Once settled, relaxed and with hands resting properly in the lap, bring your attention to the breath. The purpose is to take your whole focus away from the external world to the inner world of the breath and more particularly to the sensation of the breath in the nostrils. It is this bodily sensation, resting on the body’s own autonomic function, which will be your guide. There is no environment around you, no past and no future as you direct your attention inward. Further, there are no other parts of your body, just the nostrils and the sensation of the breath as it passes through them.
Feel the sensation of the breath, cooler air going in on the inhalation, warmer air coming out on the exhalation. How does it feel? Is the breathing long or short, shallow or deep, or is it fine and silky? This is the object of meditation, a total focus on the experience and the changing experience of the sensation of the breath.
While observing the breath, often tension will creep into the practice and gradually the breath will become controlled through the muscles of the diaphragm which will prevent settled meditation. In such circumstances you will need to adjust yourself to restore relaxation so that natural breathing will return.
As the meditation session progresses, the breath will usually change from rough to smooth as the body accustoms to the lack of physical activity and so requires less oxygen and the heart-rate slows. Along with this change in the breath, as the mind moves from a courser to a more refined state, it will become more absorbed in the meditation object, more cognisant of the subtler points of the sensation of the breath in the nostrils. The awareness of the breath will become more acute and sensitive as the mind is drawn into the experience.
In time, the focus on the breath will fade as your awareness deepens and a stillness of mind is experienced.
Ending the meditation
When the meditation session comes to an end, bring your attention from the breath back to an awareness of your body. Join your palms, bow and place them on your knees.
Meditation is about mindfulness and once meditation ends, this mindfulness should continue while you massage your body. Massage is needed to alleviate accumulated stress from sitting still in one position over a prolonged period.
Old injuries too may need care where blocked qi (energy) may manifest as cramping and for areas of the body that habitually hold tension. Massage is used to circulated the qi energy that can be blocked in meditation. Systematic massage builds a transition from meditation to activity while smoothing out aching muscles and clarifying the energy in all of parts of the body. Like the relaxation routine, you should massage starting with the had and moving downward toward the feet. While working your way down the body, keep the mind focused as you massage each part in turn.
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