Practical Meditation Notes

Basically this is a gist of what I learnt at the meditation camp I went to. Just the practical stuff here. If you search the internet you can find other more detailed guides too.

Close your eyes. Any pose will do, but try to keep your back straight. Most sit cross legged, but I’ve done standing, normal sitting down, and sitting with legs outstretched. Try not to move.

1. Anapana

focus on breathing. Don’t control it, just observe it. You’ll try to control it and you’ll be super distracted, but just keep coming back and relax. Focus on feeling sensations on your nose area (above upper lip until the nose bridge slightly below eyes). Can breathe heavily a few times to find the breath.

Next level: reduce the area to below nose and above upper lip (mustache area). Concentrate on this area only.

Also, don’t imagine anything: no religious figures, don’t count your breaths, don’t think “in, out, in, out”. Because that’s a distraction from the real breathing. Just try to feel the breath.

This will help with the next kind of meditation I learnt:

2. Vipassana

Go from top of head to the bottom: try to feel your scalp (every bit of it), face, neck, front of the torso, back. Sides of the torso. Then hips and legs until the toes. I tend to imagine a horizontal line running down my body and feeling each part.

If you can’t feel anything, relax and wait patiently for a few minutes there. If it hurts/feels weird, observe and get curious: try to describe the feeling in neutral words, and for pain, try to find the centre of the pain. Sometimes the pain goes away when I do that. If it’s too much, observe it for a few more seconds before consciously choosing to move.

Keep scanning from top to bottom, bottom to top.

Next level: go deeper when you no longer feel anything except a buzzing/pulsing feeling across the entire body. Try to feel the inside of the body. Imagine yourself penetrating the body. Eventually I could sort of feel this pulsing throughout my body (my heartbeat actually).

Throughout all this, realise that everything is impermanent. Each feeling would come and go, no matter pleasant or unpleasant. The point is to become an observer instead of just reacting. If you find yourself getting annoyed/excited, just think that “this won’t last forever” and try to describe the feeling in neutral terms, eg throbbing or prickly or pinching sensation. Another thing you can try is to think of it as, “this body is feeling a prickly sensation.” Don’t think of “I, me”; treat it like a scientist will when observing things.

3. Metta/Loving Kindness Meditation

When you’ve finished vipassana, can end with a bit of this. Best if you already feel that buzzing/pulsing throughout the body with no blank parts or weird feelings. If you have, rest for a bit then continue.

Basically, send love to other people and animals etc. So like, “may all beings be happy. May all beings find real peace, real happiness, real harmony.”

I tend to imagine an aura enamating from myself, and wish bigger and bigger things well: the room, the building, Singapore, different countries and then the Earth and the universe. Basically zooming outwards.

As my teacher said, it should feel like an overflowing cup. Don’t force the feeling out of yourself (which will be like pouring stuff out), just let it overflow because you feel that great.

Don’t fall asleep!

To combat falling asleep, you can open your eyes, roll them and shake your head when you feel yourself going off. You can also breathe intentionally for a few breaths (although I don’t find this very helpful).

You can also stand up and do the stuff with eyes open and downcast.

(Apparently the falling asleep thing is you trying to escape from the meditation. My teacher said that even if there was enough sleep you’d still fall asleep. Although, for me I think it’s worsened by lack of sleep. Haha!)

Have fun!

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