This blog chronicles the activities of a meditation group in Bancroft, Ontario and provides instruction in insight meditation. Meditation concepts are explained in terms of Western psychology and in terms of the Buddhist concepts from which this style of meditation derives. Dr. Alan McAllister, a psychologist practicing in Bancroft, is the author of the blog and the facilitator of the group which meets periodically for 8-10 sessions twice a year.
How to read the posts
The posts are arranged here with the most recent appearing at the top of the page. If you are new to the blog, you might find it useful to start with the first posts. Go to the blog archive on the lower right to access the posts in the order in which they were written.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
One of the most basic instructions for meditating in a sitting position is keeping still, not moving for a period of time. Ordinarily we sit for long periods of time, and we assume that we are not moving. Actually, if you sit in a chair at work or at home watching TV, your body is constantly in motion, although the movements are very slight and usually pass without explicit awareness. Your body is in constant motion to avoid any discomfort. Being asked to sit still and not move while meditating goes against the grain. It seems unnatural. Within a short time, you may feel the urge to move, you may experience pains in familiar and unfamiliar places, or you may have itches that cry out for a scratch. If you resist the body’s demands to move, these feelings may increase for a time. However, if you stay still for long enough, you may notice that these demands subside. This can be a powerful lesson in impermanence, that things arise and pass away.
This is an analogue for what happens with the mind too. If we resist reacting to what happens in our mind, we will see impermanence there too. Sensations, thoughts, emotions, feelings all come and go, and we don’t have to do anything about them. This is how real stillness happens.
Of course, if you are really uncomfortable as you sit there, if the pain becomes unbearable, the itch too irritating, then by all means adjust your position or have a good scratch. But do so slowly and mindfully, observing each movement you make so as to minimize the disruption to your mindfulness (still-fulness).
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