We're basically going to, apart from the teachings, alternate, and a question period later on, alternate between sitting meditation and walking meditation. So right now, we're going to do a sitting. And we're going to be using the breath, breath as an object for the mind to kind of just keep returning to, to assist the calming. And there are many ways of working with the breath. So, because people are different, I'm going to offer a few different possibilities. But I don't want to confuse anyone, particularly if you're new. So, what I'll do in this period is offer one, and I'll do a bit of a guided meditation. And in the next period, I'll just briefly introduce two, and then you can see what works for you, what's helpful. And I'll introduce the walking meditation afterwards.
[00:55, guided meditation begins]
Okay, so, important thing is to be in a posture that's actually comfortable, relatively comfortable. So the back upright, without being rigid, so that the body is actually reflecting a little bit of the uprightness that we're aspiring to in the mind. The body upright, relaxed. And also open, the body open, particularly the chest area. So this balance between uprightness and openness, softness.
And taking a moment, and just sensing in, feeling into the face right now, just noticing any obvious areas of tension, perhaps around the eyes, the jaw, around the mouth. Just noticing. And relaxing just as much as you can right now. Not a problem if you can't let go of it all. Similarly, the throat and the neck. Just feeling in there, noticing any tension, and just relaxing as much as you can.
[3:08] And the shoulders. Allowing them to drop down towards the floor. The arms and the hands. Just feeling in and relaxing. The upper back. The chest area. Then, particularly, the abdomen, the belly, and particularly the lower belly. Really allowing that to hang down towards the floor.
And then sensing into the sensations of contact between the chair or the cushion, the bench, and the backside. And just feeling basic, raw sensations of how that contact feels right now. Feeling also into the sensations of contact of the legs or the feet with the floor. How does that feel right now? And just being aware of the body sitting here. How does the body feel right now, in its simplicity, the simple sensations?
[6:20] And when you feel ready, beginning to take some long, slow in-breaths and long, slow out-breaths. So actually, really not necessary to move a lot of air. And unless you have a cold or a blocked nose, your neighbour needn't even realize that you're breathing long and slow. But just long and slow and comfortable, comfortably long, comfortably slow, filling the body with the energy of the breath. Keeping the breath long and slow and comfortable. Seeing if you can notice, if you can feel, as the breath comes in, the whole body, the whole body expanding a little bit, expanding with the in-breath. And collapsing, contracting with the out-breath. And just seeing if you can notice that and feel into it in the whole body. So keeping the awareness large, keeping the awareness filling the whole body. Just tuning into the feeling of expansion and contraction in the whole body.
[9:11] Still keeping the awareness large. Spacious awareness. And the breath long and slow. Maybe you can also notice, as the breath comes in, the body is energized by the breath. Feeling of the whole body being energized. And with the out-breath, the whole body relaxing, letting go, very organically, naturally. So perhaps it's just the expansion and the contraction, perhaps it's the energizing, perhaps both. Whatever's working for you, whatever works for you.
[12:11] So the awareness will keep shrinking. And see if you can keep making it large and spacious, keep filling the body with awareness, like air would fill a balloon. Keeping the breath long and slow, filling the body with breath energy, filling the body with awareness. Opening the body to the breath. And then opening the awareness to the body.
[17:40] Still keeping the breath long and slow and comfortable, and the awareness large, filling the whole body. Just seeing if you can notice: what does it feel like up the front of the body when the breath comes in and goes out? Just lightly, delicately feeling in there. Maybe you notice something. Maybe not. It's fine either way.
Perhaps you feel something, perhaps you notice something in the throat, up through the throat, and into the face as the breath comes in, as the breath goes out. If there's nothing there, fine just to stay with the whole body expanding, energizing, relaxing, and letting go.
[20:40] How does it feel up the spine, along the spine, as the breath comes in, as the breath goes out? Just lightly checking, lightly feeling into these areas. How does it feel in the legs with the in-breath, with the out-breath? Finding something in the whole body to tune into. Whatever's helpful -- the whole body energizing, expanding, or relaxing, letting go, one particular area.
[24:20] Seeing if you can discern right now what the most comfortable, the most enjoyable way to breathe is. So letting yourself play with different kinds of breath, different ways of breathing. So does it feel the best to keep the breath long and slow, or to make it shorter, or even very short? What feels the most easeful, the most comfortable, the most enjoyable? Does it feel better for the breath to be rough or smooth, coarse or subtle? So not the default way of breathing. Really let yourself be engaged with the breath. Play with it. Make it as comfortable as possible, keeping the awareness large for now.
[28:24] Bathing the body in the breath. Bathing the whole body in the breath.
[30:33, guided meditation ends]