Think of the process as three stages each taking us deeper. Begin with a sound of a bell or alarm, and set an alarm to signal the end of the practice.
Bring your attention to the experience of sitting in your chair. Notice how those parts of your body feel when they engage the back of the chair – the seat of the chair. Think of the force of gravity acting on your body so that you are no longer trying to hold your body up but letting the weight of the body be supported through your sitting bones, the base of your spine, and the soles of your feet – a kind of sitting down rather than sitting up.
Hold your hands on your lap, keep your head evenly positioned, and notice when your head falls forward or the chin lifts too high. Let your shoulders relax but try to keep the chest open so that the breath is not constricted.
Let a few moments elapse before moving to the next level.
Bring your attention to your breath – we breathe every moment of our lives but except when we are out of breath we hardly notice our breath. So notice it now, the slow movement of breath -in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out.
Take the breath down into the belly or the area around your diaphragm. You will notice that the movement of the breath here is more in and out rather than up and down, it’s deep rather than shallow, it’s slow rather than quick. Let your diaphragm expand with the in-breath and contract with the out-breath. Take a few moments to simply watch yourself breathe.
Pause for a longer time before going to the third level of awareness.
Being aware of our body you are now also aware of your breath in relation to our body. Body and spirit are now aware of each other. Body and spirit sitting in a harmony of awareness. You will notice that your thoughts are less easy to manage, that despite sitting and breathing your thoughts continue to distract you. You need to offer the mind a way of focussing attention rather than thinking. As you breathe in and out you might want to count your breaths from one to 10 and then from 10 back to 1. Hearing yourself silently count gives the mind a focus of awareness with the body and spirit. When we become distracted and loose count, on realizing this has happened we start the count again. Counting is a form of mantra, a silent word that sounds within us, connecting mind to body awareness through the movement of spirit.
A mantra is a word that does not stimulate imagination or thinking. In meditation, we want to calm imagination not stimulate it. A common word recommended is maranatha – a word that divides evenly into four sounds with the first two ma – ra on the in-breath, the second two na – tha on the out-breath – a word that does not distract us with its meaning. Try connecting this mantra with the rhythm of your breath.
When you find our mind has taken you to some other place, other than the place you are in – sitting, breathing, living in this moment of time – when you notice how the mind has done this, you simply bring it back to attending to watching the rising and falling of our breath. Again and again, just come back to watching the breath. The breath is like an anchor, focusing – holding awareness deep in the body. The mantra is the chain that holds you to the anchor of the breath – preventing you from floating away on the currents of your thoughts.
We sit, we breathe, we count or say our word. We let a gentle awareness of watching ourselves sit, breathe, and say our word settle and calm us.
Breathe in – breath out – breathe in – breathe out – in – out – in – out.
Wait for the sound of the gong or your alarm to signal the end of your sitting practice.