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@ “Thoughts are like dead leaves blowing in the wind” – Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

Practices

I had begun to worry about some aches and pains in my neck and hips and so I met with Elisa Cotroneo, a yoga teacher and somatic movement specialist. She was great and gave me some good advice on modifying my morning routine. I have begun to implement these changes and am already feeling an improvement. I have continued to develop the asana which I made up and am finding ever deeper relaxation from its practice.

Regarding your suggestion about extending the sitting meditation
It is interesting because I have begun to do that as a sort of natural progression.  When I find an asana (yoga posture) that makes me particularly tranquil, I will stop counting and continue the pose for some time.  I think these extended time frames are usually only 10-15 minutes now because that is about how long my total meditation time has increased.

Ideas

The Tree Metaphor
When meditating try to experience all those things a tree experiences- the touch of a breeze, sunshine, bird song, roots reaching into the earth, branches to the sky, the weight of being. Avoid all those human overlays such as anger, anticipation, and regret.

Thoughts  vs Ideas
Because we cannot just turn our minds off (and it would be dangerous if we did) I have begun to differentiate between thoughts and ideas as I meditate. My definition of a thought is that it is a fragment of an idea. Thoughts come and go, some good, some bad, like dead leaves blowing in the wind. An idea is a whole thing. It can stand alone like a large smooth rock on the ground. It can be looked at from different sides. The glue that holds an idea together is intuition. Here is an example of an idea – that the tranquility experienced from meditation is a baseline. To achieve tranquility is simply opening a door to a new space. The exploration of that space is what counts. When I meditate I concentrate on that idea (as well as my breath, my body sensations and my state of mindfulness). Keeping that idea in focus allows me to ward off distracting thoughts and achieve tranquility more efficiently.

Results
  • I took a long and stressful (busy traffic and bad weather) car trip helping my son move into a new apartment in Brooklyn. The rented van had extremely uncomfortable seats and we drove for over 7 hours. I used body awareness techniques I have learned from my asanas and ended the trip with no residual body stiffness.
  • I find myself striking up conversations with strangers or people who I hardly know more often.
  • Also, I think I am listening to other people better.

(1) Alfred

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Related posts: Alfred’s progress

@ “Today I had a very pleasant meditation” – From Alfred

See (3) to know about Alfred.

“I thought you might enjoy hearing about my progress so far. I am doing the waking up routine (1) every day. I have made some modifications. I have added in some of the moving stretches you showed me and also a few postures which I made up. Instead of counting the breaths using the fingers (2), I have begun to keep tally by focusing my attention on different parts of the body. For example “breathing through” the right ear 6 times, then the forehead, left ear, mouth, nose. I also do the whole body scanning, breaking it up into head, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg and finally my core. I find focusing on the body parts and the breathing helps keep distracting thoughts at bay.

Today I had a very pleasant meditation. I concentrated on stillness of mind. I imagined that any thought is a loud noise which can be heard by the universe and true peace can only be found by quiet stillness. An analogy is being quiet in the woods so that you can observe the animals unnoticed. Using your example of using the lightest possible touch in the finger posture, I applied that to the counting the thoughts. I tried to count my breaths using the most minimal thought of counting – the smallest thought of “one, two, three” while still not losing count. This created a very peaceful effect. Thank you for sharing these techniques with me.”

(1) Waking up routine
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Alfred

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