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The Four Positions

17 Apr 2016   Shanti Gowans
THE FOUR POSITIONS
 
Sitting Meditation
Sit crossed legged,
or use a meditation stool
or chair without back support (unless necessary).
Sit upright.
Straighten your back by gently rolling your hips forward and up.
Hold your neck straight, with your chin slightly tucked in.
Close your eyes
Avoid the use of will power to hold your posture. 
Let your body settle into the posture with an alert presence.
With a feeling of expansion in your chest and diaphragm area,
bring your full awareness to the immediacy of things.
 
Walking Meditation
Rest one hand on the other,
at your heart or abdomen.
Allocate 5 to 15 metres for your walking meditation space.
Walk up and down
with moment to moment awareness.
Take slow, short steps,
gnetly placing the heel of one foot
in front of the toes of the other.
Use your eyes for seeing ahead
and for your balance.
Be mindful of each foot touching the ground,
and respectful to each step on the earth.
To walk on the earth is a miracle.
 
Standing Meditation
Stand with your toes and heels close together.
Place your hands together on your abdomen.
With eyes open,
experience the presence of the whole body
from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
Then experience the stillness of posture,
the vibration of life
and a sense of being. 
 
Lying Meditation
Lie down on your back
with feet slightly falling apart.
Place your arms beside you on the ground.
Close your eyes  
and experience the presence of your whole body, 
from the soles of your feet
to the top of your head.
Then experience the stillness of posture,
the vibration of life
and a sense of being. 

MEDITATION IN DAILY LIFE
You can receive the benefits of formal meditation practice by weaving mindfulness into your daily life.
 
Turn off your thoughts,
release your to-do list from your mind
and simply be present.
Take time out to be aware
 of everything around you.
The small moments you have alone
are all opportunities
to enter a 'present' i.e. meditative state of mind
 
Eating Meditation
Eat vegetarian or vegan food.
Initially, reflect on the world-wide dependency
that makes a meal possible.
Maintain silence throughout the meal,
with an alert posture.
Eat in a conscious and unhurried way,
mindfully tasting, chewing and swallowing your food.
Focus on the textures of the food.
Experience the different flavours in your mouth,
and the way the food makes you feel
as you chew each mouthful.
Conclude with a reflection
as a thanksgiving.
 

Bringing Mindfulness to Meals

1. Extensive labour has brought us this food, and we can reflect upon how it comes to us. 

2. As we partake of our meal, we can consider whether our virtue and practice deserves it. 

3. Because we choose to cultivate the natural order of our mind to be free from clinging, we must be free from greed.

4. To support our life we take this food.

5. To attain enlightenment we take this food.

6. This food is for our three treasures: wisdom, purpose and spiritual community.

7. It is for our teachers, parents, family, friends, and all sentient beings.

8. It is for all beings in the six worlds.

9. Thus we eat this food with everyone.

10. We eat to stop all evil, to practice good, to save all sentient beings and to accomplish our yogic way. 

 
During your Shower
While you are showering, xone into the present moment.
Allow yourself to feel the water wash over your body
and experience the calming energy of the water.
Quieten your mind and let go into relaxing
as you take this quiet time out for yourself.
 
INSIGHT MEDITATION AND INQUIRY
 
Insight Meditaion on the Mindfulness of Breathing
Formal insight meditation on the breath can take place in a variety of situation, indoors or out, pleasant or unpleasant, for whatever period of time that feels skilful and appropriate.
 
In the sitting posture,
Be mindful of the full breath experience.
 
Experience the body expanding with each inhalation
and contracting with each exhalation. 
 
Whether the breath is rough or smooth,
shallow or deep,
allow the breath to flow in and out of the body.
 
Be aware of change,
of the impermanence of all experiences.
The breath comes and goes,
like all events, experiences and situations.
 
Let the brain cells become quiet.
 
Allow the mindfulness of breathing
to contribute to
the harmony of your mind and body,
your direct experience of organic life,
and transpersonal insights.
 
Experience the air element flowing into and expanding cellular life
as a contribution to stress reduction, healing and wellbeing.
 
The air element confirms our intimacy and interconnection
with the surrounding world.
Allow this perception to run deep,
to reveal liberation from self-centred existence
 
Overcoming Obstacles
- If you are tired, keep your eyes open.
- If restless, breathe long and deep, and relax with the out breath.
 
 
Loving Kindness Meditation
 
Be relaxed and comfortable.
Close your eyes and access a warm, caring, loving heartfulness towards life.
 
Be aware of the absence of ill-will, desire to hurt or hate, so that you expderience an authentic kindness.
 
Generate this warmth to those who are in the immediate vicinity, and to those who are far away.
 
Continue to develop this meditation so that kindness becomes firm and steady, despite the vicissitudes of existence.
 
May my teachers, community, loved ones, friends and contacts be free from suffering and pain.
May my brothers, sisters and relatives be free from suffering.
May people appreciate their inter-dependence with each other and their environment.
May animals and creatures in the earth, on the ground, in the air and water live in safety and security.
May I abide with a warm heart, clear mind and be free from pain.
May my daily activities through body, speech, heart and mind contribute to the contentment, healing and insight of others.
May I find the resources for the welfare of others.
May I be willing to take risks for their wellbeing.
May all being be happy.
May all beings be free.
May all beings be enlightened.
 
Giving, generosity, offers a continuous inquiry into many assumptions we have about our relationship to life.
Why do I give?
Am I expecting something in return?
Are giving and receiving so separate?
 
SUGGESTIONS FOR SITTING GROUPS 
 
• Facilitator to welcome attendees.
• Give a brief outline for the session.
• Offer a brief outline of meditation 
• Offer basic meditation instructions, for example:
- 30 minutes meditation, sitting in a circle, using cushions, wooden stools or chairs.
- 15 mins if inquiry, such as…
How did you feel during meditation?
Was there discomfort or pain in the body?
Did the mind wander very much?
Were you involved in a personal story line?
Did you feel present to the here and now?
How did you feel after the meditation?
 
After the group has shared its experiences about the meditation, it might then wish to go into a life theme.
- Do you need to make changes in your life?
- How do you work with selfishness, agression, insecurity?
- What shows a committment to a compassionate and liberated life?
 
Or, read a passage on the spiritual life from a book, followed by discussion.
 
Or, watch a video talk or listen to a taped talk, followed by discussion.
 
Remember to decide a time and place for the next meeting.
 
Remember to start and end meetings punctually.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography


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