Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Exercise two - Concentration on the hands of a watch

This exercise needs a watch with a second hand, not digital display. 
Alternatively, a clock with a second hand can be used provided it can be placed fairly near.

"Holding the watch before you, allow your attention to focus on the face of the watch and the movement of the second hand...... maintain an awareness of your body, breathing easily, from the abdomen, relaxed. Without words, keep  your concentrating on the face of the watch for 1 minute........"
(once the attention can be maintained, without internal dialogue or distraction, the time for the exercise can gradually be lengthened.

Exercise 3 - Zazen

(Participants seated in chairs)

"Draw yourself up as if a piece of string were attached to the back of your head and pulled upwards towards teh ceiling. Now, gentrly allow the tension to release, keeping the spine quite straight and relaxed - the shoulders in line with the ears, the nose in line with the navel. This prevents unnessary tension on the neck............

"Breathe out - through the mouth - just this first time, getting the lungs completely empty of air....Let the air bounce back, thus setting the level of air in the lungs.....Now breath out slowly and steadily, counting 'one' to yourself as you do so.  Breath in again and out, this time counting 'two' on the out breath and continue until you get to ten. Then you start again at 'one'.

Breath always through the nose, inhaling just as much as you feel you need, pushing forward the lowest part of the abdomen - at the level of the naval - to draw the air in on the in breath and pulling the lowest part of the abdomen in to expel the air on the out breath. The rib cage should remain still while breathing in this manner. If necessary, loosen tight clothing to allow this movement freely. This breathing is called 'diaphragmatic breathing' or 'abdominal breathing'.

See your breath as forming a circle, like the rotating wheel of a bicycle. Imagine a point on the rim of the wheel. As this point moves upwards, you breath in, until at the top of the inhalation is complete......and the out breath begins. This continues as the air is expelled until, when the point reaches the bottom of the cycle.... the next inhalation begins. This way, the in breath and out breath are of the same length and there is no sustained holding of breath between.

"To check the manner in which you are breathing, place on hand lightly on the top of the rib cage, just below the throat and the other on the abdomen, at the level of the naval, and become aware of the movement while you breath. For Zazen, the top of the chest should remain quite still. The abdomen moves out on the in breath and moves in on the out breath, like a pair of bellows causing the air to be drawn into the space vacated by the movement of the diaphragm and expelled by its return movement.

"Continue counting on each out breath, from 'one' to 'ten' and then starting again at 'one'. There is no need for thinking.....just be aware of the gentle easy breathing.............the eyes can be open or closed, but to start with, the meditation is normally easier with eyes closed.......

"Gradually, you will become able to concentrate with more and more success on the numbers of your breaths. Your mind may wander, and you may find yourself carried away on trains of thought, but it will gradually become easier and easier to bring your mind back to the counting of your breath.

(continue for 5 or 10 minutes Max often played a tape of 'Zen' Japanese music, with no words or overt rhythm. With those new to this way of breathing , it is well worth checking the pattern of breathing and correcting if necessary).



 



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