Five Minute Meditations
“Welcome to 5 minute meditations, a series of practices designed to center, connect, and re–focus your attention to a deeper part of you. This part of you is beyond your thoughts, your mental intelligence, or the story of your life, and yet, paradoxically, knowing & experiencing it regularly will have the result of improving the clarity of your thoughts, the efficiency of your mind, and the story of your life in miraculous ways.
The simple realization that we are more than our thoughts or emotions can be quite liberating. The practice that puts you in touch with this reality is life altering. It’s simple. We do it by getting in touch with the silent field of stillness that exists inside of you and is at the same time greater than you. This is who you really are, and each time you connect with it, it brings more peace & clarity into your life and therefore into the world.
This part of of each of us exists beneath all of the weather of life. It exists beneath life’s ups & downs and beyond our thoughts and the needless suffering created by them. It is always available, in every moment, and these meditations will help you to access it within yourself, so that it becomes less about you moving through life and more about the life that is moving through you.
It’s about deeply connect with the friendliness that is in the present moment, waiting like a gift for each of us. And in that way, the exercises are meant to be used in everyday life- not just on a meditation cushion. My hope is that they will have in-the-moment application for you in your life in the same way they have for me & so many others. Peace.”
HOW TO MEDITATE
In terms of positioning, best is a seated position in a chair with palms facing up resting on the legs. The spine is straight and not resting back on anything. The idea is to be relaxed but focused, not trying too hard to DO anything but rather allowing yourself to BE, be aware of a deeper part of yourself, already present and often unnoticed. It may be easiest at first to focus with your eyes closed, but you might try open eyes with an inward gaze as well. There are no hard and fast rules here, it’s more about being comfortable but alert.
How do we do the rest of it? Even if we haven’t sat in a formal practice, we have all meditated. Anything that puts us in a state of conscious awareness of the present moment beyond the mind or the mind’s idea about it is meditation. We have many experiences of meditative state in our lives- powerful moments of awe and wonder; experiences of thoughtless awareness. Here we recreate this state through focusing our attention on pointers that exist beyond the mind: the greater intelligence in the inner body, the breath, space, silence, nature, allowing and stillness. These things exist beyond the mind but are still a part of us. When we find ourselves lost in a thought or emotion during meditation, rather than trying to stop the thought or emotion, we simply turn our attention away from it and back toward the larger moment. We let our experience of the moment be more interesting than our thoughts about it. A final prompt we use to bring ourselves back to the present moment is the bells. When I ring the bell, let it bring your attention away from your thoughts about what you are doing and back to the doing itself.
Know that once you become familiar with these different doorways through which you can enter the present moment (the inner body, breath, nature, silence space, allowing, stillness), you can call them to your attention whenever needed for instant awareness. Whenever you find yourself giving 100% of your attention to your thoughts. you can immediately connect with a deeper part of yourself, boundless and eternal.
Bring your awareness to your right hand. Feel the energy field of the right hand. What sensations do you feel (tingling, prana, energy, your pulse, blood pumping through the body)? Just notice the sensations. Now bring your awareness to your feet- the toes, sole of the foot, and heel. Notice how they feel. Become aware of the greater intelligence at work in the body. The body’s intelligence exists beyond our understanding and it keeps going despite our lack of attention toward it. We can notice the body and the body’s reaction to that noticing. It may wake up or certain parts may feel dull. Don’t judge the sensations. Just feel them. Allow any thoughts to be there, but continue to return your awareness to each part of the body. Continue your focal awareness at each point of the body- ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, heart, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, head. Notice differences in each area. This is not about making the whole body feel great. It is about simply feeling what sensations are present in the body right now. Next time it will be different. Now focus your awareness on the entire energy field of the body at the same time. Beginning with the feet, “run” your awareness up and down the body in a wave. Notice how it feels. As you open your eyes, keep some awareness on the inner body.
“The mind can go in many different directions in a split second. The breath has only one path- inhalation & exhalation.” – IyengarTune into the larger intelligence at work in the breath. Breath happens all day long, all of our lives, without our being aware of it. Without it we would not have life. It is one of the very first things we do as we enter the world, and it is one of the last things we will do as we exit. Become aware of the breath. Tune into the feeling of it entering your body at each different point- your nose, your throat, your lungs. Stay with one inbreath and one outbreath- keep all of your awareness on it. Now try it again. Use the breath as your focal point, or mantra. Constantly bring yourself back to your inbreath, then your outbreath. Notice the space between your inbreath & outbreath. Notice the space in which your breath happens, so that it becomes less about you breathing and more about life breathing through you.
WATCH THE THINKER
“Thinking plays only a subordinate part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act itself.” Albert Einstein
We cannot enter a meditative state through the mindstream, but by only letting it go and simply allowing our thoughts to be there. Allow whatever thoughts that come up to be there. Watch them as they happen. Notice the speed at which they happen, the intensity of some of them. Don’t judge them- don’t become attached to them or lost in them. Allow them to be there. Keep some attention on the space around the thoughts, in which they happen. Who is doing the watching? A higher dimension of consciousness. This is who you really are-the mind is only a small portion of you. As you go through the day, watch yourself. Be the awareness in which your actions and thoughts happen. /
Picture a vast blue sky. Imagine that you are the sky. Now imagine that your thoughts are clouds. Each cloud represents a feeling or a thought. Watch the clouds, the speed at which they move, their density. At times the sky might be totally clear. Other times it may be full of clouds, all strung together with no space in between like one long cloud. Some clouds may be fluffy and white, some may be dense and dark and full of rain. Just watch the clouds as they roll by. Now allow yourself to focus on the blue sky underneath the clouds, bright with the light of the sun. You are the blue sky, and remain constant throughout all of the movement of the various thoughts and emotions. You are the greater awareness in which the thoughts happen.
“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion” – Democritus
Be aware of the space in which all forms exist. Beneath everything there is only space. Infinite space. The body alone is comprised of @ 98% space and 2% matter. The universe is the same. Become aware of this space- the space inside your body, the space between your breaths, the space between your thoughts, the space in which you sit, the space between all movement, noise, and forms. This is the majority of the universe. Bring this background into the foreground of your awareness.
Become aware of the stillness underneath all movement. Movement is ripples on the surface of life itself. Imagine a deep ocean. You are the ocean. Your thoughts are like waves on the surface of the ocean. Sometimes they are big; at its worst, life may feel like a hurricane or a tsunami- the waves may even feel like they are drowning us. Sometimes the ocean is calm and reflects everything around it like a mirror- it holds everything in itself momentarily. Underneath the waves a vast deep well of still water always exists. This is who you really are, and you can access it at any time. The ocean’s surface is a minute percentage of its real depth- the largest wave at the top may be 100 feet, but the depth and stillness of the ocean goes down for thousands of feet- it drops off the continental shelf and goes down for miles- no one really knows how deep it goes- it has not been measured. Keep your attention on the still part of the ocean, on the stillpoint at the very center of your being- silent, spacious, unmoving, Let your attention emanate from this point. This is always accessible to you. Anytime you feel caught up in waves of emotions, thoughts, or physical discomfort, you can dive into the limitless stillness below.
Concentrate on this very moment and the world that lies within it- the sounds, sensed movement, sensations. Don’t name them, just sense them. Be the observing presence of this moment as it unfolds. Relax into not knowing without jumping into thoughts about what is coming next. Allow your thoughts to be there, but don’t judge them- don’t become attached to them or lost in them. There is nothing you can add to this moment by interpreting it. Create space around the thoughts. Any time you feel any kind of constricted energy, or trying, relax into it- allow it to be there, but create space around it. Relax into the space in which this moment happens. If you like, bring awareness to an area of discomfort in the body. Allow it to be there. Become intensely conscious of how it feels. Allow some space around the feeling. Relax into it. What physical sensations do you actually feel? Allowing creates a bubble of gentleness around whatever it is we feel. It softens our experience of the moment. How much can you allow things to be exactly as they are, without focusing on how you would like them to be? How much can you yield to rather than oppose the flow of life?
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” -Mahatma GandhiListen for the silence in which all sound happens. Every sound is born out of silence, dies, and retreats back into the silence from which it came. Become aware of the silence in which sounds happen. Notice silence- the silence between breaths, between sounds, into which a sound retreats. Like the calm quiet of a newly fallen snow, allow silence to blanket the noise of the moment. Expand you awareness of this already present feature of the moment. Practice silence for a period of time each day- 1/2 hour, or each week (for example, Sunday morning from 8-10am will be spent in silence). It will make you aware of how many wasted words we all use;how much unnecessary noise we make.
It is easier to enter the present moment while in a natural place, because a natural place carries the vibration of all that is- it is not a product of our minds but exists outside of it. Contemplate a tree- it has no worries; the branches do not fight with one another; the leaves on a tree are not concerned about their imminent death but fully embody their present reality. Notice the natural surrender inherent in other life. A cat does not have a worry about a future moment. It deals with each moment as it arises. Make it a point to access nature for 5 minutes a day. Experience nature with quiet, non-naming awareness. Just looking at an object in nature can bring you immediately beyond the mind into thoughtless awareness.