Being mindful of our meditation posture supports us in cultivating a balance between relaxation and wakefulness. When sitting on a meditation cushion, choose a sitting posture (especially for your legs) which allows you to sit comfortably. Don’t force yourself to sit heroicly on a cushion, when you feel a chair would be the better choice. Whenever you’re ready, close your eyes, bring your body in an upright position and place your hands on your lap or on your thighs. Straighten your lower spine by pushing back your hips slightly. During meditation, gently correct your sitting posture, whenever you feel your body is losing composure. When you feel tired, it can help to stand up and open your eyes.
Take some time to settle in meditation. It might not be the right time for this meditation if you feel emotionally challenged or restless at the moment. If there is a certain calmness available, continue by taking a few conscious, deep breaths to connect with the body.
Let the breathing normalize itself and direct your awareness to your body as a whole. How does it feel to sit here? Don’t go into intellectual elaborations. Just notice how it feels to have a sitting, breathing body. If you enjoy this feeling, stay with it for some time. As much as you can, try to stay connected with your body during the following reflection.
Bring to mind an internalized belief, which you sense to be obstructive for your inner growth and development. Are there any internalized values or beliefs you might have absorbed from your culture or social environment that you suspect to be a cause of suffering in your life? If nothing comes to mind, you could ask yourself the question: What does my inner critic say to me on a regular basis?
Once you found a particular belief, keep it in mind for some time. For example, you could repeat it to yourself internally a few times. Bring your awareness to the feelings, memories and emotions that might come up. There’s nothing particular you have to do with these reactions, just try to be with them as best as you can—without commenting, judging or elaborating.
As much as possible, stay anchored in a bodily awareness during this process.
Whenever you are ready, contemplate on the belief in a way that challenges its foundations. Is it actually true? What are the assumptions (personal and cultural) the belief rests upon? Try to be as open and friendly as possible to reactions that might emerge during this contemplation.
At the end of the meditation, take some time to sit quietly.
This instruction is inspired by and built upon the practice “Opening to freedom and strength through reflection” by Rob Burbea—from the book Seeing that Frees (page 71).
This book goes deep! Rob Burbea describes in great depth and detail the experiences and insights one can have in meditation. At first glance, emptiness might seem like an arbitrary buddhist concept, when in fact it can be a corner stone in understanding human experience more deeply. We use Seeing that Frees mainly as a workbook for all kinds of questions related to practice. Although you don’t have to consider yourself a Buddhist to benefit from this book, a basic understanding of buddhist terminology is certainly helpful.