Sitting Meditation 

This mindfulness practice was borrowed from the book The Art and Science of Mindfulness by Shauna Shapiro and Linda Carlson. Our intention for including these mindfulness practices verbatim from the book is to allow others to experience the transformative power of mindfulness.

“Begin by setting an intention for this sitting practice. The intention can be whatever feels most true for you in this moment: for example, “May I bring kindness and curiosity to each moment,” “May I have a beginner’s mind,” or “May this practice be of benefit for all beings.” Once you have set your intention clearly, perhaps speaking it silently to yourself, you can gently let it go as you consciously focus your attention on your body sitting. Get a sense of your feet connected to the earth, contacting both legs, your seat, your spine, and torso. Become aware of your arms, your hands resting in our lap, your shoulders, neck, and face. Sense the whole body sitting. Allow the mind to be spacious and the body to relax. You don’t have to make anything happen.

And notice that you are breathing. Not trying to change the breath, but simply experiencing it. Keep your attention clearly focused on the sensations of each breath as it flows in and out of the body on its own. You may notice the breath most distinctly in one part of the body- for example, the rising and falling of the abdomen, or the in and out at  the nostrils. See how carefully and continuously you can feel the sensations of the entire inhalation and exhalation.

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And notice the rising and falling movement of the abdomen, or the in and out of the air at the nostrils. Let the awareness be accepting and open, not trying to control the breath but simply letting it come and go in its own rhythm. Feel the sensations of each breath completely, not thinking about them but actually feeling what is here in each moment.

At times the breath will be strong and clear; sometimes it will be soft or indistinct. Simply notice what is. Is the breath long or short, rough or smooth? Be with the breath as it continually changes, feeling it, sensing it.

If while you are attending to the breath, sounds become predominant and call your attention away from the breathing, make a note of hearing. Attend to the experience of the sound, not trying to identify what’s causing the sound, such as a “car” or “air conditioning” but just being with the vibration of hearing. When the hearing is no longer predominant, return to the breath.

 

If physical sensations in the body, emotions, or thoughts call your attention away from the breath, shift your focus to the sensation, emotion, or thought itself. Carefully and gently explore the nature of the experience. Notice what happens as you attend to it: Does it become stronger, weaker? Does it dissolve or intensify?

And once you have noted your experience, return to the breath, using the breath as an anchor, helping you return again and again to the present moment. Gently note where your mind is pulled, and then return again to the breath. The continuity of attention and of mental noting strengthens the mindfulness and concentration. When you drift and forget your focus, when the mind wanders, simply make note of “wandering” as soon as you’re aware of it and gently come back to your breathing.

Keep the awareness simple, and remain grounded in the experience of breathing. Notice what calls your attention away from the breath, and then gently return, over and over again.

And when it is time for the sitting meditation to come to a close, notice how your mind, body and heart feel. Thank yourself for taking this time to cultivate greater awareness, kindness, and insight. Perhaps make an intention to bring this mindfulness with you into your daily life. As you gently allow light to come back in through your eyes, and movement to begin in the body, see whether you can continue your mindful awareness moment by moment.”