The very first discipline for your meditation practice is training your body to sit very still. It may sound like a simple thing, but it not so easy to do in the beginning.
You may want to relax your body by doing some simple stretches. Then, sit on the floor or a chair, with your head, neck and spine all in a straight line.
Don’t lie down.
If you are sitting on a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the floor and you are not slouching. Use a cushion to support your back as needed.
Now, relax, gently close your eyes and put a soft smile on your face. Firmly tell yourself that for the next 2 to 3 minutes, you will not move at all.
Why is it so important to still the body? This is because there is a direct connection between the mind and the body. Each influences the other.
When the mind is agitated with many thoughts or feelings, you will not be able to sit still. Think of the time you were tossing and turning in bed trying to sleep, when you had too much on your mind.
To calm and keep the mind alert for meditation, the simplest thing to do is to practice keeping the body very still and straight.
This quiet alertness can be demonstrated with a scenario you have probably experienced: Imagine you are alone, busy at your desk, when you are startled by a strange, loud thump. You immediately stop what you are doing and keep very still and quiet, all alert to hear it more carefully.
Notice that when you are intently focused on something, your body becomes still and your mind, quiet and alert. This is exactly what you have to do during meditation. Sit very still and stay alert.
Difficult But Indispensable First Step
In the beginning, sitting still seems impossible. You fidget, scratch, clear you throat, cough, or make any number of body movements that are signs that your mind is jumping from one thought to the next.
Take a deep breath, exhale and tell yourself your mind can be relaxed. Continue taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly.
Mentally break up the word “relax” into its two syllables and coincide them with breathing in and breathing out: “re….lax”, “re…lax”, “re…lax”.
Practice sitting still like this, for 2-3 minutes, one or more times a day. Do it for at least a week. Focus only on this one thing.
Then, little by little, increase the time you can sit still to about 10-15 minutes. Be patient with yourself. Some days may be better than others. But persevere.
Learning how to sit still prepares you for your meditation practice. It is the first discipline that will eventually help you live in the body, and not as the body.
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