Calm and Awake in the New Year: A Message from Rolf Gates
There is really good news for anyone who wants to develop a home meditation practice. You already have everything you need, and unlike most other self-improvement regimens this one is simply asking you to learn how to rest and to let go. How bad can that be? The trick is to practice for a few weeks so that your resting and letting go can develop some momentum. What follows is a short list of the essentials when it comes to sitting and relaxing regularly.
1) Set aside fifteen to twenty minutes at the same time each day.
I suggest first thing in the morning after a cup of coffee or tea. Some form of accountability is recommended. A calendar or an app that helps you keep track is nice as is meditating with someone else. I like to meditate with my son. When I am traveling I often meditate with my host. Sit in the same place, if you can, and make the space enjoyable for you. I have my favorite books, blankets, and cushions in my sitting space and it has a view of the sunrise.
2) Once you are comfortably seated either in a chair or a cushion you are ready to get started.
Bring your body to an upright position without an ounce of extra effort. This will bring a subtle form of focus to the mind as you discover the economy of effort that is the hallmark of all graceful action. Allow your breath to happen naturally, and as you effortlessly receive the breath begin to rest in the felt experience of sitting and breathing. In most cases, what happens next is termed samara or “the wandering”. The mind drifts away and wanders off into its habitual patterns of thought. Once you notice that you are wandering, just start over, coming to rest once again in the felt experience of sitting and breathing.
3) As you go through your day, notice the positive effects of your meditation practice.
This noticing is very important because it will make getting to your meditation practice easier and easier. When you feel like you can’t meditate or that your mind is too busy just remember that tomorrow is another day and the work that we do in meditation is cumulative. Good days and bad days will combine to create a momentum for your practice. As that momentum takes hold you will notice that meditation is like learning to ride a bicycle or learning to shuffle a deck of cards. Once you learn a skill like that you never unlearn it; only in this case the skills that we are talking about are relaxing, letting go, and learning to flow.
May you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be happy, may you find your freedom, may you know peace, and may you walk through the world with ease.