Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meditatiion Postures and 100 Breath Counting Meditation

Here is the next section from the Art of Meditation by Sifu Philip Bonifonte. A proper meditation posture is necessary to achieve the best results from your meditation. Below are descriptions of the three types of meditation postures used to facilitate a state of complete relaxation and achieve the best flow of Chi. After this section, you will find a Taoist meditation technique so you can begin your meditation. It is called "100 counting breath meditation". If this is too difficult, then try 10 breath meditation first.


In the previous exercise, we have relearned how to breathe naturally with Normal and Reverse breathing. Now we can use these breathing methods to begin our meditation practice. Before we meditate, we need to be prepared. We need to find a place that is quiet and comfortable. It is a good idea to set a time aside just for meditation, so we will not be disturbed by others. Incense and soft music will help, but they are only accessories. Whatever is best for you as long as you can stay relaxed and not be disturbed by it. It is said that "the amateur meditates to relax, while the professional relaxes to meditate." So we must relax in order to meditate. The meditative environment and meditation posture will help us greatly in achieving the state of total relaxation. There are 3 major postures for meditation: sitting, standing, and the seated pose.

Sitting pose:

the meditators cross their legs to create a base for sitting on the floor.

Crossed legs: simply cross the legs in front of the body. Both feet are hid under the thigh. It is easier, and is recommended for beginner.

Half Lotus: cross one leg on top of the other. Place one foot on top of the opposite thigh. The sole of the foot is to face upward. This posture requires greater flexibility of the leg, and the ankle. It is more difficult than the crossed leg, but it provides a stronger base. The foot that is facing upward can be used to channel down energy.

Full Lotus: same as the Half Lotus except that both legs are cross, and both feet are on the opposite thigh. Both feet should face the sky. As your flexibility increases, the feet should come closer to the body. This posture is the most difficult, but it gives the meditator a solid base. The Full Lotus also provides the body with extra blood supply from the legs, as the legs were crossed. This enables more energy to travel upward to the higher centers.

In all 3 of these sitting postures, the hands can be place either overlapped in front of the dantien or on the knee palms up. This allows us to receive energy from the Heaven (Universal Chi). Together with the energy received from soles of the feet, especially in the Full Lotus, the whole body is bathed in heavenly chi. This Universal Chi, which is yang in nature, will ascend upward to the higher centers for advanced meditation. The general rule for these sitting postures is that you should work from whichever is most comfortable first. If your body is not flexible enough for the Full Lotus, do the Half Lotus. If you force yourself into a posture, the pain will only distract you during meditation. Another rule is concerning the placement of the hands and feet. Generally, if your left hand is on top of the right hand, then your left legs should be on top of the right leg, and vise versa. Remember to keep your body and your head erect as in any other posture.

Advantages of the sitting pose: stable, ability to absorb Universal Chi, helps leading energy upward.

Disadvantages: weak Earth Chi connection, difficult on the legs for the beginner.

Standing pose:

the standing posture is popular among martial artists and healers, because it is a powerful tool for developing internal energy and Rooting. There are many standing postures, the most popular one is the Tree Standing, where the body weight is evenly disturbed between two legs.

In standing meditation, the practitioner is to stand still for up to an hour. It might seem like the person is not doing anything, but the physical and mental workloads are equal to, if not beyond, any other physical exercise. This is what the Taoist called "seeking motion within stillness". In this seemingly motionless posture, the practitioner is to observe changes in energetic patterns within and outside the body. Besides building the leg’s strength, standing opens the hands and feet channels naturally. It can also teach the practitioner grounding, where excess energy is ground to the earth. In the standing posture, Heavenly chi (Universal Chi) can come in from the crown of the head, and Earth Chi can come in from the sole of the feet (KI 1). So standing is used for cultivating the chi. (see more about standing here)

Advantages: balanced energy from both Heaven and Earth, grounding, builds leg strength, opens the hands and feet channels, cultivates chi, develops fighting and healing power, an ability to "listen" to the body, and all-over body conditioning.

Disadvantages: tiring on the legs, too overwhelming for beginner to use as a meditation pose, because too much is going on at once inside the body.

Seated pose:

meditating while sitting on a chair. It is the most comfortable meditation pose. Practitioner is to sit on the "sitting bone" on the outer 1/3 of the chair. This allows the genital to breathe. The head and back is upright and erect. Don’t lean on the back of the chair, it will obstruct the chi flow in the back. Feet are placed flat on the floor and parallel to each other. The hands can either be placed on the knee or overlapped in front of the abdominal. It is very comfortable and easy to meditate in this posture, because you don’t have to support your own weight.

Advantages: advantages of the other two postures; comfortable and easy to maintain, balanced chi from Heaven and Earth,

Disadvantages: TOO comfortable, while having little advantages of the other two postures, it is not as intensive as other two.

100 Breath Counting Meditation

Now we will use the breathing method we have learned in the past exercise and incorporate it into this beginning mediation exercise. This meditation technique will calm our mind and help us concentrate. It will also allow us to cultivate chi into the dantien.

In this exercise we are to forget about the past and stop planning for the future, so that our mind will be unite with our body. We will concentrate on the present moment. We will use our breathing to help us achieve the "now".

Use any meditation pose that is the most comfortable. Breathe with Normal Breathing as learned from the previous exercise. Keep the body relax and touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth. When breathing in, follow the in-breathe from the nostrils to the throat, lung, solar plexus, and finally the dantien. Breathe in deeply and slowly. Pause for a moment, then breathe out slowly following the same route from the dantien out to the nose. Count to yourself "one". This is one breathing cycle. Repeat. If any thought comes up, and you find your mind is wandering, recount to zero. Do this until you can count to one hundred. Then repeat the cycle if desire. This exercise is much easier to said then done. Although, it seems simple and too easy, it lays the foundation for further meditation. Once you can work up to a hundred, you can then forget about the counting. Do not cheat yourself by breathing faster. Counting to a hundred is not the point of this exercise. The point of this exercise is to gain control over the mind. Let any thought springs naturally and leaves naturally. Do not try to fight it. We are not trying to stop the flow of consciousness, but instead slow it down.

Another important point is to keep your body relax and concentrate on the dantien. This will let the chi to accumulate and sink to the dantien. Because we are cultivating chi in this exercise, we need to close this meditation with a closing form. Closing form allows us to safely store away the chi we have cultivated. It is extremely important to do the closing form after each exercise, so the energy will not get stuck somewhere in the body, causing unnecessary side effect.

Closing form:

.Close your eyes and relax your body. Relieve yourself from whatever you were doing. Calm your mind down and focus on your dantien.

.Breathe deeply three times (3 cycles) into your dantien and gather the chi there (use you mind to "lead" the chi, don’t force it). Then overlap your hands on top of other, and place it in front of your dantien.

For men: put your left hand on top of the right hand. Spiral your chi in the dantien, in a counterclockwise direction (facing the clock) 36 times, then clockwise 24 times. Condense the chi from a ball into a dot.

For women: put your right hand on top of the left hand. Spiral your chi in the dantien, in a direction clockwise (facing the clock) 36 times, then counterclockwise 24 times. Condense the chi from a ball into a dot.

.At the end, mentally say to yourself "I am done", then slowly open your eyes.

Optional closing form (this is optional, use it after you have done the regular closing form):

After chi work, our hands are charged with plenty of fresh chi. Instead of letting it disperse into the atmosphere, we can use it to refresh yourself. After the closing form, rub your hands together until they are hot, this should not take more than a few seconds, since the hands are charged with energy.

.Then use your hands to cup both eyes. Inhale and visualize light going into your eyes. [Visualization works because chi follows the mind. "Wherever the mind goes, the chi follows." Visualizing a light coming in is just as effective as using the mind to lead the chi in.]

Rub your eyes lightly with the root of the thumb (the meaty part) in circles. 8 times for men and 7 times for women. This will energized and brighten your eyes. Rub the hands again if necessary, before continue.

.Then use your hands to rub your face in a circle. 8 times for men and 7 times for women. This will rejuvenate your skin and complexion.

.Brush your hair with your hands from front to back. 8 times for men and 7 times for women.

. Beat teeth together 36 times. This will strengthen your teeth.

. Open your mouth as wide as possible, like a lion roaring. This will release tension trapped in the jaw.

. At the end, you may massage yourself at major acupuncture points. (check in a meridian map)

this optional form will rejuvenate yourself, keeping you youthful. It will also strenghten your teeth, and brighten your eyes.

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