Before we begin our sitting meditation it is essential that we prepare ourselves and the room in which we sit. The room should be clean and very beautiful. And for us is often good to have a period of silence before starting.
Entering the Temple
Before we enter the temple we slowly remove our shoes. On entering we may like to bow to the center and recite the following gatha:
Entering the meditation room – I see my true mind.
I vow that once I sit down – all disturbances will stop.
There are many different postures and positions that are recommended for sitting meditation. we adopt a posture where we feel comfortable and alert. In general it is important that we feel stable and at ease.
The back should be straight but not rigid. Our hands resting lightly in our lap or our knees. Our eyes can be lightly open or closed, whichever we find most comfortable. If we are slightly tired it is best not to close the eyes completely. We should feel relaxed, concentrated and our breathing should be deep and light. And our mouth ideally will be in a gentle smile –the most relaxing expression for the facial muscles.
We are going to start with a guided meditation, followed by a period of silent meditation. Silent periods of meditation generally last for about twenty minutes.
We will start with three sounds of the bell, and end with a single sound of the large bell.
If we are waiting for the session to begin, we can make sure our posture is comfortable and begin the process of focusing awareness on our breathing.
Our breathing during sitting meditation should be unhurried, light but at the same time deep. We do not aim to control our breathing but rather we allow it to deepen as we relax with the practise. As we concentrate on our breath it becomes possible to follow it with our awareness. We follow the passage of air in and out, aware of our diaphragm or our belly rising and falling. The breath provides a focus for our awareness which unites the body and mind.
When we are distracted with unrelated thoughts, feelings or sensations during sitting meditation –as we all tend to be at times– we try not to dwell on these but simply acknowledge their presence and return to our breathing. We let them go; we do not follow them. Such thoughts, feelings and sensations become like clouds which we allow to pass by without clinging to them. Eventually, if we practise well, the sky will begin to clear.