The Stillness Programme – What’s Next?

 

What’s Next? – A Road Map to Where You Can Go From Here

 

 

Congratulations!! You have taken the first steps on a wonderful journey that we hope will continue to enrich and nourish your life for many years to come.

But what next?

The first thing to say is that the last 8 weeks has been a process of imparting the instructions to this practice, and you would do well to go through the course again, further practicing the lessons from each week.

It may be that some of you really connected to a particular lesson, in which case re-visit this, but also take notice of the aspects of the course that you didn’t really get and try to review these.

Others of you may feel that you are ready for more guidance and want to further develop your meditation.

Below are a few guidelines to help guide you along your way.

If you have any questions beyond this, then please feel free to email us at hello@theartofmeditation.org and we will be happy to help.

 

1. Why do I need to develop my practice beyond this course?

Meditation is a vast field of endeavour and it is up to each of us to decide how far we want to go with it. What we have learnt on this course we can almost see as a template out of which all of our further practice will arise.

This basic innate state of awareness that we have started to learn to enter into and develop a relationship with, is the most fundamental aspect of our being and of reality. As such it will remain as our reference point throughout all of our practice and at one level, all of our further practice is to deepen our capacity to abide in this spontaneous state of being.

So it will form the beginning and the end of our spiritual practice. However, that being said, our ability to maintain our connection to and embody and express this as a human being and as a realised state is utterly dependent on the work we have done to refine the lowers aspect of our mind. This awakened awareness that we have started to connect to does not cause us suffering or get us into trouble in life.

This is why we seek to refine and train our mind, so that our refined mind becomes the basis of our awakening and also is the basis for a surpassed experience of life. This is why we systematically train and purify our mind through meditation. This is what we begin to do through the different levels of mental training on both retreat and through the further online courses.

 

2. What does the level 1 online course teach?

The level 1 online course begins our systematic training and refinement of our mind. We build it up slowly so that we can develop strong concentration and mindfulness within the context of our daily life. In the latter part of the course we seek to capitalise on the work done to initiate the healing potential of meditation and start to look out how meditation can bring us deeper insight into life. The course is supplemented by reading material to give context to the teachings within the wider scope of the broad field of spiritual practice.

 

3. What is the benefit of coming on retreat?

These courses are really a support to the work we would do on retreat. Whilst there is much we can achieve practicing in our daily life we are able to work much more deeply and in a sustained way in a retreat environment without the distractions of daily life. This allows us to practice in a held and safe environment using more sustained and deeper levels of mindfulness and concentration to maximise our potential for healing transformation. We can then use the courses outside of retreat to further stabilise our meditation in less than optimal conditions. The work on retreat is deep and brings untold and unexpected benefits to the quality of our life experience.

 

4. So which retreat should I attend?

There is extensive detail on attending retreats on our website so please do have a look if it is something you might be interested in doing.

You can find our retreat schedule on the following link:

Retreat Schedule

 

5. Patreon Community

Since the pandemic, Burgs has started an online community on the Patreon platform. This is a private community where he regularly shares the more inspiring teachings via discourses and music. There are also guided meditations published which Burgs joins in at appointed times.

If you wish to stay connected to Burgs and want to explore more of the Dharma content he shares, then this is a great place to start.

You can find out more info on the following link:

Burgs on Patreon

Lastly, I want to say thank you for joining this course and I hope that your meditation practice continues to help you develop, mature and enrich your life.

Much Metta to you all

Burgs

 

What Next? – A few discourses to inspire you

The difference between resting and working in your meditation

 

Meditation and why would we choose to work hard at it

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 7

 

Mountain Lake Sky

 

 

In this lesson I would like to introduce you to a meditation that I call Mountain, Lake, Sky. This practice will draw on what we have built up so far. The meditation functions on many levels and I introduce my students to it at the beginning of their practice, but it also becomes an advanced practice in the latter stages of their meditative development.

I won’t say too much more about it at this stage as it is in the practising of this meditation that we come to see more completely what it is pointing at.

So don’t worry or think about it all too much, just have a go!

I hope you enjoy.

 

Supplementary Reading

Flavour of Liberation Vol1 Ch17 – Rest Effortlessly Within Yourself, like a Mountain, Lake and Sky [right click to save]

 

Lesson 7 Meditation

Mountain Lake Sky

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 8

 

Where Does This Practice Really Point?

 

 

So we have come to the last lesson in our course.

I hope you have enjoyed the way the lessons have progressed and how we have gradually built everything up. This week I want to introduce you to and point you towards what the actual fruit of this practice is. Along with the incredible healing potential of this practice, there is another side to it that I would like to explore in this lesson. It will reveal how this practice fits into a broader spiritual context.

So for this week, I would like you to read a chapter from The Survival Guide to staying conscious called There’s Only Love and Not Knowing It, which forms the basis of this lesson and explains the transmission in this weeks meditation. I hope you have enjoyed this course and look forward to meeting you someday.

With metta,

Burgs

 

Supplementary Reading

Survival Guide To Staying Conscious Ch16 – There’s Only Love And Not Knowing It [right click to save]

 

Lesson 8 Meditation

The Intelligence That Lies Within The Stillness

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 6

 

Settling Our Energy

 

 

This week I want to introduce a new aspect to our evolving relationship to the stillness and settling deeply within it.

There is a saying in Daoism, “When the Chi sinks 100’s of sickness disappear on their own”. This is a key point.

So I’m just going to give you a bit of theory now because this is really important to understand. The reason I am developing this ability for us to settle so thoroughly is for several reasons:

  • So that our relationship to the stillness eventually will evolve into an important part of our maturing insight.
  • Because by learning from the very beginning to set up our attitude towards meditation correctly, we will learn to concentrate and pay attention from a relaxed and effortless place.
  • This will allow our mind to open in a balanced and deep way so our energy keeps building. If we concentrate from a fraught place our meditation will have the reverse effect it is supposed to and bring us into an over-charged and more incoherent state than when we began.

 

There are two aspects to our autonomic nervous system;

Sympathetic:

This sympathetic aspect is our ‘turn it on I need to deal with a challenge’ – at its most, it’s our stress response – it’s our coping mechanism, it’s a ‘get me out of here I’ve got a sabre-tooth tiger coming up behind me’ – it switches on with the heightening of our awareness and puts us into a stimulated state so we can get a little more out of ourselves in an emergency. In an emergency: that’s what it’s really there for, to pull from our reserves when we need them.

What happens when the sympathetic nervous system switches on is that an upward current of electrical charge flows through the nerves of the body that brings an upward movement of energy, that stimulates the heart, and stimulates the brain and the senses, and makes us feel a little bit more switched on but at the same time a little bit wired.

Now we don’t need this on that often! But we use it most of the time these days; we are stimulated so much by the things that we are doing that we live in this over excited state. So what we have is this tendency to accumulate an upward charge in the body so that our energy field starts to look more like a triangle on its point, we have a lot of charge in the head and means once you bring electrical charge into the brain it’s very difficult to stop thinking. You can’t just stop thinking when there’s a charge running around in your brain, in order to stop thinking you’ve got to take the charge out of your brain, which is what we are trying to do with this weeks meditation.

So this is a stimulated state: and what is a triangle on its point? is it a stable or unstable structure? It’s an unstable structure.

 

 

Parasympathetic:

The parasympathetic system is our reorganising, adaptive, and healing aspect of our nervous system. When this healing response becomes switched on our bodies go, “OK, what reserves have I been drawing on/ what do I need to pay back/ what have I got to put back together again/ how have I got to get reorganised?” The body does not heal itself while it is in a sympathetic, coping, struggling state. Now you might think you’re flourishing whilst you’re in a highly stimulated hyper-sympathetic state because you’re getting tons out of yourself, but what you don’t realise is what it’s costing you. What we actually want to do is to be able to get as much as we can out of ourselves without draining our resources which means getting ourselves into the most coherent state where we have access to tons of energy without having to stress ourselves.

So when this parasympathetic system is switched on, a downward current of energy flows through the body: so the energy withdraws from the mind, the charge comes out of the brain and the heart decompresses, starts to relax and settle and we start to feel relaxed and at ease. This is a really important principle to understand so you can see why I ask you to bring the energy down in your meditation. You will understand this when you come to do the meditation.

So what we want is for your energy to gather below the diaphragm in the lower part of your body which is then able to support the physical structure rather than the mental structure. It is the physical structure which actually needs nearly all of our energy. This is a big old lump that we carry around. Because we are habitually so cerebral we tend to be using almost all of our energy at a mental level. This means you can feel very exhausted just having to keep this physical thing on the road because you’re consuming all of your energy with your obsessive thinking mind. The energy is in the mind where you don’t need it, you don’t need to be thinking about stuff all the time, you just don’t.

So when we bring the energy down and we get the charge out of the heart and the brain – we decompress. So I want you to get your head around this idea of decompression – because tension, stress, anxiety and worry, all of it is an effect of compression which is an excessive held charge in the head and heart area. Just think about it as too much electricity in the system – it makes the heart shake, makes the mind flutter around and the body feels unstable.

  • compressed = stressed

  • decompressed = settled/relaxed

So the point is you can try very hard to relax yourself, but if you can’t get the charge down into the lower part of the body you won’t decompress and your mind will still proliferate. Even though you’re lying down in bed at night exhausted you can’t get to sleep because you’ve got too much charge running around your brain.

There’s no single psycho-physiological factor in our make up that has a more profound effect upon us than this one single thing. And it is so important to understand this right from the start.

So this weeks meditation is a new meditation and I am going to introduce you to meditating in Dan Tien. Dan Tien is an area in the lower belly between the navel and the pubic bone where energy gathers. Please don’t worry too much about it now, it will come alive and you will experience it as your practice develops.

I also introduce an important energy point called Ming Men in this meditation. Again don’t worry too much about it, it will also reveal itself through your practice. But it is here on a diagram to give you a sense of where it is.

I hope you enjoy the meditation. Have a great week!

 

Supplementary Reading

Flavour of Liberation Vol1 Ch10 – The Energetics of How Our Life Experience Functions [right click to save]

 

Lesson 6 Meditation

Settling Our Energy to Become More Still

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 5

 

Meditation as an Act of Surrender

 

 

This week’s meditation builds further our capacity to enter into stillness and tries to encourage an attitude of letting go within our meditation. It seeks to point out where we may be gripping our experience without noticing it in the daily life.

Most importantly this meditation starts to encourage us to develop an attitude of letting go within our meditation. This attitude is crucial to being able to settle more deeply especially from a state of incoherence and stops the mind becoming entangled with its experience. It allows us to enter into a more spontaneous state as we relax deeper into stillness.

There is a lot to this meditation and what it points to will mature in you long after you finish this course. It will carry you deeper into your being the more you practice it.

As I hinted at the end of the text of week 3, meditation is an act of surrender. This attitude of surrender can be fed back into our daily life and can encourage us to let go into some of the more challenging experiences that come our way, gradually increasing our trust in life.

I hope you enjoy!

 

Lesson 5 Meditation

Loosening the grip of daily life

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 4

 

Refining Our Meditative Skill

 

 

So this week I want to start to sow the seeds of what concentration is with regard to meditation is and why it is important.

Our inability to concentrate is one of the biggest saboteurs of the depth and quality of experience we could be having in our life. The restlessness that pulls us on to something else when we’re still doing this or that means I’m not 100% with what I am doing. This is why we’re often not satisfied with what we are doing. Our ability to stay with what we’re doing takes great tenacity to build but it is one of the most enriching and wonderful challenges we could ever embark upon. Learning to concentrate will transform our life experience in so many unexpected ways. It will continue to challenge us in inspiring and life-affirming ways the more we do it.

So now once you have settled you can start to make effort to concentrate in your meditation. Initially it’s an exercise in effortlessness: “stop disturbing the experience”. Then after that we learn how to concentrate without disturbing the experience i.e. “to stay with what we are paying attention to” until the mind is utterly unwavering.

Out of this emerges a deepening sense of serenity as the mind becomes stable and deeply settled because it is not wandering around as much as it usually does. This deepening mental stability that builds and builds from the continuity of paying attention to one thing over time gives us an increased sense of both serenity and contentment. The longer we stay concentrated for, the greater the sense of peace from being undisturbed and the greater the amount of energy that is produced from the stability of our awareness. Out of this emerges the luminosity and brightness and clarity of the mind and this carries us into a deepening state of being. This week’s discourse looks at this as well.

 

So let’s be clear: there are 2 aspects that we have to develop equally:

1. Our ability to remain undisturbed, “to leave everything alone”

2. Our ability to land our attention on some aspect of the experience that we’re having and to concentrate.

 

One thing to be aware of is if you try and concentrate before you’ve learned to settle, your mind will get stiffer and stiffer and stiffer and you will feel very unrelaxed which is the opposite of what we are trying to do. So we build it up in the right order to ensure we make consistent progress.

This week I have given you two discourses to listen to. This week’s second discourse looks at the hindrances to meditation and you may by now start to recognise the arising of these within your meditative experience. Guard against the tendency to over scrutinise your experience when you are meditating, but if you find you aren’t concentrating it can be helpful to notice what hindrance has arisen and then go back to your concentration leaving the hindrance alone and no longer entangled with it. You should try meditating with guided instructions a few times before listening to the discourse called “Explaining the Hinderances to Meditation”.

 

Brief summary of the course so far

So these last 4 weeks have been focused on the preparatory work of building our foundation in learning to meditate. There is of course so much more to meditation than just what we have learnt in these last 4 weeks.

Here is what you have learnt so far:

Lesson 1

  • How to set up your meditation practice in the context of your daily life.
  • To set up you meditative attitude correctly from the start by following the 5 steps.

 

Lesson 2

  • This experience of stillness gradually becomes as a refuge.

 

Lesson 3

  • Learning to leave the experience alone (not grasping or rejecting).
  • Allowing that natural intelligence within you to bring you back into balance and coherence. Finding healing through meditation.
  • Starting to recognise happiness as an deeply embodied sense arising when there is no affliction within us.
  • Acceptance of the way things leading to a sense of relief.

 

Lesson 4

  • Concentration and a deepening sense of serenity and stability.

 

In the next 4 lessons we will continue to deepen our practice. We will learn to enter into increasingly stable states of being that bring about a deeper healing and restorative effect.

 

Lesson 4 Meditation

Stabilising Our Attention and Starting to Concentrate

 

Lesson 4 Discourses

Explaining the Hinderances to Meditation

 

The Paradox of Meditation

 

 

Extra Supportive Material

This week we are going to add a short video for you to follow if you wish. It guides you through a chi kung practice we follow on our 7day retreats and helps us bring our energy online as well as reorganising and settling our energy. This is a very useful practice to follow both before and/or after your meditation practice. You can also use it on its own. You can see where it fits best into your daily routine.

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 3

 

Meditation, Happiness and Leaving Our Experience Alone

 

 

So why are we trying to learn to meditate?

There may be many reasons but probably one of the core reasons we first try is to find some way of experiencing a sense of peace and calm. So why does meditation bring about a sense of peace? So far I have been teaching you how to settle. What is this process of settling and what does it do? Well in essence this process of settling and meditating upon the stillness is an exercise in learning to leave everything alone. When you do really start to leave everything alone what happens? Hopefully you will have noticed that you start to feel much more relaxed and that the act of meditation has a restorative and healing effect on you.

In truth the stillness meditation is a way to learn how to access a healing intelligence that is naturally within you but rarely gets a chance to express itself properly. It does naturally when you are asleep but rarely during waking hours. One of the times that it can start to express itself within you when you are conscious is when you start to leave your experience alone. So the practice is teaching you how to not disturb the experience that you’re having – whether it’s pleasurable or extremely challenging – so that you have access to the natural intelligence that is always working itself towards coherence. As I hinted at last week, this can become your refuge in the daily life and a reference point to come back to.

When we are busy, distracted or distressed, when we are grappling with our experience (rejecting it or grasping it) these disturbed states of mind are interfering with the movement of vital energy that’s moving through us and that exacerbates the suffering of the experience and diminishes the nourishment we can get from the pleasurable experience.

So the highest attitude of mind we can come to is one that’s able to leave everything as it is, which is not a state of dispassion. It can be completely engaged with what it’s doing but without gripping it.

This gripping, this attitude of grasping-at, adds impedance into our system and our vital forces flow less freely and that starts to cause atrophy at the subtlest level. Every time we try to grasp-at our experience with some kind of craving (the pleasurable experience: wanting more of it) it adds impedance into our system, and the pleasure we actually get from that experience is diminished. The highest state of happiness that we experience is when there is no affliction within us.

Happiness is not just a mental state, it’s a deeply embodied sense within us and it arises spontaneously through this mechanism of consciousness in response to an unimpeded experience. Peace and happiness: they arise in the moment when you don’t reject or grasp what’s happening. The relief of not being afflicted by your mind when you accept things as they are is the sense of peace that comes upon us through meditation. This relief arises within you and your awareness becomes mirror-like.

So when we’re meditating it’s nothing more than an exercise in learning just to be with things: you start just by resting within the experience, and allowing it to settle naturally.

So in Week 1 we were learning to settle. In Week 2 we started to have a go at the Stillness meditation itself. Now I have introduced a little more theory and we are going to extend our meditation by five minutes to see if we can become more still.

So you have had a little bit more theory this week but it is now important for to you understand the mechanics of meditation so you instinctively learn what you should be doing and you avoid doing things that aren’t going to work. It’s not an act of dogged determination, it’s an act of surrender. This is the key point.

So carry on with your practice and keep building it up slowly, methodically and in the right way so that you make consistent and stable practice over time. There is a way in which you can make progress swiftly and there are many ways you can meditate that will not lead you past a certain point and you will get stuck. So follow how we are building it up and I will make sure that your progress is smooth and deep.
 

Supplementary Reading

Flavour of Liberation Vol1 Ch26 – How the Mind Affects the Body [right click to save]
 
 

Lesson 3 Meditation

Stillness meditation 25mins

 
 

Lesson 3 Discourse

The Healing Power of Life Flows Through Us

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 2

 

Introducing Stillness Meditation

 

 

This week I am going to introduce you to the Stillness Meditation.

Although I introduce this meditation at the very beginning of your practice, it is a practice that will continue to mature throughout your meditative career.

At this stage I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information as the initial stages of meditation are actually more about time spent doing the practice than anything else.

So with that in mind if any questions do arise, leave them for the moment and let the experience of practising inform you. Gradually it will become clear why this practice is so important and how it fits into the wider scope of meditation practice.

The only thing to perhaps reflect on is how the sense of inner stillness and calm that comes upon you as you do sit is a refuge from the busyness and stresses of daily life.

Try to get to the point where the 5 steps become a habitual way of setting up your meditation every time you sit rather than something you have to constantly remind yourself to do. Once you reach that point you will know that you are always starting up your meditation correctly.

I hope you enjoy!

Burgs

 

Lesson 2 Meditation

Stillness meditation 20mins

 

The Stillness Programme – Lesson 1

 

The Five Key Steps to Setting up your Practice

 

 

It is most important that you don’t rush into your practice. Set it up nicely.

The success of your meditation will often be determined by how well you set it up in the beginning. The following five steps though appearing very simple, each play a pivotal role in steering you into a well organised and settled state from which the attention is applied in a balanced and sustainable way towards whatever object we thereafter choose to concentrate upon. In truth if you made these five steps the whole of your practice, by the time you have deeply penetrated into each of them in turn your mind will already be in a highly settled and awakened state of clarity.

 

Step 1. Relax your body.

Snapshot your whole body for held tension that there might be a tendency to bring into your meditation without noticing. Relax and soften the flesh around the bones. Relax your body. (This week spend 2-3 minutes on this step).

 

Step 2. Relax your mind.

Snapshot your mind for held tension in the same way. Let your mind soften. (This week spend 2-3 minutes on this step).

 

Step 3 Turn up. Be present.

Tune into your own sense of physical presence. Feel your whole body as one. Feel the sense of the space that you physically occupy. This brings all of our attention back from any abstract state or our own inner world, into the present here and now. This activates the lower chakras (more on this later). This week spend 4-5 minutes on this step. Stay with this until you are actually concentrated upon the sense of your physical shape and form. Don’t just imagine it briefly and then move on. Stay with it long enough for your mindfulness and concentration to become stable.

 

Step 4. Tune in to awareness.

This will continue to become an ever more significant part of our practice as we progress. At this stage, simply tune into the sense of stillness around you (this activates the upper chakras, more on this later). This week spend 2-3 minutes just resting in the stillness around you while leaving everything as it is; ie. do not get entangled with anything that you perceive going on around you or within you. Have the attitude of the silent witness.

 

Step 5.Create a positive attitude.

All of meditation is about creating positive attitude and positive states of mind. The simplest and most important of all is to start with a simple reflection on gratitude and say three times, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Even if you don’t know yet what you are saying thank you for, say it anyway, and try to mean it. Pretty soon you will start to know why you are saying it. And then once you have gladdened your mind even just a little make reflection “May All Beings Be Happy.” (This week spend 2-3 minutes on this step).

 

Every time you meditate, try to develop the habit of starting off by following these five simple steps. The more you do it, the more you will recognise for yourself the role they are playing in steering you into a skilful meditative attitude and ‘way of attention’. Our understanding of the role this ‘way of attention’ plays in successful progress in meditation will be developed as we go.

Very good. For this week develop these five steps until they become second nature. Eventually you will start to recognise the attitude that these simple steps bring you to, and will find your way there as a default setting upon which to base your practice thereafter. Spending time on this at this stage will save you months or possibly even years of playing about with different approaches in trying to get concentrated. Once this becomes a habit, your meditation will progress nicely from a sound basis. It is a bit like when we first learn to ski. If we just try on our own we can spend years muddling through without becoming proficient but if we learn the basics properly we progress smoothly from there on.

So your main practice is to settle into the clear state of awareness and develop the connection to stillness.

 

Lesson 1 Meditation

Setting up your practice

 

Lesson 1 Discourse

Setting up your meditation with the Five Key steps

 

The Stillness Programme – Introduction

 

PREPARING YOURSELF FOR MEDITATION

 

 

Hello And Welcome to the Stillness Programme.

I am delighted that you have chosen to join this course and I look forward to teaching you over the coming weeks.

The main thread of this programme is to teach you how to meditate, starting at the very beginning and setting up your practice so that it will continue to deepen and mature over time.

If you do decide to continue to learn with me, then this meditation will become your reference point, out of which all your further practice will evolve. This meditation is a profound teaching in and of itself that will be with you even in the latter stages of your practice. I also believe it is the best place to start as it has the capacity to bring about deep states of relaxation and connection the first time you try it.

As this may be the first time you have ever meditated, this first lesson starts off by teaching you the attitude of settling deeply into yourself. To learn this right from the start will serve you very well and ensure that further practice always develops from a relaxed place so it can have the desired effect.

Each week I will develop a particular aspect. I have kept the material as simple as possible so you get the sense of building your practice slowly over time. This allows the depth of each lesson emerging gradually within your practice. This attitude of patience is the complete reverse of our ‘on-demand’ culture. Without this attitude of building things up slowly and patiently, we run the risk of missing the more subtle nuances that meditation can bring to our lives.

This is one of the most wonderful things about meditation; it works on us gradually, in stages, at its own pace and slowly reveals itself to be one of the most rewarding and enriching journeys we ever embark on. I sincerely wish you all the best for your practice and hope one day to meet you on retreat.

So before we start, here are a few guidelines on getting setup…

1. Setup your home space before you practice.

  • Find a quiet place in your home which you can dedicate to your meditation practice. Know that when you go to this place it’s time to meditate.
  • Make sure that you have switched off your mobile phone for the time you will be meditating so that you won’t be disturbed by anybody. This can be really helpful whilst you first start to establish your practice. See it as switching off from the outside world whilst practising your meditation.
  • Try and pick a spot that is not too close to electrical appliances such as tv’s, microwaves, internet wifi routers and fridges/freezers. These kind of appliances can prevent us from really settling deeply into our meditation. Older style radiators can also have this effect.
  • Where possible, switch off your wifi and switch your phone to ‘airplane mode’ whilst meditating. Both of these things have an impact on your environment and as such will have an impact upon you which you may or may not notice. You will find this particularly helpful once you start to develop deeper concentration and a calmer mind.
  • More on this in a further lesson

 

2. What position should I meditate in?

If you can, you should aim to sit cross-legged with no back support. It may take some weeks or even months before this becomes comfortable but if you can start like this, this is how you should continue.

It is better to use a back rest or support than sit in a chair, unless you are suffering from physical injury to the legs, feet or hips, in which case a chair is preferable.

You should not expect to make much progress with real meditation by lying down. The energy of the spine that supports our mental energy is at its weakest in a prone position and so we are more likely to drop into a trance than establish real mental energy and clarity. However, when you are exhausted from time to time it is OK to do your meditation lying down. But don’t make a habit of it or your body’s energy will not open up.

There is a very effective resting position that you can use at any point during a cross-legged sit that will ease any physical discomfort without disrupting your meditation. Simply place your feet flat on the ground with your knees up. Wrap your arms around your knees with the knees resting in the crease of your elbows and hold one wrist in the other hand. In this position you can rest your back, legs and shoulders without disrupting your meditation. You can sit in this position for five minutes or so to rest your legs during your meditation while you are getting used to sitting cross-legged.

 

3. When should I sit?

Try to find a regular time to sit, and fit it into your daily schedule depending upon your nature and your commitments.

Morning or evening?

Morning is a good time to work with the deeper unconscious content of the mind that surfaces in the night during sleep. As you awaken with your mind clear from its normal daily concerns. The challenge is that you may still be sleepy, but stick at it and you will start your day with a clear and bright mind.

Evening; once you have relaxed and gathered yourself from the demands of the day, evening meditation gives you the chance to unwind, process and release the accumulated stress, agitation and misorganised energy you may have accumulated during the day. The challenge will be to let go the things running around in your mind and actually get concentrated. The reward is going to bed relaxed with a clear mind.

 

4. How should I prepare for my meditation?

If you are sitting first thing it is often very useful to sit straight up in bed a few minutes after waking and go directly into your meditation. If you are too sleepy to progress from this basis, get up, splash some water on your face and brush your teeth. But during the week try to do your meditation before actively starting your day. At weekends you may like to take more time over it. Make a note if you find that once you have got up you do not feel like settling into your meditation but instead just want to get on with your day. This is why it is good to meditate before you do anything else.

If you have had a busy day and wish to meditate in the evening, relax and unwind for a while, or take some gentle exercise like a walk or some easy stretching. If you feel drowsy take a shower first, then meditate. You can also prepare yourself for bed so that you can go straight to sleep after your meditation.

 

5. How long should I sit for?

This depends upon you. Sometimes you will want to sit just long enough to get deeply relaxed and feel still. At other times you might like to challenge yourself to sit for longer. Some of you will find it harder to restrain the mind, others harder to restrain the body. But like getting fit, our capacity increases over time as we gradually extend the duration of our meditation.

Following the guided meditation instructions each week will help gradually develop your capacity to sit for longer periods of time. You can of course decide to follow the audio instructions for a few days, and then try meditating without them for a longer time and see how you get on.

Be aware not to sit so long that your concentration has gone and you are drifting into a sleepy trance, or that you are really struggling with your body. Build it up gradually.

Be aware that less than 10 or 12 minutes of practice will not really start to build your mental fitness and concentration levels. You should be aiming to sit a minimum of 15 minutes a day.

 

OK. I hope that is helpful to you.

Happy Meditating…

Burgs