Preparation for Meditation

This came up in the book study group (we are studying Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness, a basic book about meditation practice). This preparation is taught by  Culadasa (John Yates) in his book The Mind Illuminated.

Preparation for Meditation

  1.  Aspiration (Motivation) : Review your purpose for meditation. Be honest! Don’t judge your reasons. Be aware and accept them. Example: I want more peace of mind.
  2.  Goals Decide what you hope to work on in this session. Set a reasonable goal for where you are in the Stages. Keep it simple. Keep it small. Example: not to get annoyed when my mind wanders.
  3. Expectations Bring to mind the dangers of expectations and be gentle with yourself. Find enjoyment in every meditation, no matter what happens. There is no such thing as a “bad” meditation.
  4. Diligence Resolve to practice diligently for the entire session. Recall that the best way to overcome resistance is by simply continuing to practice, without judging yourself.
  5. Distractions Perform a quick inventory of things in your life that might come up to distract you. Acknowledge these thoughts and emotions and resolve to set them aside if they do arise. You may not be wholly successful, but at least you have planted a seed: the intention not to let them dominate your mind.
  6. Posture Review your posture and get comfortable. Attend to your supports, your head, neck, back, shoulders, lips, eyes, and breath. Relax and enjoy yourself. All the activity of meditation is in the mind, so the proper state for the body is like a lump of soft clay—solid and stable, but completely pliant. This will keep physical distractions to a minimum.

 It doesn’t matter how long you spend on the preparation, because it is a form of meditation. If your mind wanders, bring it back using the techniques described for breath meditation. The more often you do it, the faster it goes.

The four-step transition to the meditation object.

  • Step 1— Establish an open, relaxed awareness and attention, letting in everything, but give priority to sensations over thoughts.
  • Step 2— Focus on bodily sensations, but continue to be aware of everything else.
  • Step 3— Focus on sensations related to the breath, but continue to be aware of everything else.
  • Step 4— Focus on sensations of the breath at the nose, but continue to be aware of everything else.