Virtually all religions practice meditation in some form or another, from Christianity to Islam. Even UFO experiencers claim to be advised by visitors on the importance of meditation. What mainstream media and fundamentalist churches religions often fail to mention is that in each case, the goal of meditation is the same. Essentially every type of meditation involves paying attention to a sensation within the physical world, accepting distractions and thoughts as they arise, and letting them pass.
Let’s take a look at another form of meditation. I described the Zen Buddhist style of meditation here, but there are many different ways of meditating. It’s worth investigating as many forms of meditating as you like. But once you decide that you’re going to sit and practice one form of meditation, stick with it until that session is over. Otherwise, you’ll get very little benefit from either technique. Remember also that these are just techniques, and no method is “better” than any other. Whatever your comfortable with, that’s fine.
One is similar to the zazen method, only with our focus shifted from the breath to our entire body. Start out in the usual meditation position (you can also sit in a chair if these are two uncomfortable for you) and begin by focusing on your left foot. In fact, do this now as you read these words. Focus just on your left foot for at least thirty seconds. Each of the toes, the heel, ball and top of the foot.
Now focus on your left lower leg, go up the thigh focusing in as much detail as possible. Your mind is sure to wander, but that’s okay. Just accept the thought that comes along, and then go back to your left thigh. Now your upper left leg, do the same thing again. Spend some time here. Now focus on your entire left leg for a while. Feel everywhere on your left leg at once.
After this, go to your right foot. Repeat the above instructions with your right leg. Don’t rush, and keep bringing your attention back to focus on the leg. After this, focus on both legs simultaneously.
Now focus on your left hand (it should be clasping the right). Each finger, the palm and the back of the hand. Now your forearm, then your upper arm. All of your left arm at once. Now the same on the right, and then both arms at the same time.
Now, focus on your arms and legs. It should seem as if you can only feel sensation in your arms and legs, and you might notice the feelings are more subtle and intricate than you’re used to.
Now start focusing at the base of your spine, and slowly imagine your focus going up vertebrae by vertebrae. Take your time. There aren’t as many nerves in this area, so it may take some time to find any feelings, but they are there. Come up to the back of your neck, then feel your scalp. Come down and focus on your forehead, your nose, cheeks, ears, mouth and chin. Focus on your entire head.
Continue to bring your focus down your neck and to your chest. You’ll keep being distracted, but don’t let this bring you down. Just accept it and bring your focus back to what you can feel. Come down to your solar plexus, down to your stomach, and focus all your attention in the very centre of your body, just below the solar plexus.
Focus here for a moment, and then imagine your point of focus spreading from here throughout all your body. Feel every part of your body at once. This might be quite a pleasant sensation, but just as you shouldn’t get caught up in negative thoughts that the meditation isn’t working, don’t get too excited about positive feelings you are having. Simply accept them as more sensations and continue to focus.
This meditation will greatly improve the level of attention you can maintain throughout the day. When you find yourself constantly distracted or upset by your environment, bring yourself back to the focus on your entire body. Whatever’s going on in your day, no matter how terrible, you’ll always have your breath and these bodily sensations.
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