A 20-Minute Practice to Deepen Your Awareness
This is a guided meditation focused on deepening your capacity for awareness, for freeing yourself, and for allowing yourself to settle into the present moment. This practice may ultimately lead you to experience greater dominion over the mind, greater capacities that clear the mind, and increase your capacity to focus. You may also experience a greater capacity for insight, as you notice what arises when you are able to rest in a state of calm, while allowing thoughts to subside.
In addition to assisting you in deepening your capacity to settle into the sense of presence and groundedness beneath thought, this practice can really be an important support for your work in the world with others.
A Guided Practice to Deepen Your Capacity for Awareness
1. Feel the position of your body as you consciously invite these moments of meditation. Bring intentionality and commitment to these moments of practice. Begin with a few very deep breaths, sensing into the sensations of breathing in and out. Notice the rising and falling of your belly as you breathe deeply down into your diaphragm, expanding as you breathe in and then sensing into the contraction and collapsing of your belly as you breathe out. Bring your full attention this moment; to the sensations of your body as it breathes.
The invitation is to rest in these moments as you breathe out and breathe in, and notice that you’re alive.
2. If a position other than sitting is more appropriate for your body in this moment, you’re fully supported in choosing the position that’s right for you. Whatever your position, notice points of contact between your body and the floor, whether it be mediated through a chair, or coming to your sense awareness through the impressions of contact. Notice the sensations of your feet on the ground, the soles of your feet on the ground, your buttocks, or your ankles if you’re sitting in a more traditional cross-legged position. Bring attention to those points of contact between the ground beneath you and your body in this moment. As you do so, perhaps sense the support that exists for you in this moment, and these impressions of contact with the earth.
3. You might gently scan up from the region of your sit bones through to your core, up through your chest. Check in with your body in this moment. As you breathe in and breathe out, notice if there are any places where you’re holding in any tension. The invitation is to rest in these moments as you breathe out and breathe in, and notice that you’re alive. Invite a sense of rest and letting go.
Focus on Your Breath
4. See if you can bring more of your focused attention to the specific sensations of breathing that are most salient and prominent to you in this moment. Rest your mind on the sensations of sitting and breathing in this moment. Breathe in and breathe out.
5. Invite your mind to rest on these sensations, noticing the in-breathe and the out-breath. Follow along as closely as possible, as you complete a cycle of breathing in while noticing the point of the beginning of the in-breath, while attending to the sensations of breathing. Rest in the sensations of breathing and sitting.
6. See if you can bring your attention to the activity of the mind in this moment. Consciously invite an examination of focusing in on thoughts that may arise as you invite these moments of sitting. Bring mindful awareness to thoughts, and as you think, you’re gently appreciating that this is what the mind does. If any thought arises, the invitation is simply to notice your mind thinking and let it go with a gentle appreciation of the fact that you recognize that the thought had arisen for you.
Notice What Thoughts Arise
7. With gentle compassion, notice the thoughts. See if you can practice simply letting the thought go, and bring your attention back to that point of contact that you chose, where you can feel the sensations of breathing in and breathing out anchored in your body in this moment.
8. It may assist you as you are practicing awareness of thoughts to simply notice any thoughts that arise, or any thinking. Allow yourself to notice anything that is arising in the mind, whether it be a thought, emotion, or a sensation. See if you just can just notice. Simply notice whatever thoughts arise, and with this practice intentionally invite letting go of the thought, and coming back into conscious attending to the sensations of breathing in and breathing out. Sit in this field of awareness in this moment.
9. If thoughts arise, as they will from time to time, with this practice we’re developing the capacity to meet what arises with gentle friendly compassion.
10. As you notice a thought, the invitation is to see the mindful moment as the moment when you become aware, that even as you have invited yourself to rest in the sensations of breathing, the mind is engaged in thought. Without being harsh or severely critical of yourself, gently and with compassion simply note that you are “thinking”, and bring your attention back to the sensations of breathing and sitting. Rest in the ease of this moment.
Begin to Visualize
11. It may assist you as you work on becoming more mindful of thinking to imagine each thought as a cloud appearing in a blue sky. You might imagine that as this thought arises, a cloud comes together. You notice it and gently allow it to drift on by, just as you might notice a cloud passing the field of the sky.
12. Another visualization that’s often a part of traditional teachings is to imagine thoughts as a stream of water, or thoughts as what might arise in the stream of water that you might be witnessing. You might see a leaf or a twig gently floating by. If you imagine your deeper mind as a stream, or being an energy itself, any thoughts, sensations or emotions that arise might be seen as a twig or a leaf just floating along. We don’t want to grab the twig or the leaf, but simply allow it to float on by, just as we are working to allow our thoughts to float on by and dissolve. They will be there again when we’re ready to take them up into our lives, but for these moments we’re practicing noticing, recognizing the arising of thought, and gently bringing our attention back to the sensations of sitting and being with the breath.
13. As this meditation comes to a close, gently notice any way in which the body is experiencing its own well-being in this moment. You might place one hand over the heart in a gesture of self-compassion and appreciation for the body in this moment, the body-mind system, and the energy of being present that has accompanied you in your experience of this meditation moment. Whether you’ve struggled or whether you are rested in calm, bring a sense of genuine gratitude to that within you that has allowed you to take these moments for yourself and for your greater awareness. Awareness that may support you in being more rightly and more richly with others in the world. May you be well on the journey of this day, may you be safe, may you be at ease, may you be brave.