I hear this all the time: “I’ve tried meditation but I just don’t get anywhere because I can’t slow my mind down. I can’t relax.”
Not unusual since most of us start this way. I was never given much instruction, nor did I see others getting advice about how to ease into meditation. The instruction was all about meditating itself. As a beginner, I was expected to come into the hall, take my cushion and get down to hard work. Most people can’t go from the frazzle of everyday living to slowing down to zero miles per hour. We stretch and limber up for physical activities; how about a way to stretch and limber up for meditating?
Here is what I suggest to make the transition from rushing to the meditation hall to getting well underway with meditation:
1. Once seated, take a few deep breaths, to an in-count of 4 or 5 and an out-count of 4 or 5.
2. Mentally tell the muscles of your forehead to “let go and relax.” Keep repeating these words and the command to your muscles to make your forehead (from temple to temple) as calm as possible. Give attention also, to the muscles over the eyebrows and at the bridge of the nose. Surprise yourself and see how relax you can get those muscles.
3. Extend the relaxing of muscles to around your eyes. Again, take the time to relax those muscles as completely as possible.
4. Relax your jaw muscles in the same way.
5. Relax the front of your neck, from under the chin to your chest.
6. Lastly, relax your tongue.
Now….begin your meditation practice.