How to Meditate Lying Down

Written by Steel MBS on . Posted in Uncategorized

There are two modes of Son Buddhist meditation: “Son in the midst of stillness” and “Son in the midst of commotion.” I simply call them the “quiet” and “active” modes of meditation. Quiet meditation commonly refers to traditional seated meditation but includes any meditative form where you’re not moving. Active meditation refers to meditating while in motion in the midst of daily life.

Active meditation is considered more advanced and confers the advantage of not having to set aside a special time and place to meditate. Practically speaking, however, in order to get to this level we first have to learn how to meditate in a variety of physical postures. Recently, I’ve shared with you “How to Meditate Sitting in a Chair, Part 1 and Part 2″ and “How to Meditate Standing Up.” Today I would like to present a method for meditating while lying down.

We will then have mastered meditation in the three primary postures that most people assume in daily life when they’re not moving: sitting, standing, and lying down. This means that you will now be able to perform meditation whenever and wherever you have an opportunity to stay still — whether that be sitting in front of your computer, standing on line, or when you’re about to take a power nap.

Traditionally, in a Son Buddhist monastery, we are taught to meditate lying down when we’re about to go to sleep. It is said that this is the best way to enter sleep, and I personally have found this to be absolutely true. Entering mindfully into a relaxed physical state — free of unnecessary muscular tension — while engaging diaphragmatic breathing and the “Yi-mwot-go?” (“This. What is this?”) hwadu ensures a deeper, much more restful and satisfying sleep. The next morning you wake up feeling physically replenished and emotionally vital and optimistic. There is a feeling of abundance, an overflow of energy and hopefulness, and the day just starts on a better note literally as soon as you open your eyes.

I also believe, however, that meditation lying down is helpful for beginners when they feel overwhelmed, when they feel truly emotionally stricken and depleted of energy by some difficult turn of events. When you’re in a state of emotional disarray, it can be hard even to hold yourself upright in a chair. At these times, it’s good to know that you can meditate lying down. So here’s how to do it.


Lying Down Correctly: The Corpse Position

Historically, the ancient Son masters were quite terse and told us only to practice meditation when “walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.” They never actually described a procedure for meditation lying down. Personally, I have found that the so-called corpse position (savasana) in yoga seems to be the most natural and effective way to meditate lying down. If you’ve done yoga before, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about and for this meditation you can assume the posture as you’ve been taught. If you don’t know what the corpse position is, that’s okay, you can just follow along below.

1. If possible, especially when you feel overwhelmed, it’s best to choose a broad surface, one much longer and wider than your own body. This provides the feeling that you’re lying on an ocean, upheld in your time of weakness by the world, the earth itself. A broad surface also allows your body to extend and lengthen as much as it wants without worrying about bumping into something or flopping a limb off an edge. When your heart is aching, spread a blanket on the floor.

2. Whether you’re on a giant bed, mattress, or a blanket, lie down on your back so that your spine is in a straight line, parallel to the sides of the bed or blanket. Imagine that your spine is a chain that’s been put on the floor and pulled straight so that all of the links are aligned and disentangled from one another.

3. Your legs should be about hip distance apart.

4. Your hands should be spread out about a foot away from each hip with your palms up to the sky.

5. In this position, the left and right sides of your body are perfectly symmetrical, perfectly balanced.

6. Keep your eyes open and look straight up, but don’t stare at anything on the ceiling or above you. Again, allow your field of vision to present itself evenly. (If, however, you’re meditating in preparation for sleep, it’s okay to close your eyes.)

7. Place the tip of your tongue lightly against the roof of your mouth just behind your upper row of teeth.

8. Now, flex the muscles of both legs very strongly and raise them a few inches into the air in a brief, powerful leg lift. For a moment, your legs are two pillars of steel suspended low in the air.

9. Then, drop them and let them lie where they land. Your legs will probably land in roughly the same position, and your feet may tilt out to the sides. That’s okay. Relax your legs completely and leave them alone. You’re through with them for now.

10. Now arch your lower back and raise your hips up a couple of inches off the mattress or floor. Tense the muscles in your lower back and buttocks.

11. Then, drop your hips back down again and relax them. You’re through with them now, too.

12. Now arch your upper back so that your spine rises in a bow while your buttocks and shoulders remain anchored on your sleeping surface.

13. Then, drop your back down again.

14. Now clench your fists powerfully. Straighten your arms and raise them a few inches as you flex all of your arm muscles as strongly as you can for a few seconds.

15. Then, drop your arms again.

16. Finally, shake your head from left to right like you’re gently refusing something. Imagine that your face is swinging from left to right, back and forth like a metronome, slowly losing momentum until your chin comes to a stand-still perpendicular to the floor.

MEDITATION TIP: If what you’re lying on isn’t long enough, bend your knees so that they jut up like small peaks and place your feet down flat. Your lower back should be flush against the bed or floor so that it’s amply supported. On the other hand, if what you’re lying on isn’t wide enough, then tuck your arms against the sides of your rib cage while keeping them straight with the palms up. If even that’s impossible, clasp your hands by interlocking your fingers and place them over your lower abdomen. In your meditation practice, feel free to be creative. Then, you’ll be able to practice meditation lying down on a small sofa with your legs hanging off of the armrest or even in the backseat of a car. The point is, anywhere you can lie on your back, you can meditate.


Preparation Breathing: Detoxifies and cleanses your mind and body

1. Inhale through your nose and completely fill your chest. Hold your breath until it feels mildly uncomfortable. Then, exhale completely through your mouth.

2. Repeat three times. Then, engage diaphragmatic breathing.


Diaphragmatic Breathing: The primary breathing method of Son meditation

1. Inhale softly and slowly through your nose as you push out your belly as if it’s filling up with air. Inhalation time should be about 2-3 seconds.

2. Pause when your belly feels 80 percent full for about 2-3 seconds.

3. Exhale even more slowly through your nose as you draw your belly in toward your spine as if you’re squeezing the air out. Exhalation time should be about 3-4 seconds.

4. Each time you inhale, imagine that you are drawing in all of the qi or life energy of the universe into your dantien or energy reliquary about 2.5 inches below your navel, midway between your belly and your spine.

5. Imagine that this qi energy is filling your body, saturating your cells, and seeping into the marrow of your bones. Every cell in your body is bathed in and humming with this energy, becoming repaired and rejuvenated.

6. Remember the primary advantage of the lying meditation position: You don’t have to exert any muscular effort whatsoever to maintain this position. Therefore, you have more awareness and attention to give to the state of your body. Globally scan the inside of your body, the hollow spaces inside your limbs, torso, neck and head for signs of tension. With great attention, try to relax every single strand of muscle so that the only muscles you’re using are the ones needed for breathing. Go to a state of complete physical surrender and peace.

MEDITATION TIP: You’ll notice that the diaphragmatic breathing on your back requires greater effort because your abdomen has to fight the pull of gravity in order to move. Nonetheless, keep your breathing very smooth so that your lower belly rises up and down very evenly. Imagine that you’re breathing underwater. Beginners can clasp their hands over their lower abdomen and the up-and-down motion of your belly will let you know you’re doing the breathing correctly.


Thought Regulation: “Yi-mwot-go?” and the Great Doubt

1. Continue to perform diaphragmatic breathing, but when you exhale, in your mind intone, “Yi-mwot-go?” and generate the Great Doubt.

2. “Yi-mwot-go?” means “This. What is this?” What is this that directs my body when I move? What is this that generates the thoughts that I think? What is this that feels the emotions that rise up in me? When someone calls my name, what is it within me that recognizes the sound of my own name and looks to see who called? What is this that is asking, “What is this?”

3. By repeatedly asking ourselves this question in coordination with our breathing, we create, maintain, and increase the state of Doubt. Mentally, this is a condition of urgent questioning, the state of attempting to know the unknowable and see the invisible. Emotionally and physically, it is a sensation of feeling stuck — the way you feel when you can’t remember where you put a set of missing keys. Ultimately, we are attempting to direct our attention back at its own source.

4. Then, the Great Doubt acts as a cleansing flame in our bodies and minds, purging us of tension, worry, hostility, fear and sorrow. We feel consoled and unburdened, luminous and at peace with ourselves, and in the end, free.


Lying Meditation in Preparation for Sleep

If you are meditating in preparation for sleep, intone “Yi-mwot-go?” in your mind a little more gently than usual. Please bear in mind that mental and emotional intensity do not require you to tense your muscles. Keep your whole body soft — including your face — and intone “Yi-mwot-go?” calmly and clearly. Continue to do this until you drift into sleep.


Lying Meditation for Emotional Recovery

If you feel enraged or terrified, lying down for meditation may not be the best way to cope. This is because both anger and fear are, in part, a preparatory physiological state for extremely fast movement and great energy expenditure — fight or flight, basically. When you’re angry or afraid, it may be best to do something active like cleaning your house or going for a brisk walk so that you can burn off the excess energy. Then, afterward, you can perform one of the quiet forms of Son meditation — sitting, standing up, or lying down.

If, however, you feel heartbroken, empty and unmotivated, depressed, or simply physically exhausted, lying meditation may prove very helpful. What you need to bear in mind is that there is an art to meditating while lying down. Discipline is needed. You want to feel completely at rest so that you can heal and recharge, but on the other hand, you don’t want to simply doze off. Your mind must be very clear and alert even as your emotions remain calm and your body still. In this highly refined state of mental clarity and absolute physical stillness, you keep your attention completely fixed on the Great Doubt of the “Yi-mwot-go?” hwadu and allow the painful emotion — the grief, regret, shame, guilt, loneliness, or whatever — to pass on by like a cloud that drifts across the sun, momentarily obscuring it before moving off and going on.


Lying Meditation for Physical Recovery

Son meditation while lying down is also ideal for when you’re sick and bedridden. Especially, if you’re feeling frustrated, wanting to get better quickly so that you can get back to work, practicing meditation will help both in coping with your frustration and passing the time.


Lying Meditation for Waking Up

Finally, when you wake up after a good night’s sleep or a nap, instead of popping right up and engaging the world in a disoriented, unfocused state, assume correct lying meditation posture and take a couple of minutes to meditate. Even one minute is good. You’ll find this is a far more pleasant and healthy way to segue from sleep into complete wakefulness. When your mind and body are fully awake, balanced, and prepared, then rise and go out to greet the day — while meditating, of course.

Article sourced by Huffington Post

What Type of Meditation is Right For You?

Written by Steel MBS on . Posted in Blog

Home fitness routines should include mental strength

Home fitness routines, mental strength, and mindfulness are buzzwords today. Knowing how to combine them into a well planned an smart exercise routine that delivers on mental strength and physical strength, is crucial to achieve overall wellness. Here are some ideas on which types of meditation can help you achieve this.

Pagan_meditation

While the scientific research on the health and wellness benefits of meditation is still in its infancy, an increasing number of people are looking to this ancient practice as a way to achieve calmness and relaxation, better manage stress, improve their mood, or just increase their quality of life.

For people looking to explore and incorporate meditation into their regular health and wellness routine, the greatest challenge can be identifying the right type of meditation to meet their individual needs and preferences. Fortunately, there are dozens of types of meditative practices – many with different emphases, different postures, and different underlying philosophies – which means plenty of options for you to find the practice that works best for you.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has swelled in popularity in the past two decades, and is increasingly the subject of empirical studies focusing on its potential psychological and physiological benefits.3 Though generally considered non-religious, this type of meditation stems from the Buddhist tradition and emphasizes an awareness of breath, a focus on the present moment, and letting thoughts come and go without judging them. Mindfulness meditation may also involve focusing on specific parts of the body. This type of meditation is generally practiced while sitting cross-legged on the floor with a straight spine or in a stable chair.

Heart Rhythm Meditation

Heart rhythm meditation (HRM), much like mindfulness meditation, emphasizes the breath, but also incorporates the heart, and involves coordinating the breath and heartbeat in order to direct and circulate energy. Different types of breathing techniques, which include inhaling, holding, and releasing the breath in various rhythmic patterns, are common to this practice. Though the benefits of HRM have not been thoroughly studied, many of its practitioners believe that it can be a powerful tool for emotional healing.

Qi Gong

Qi gong, based on the Taoist tradition, is a type of meditation that uses the breath to circulate life energy, or qi or chi, through the body. The practice focuses on aligning breath, mind, and body so that you may realize your full potential as a human being. Along with a focus on breathing and relaxation techniques, qi gong frequently involves movement and is a key component of some martial arts practices.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation (TM), rooted in the Hindu tradition, is a meditative technique that involves a mantra (a sacred word or phrase). Practitioners sit with their eyes closed twice a day for fifteen to twenty minutes while repeating their mantra. TM was popularized in the mid to late twentieth century by a guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as away to relieve stress, increase relaxation, and encourage self-development.

Kundalini

Kundalini meditation is another type of meditation that finds its roots in the Hindu tradition. In Kundalini meditation, practitioners are seated and use a combination of breathing techniques and mantras to release psychic energy through a series of chakras(energy centers or points of spiritual power in the body), with the ultimate goal of attaining enlightenment – also known as Kundalini awakening. Though the scientific research on Kundalini meditation is scant, practitioners and non-practitioners both caution people to be aware of Kundalini Syndrome – the psychological and sometimes physiological problems that can arise when the practitioner is unprepared for the awakening.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is a popular technique that isn’t specific to any one meditative tradition, and instead may be done for a number of different types of meditative practices (including those mentioned in this article). The key element of guided meditation is that an instructor is verbally leading the participant or participants through the practice. This is generally intended to teach the participants the practice, so they are able to do it on their own when necessary. Guided meditation can be a great option for someone who is new to meditation and prefers the option of working with a teacher as he or she learns more about the ins and outs of the practice.

Walking Meditation

As its name suggests, walking meditation involves being upright and moving while meditating. Like most types of meditation, there are a variety of ways to do walking meditation, but the majority of these practices involve being outdoors, clearing the mind, and focusing on foot movement and/or sensations in the body. For practitioners who have a difficult time sitting for too long or find themselves restless during seated meditations, walking meditation can be a good alternative.

Zazen Meditation

Zazen meditation (literally: “seated meditation”), from the Zen Buddhist tradition, is a type of meditation that is done to calm the body and mind, improve concentration, and ultimately attain enlightenment. It is considered one of the more basic types of meditation. It emphasizes concentration; meditating on a particular question, word, or problem; or a total focus on the present moment while observing, but not engaging with, any passing thoughts.

Which Meditation Is Right for You?

In addition to the more widely known meditative practices outlined in this article, there are countless other variations and options available if you’re aiming to incorporate regular meditation into your lifestyle. In identifying a type that’s right for you, it’s useful to think about what you want out of your practice – whether it’s improved concentration (as in Zen meditation), incorporation of movement (as with walking meditation), or someone to walk you through it (as with any form of guided meditation). It’s also important to remember that not all practices are ideal for all people. You should feel free to experiment and try different practices until you find the one that works best for you.

Part of this article previously appeared at www.breakingmuscle.com by Danielle Harlan

Mind Over Matter(s) of stress

Written by Steel MBS on . Posted in Blog

Stress is a Killer. You Can End it Here

Stress is one of the leading causes of illness and decreased quality of life in the U.S.Cause_of_Stress There is no denying it anymore, if you’re sick the culprit is stress. Okay, maybe it’s not that simple. But for reals though, the struggle is real. Think of these stats:

• Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression and anxiety. (Web MD)

• The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually. (Web MD)

• The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions. (Web MD)

• Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illnesses and disease • Stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40% (Stress.org)

• Stress increases the risk of heart attack by 25% (Stress.org)

• Stress increases the risk of stroke by 50% (Stress.org)

• 40% of stressed people overeat or eat unhealthy foods (Stress.org)

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Scary right? Sure it is. Luckily though, the cure is here and you don’t even need a lofty HSA to afford it. Here it is – drum roll – exercise and mindfulness. You can do a home workout routine, Tai Chi, or you can meditate, OR you can do both. That’s what sword training brings to the table. Slow controlled movements that require mindfulness and physical control. So get started, get stress free, and get control of your health.

Portions of this article previously appeared at http://mrsmindfulness.com/stressed-heres-how-to-reduce-prevent-the-silent-killer/

The Basics of Sword Training

Written by Steel MBS on . Posted in Blog

You probably think that swinging a blade around like Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is going to leave you missing a limb. But don’t worry—the only thing you’ll lose doing a Forza workout is fat. A core workout based on samurai swordship, Forza doesn’t require actual blades. Rather, you can use a broomstick or wiffleball bat to mimic a katana blade and activate your core and shoulder muscles in a new way, burning calories and increasing endurance. Try the beginner’s routine below from Forza instructor Illaria Montagnini, to build a Bushido-ready physique. Read on to channel your inner warrior.

Directions:

Grab a dull, long, weighted object, such as a broomstick and walk into an open area with a tall ceiling (or no ceiling) and plenty of space. (You can buy a wooden sword at wooden-swords.com.) Perform the workout as a circuit, resting 30 seconds between exercises. (So you’ll perform all your reps for exercise A, rest, then exercise B, rest again, and so on.) Repeat the circuit as many times as it takes until you’ve been working out for 15 minutes—your goal is to eventually perform 15 minutes of continuous activity with no rest. Once you can do that, use a heavier object.

The Workout:

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A Half-Cut

Grab your “sword” with both hands, palms facing each other, but separate your grip by four inches. Your right hand should be on top. Take an athletic stance and place your feet together. Keeping your arms bent, lift the “sword” over your head so the “blade” points directly behind you [1]. Take a short step forward with your left foot and simultaneously slice downward, so that the sword ends up in front of you with your bottom hand at waist level [2]. Return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Perform 15 reps, and then switch your grip so that your left hand is above your right. Now you’ll step forward with the right foot. Complete another 15 reps.

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B Full-Cut

Set up in the same position as you did for the half-cut [1]. Lunge with your left leg until it’s nearly parallel to the floor, and slice downward with your “sword” so that it ends up in front of you and your bottom hand is at waist level. [2]. Return to the start position. That’s one rep. Perform 15 reps with before switching grips so your left hand is over your right. Now you’ll lunge with your right leg. Do 15 more reps.

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C Horizontal Cut

Take an athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the “sword” so your hands are slightly in front of your right shoulder and your “sword” extends behind you [1]. Rotate your hips and shoulders from right to left as you slice with your “sword,” tracing a line parallel to the ground and at your eye level, stopping when your bottom hand reaches your left arm pit [2]. Return to the start position. That’s one rep. Perform 15 reps before switching grips, so your left hand is above your right. Now you’ll cut left to right, rotating your hips in shoulders in the opposite direction. Do 15 more reps.

D Thrust Lunge

Take an athletic stance with your feet together, and hold your “sword” with your arms bent and your hands near your left hip so the “sword” extends in front of you [1]. Lunge forward with your right leg until your front thigh becomes parallel to the ground and push the “sword” forward [2]. Reverse the motion and return to the start position. Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 4.58.08 PMThat’s one rep. Do 15 reps before switching grips so you left hand is on top of the right. Now you’ll lunge with your left leg, and start on your right hip. Do 15 more reps.

This article originally apeared at: http://www.mensfitness.com