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  • How to Begin a Meditation Practice: A Guide for Therapists

    " What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path!" ~Pema Chodrin

    If you're a therapist and want to teach your clients or patients to meditate, use this simple guide. Obviously, it's perfect for you as well (whoever you are that is reading this, in this particular moment in time.)

    Suggested EQUIPMENT:

    1) A TIMER: Many App choices are available such as “Insight Timer” or "Calm"

    2) A MEDITATION SEAT: A pillow or a chair with good back support

    3) POSTURE:  sit with relaxed but straight sacrum, lower-back and shoulders; neck upright/chin relaxed and slightly lowered

    A few other suggestions:

    1) START: 5-10 minutes daily…Not more!

    2) AFTER: 1 or 2 weeks (if it feels right) add onto the base in five minute weekly increments. So in 6 weeks, you might have 20-40 minutes per day. Or stay at 5-10  minutes daily if that is right for you.

    3) EYES: can be closed or open… If you prefer open, stare at a spot a few feet away, on the floor, or gaze at the ocean or a favorite painting.

    4) MOUTH: Relaxed, but you are breathing through your nose.

    5) FOCAL POINT or ANCHOR--suggested choices:

    a) Ambient sounds: birds singing, the clock ticking, traffic outside, any noise in your midsts 

    b) Listen to meditation mp3: For example: www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html

    c) Breath: counting or noticing when you inhale and exhale

    d) Physical sensations; Just notice: your back supported by the chair, feet on the floor, air through your nostrils, belly rising and falling, etc.

    e) Other senses:  hold or rub a smooth stone, gaze at a painting or something that is calming to you, etc.

    f) Metta phrases: Say and repeat each of them, (or make up your own), synchronizing with the in and out of your breath, in whatever rhythm you choose:

       May I be happy.  

       May I be peaceful.

       May I be healthy and safe.

       May my life unfold with ease.

    7) Mantra: Repeat a calming phrase over and over. (Eg., “breathe in love; breathe out peace.”)

                                                                   

                                              General Istructions:

    Sit and clear your mind of thoughts. Do this without judgment. Although this seems like a contradiction, you will find that it is impossible to clear your mind of thoughts.

    Therefore, each time you have a nano-second of awakening to notice that you are thinking, either disengage from the thought or 'go underneath' the thought. Don't try to investigate content like you might do when you are planning your day. When you notice yourself thinking, return your mind to your chosen anchor such as your breath-- in and out of your nostrils. Imagine going beneath the thought and then notice what you see or experience in your mind's eye. Or allow the thought to float away, as if you were waving to a cloud while relaxing on a slow moving river raft. Metaphorically, a thought might be akin to a twig that you pass at the bus stop, or a lion roaring for 30 seconds on a movie screen. Neither holds more weight in a context of meditation.

    Most importantly: Dissipate self-judgment; don't judge yourself harshly for having thoughts. The human mind naturally gravitates towards planning, day-dreaming, memories, negativity.

    Mindfulness meditation is a practice that is permissive, filled with space, possibility and self-compassion. 

    “In meditation, where the rubber hits the road is where the ass meets the pillow.” ~Judy Silvan

    judysilvan@mac.com