I received a lot of positive feedback from last week’s post. Readers expressed enthusiasm about exploring the pleasant side of practice.
This week, I wanted to introduce some practical ideas for how one might incline one’s practice towards the pleasant and, ultimately, towards the euphoric states of rapture.
But, before I mention these practice tips, I just want to reiterate that it’s important not to seek rapture out for it’s own sake. The ecstatic experience will arise on its own when the factors of mindfulness, energy and investigation are brought into collaborative harmony with one another. The following tips will strengthen these very factors…
Points for meditation or Yin Yoga practice:
- Surrender completely. At the beginning of a meditation, and periodically throughout the session, make it a point to LET GO completely into the immediacy of NOW. Make a point of experiencing this surrender through the entirety of the body, through every layer, from skin to muscle, from nerve to bone. Feel it on a cellular level. This committed intention to a whole-hearted embrace of the NOW enables the mind the become firmly established in the present moment experience.
- Sip the breath. As you attend to the breath, become what yoga teacher, Richard Freeman, calls a ‘connoisseur of the breath’. Imagine you’re at a ‘breath sipping’ party and freely explore an aesthetic appreciation of all the various qualities and textures of the breathing process. In particular, recognize and enjoy the pleasant qualities of the breath. What conditions lead to the presence of those pleasant qualities? Investigate this!
- Focus on the ‘pleasantness’ of the pleasant. Meditation teacher,Leigh Brasington, suggests that once the mind is settled on the breathing for some time, a meditator should switch the attention to focus on the “‘pleasantness’ of pleasant physical sensation” somewhere in the body. Often, this pleasant sensation can be found in the palms or around the mouth. There might be a pleasant tingling sensation in the hands or lips. Brasington says to simply focus the attention on that sensation. Gradually, with patience, that pleasant sensation will grow on its own and envelop the whole body.
Ok, that’s it for this week… more points for practice to come next week.
Originally published on August 12, 2011