The Practice Of Mindfulness Meditation
Our weekly practice is composed of two forty-five minute segments. In the first hour we sit silently for 20 minutes, then practice a short walking meditation, followed by another sitting meditation which might be guided. The second hour includes a Dharma reading, then Dharma discussion in which all participants are invited to share their experience and discuss the reading. We end with a time for announcements and taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Our practice is to conclude by affirming: “May the fruits of our practice benefit all beings.”
Mindfulness meditation, “Sit or lie down in a way that allows your body to rest. Sitting, your head and spine form a straight line. Relax all your muscles. Find a way of sitting that allows you to sit for at least 20 minutes without becoming too stiff or tired. As soon as you sit down, pay attention to your breath. Then notice your posture, a little bit everywhere. Relax the muscles in your face. If you are angry or worried, those muscles will be tense. Smile lightly, and you will relax hundreds of muscles in your face. Then notice your shoulders, and let go of the tension there. Don’t try too hard. Just breathe mindfully, and scan your whole body.”
“Walk more slowly than you usually do, but not too slowly, while breathing normally. Do not try to control your breathing. Walk along this way for a few minutes. Then notice how many steps you take as your lungs fill and how many steps you take as they empty. In this way, your attention includes both breath and steps. You are mindful of both…. Your half-smile brings calmness and delight to your steps and your breath…. After a few hours of serious practice, you will find that the four of them — the breath, the counting, the steps, and the half-smile — blend together in a marvelous balance of mindfulness. This is equanimity, created by the practice of walking meditation. The four elements of breathing, counting, stepping, and the half-smile become one.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, A Guide to Walking Meditation.