First Practice (Magnifying Glass)
It is as easy as burning a paper with a magnifying glass. Like steadily focusing sunlight on a paper with a magnifying glass, steadily focus your mind on your breath.
Note: Focusing and steadiness are two key skills you are using. Focusing is about noticing the sensations of your breath in one spot. Steadiness is about continuous awareness from the beginning to the ending of your one breath.
Posture: Sit upright and balanced so that your body becomes relaxed and pleasant on its own.
Breath: Your breath is always natural breath.
Review your practice: Writing down or sharing your practice experience with others. (e.g. new and the same experiences as well as the dominant experiences/insights.)
- Practice incorrectly.
- Thinking about breath rather than being aware of it.
- Trying to stop thoughts.
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Unaware of obstacles, forcing breath, imagining, trying to feel good, incorrect posture, not knowing anything new from your meditation sessions …
How do I know I am doing right?
Check to see if you experience one or more of the followings: breath becomes deep/long on its own, body becomes relaxed, and mind becomes peaceful, free & pleasant.
How soon will it happen?
It takes just one breath.
How do I know whether I am aware of my breath or thinking about it?
If you are knowing the physical sensations of your breath that is constantly changing from moment to moment in the present, you are aware of your breath. If you are remembering your breath or imagining a breath, you are thinking about the breath.
What should I think during the meditation?
No need to think anything.
How to stop thoughts?
Trying to stop thoughts is a common beginner mistake. Learn to meditate correctly instead.
How to block all the sound during meditation?
No need to block. Just be with it. Sound is a useful meditation object.
Should I bring my attention back to my breath over and over when thoughts repeatedly come?
Thoughts had to come to you over and over because of reasons. Knowing the reasons helps you more than repeatedly running away from the thoughts.
How do I quiet mental chatter?
Address the cause of your mental chatter. When you address the cause, the mental chatter dissolves naturally. You can apply the same skill to your life problems to make them dissolved naturally.
Know it is an in-breath while air is coming into your body. Know it is an out-breath while air is going out from your body.
Apply the same skills to other objects for example, body sensations, sounds, visual objects, urge and thoughts.
Mindfulness in Motion
Further apply the same skills to activities while you are doing for example, walking, exercise, washing hands, cleaning, and other activities.
The ABC of Mindfulness
A: Seeing a phenomenon
B: Seeing the cause
C: Seeing the phenomenon from another angle
D: Seeing the true nature
E: Examine your mind that knows the breath whether it was reliable.
When you are powerless
You have no choice what to think and what not to think. You have no choice when to think and when not to think.Your mind is operating automatically without your permission. You do not know you are thinking while thinking. You do not know you are believing while believing.
When you are powerful
You have choice what to think and what not to think. You have choice when to think and when not to think. Your mind is not operating automatically without your permission. You know you are thinking while thinking. You know you are believing while believing.
Meditation and School
Meditation is like going to school. You gain knowledge when you meditate. You gain conceptual knowledge in school. You gain non-conceptual knowledge in meditation.
In school, you are trained to accept the words from books/teachers. In meditation, you train yourself to see for yourself.
The signs of progress in meditation
Knowing something new from your meditation session. Knowing something new everyday in your daily living.
The signs of stagnation in meditation
Knowing nothing new from your meditation sessions for days, weeks, or even years.
Body tension, constricted breathing, urge to move, restlessness, mind wandering, calmness, distraction, noise. Mind operates on its own without your permission.
Breath becomes long/deep on its own when you are aware of your breath. Body becomes relaxed when you are aware of your breath. Mind becomes calm and free when you are aware of your breath.
Mindfulness refers to being aware of something or the capacity of the mind for knowing. It is best to experience for oneself.
Awakening is the fruit of mindfulness practice. Also refers to an act of gaining the fruit.
Self Guiding Technique: You can mentally guide your practice with phrases. Examples: “I know breathing in. I know breathing out.”
Labeling Technique: You can mentally say your experience with a word or phrases. Examples: “breathing in. breathing out.”
Note: Self Guiding and Labeling techniques are like training wheels in children’s bicycles and can be useful for beginners. You will eventually no longer need them as you make progress.