Introduction to silent meditation

Disclaimer

What is shown here are suggestions and inspirations for people who want to meditate alone or with animals. In case of physical or psychological ailments, it should be clarified before starting meditation whether this is useful or whether meditation is not advisable. As soon as pain appears in joints, meditation should be stopped immediately. When meditating, psychological processes are stimulated and past or unprocessed things can come up again. Sometimes this comes to light only with a delay. Consciously recognized, this can be used for processing and transformation. Anyone who feels overwhelmed by this, does not want this or suffers from great anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses or past psychological trauma, should urgently consult a doctor or therapist beforehand or postpone the meditation to a later time. No liability is assumed for any harm anyone may attribute to meditation. Everyone practices voluntarily and on their own responsibility. Obstacles and hurdles during meditation will be pointed out to the best of our knowledge and belief.

 

Why silence meditation?

 

Purpose:

To quiet the body and mind

Meditate together with animals and in nature

Basis for further methods like training or touching animals

 

Videos (not yet translated!)

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Seat positions

The spirit

Obstacles to meditation

Explanations as text

Seat positions

In silent meditation, we sit in the typical postures as monks, yogis or other meditators do. What is the purpose of a particular posture? In principle, you can meditate in any posture of the body, but the classical forms help to get into the desired posture of the mind. If the body is still, the mind follows. If the body slackens, the back becomes round and the head sinks, the mind becomes rather sleepy and we doze off. On the other hand, if we are too tense and try too ambitiously to sit correctly, then our mind will also hold on to something. When meditating, we seek to find and hold the center. The sitting positions from Zen (a practice originating from Buddhism) are suitable for this. Depending on the physical condition, one looks for the most suitable position for the moment. All sitting postures have in common that the body is kept as still as possible, whereby breathing movements are of course excluded! If the body is completely motionless and the posture is performed correctly, then silence automatically occurs. The mind becomes quiet, thoughts become quieter, and the distance between arising thoughts increases. As soon as we move, the body perceives stimuli sent to the nerves, which makes the mind active again. But when the body is completely still, the mind also follows into stillness. Now the area between two thoughts, pure being or silence, whatever you want to call it, can be perceived.

 

Chair sitting:

The simplest form, which is especially suitable for health problems, is sitting on a chair. The upper body is straight and upright. The legs stand side by side. The pelvis is tilted forward until the back forms a straight line from the tailbone to the head. However, do not sit too stiffly. The natural curve of the spine is maintained. The buttocks sink deeply into the chair. Your shoulders are relaxed. The chin is felt to move slightly down and toward the ears to stretch the neck. The upper body is at right angles to the legs. Thighs and lower legs also form 90 degrees. The feet are fully planted on the floor. It is best to wear socks or be barefoot. The hands rest on the thighs. The eyes are either half-closed and directed about one meter in front of the feet.

 

Heel sit:

Kneel on the floor and place your buttocks on your feet. In the long run, it is usually more comfortable to clamp a cushion between your buttocks and heels. You can sit down on this. Now tilt the pelvis forward until the back is straight but still retains its natural curve. The hands rest on both sides of the thighs. The buttocks press down. The shoulders are relaxed, the chin slightly pulled back to stretch the neck. The gaze rests on the floor about a meter in front of the knees or else the eyes remain closed.

 

Heel sit with meditation bench:

If heel sitting is too uncomfortable on your feet or your knees hurt, a meditation bench can help. It is placed over the calves and you simply sit on it with your buttocks. The rest of the posture remains as described.

 

Cross-legged sitting:

To begin with, take a sufficiently high meditation cushion or another pad that is stable, not too soft and not too wobbly. You now cross your legs to sit cross-legged. Depending on how flexible you are in the hips (not in the knees! The opening comes from the hips!), different forms come into question. The posture of the upper body remains the same in all variations. The buttocks are pressed back into the floor, and the hips are rotated forward until the spine is erect but still retains the natural curve. The shoulders are relaxed and upright, the chin is drawn slightly toward the ears, thereby straightening the neck. The arms fall loosely in a slight curve. The hands are placed in the lap or on the thighs. The two thumbs are touching and the fingers of the left hand are resting on the fingers of the right (as if forming a bowl).

 

Burmese seat:

Both thighs are spread apart, and the lower legs are drawn toward the thighs. The feet touch the respective upper or lower leg of the other leg. The feet both remain level. The knees touch the floor. If the knees do not touch the floor, raise your meditation cushion.

 

Half lotus:

One foot is placed on the thigh of the other leg. The other foot remains at ground level. The knees should always be in contact with the ground. If this does not succeed or if pain occurs, the exercise must be stopped or the seat corrected. Maybe it needs some stretching in the hips, warming up or a higher cushion.

 

Lotus seat:

Here, the foot of the right leg first rests on the thigh of the left leg. Then the left foot is placed on the thigh of the right leg. The knees press into the floor. If pain occurs in the knees, then perhaps the half lotus is more suitable or one of the previous sitting positions.

 

Why are there different sitting positions?

One reason is that people with very different physical conditions can meditate. Another is that with the latter cross-legged sitting positions, especially the lotus seat, it is easier to get into deeper meditation states. But for simple stillness meditation, all positions are suitable, so one can choose the one most suitable for oneself. If you try to get into the lotus position with will, even though there is pain or you cannot do the posture correctly, you will not stay long in meditation. Then rather practice sitting still on a chair for a whole hour. This way the joints are spared and the effect of silent meditation can be felt as well.

The spirit

Do you think it can be hard to count to ten again as an adult?

Sure you can count to ten. But look how hard it can be in meditation!

 

It works like this: Count a number every breath until you get to ten. You start with one on the first inhale, then another one on the exhale, two on the inhale, and another two on the exhale, and so on to ten. Then you start again at one. When you realize that you have lost count, start again at one. Stay with your breath the whole time and try to breathe into your lower abdomen if possible. I'm curious to see if, like many people who do this exercise for the first time, you forget to count and your mind wanders off, or if you even count to twenty. For most people this is exactly what happens, and it is quite normal. If you are one of them, don't worry, don't get angry, but take it with humor.

 

In time, you will change the meditation slightly. Now you only count from one to ten on the exhales and then start again from the beginning. On the inhale, you just concentrate on the breath. This is already a bit more difficult, because the silence between the individual numbers, which are a thought, increases. We now need more concentration, so that we don't get lost in thought, lose count or even fall asleep.

 

Why is it suddenly so hard to count?

As soon as we get into the meditation seat and come to rest, our mind begins to wander It is not used to doing otherwise. It hops here and there and likes to change the subject or revolve around the same thing twenty-three times. Just normal. Or else we doze off and daydream. Our brain and the rest of the body have internalized that as soon as the body comes to rest, this means going to sleep, and then, as is well known, concentration also decreases. But what does meditation actually mean? In essence, the term means that we bring ourselves into a relaxed, serene state with an awake mind at the same time. Since we have not practiced this over the years, our automatic mode goes on and scatters the mind, makes it brood or fall asleep. Meditation also involves focusing, at least initially, on a particular meditation object. The meditation object in this case is counting and breathing. This is a way to practice being awake and focused despite the body becoming more and more relaxed. This little trick is an important prerequisite for everything that comes after. For only when the mind first learns to stay awake and focused can it later maintain alertness without such an exercise, without digressing or dozing off. An alert and at the same time relaxed state is the goal we aim for in meditation. For this is how we succeed in entering stillness, the realm between two thoughts, the here and now and being alive. However, why would one want to go there? Being able to dwell attentively in silence for a while brings peace, serenity and clarity to the mind. One feels more awake and also more concentrated afterwards. In addition, in this silence one perceives things and also oneself much more consciously than before. When it becomes clearer, it is more objective. And when we later do the silence meditation with animals or in nature, we experience everything around us much more intensively and understand and above all feel more. Life becomes more colorful, intense and rich, but at the same time calmer and more peaceful. For this alone, it is worthwhile to diligently practice the funny counting during breathing meditation.

 

If you have been counting in meditation for a while now, maybe a few days or weeks, for a certain amount of time every day, consciously observe the pauses between the numbers. Surely by now your exhalations have become longer, so these pauses are expanding. Now the exercise of keeping the mind awake and focused begins by itself. Where this time the concentration is not on anything in particular. And then you stop counting! And keep going, looking ahead of you with your eyes half-open, breathing, and above all, staying awake, fully awake! Welcome to the silence! Congratulations!

 

And poof it has slipped away again or a thought has taken on a life of its own! Smile and come back to your awake and undirected attention. If it's hard, start counting again until you feel ready to enter the silence again. And what if a thought does come now? Is it allowed to do that? Of course! In fact, in the beginning, a lot of thoughts will come. Like an advertisement, the thoughts pop up from the subconscious. Plopp: "Would you like to think about this?" You notice it, but with your concentration you come back to the waking present and the thought disappears by itself. You don't need to push it away or anything, that would give it far too much attention. You perceive: " a thought", and go on until plop: "If not of that just now, perhaps you would like to think of this?" And so it goes on and on. Eventually, though, you can rest assured, the popping thoughts will come at greater intervals. In between, silence will spread more and more, which you will perceive awake and which you can enjoy. But beware, even the thought that it is now nice or you are happy, quickly becomes thinking. You think about what is beautiful right now and you are already out of the here and now. Just notice, second by second, each passing moment and be grateful that you don't have to do anything, not even think. In fact, you will eventually realize that just sitting there without thinking, this relaxed and refreshed existence, is actually worth the effort. What is extremely important then, however, is to be constantly attentive and to always make sure to keep your mind really awake! If you succeed in this at some point, then you may even find the breath counting meditation exhausting for the mind and will only need it for the beginning of the meditation to calm the mind. After that, you'll get into the stillness. The thoughts that pop up from time to time, you just let them be there and they disappear or change by themselves.

 

A Zen master once said:

"Leave your front door

and the back door open.

Let your thoughts come and go.

Just don't serve them tea."

Obstacles to meditation

Emotions don't knock on the door and ask if it's just right!

 

When we have managed to let the thoughts come to rest, we may notice emotions that come up and make themselves felt through bodily sensations. But what are these emotions? Scientists debate about the correct definitions of emotions or feelings. Here we pragmatically make use of a simple theory.

 

Emotions are subjective reactions that follow a physical stimulus. For example, we see a growling dog in front of us (physical stimulus) and evaluate this as potentially dangerous (subjective evaluation), giving the growling dog (the object, situation or action) an individual meaning for us, either positive or negative. In addition, this triggers a reaction in us, positive like attack or friendly approach or negative like running away or making oneself small.

 

An emotion is therefore literally: energy (E) that comes into motion (motion).

 

The stimulus comes a form of energy. Then we evaluate. Through this we generate positive or negative energy, which eventually becomes visible in our moving action. We encounter this in a strange way in meditation as well, with the difference that we continue to evaluate a stimulus, but by sitting still, motionless, we do not allow a reaction to follow. But where then with the energy? Body and mind will now be vehemently interested that we let meditating be! The stimulus has been subjectively evaluated and therefore the energy that is now in the body is looking for an outlet. How do we counter these resistances, which usually feel uncomfortable? What can we do if we want to resist the impulse to immediately stop meditating? We stay there! We allow the feeling, endure it. Interestingly, however, we do not then get into a kind of rigidity, as happens in trauma, when neither escape nor attack is possible. Because we are consciously determined and intentionally stay in the situation, even though we would have the possibility to leave (important difference compared to the freezing in trauma!), the emotion changes. Whereby it is actually not really wanting, but rather courageously letting it happen. Give up control over the emotion! You don't need to fight against it, because then the resistance only gets bigger. Even if you repress it, it will want to show itself and the feeling will grow. But if you remain calm and attentive and give up control, then the emotion will change. Through this, the energy associated with the emotion changes by itself. The subconscious mind, which has stored all emotions, that is, all subjective evaluations of certain stimuli in the past, is now relearning. The subconscious enters into contact with the conscious mind, which sees the situation as it really is And that is: we sit around quietly and nothing actually happens, everything is fine. And so emotions that arise during meditation transform if we remain sitting quietly, calmly and courageously, knowing that eventually we will make it. If this does not happen immediately, however, it is not tragic. Such changes need a lot of patience and compassion. Think about how long the subconscious mind has been confirming itself on a daily basis through subjective evaluation and automatic action! And now all this should no longer be so? Sometimes letting go of such an inner conviction that something is this way or that way would also lead to a grief reaction. Because when we let go of certain beliefs, what is left? A hole inside us? Who fills it? It is unknown and we are not yet used to the process of letting go and allowing emotions to naturally and wholesomely transform. Therefore feel your way slowly and explore yourself, but always mindfully and lovingly! And maybe go out of strong emotions sooner rather than later! You don't have to prove anything to yourself or others! Ambition in meditation will only prevent you from experiencing the wonderful developments that regular meditation brings. And one more important note: If you notice that you have an issue that keeps coming up, an emotion that overcomes you like a wave and sweeps you away, or else if you lose the feeling for your body and start to dissociate (disconnect from the body, it feels strange or you feel unreal), then stop meditating! Immediately! Then you actually have an issue that better be looked at by professional people with. Seek help from someone you can tell the issue to, and ask yourself what you need. Only if you know what you need, can someone really help you.

 

Then there are feelings. While emotions lie in the subconscious and the evaluation of a stimulus is normally not perceived by us, feelings are what we consciously perceive, such as fear, sadness, joy. However, if you are either a very intuitive person and therefore already have access to a small area of your subconscious, or if you meditate regularly, you can actually perceive very finely and subliminally what evaluation a stimulus receives. You thus sense which thought triggers your emotion. This then also helps you to re-evaluate it and bring the whole thing more objectively into consciousness, whereby it can be transformed. But this is not easy with our main issues. We can transform the minor issues in a short time. Our deep-seated, stubborn or even hidden issues, they take years, that's just the way it is. So feelings are more accessible to consciousness. Most people can tell that they are sad or angry or pleased right now. But why this is so, for that you need an access to deeper levels, which becomes possible bit by bit through meditating. Because sometimes we carry a kind of basic mood around with us, we are sad, but we don't know why. We thus recognize the feeling, such as sadness, but are not aware of what the trigger is, because the emotion preceding the feeling lies in the subconscious. Feelings, together with the physical reactions that accompany them, are thus what follow an emotion. How far we penetrate into the realm of the unconscious through meditation is certainly individual, and we will continue to never fully reach most of our unconscious. But for normal everyday life and the problems that occupy us, what becomes clearer through meditation is sufficient in most cases, provided that one meditates regularly and for years, if not one's whole life. But don't stop reading now in resignation, even if you meditate only once a week, and only for a short time. You will soon notice that it helps you in everyday life in many situations to see them more clearly and less subjectively evaluated.

 

Silent meditation is thus not a comfortable sitting around and letting yourself fall into relaxed reveries, as we can sometimes do in guided meditation journeys. When we sit in pure silence mindful, awake and calm, it can be really hard. Because there are also the physical sensations that get to us, pain or fatigue. If a pain results from a posture that is actually not conducive to the body, then it is a healthy warning sign from the body. Listen to it and change position! If you let the body go limp out of fatigue, then start counting again to become awake and focused, and get back into an upright position. Because body and mind are always one unit, if one slackens, the other follows suit. But then there are also bodily sensations that just appear out of nowhere. This results (one assumes) from the fact that the body sometimes stores emotions and these can therefore also express themselves in this way. Don't start interpreting anything into it. Notice the feeling that is felt in the body from this, and then come back to the meditation. Because this kind of body sensation a discomfort tingling, pain for no apparent reason, but possibly uncomfortable may also come from your subconscious, perhaps from an emotion. If the discomfort remains, you can feel into it briefly, for a few seconds or so, to find out what's behind it. Most of the time, an issue comes to light that has been suppressed for a long time, but which the body has stored for later clarification. Here you proceed as described for the emotions. You stay awake and attentive to the feeling. It will eventually transform if you resist the urge to leave the situation and courageously stay and continue meditating. And again: If you find that the issue is too big for you to handle alone, get help! Listen to your inner voice, what you need right now!

 

If you have met all these obstacles in meditation - and you probably will inevitably - then hats off to you if you now courageously continue! But be sure, it is worth it! Because if at some point you can sit so still that such disturbances occur only rarely and no longer so violently, you will be able to perceive the subtle energy of silence around you and within you and enjoy this peaceful atmosphere. And furthermore, with time, our ability to lovingly give a space to emotions and bodily sensations also grows. Finally, it should be mentioned that meditating should not lead to a dulling and no longer feeling. It should not and must not lead to nihilism, that suddenly nothing makes sense anymore or that you don't care about anything because you have become so unassailable and cool-headed through meditation. While meditating you learn to perceive feelings and to make conscious decisions with your heart in spite of them. You learn how not to react even once, because it would be unwholesome. In doing so, you develop a healing intuition if you cultivate a mindful and loving meditation. In this way, we contribute to a loving and life-affirming world for ourselves and others with what is possible within our framework. If this sometimes does not succeed, we are not faultless, but we are ready to learn from mistakes and strive to continue. A meditation should always lead back to life in the end, with all the feelings, because everything has its meaning, but sometimes needs its proper place. Silence helps us if we learn to allow it and trust.

 

 

And sometimes animals accompany us on the way. Then we can be really happy!