Learn Meditation for Difficult Times

Learn Meditation–a skill and a prac­tice that we talk about a lot. It’s in my books, and a part of our life. 

Finding Your Flexibility
Find­ing Your Flexibility

Want more help with things like deal­ing with stress, learn­ing to com­bat pain nat­u­ral­ly, med­i­ta­tion and Qi Gong? Check out our Book / Videos pack­et, Find­ing Your Flex­i­bil­i­ty. It’s a pdf guide, and a group of online videos. 

learn meditation kneeling posture
Kneel­ing Posture

My own expe­ri­ence with med­i­ta­tion began in 1969, and good ole’ Elmhurst Col­lege. There was a Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion Group on cam­pus, and I checked it out.

One thing I learned was that I didn’t like mantras  —  you got “giv­en” one by the leader, and were sup­posed to focus on it as you “sat.” My lit­tle mind nev­er did like being told what to do… at least by outsiders.

But I liked the idea of “just sit­ting,” and did so in fits and starts for some years. Some decades lat­er, hav­ing spent much time read­ing Zen lit­er­a­ture, I decid­ed we need­ed some for­mal Zen training.

Off Dar and I went to the Toronto Zen Centre

The process there was pret­ty rigid and for­mal, and again, nether of us were fans. But the leader was kind of neat. We had a long “sit” and prac­ticed a cou­ple of the “nor­mal” Zen techniques:

  • count­ing breaths
  • count­ing only in-breaths

This was preceded by lessons in how to sit.

chair meditation
chair med­i­ta­tion

I still believe that “prop­er” med­i­ta­tion involves cush­ions and one of the approved of pos­tures. But as I’ve got­ten old­er, and because we are now tavel­ling most of the time (hence no cush­ions), I’ve come to believe that any “sit­ting qui­et­ly” time is bet­ter than none.

Let me outline a seated in a chair posture, and then give you a couple of focus suggestions.

I’m present­ly writ­ing this in Spain and am sit­ting at the din­ing room table. The chairs are wood­en. They’d be per­fect for meditation.

  • You want a firm, sol­id, un-padded chair.
  • Sit on the front half of the chair, so your back IS NOT touch­ing the chair’s back. Plant your feet firm­ly on the ground, maybe a foot or so apart.
  • Sit up straight. Imag­ine that a hook is attached to the top of your head, and is pulling upward.
  • Sway a bit side to side, feel­ing for “cen­tre.” Sway a bit front to back, feel­ing for “cen­tre.”
  • Keep your eyes open and relaxed, and tip your head down just a tad, so you’re look­ing 4–6 feet ahead.
  • Cross your hands on your lap.

Of course, there’s a video.

How to Quiet Your Mind

Med­i­ta­tion is not, as peo­ple often mis­tak­en­ly assume, about emp­ty­ing your mind of all thoughts. The nature of our mind is to have thoughts. Thoughts arise and will per­sist in doing so if we try to stop them. Bud­dhists call this the “mon­key mind.”

Rather, we can give the mind some­thing to do; whether that’s count­ing breaths, or sim­ply watch­ing itself do its thing.

Count­ing breaths: Our lit­tle minds do like assign­ments. This one is sim­ple. Count each in-breath and each out-breath. Try to get to 20.

You won’t… but try.

You won’t because our minds get bored, and are also quite used to toss­ing up dumb thoughts. So, when a thought aris­es, have a breath, and start back at 1.

Just sit: There is a whole school in Zen devot­ed to “just sit­ting.” Instead of count­ing, just breathe com­fort­ably. As a thought aris­es, say inter­nal­ly, “think­ing.” Let the thought go.

Remem­ber: Our ten­den­cy is to fol­low our thoughts. We see a scene from our past, and poof, we’re 20 and med­i­tat­ing at good ole’ Elmhurst College.

So, the goal here, such as it is, is to gen­tly stop the thought-stream. As soon as you notice you’ve pulled an Elvis (you’ve left the build­ing…) have a breath, and come back to just sitting.

Do either of these methods for 15 minutes per day. for a week or so. If it’s working for you, go for 30 minutes.

That is basi­cal­ly it. Thoughts will come and go. We do not need to lay any heavy trip upon our­selves for hav­ing thoughts. Just notice them, and remind the mind of its task.


breath posture
Breath Pos­ture

Breath­work is a Haven cre­ation, and a great way to get into your body before or after a “day to remem­ber.” No props necessary.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Raise your knees so your feet are about one foot from your butt.
  • Move your feet so they and your knees are about a fist’s width apart. (Obvi­ous­ly, insert your fist between your knees to check.)
  • Close your eyes
  • Open your mouth an inch or so.
  • Breathe. The in-breath should fill your lungs and ele­vate your chest AND your belly.
  • Breathe out. On the out-breath, make a sound, start­ing with “ah.”
  • As you breathe, you can mas­sage your jaw hinges.

Here’s a video!

Check out our page on Breathwork, here.

Give this a try, and notice how quick­ly emo­tions arise. Just let them come.

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