SM Meditation Program: Basic Meditations: Chapter 7

Chapter 7

SM Meditation Program: Basic Meditations

Meditation is the core of the Silent Mind program.  In this chapter you will learn the 4 basic meditations that will work as the launching pad for the advanced SM meditations to come later.  The 4 basic meditations are Breath, Sound, Body and Third Eye.  Although you will practice each one during the first 4 weeks, you need just one to work as the base meditation for you going forward.  Therefore, an important objective of Phase 1, from the standpoint of meditation, is to determine which one suits you best.  In addition, the basic meditations are going to help you accomplish the following goals which are vital to your practice…

1. Mastery over your body and the ability to sit still.
2. Power to focus your mind and keep it exactly where you would like it to be.  Building your concentration
3. Slowing down the thought process, quieting the mind and helping turn your awareness inward.
4. Cleansing the subconscious of unhealthy, suppressed emotional debris.
5. Refining awareness.
         
For all the meditations that you will do, one the following 3 postures is suitable.  It is preferable if you can sit in Sukh asan (Cross-legged), if this is not possible then you can sit on a chair and finally if that too is not possible you should use Shav asan (Corpse Pose) for the meditations.  Remember, with SM meditations it is far more important what position your mind is in, rather than the position of your body, so don’t be discouraged if for any physical reasons you need to use the chair or lie on your back or don’t have a perfect sitting posture.  The three postures are described below, followed by the basic meditations.
 
Sukh Asan:
 
Description:  You sit forming a 3-point base on the floor with your butt and both knees.  Your legs can be in any one of the following 3 configurations while sitting on the floor.  First, simply with your legs crossed, which is the easiest but difficult to hold for long periods.  Second, lower legs resting on the floor parallel to each other in Burmese Sitting style which is a very balanced and steady posture.  You can use a cushion in either of these two postures to raise you hips and take pressure off your knees.  Third, in Full Lotus posture, where the foot of each leg rests on the upper thigh or calf of the opposite leg.  Full Lotus is the steadiest but requires considerable flexibility to get into, so be very cautious if you plan on trying this posture.  Your spine should be erect and stretched upwards towards the sky, this will cause a slight inward curve in your lower back.  Your head is pulled back slightly so the chin is ever so subtly drawn in and back such that the back of the neck is aligned with the spine (like a soldier in attention).  The eyes are closed and the hands are held in the Cosmic Mudra and rest gently on your lap.  The Cosmic Mudra is held with your hands forming a cup with your dominant hand below your secondary hand.  Just the fingers of the hands are overlapping and the thumb tips of both hands are meeting such that the space between the thumbs and index fingers forms an oval. 

Benefits:  Sukh asan gives you a very steady base and is ideal for sitting still over long periods of time.  Taking this posture makes the mind alert, calm and ready to turn inwards.  Keeping the spine elongated and straight helps in the delivery of prana (oxygen) to the brain and prevents the diaphragm from being crushed.  This free movement of the diaphragm is essential for allowing the breath of become smooth and deep, thus relaxing and quieting the entire organism.

Cautions:  In the beginning you will find it difficult to hold this posture for prolonged periods of time.  Your back may hurt and so might your knees or other joints.  This is not reason enough to use the modified postures below.  If you can manage it, Sukh asan is ideal for conducting the SM meditations so persist.  The Yoga for Mediation set will prove to be very handy in improving your flexibility and helping you overcome these difficulties so make sure you do that regularly as indicated.   The reasons to switch to the modified postures are if you feel you are about to hurt yourself, specially, your knees, or if you have a pre-existing physical condition, like a bad back, etc.  If you do have to use one of the other postures don’t be discouraged. They have all been used successfully before, and remember the real work to be done has to do with the mind and not the body.

Using a Chair: 
Description:  Use a chair that allows you to sit comfortably. Sit with your back straight and erect, but do not use the chair’s back for support if possible.  Using the chair’s back for support will actually prove to be more difficult over a longer period of time than sitting without it.  Head is pulled back slightly so the chin is ever so subtly drawn back and in – such that back of the neck is aligned with the spine.  The eyes are closed and the hands are held in the cosmic mudra [See Sukh asan above].   The feet are kept flat on the ground and are about shoulder width apart.  It is best if the height of the chair lends itself to your knee joints making a 90-degree angle.

Benefits: 
Very much like Sukh asan.  Sitting this way makes you alert, provides essential nourishment to the brain and helps relax the breath.

Cautions: 
Because the base is not as wide and solid as Sukh Asan, there is a greater chance of putting strain on the back and thus having it become sore during prolonged sitting.  For this reason it is important to develop the strength and flexibility of your back.  Also, it is fine to use a flattish cushion to sit on to prevent your butt from getting sore.

Shav Asan:

Description: 
Shav asan or corpse pose is exactly that, being a corpse.  You lie flat on your back and have your arms straight out to the side with the palms facing slightly up.  Again, the eyes are closed and breathing is relaxed.  If your lower back feels strained you can use a cushion under your knees to relieve the pressure.

Benefits: 
Shav asan provides total support to the entire body and is a posture that minimizes strain on the muscles.  From an meditation point of view, if you are unable to take either of the other 2 postures, then Shav asan is the next best.  Shav asan is one posture that most anyone should be able to do.

Cautions: 
Don’t fall asleep.  This is the number one problem when using this posture.  Since most practitioners do their SM sessions in the early morning sleep is already a challenge.  Shav asan, due to being so comfortable, adds to this difficulty.  Besides this there are not too many dangers with using Shav asan.
 
The 4 Basic Meditations:  Each week one basic meditation is to be done, for 20 minutes per session as indicated in the Phase 1 Daily Yoga and Meditation Practice [Chapter 3: Table 2]. 
 
Cautions:  These two cautions apply to all the meditations described below.  First, all these meditations serve to settle down the conscious mind that is constantly busy and this silence allows what is lurking below the surface to rise up and come into your awareness.  Often this can be suppressed emotions; including anger, hurt, loneliness, fears, etc and having to face them can be a challenging task.  Keep in mind that leaving them unresolved and lurking in the sub-conscious can lead to them being expressed in many malignant ways, such as diseases and emotional problems, so as they rise to the surface simple watch them run their course and release them from your system.  This cleansing is an integral part of the journey back to the your Natural Self.  Second, as your meditation deepens, you will notice that your breathing has changed to STB (Silk Thread Breath) and often you will feel that your breathing might be suspended all together.  Don’t be alarmed if this suspension happens.  It is expected.  As the mind quiets down the breathing follows suit and visa-versa.  Just continue your meditation and take a breath as required.
 
Breath Meditation:  For the first week, the meditation you will be practicing is Breath Meditation.  It is perhaps the most widely used basic meditation and is the technique perfected by the Buddha. It the backbone of Zen Meditation (Zazen).  It is the preferred base meditation for many practitioners.

Description: 
Sit or lie in the posture you have chosen.  Be completely still and bring your attention to your breathing.  Without interfering with the breath just be as physically aware as possible of the inhalation, the exhalation and the gap in between.  Attend carefully to the temperature, movement, depth, sensation, etc. To help keep your concentration on your breathing, count mentally your breaths.  Count an inhalation as one, exhalation as two and so on till you reach 10.  Then return to 1 and start over.  If at any time you loose your awareness of the breath and wander into some mental storyline before getting to 10, just return to 1 and start again.  Once you reach the stage where you can count to 10 repeatedly without losing awareness of your breath, switch the counting such that each inhalation and exhalation cycle is 1 and continue onto 10 as before.  Once this is accomplished, you can drop the counting all together, and simply be aware of the breathing.
 
Body Meditation:  A closely related meditation to Breath Mediation is Body Meditation. It is often combined with breath meditation and if you prefer, can be used in that way as part of the SM program as well.  In the description below the combined usage is also explained.
Description:  Sit or lie in the posture you have chosen and be completely still.  Close your eyes and start to become intimately aware of any feelings or sensations you feel in the physical body.  Try not to label or mentally describe the feeling, instead just let the feeling express itself and tell its story to you.  Allow it to run its course without judgment, suppression or indulgence.  As in Breath Mediation, pay close attention to the absolute physical nature of the feelings and sensations.  Attend carefully to the heat, pain, discomfort, strain, etc.  If you find yourself at rest without a feeling or sensation to be aware of, you can choose to be aware of this restful state or, if you prefer, you can switch to Breath Meditation until a new feeling or sensation arises.  When it does arise bring all your attention to it and repeat the process of allowing it to journey or exist in you without any judgment or interference.
 
Sound Meditation:  This meditation takes advantage of ambient sounds in the environment and is an effective way of turning awareness inward.
 
Description:  Sit or lie in the posture you have chosen and be completely still.  Close your eyes and start to become aware of ambient sounds as far away from you as possible.  Spend a few minutes attending to these sounds and then move your attention to sounds closer and closer to you.  As per the earlier meditations, try to refrain from getting mentally involved with the sound and instead just try to attend to its physical nature.  Listen carefully to its pitch, tone, amplitude, duration, etc.   If the sound is constant, just listen to it carefully, if it is transient, hear it rise and then dissolve.  Continue to slowly move your attention to sounds closer and closer to you.   Finally, bring your attention all the way to the sound of your breath or to some other sound very close to you.
 
3rd Eye Meditation:  This meditation is based on the Tantric system and specifically exploits the 6th energy vortex of the body’s subtle energy system (Chakra and Kundalini system).  Here we won’t explore Tantra in depth as that is quite an extensive topic but we will speak on this meditation from the context of SM.  Essentially, the 6th energy vortex is located in the forehead area just above and between the eyebrows and is also called the 3rd eye (Ajna Chakra).  Often in practicing SM you will start to feel some pressure in this area and that pressure can be a point of focus for developing your mind and concentration.  The 6th energy center is the seat of insight and wisdom, according to Tantra, and SM meditations, as you will learn, are about the blossoming of insight.  In Tantra, bringing attention to a particular vortex helps develop that center and since we are interested in developing our power of insight, focusing on the 3rd eye goes hand in hand with our SM goals.
 
Description:  Sit or lie in the posture you have chosen and be completely still.  Close your eyes and look upwards into the center of the forehead region, between the eyebrows and bring your complete attention there.  Continue as best you can to hold your attention here and if indeed you start to feel any sensation there remain attentive to it.  In the event you don’t have any sensations, do not be discouraged just continue to look up into the 3rd eye and hold your focus there.

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7 replies
  1. KATHY LAVIGNE-MASON
    KATHY LAVIGNE-MASON says:

    I love this progam, I rec’d my Certification last year & I am able TO refesh my skills at anytime. I am so very grateful for Amnol….Thank You!!!! Thank You!!!! Namaste’

    Reply
  2. Karen Koontz
    Karen Koontz says:

    Hi! I’m going to start the SM Meditation Program from the get-go. Quite clever the way you incorporated your “Amazing Insights” into the various chapters of your Meditation Program — very inspirational. . .Bye for now and Thank You. p.s. I feel my body fighting me already! (ha-ha — lol!)

    Reply
  3. Roohani Deshpande
    Roohani Deshpande says:

    I started this SM Meditation Program around last week.
    I’m finding that with each successive day, I am able to meditate for shorter and shorter periods.. Can you explain why this may be happening? Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Casey
    Casey says:

    Namaste Anmol,

    A question about the lotus position: does one particular leg have to be over the other? As is, does it have to be the case that the right leg is on top? Or does it not matter? I ask because I recently broke my left ankle and entering the lotus position with my right leg on top, as I once read should be done, is extremely uncomfortable.

    Reply
  5. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Lucia,

    Great to hear you are going to begin the SM meditations/program. This program is really designed to help you master the art of meditation. It is the meditation that I practice as well.

    Let me know how it goes. If any yoga set is too difficult, feel free to stick to the Yoga for Meditation set for longer even as you try the meditations from later phases.

    All Good Wishes,
    Anmol

    Reply
  6. lucia
    lucia says:

    just about to begin the sm meditation. look like just the right energy booster i need in my life at this time.
    thank to you.
    love and light

    Reply

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