busyness” translates to success.
However, meditation reminds us that there may be some holes in the logic of busyness, especially in our materialistic culture.
Meditation is simply allowing ourselves to be and being present for whatever comes up. It does not matter if we have great thoughts, horrible thoughts, boring thoughts or anything in between.
Thoughts are simply the expressive energy that has not manifested in the material world yet. They are a ceaseless flow and there is no stopping them. You may have a million thoughts in ten minutes but that is okay. We come back to ourselves. What this coming back does is that it allows you to slowly and realistically relax with yourself, thus becoming more present to your life.
When we simply sit, we become aware of the momentum of our thoughts and emotions. Whenever we attach to one of these thoughts or emotions, we can simply see it for what it is, a thought, and bring our attention back to just being.
Meditation allows you to see your thought patterns for what they are. This can be an extremely important tool in life. It gives you space, and a gap. What lies within this gap? The void, the recognition of the void that is always present, the one that you are always trying to fill up. It’s uncomfortable for most of us but it is the ground in which all things are possible, all new ways of being. It’s a fresh start that you can live in. It’s salvation from being at the mercy of your habitual tendencies.
Not to say it’s easy or that by sitting 5-10 minutes a day all of your problems will go away. But by doing it you will begin to glimpse the possibility of doing things differently.
Today, we invite you to try a simple meditation practice. It is called Shamatha-Vipashyana (pronounced, sha-ma-taa vip-aash-ana). Try implementing this exercise into your life 5-10 min a day, you might be surprised how much your life can change.
First, find a good place sit that is relatively quiet. Initially, it might be helpful to sit inside as there can tend to be less distraction. But if you feel inspired, find a comfortable seat outside. You can sit in a chair, on a cushion on the ground, or simply on the ground but the main point is that you are sitting upright with good posture.
Points of posture to help you get started:
- Relax and have a sense of humor.
- Your knees will be lower than your hips. Your sit bones will be the main point of contact to your seat.
- You are neither perched forward nor leaning back. Your vertebrae are stacked one on top of the other straight up and down but also with your natural curvature.
- Your skull is floating on top and is ever so slightly tucked forward.
- Your shoulder blades are rotated back and down so that your front is soft and your heart is open.
- Your hands are resting on your thighs.
- Your tongue is resting on the roof of your palate and your mouth is slightly open.
- Your gaze is forward and slightly downcast but your eyes are open.
- Your breath is natural.
Now that you have established your posture it is important to not be too rigid, the point is simply to be sitting up straight. Although this can be challenging and a little uncomfortable at times, having good posture is one of the aspects of the practice that allows the elements of your body to realign naturally. Micro-adjustments in your posture will be ongoing as the body is not static, and if you need to make bigger adjustments, then do it, but there is also something positive about being relatively still. If it hurts, then please do find a more comfortable position.
The focus of this meditation will be on your natural breath, so simply pay attention to the sensation of the breath coming in and out. Breathe naturally. Simply focus on that. When a thought, feeling or emotion comes up the main practice is simply to label it “thinking” and come back to the breath. As we talked about earlier it does not matter if it is a good thought, a bad thought, an important thought, or whatever, they all are equally just a thought. You simply come back over and over again to your breath. Be Awake, Present, and Relaxed.
Relax and enjoy just being. This is a gift that you can give yourself, and it is truly one of the rarest and most precious gifts. Remember that if you find it challenging, that is natural and with time it does get easier (I promise!). After you have finished a session of meditation feel free to drop the technique and simply sit in the natural presence of the world around you.
Congratulations. It was THAT simple. And if you would like more support in meditation or in developing presence on your journey, click here and schedule a consult or treatment with me. I look forward to connecting with you!
John Winternitz, MA, LAc., Meditation Instructor