Lesson
13

Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve learned how to arrange the body, you've learned how to breathe and you’ve started to practice a form of mindful attention to the breathing, take a few minutes to actually try putting this all together.

Here are the basic instructions in audio and in text:

Posture:

  • Seat yourself on the forward third of your  cushion or chair, (using a cushion on the chair if needed), so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
  • Rotate your pelvis slightly by gently pressing the small of the back forward.
  • Extend your spine so that your posture is upright, and not leaning to either side or to the front or back.
  • Tuck your chin in slightly and make sure your nose is over your navel and your ears aligned with your shoulders.
  • Place your left hand, palm up, on top of the palm of your right hand. Rest your hands in your lap, on top of your thighs.
  • Keep your eyes slightly open, looking downward in the direction of the  floor a few feet in front of you. Let them drift out of focus.

Breathing:

  • Take a couple of deep slow breaths through the mouth, and exhale freely, to begin.
  • Close your lips and swallow any saliva in your mouth.
  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the front teeth.
  • Exhale each breath relatively slowly and deeply, but don’t force it. Your breathing will naturally tend to slow and deepen by itself, as a result of your posture and mental state. Let this happen.
  • Use your lower abdominal muscles to move air in and out of your body. As you inhale, your abdomen expands outward, as if inflating  an imaginary balloon in your lower belly. As you exhale, your abdomen contracts inward, deflating this imaginary balloon.
  • Let your breathing become regular and continuous, without holding your breath, straining, or gasping. Easy does it. No rush.

Attention:

  • Be aware of your breathing, of  the sensations of breath leaving and entering  your body with each exhalation and inhalation.
  • Direct each breath into the center of your lower abdomen, about two or three inches below the navel.
  • As you exhale, silently count “one”, continuing this number through the following inhalation.
  • At the next exhalation, count “two” silently, and so on, repeating  the process of counting each exhale/inhale cycle as one breath.
  • When you have counted ten breaths,  return to “one”, and begin again.
  • If you notice your attention has wandered, if you forget or if  you lose count or go beyond ten, simply begin over again at “one”.
  • Let your attention remain with your breath. Be patient with yourself, as it may take some time before you can reliably stabilize your attention for an extended period of time.
  • If you find your mind becoming active, with lots of thoughts or memories, emotions, etc., allow yourself to notice this, then return your attention to your breathing.
  • Begin practicing for a short time (5-10 minutes), gradually increasing until you can sit for 30 minutes at a time. Then just do so several times each week, building up to daily sitting.