Ashram Reopening Party Guided Meditation

Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us here today. Let us begin with a short guided meditation.

I will give instructions in stages of experience so you can follow along and do what feels right. If any instructions are unattainable today, that is okay. Listen to your body and your breath; it knows best.

To begin, take a nice deep breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Begin to find a comfortable position, whether seated or lying down.

If seated: legs crossed, or feet flat on the floor, or kneeling. If lying down: legs extended straight or knees propped up slightly, feet hip width apart or further.

If seated: make sure your pelvis is tilted slightly forward until you get a small curve in your back. You may need to sit on something so your knees are below your hips.

Whether seated or lying: pull your shoulders up to your ears and then slide them together down your back until you feel your chest widen.

If seated: Lean back until your shoulders are directly over your hips. Drop your chin slightly until you feel a softening in your throat. Keeping this, move your head backwards in space until your ears are over your shoulders. Place the back of your left hand on top of your right palm and touch your thumbs together so your hands make an oval shape.

Take a deep breath, pulling the air all the way down your spine and into your hips. Make any adjustments needed to sit comfortably.

Another deep breath in, this time exhale it out loudly. Do this two more times.

On your next exhale, soften as if melting from the crown of your head down your body. Soften the muscles of your forehead…soften your jaw…soften your neck…soften your chest…soften your shoulders and arms…soften your belly…soften your hips and pelvis…soften all the muscles in your legs and knees…soften your hands and feet.

Soften any effort. Allow yourself to feel any sensations.

Breathe in, breathe out…softness…

Take a nice slow breath and on your next inhale count one. Exhale count two. Inhale one. Exhale two. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for one minute

Notice if there is any tightness or holding, especially in your jaw, between your shoulders, or anywhere you feel a bit stuck. Take a breath into that area, and soften.

// pause for one minute

If you’d like more, count inhale one, exhale two, inhale three, exhale four…all the way to ten, and begin again. If you get lost, that’s alright, just begin again from one. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for two cycles

Again, check in to see if there is any tightness or holding. Inhale for space, exhale release. No judgment, come back to the practice.

// pause for two cycles

If you’d like more, slow it down. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. Etc. to ten, and begin again. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for two cycles

Begin to let go of this counting practice and just witness your breath again. No commentary, just breath.

// pause for thirty seconds

Some days are more difficult to get settled than others. There is no shame. Your practice is your own, so give yourself what you need. Soften anywhere there is tension. You have all the air and space you need.

// pause for three minutes

Begin to come back to your body.

Feel the chair or the floor beneath you.

// pause for ten seconds

Feel the clothing against your skin.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice if there is anywhere that can soften even more.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice any sensations in the feet. Notice any sensations in the hands.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice if there are any smells or tastes.

// pause for thirty seconds

Notice if there are any sounds.

// pause for thirty seconds

Slowly begin to deepen your breath. Pull the air all the way through your body to bring small movements back into your fingers and toes.

Bring a small smile to your lips.

Take a really deep breath, filling up everything inside, and exhale it out loudly.

You may bring your hands to anjali moodra or prayer position in front of your chest. You may bow your head towards your hands, and thank yourself for this practice.

May all beings everywhere come to realize happiness, and the roots of happiness. May all beings everywhere be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all beings everywhere experience equanimity, peace, and wellbeing.

Slowly lower your hands and raise your head. As you begin to open your eyes, just notice how you’re feeling.

Thank you for practicing today, and all days. May you bring this practice in to everything you do. Namaste. I bow respectfully to each and every one of you.



Review of Awareness Intensive Weeks 1-3

Review Week 4 Awareness Intensive
A short letter written by Osho:

“I speak, I work,
but I am steeped in emptiness within.
There, there is no movement.
Thus I seem to be living two lives at one time.
What a drama!
but perhaps all of life is a drama
and becoming aware of this opens the door
to a unique freedom.
That which is
inaction in action
still in motion
eternity in change
-that is truth
and that is existence.
Real life lies in this eternity –
everything else is just the stream of dreams.
In truth the world is juat a dream
and the question is not whtether to leave these dreams or not,
one just has to be aware of them.
With this awareness, everything changes.
The center moves.
A shift takes place from body to soul.
And what is there.
It cannot be told.
It has never been told
and it never will be.
There is no other way but to know it for oneself.
Death is known only through dying
and truth is known only through diving deep within oneself.”

Let us take a few minutes to breath, to centre ourselves, and find ourselves truly in the Now.
Guided Meditation:
Make yourselves comfortable, whether by sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes. If you are in a place where you are comfortable making noise, do the following with me. If not, just let out a big sigh. Take a slow, deep breath in. When you exhale, give a big roar like a lion. Great! One more time…
Just relax, let go of your day. Realize that all the stresses you’ve experienced are over, they can not harm you. Release them into the earth around you. The Earth is good at recycling.
I will leave you in a few minutes of silence.
Let us take a few minutes to dedicate our practice to the people that need it.
During the first week we explored embodiment – what does it feel like to be here, now. Some of the questions that came up were:
Can you notice if your breath has a temperature?
When does the breath stop being breath and start being part of you?
Can you feel your whole body? Is there any tension or is it relaxed?
What is your posture like?
Can you feel the floor beneath you?
Can you feel the clothing and air against your skin?
Where does your body end and the objects touching it begin?
Can you feel the vibration of sound in your ears?
How many sounds can you hear? How far away are they?
Can you recognize when hearing stops and it’s just sound?
What can you taste? Is the taste external or internal?
What can you smell?
What does the smell remind you of?
These questions should be approached in a similar way to koans, where we hold them in our awareness but don’t pry for an answer. Don’t think about it, just feel it. See what you notice. There are no right or wrong answers.
During week two we worked with feeling. We touched on ‘Emotion’ as ‘Energy in Motion’. We worked on seeing if we could notice the ‘felt sense’ of a thought/image/emotion arising and falling away. Rather than paying attention to what the thoughts are and clinging to them, in this practice we would like to just feel them.
Some of the questions we asked in relation to this were:
Where do the thoughts/images/emotions arise?
When these feeilngs arise can you feel it in a certain place in your body?
Where does it start?
Does it move?
How long do they stay for?
Are the thoughts and sensations you are experiencing in your practice pleasant (attraction), unpleasant (aversion), or neutral?
Does the same feeling/image/emotion arise multiple times? Does it feel the same every time?
During week three we worked with our breath. When we breathe in there is a pause before we breathe out. When we breathe out there is a pause before we breathe in again. This is a still point in the middle of each breath. We spent most of the class seeing if we can notice this pause between each breath.
Our breath is the most powerful tool we have. In Taoism and qigong we find many breath practices relating to the different types of breath we can have. When we breathe quick and shallow we tend to feel uptight and anxious. When we breathe slow and deep we tend to feel relaxed and at peace. Letting out a sigh or a roar like a lion tends to make us feel better as it releases tension. Following the breath can be a very difficult practice, both because it is difficult to hold our attention there when these thoughts keep coming up in our minds, but also because when we work with our breath we are working with all of our emotions and all layers of our being. Yogis would say that our breath allows us to work with the five koshas, or sheaths, which each constitute a different aspect of being. The five koshas are constituted of a physical body, energy body, emotional body, wisdom body, and bliss body.
Our breath work is what allows us to work through all the things that these consist of – all emotion and sensation from past, present, and future. It works through our auras, our body, mind, and spirit, or anything else you’d like to call it. Anything we’ve supressed over the years or thought we worked through but didn’t really, everything that makes us who we are today is accessed through the breath. So, as you can imagine, it can be a little overwhelming. For this reason, it is advisable to take breath work one step at a time. Push to the part of practice that is uncomfortable but not painful, because just like in physical yoga asanas (postures) the uncomfortable practices are where we get stronger.
By using these three practices together you have the stepping stones for doing three different types of awareness or meditation practice, but you can also help ease yourself into your breath work. Because of the potential for intense experiences during breathing practice I advise using these as a kind of stepping stone, so rather than jumping into the boiling hot tub you can ease yourself in so you don’t get burned.
Remember, listen to your heart. If something is definitely “not okay”, don’t force yourself to do it. Things will come with time, and not every practice is right for every body.
For further reading about breath awareness please find the following links:
“We all have emotional experiences that feel terrifying, and in order to experience our natural state, we have to be willing to experience these emotions—to actually experience our ego and our ego clinging. This may feel disturbing and negative, or even insane. Most of us, consciously or unconsciously, would like meditation to be a chill-out session where we don’t have to relate to unpleasantness…”
“…But we don’t need to try so hard to sort it all out. We don’t have to attach so much meaning to what arises, and we also don’t have to identify with our emotions so strongly. All we need to do is allow ourselves to experience the energy—and in time it will move through you. It will. But we need to experience the emotion—not think about the emotion.”
Meditating with Emotions by Pema Chodron

“It is important to remember that there is no “right” breath. If you carry with you the idea that your breath should be deep and full when in reality it is shallow, you immediately get into trouble. At times the breath is deep, at times shallow, at times freely flowing, and at other times it can feel blocked. Your practice is to be with your breath as it is, learning to let go of how you think things “should be.” Mindfulness of breathing is a practice of learning to harmonize your attention with what is, in this moment. Short, long, deep, shallow are all fine breaths. Trust your body; it knows what is needed.”
 Receiving the Breath: Meditation Q & A by Christina Feldman
Are there any questions or comments about this?
What has your experience been over the past few weeks?

Awareness Intensive Week 3 Breath

Today we are going to observe our breath. We’ve worked on embodiment, a felt sense of “I”, and now it is time to just observe the breath.

We will do a lot of “just sitting” today. Just sitting means being alert, alive, responsive, creative, and quiet.

The last few classes I gave some directing questions to see what we could notice, to help you on the path to awareness, but today there are no questions, just a guiding statement. I’d like you to follow your breath. See if it fills up your whole body or if it transcends your physical body.

When we breath in there is a pause before we breath out. When we breath out there is a pause before we breath in again. This is called the ‘still point’ in the middle of each breath.

I’d like to you take some time observing this pause. Do not change it or do anything with it. No need to expect it to be a certain length, or even to match. Can you simply notice the pause between each breath? If it helps you to keep your attention focused, you may count each pause. For example, in breath, pause, one. Out breath, pause, two. In breath, pause, three. Out breath, pause, four. etc. When you get to 7, go back to one and start again. I will leave you with a few minutes of silence to practice this, and will ring the bell twice to end.

I will give a short meditation to help those who are new to meditating enter their practice. If you’d like to not listen, please mute my voice. The bell will ring over sound so you will be able to hear it and can then turn on your voice when you are ready.

Guided Meditation:
Make yourselves comfortable, whether by sitting, standing, or lying down. Close your eyes. If you are in a place where you are comfortable making noise, do the following with me. If not, just let out a big sigh. Take a slow, deep breath in. When you exhale, give a big roar like a lion or deep sigh. Great! One more time…

Just relax, let go of your day. Realize that all the stresses you’ve experienced are over, they can not harm you. Release them into the earth around you. The Earth is good at recycling.

I will leave you in a few minutes of silence. [I gave 15 minutes of silence, but you can go for as long as you are comfortable. Don’t be afraid to push your boundary though; the uncomfortable zone is where progress happens.]

Take your time slowly coming out of the mind-practice. Bring your attention back to your body. Deepen your breath. Slowly wiggle your toes and fingers, and when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. As you are opening your eyes, try to notice how you are feeling.

I would like to ask some questions for discussion.

What did you notice in this practice?

How does the breath feel?

Where do you breathe? Where does it enter? Where does it go? Can you feel the movement within your nostrils, down the trachea, and in your lungs? Do you breath with your nose or mouth or both? Do you feel the movements in your best, back, and abdomen? Can you feel it in your hands and feet?

What part of your body moves with your inhalations and exhalations? Place your hand on your abdomen or chest if you can’t feel any movements sometimes your hands are able to feel more subtle movements.

What is your rate of breathing? How long does it take for you to inhale? Does your exhale match the inhale? How many breathes do you take per minute?

How are you feeling about the last few weeks?
Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?