IMMUNITY LESSON 33
Distraction of the Body in Meditation
In this lesson you will learn:
- In depth review of meditation posture
- How to deal with pain or discomfort in the body
- A new way of working with the breath in meditation
The WHY: Thoughts are distracting enough during meditation, but so is our body. When we’re new to the practice, all sorts of aches and pains arise to trick us into standing up and quitting. Learning how to work with distractions in the body is no different than working with distractions of the mind, or the world around us.
Bottom line: There’s no one perfect meditation posture. Find what works for you, understanding that this too, takes practice.
Why is posture important in meditation? Our minds are connected to our bodies, most importantly, through the central nervous system. Central command runs up and down along the length of our spine. For our mindfulness meditation to have the most powerful effect in changing our minds, we’d like to keep this system open and neutral.
Maintaining a neutral spine also helps us stay awake and alert. Just sit up taller and see how it feels. Our posture affects our attitude. Hint: “Sit with dignity.”
There’s no need to sit on the floor or on a meditation cushion to keep the spine neutral, although you can. Using a cushion keeps your hips higher than your knees, allowing your thighs to relax. Some find that a slight tilt forward of the pelvis maintains a tall back. You want your shoulders balanced over your hips.
If sitting on the floor is uncomfortable, use a chair. Ideally, your knees will be at a 90 degree angle, with the feet flat on the ground, and the spine tall and upright.
Some choose to lie on their backs for meditation, yet it can be difficult to stay awake! If supine, bend your knees and plant your feet. Place your palms face down on your belly. Try meditating with your eyes open to stay alert.
When sensation in the body draws your attention away from the breath, what can you do? Here are three techniques to try:
- As with any other distraction, use the three-step technique. (1) gratitude for noticing, (2) return to the breath, and (3) repeat.
- Take mindfulness to the body. Zero in on the particular sensation that’s distracting you. Get curious, watch it mindfully, explore the details of the sensation. You may find that it changes, and you can return to the breath.
- Having tried the above techniques, move! The caveat here is to be mindful in your movement. Notice the difference between mindless fidgeting, moving to avoid the meditation, and mindful readjustment, a quick change that allows you to return to meditation.
Be still as much as possible, but have self-compassion too. You need to give your body time to learn meditation in the same way that the mind itself will take time. The more you practice being still, the sooner both body, and mind, will get used to it.
Task: Continue your daily 5 minute meditations, this time zeroing in on the felt sensation of breath in the body. Notice when you’re “thinking” about the breath, and when you’re “feeling” the breath. Move towards the latter.
TIPS: How to Deal with an Itch: https://youtu.be/ApzscLAwFk8
Guided Meditation: https://youtu.be/e0JMtabUVvQ
“Meditation happens in the body, not just in your head. Both body and mind need to practice being still.”