Like any meditative practice, Reflective Meditation requires a significant commitment to realize the full benefits. However, getting started is easy. Here are some initial suggestions:
- Choose a comfortable position that you can hold for a period of time.
- Find a quiet place where you’re not likely to be disturbed.
- Choose a length of time to meditate. If you are new, consider starting with 20-30 minutes. If that seems too long, try a shorter time: don’t stress yourself trying to meditate for too long.
Letting Your Meditation Unfold
- Let your thoughts, feelings, sensations and attention move around. Whatever arises in meditation is okay: nothing is inherently taboo.
- Let your attention go where it is drawn. This might not feel like “meditation”; consider this is another kind of meditation with different benefits.
- Try to keep your body still. If you become uncomfortable, move slowly and carefully into a more comfortable posture. Stillness in meditation develops with practice over time.
- Consider conditions that you might need for meditation: kindness, gentleness, curiosity, flexibility, choice, patience…
- At times you may want to ground your attention while in meditation, especially if things become chaotic or overwhelming. Take a deep breath, feel your body connect with what you’re sitting on, open your eyes, walk around a bit, or get a drink of water; these are all ways to ground yourself.
- Take time to reflect upon your meditative experiences; this is how you develop your memory and capacity to recollect and be aware of what you were aware of.
- Journaling can support awareness and memory.
- Write down what is easiest to remember first. Then you can fill in more later.
- Describe your experience in your own words.
- Try and stick with what happened in the meditation. If you find yourself adding interpretation or associations, put these thoughts in parenthesis or some other notation. This helps discern what happened in the meditation from what followed from it.
- Consider the content of your thoughts, the tone of your emotions, your relationship to your experience. Did you hear sounds, feel sensations, hear thoughts, see visuals? How did you relate to what happened?
- Whatever you remember will be enough. Don’t be concerned with remembering all of it: it’s not necessary or possible.
- After reflection/journaling, talk about what actually happened in your meditation with a teacher or peer. The teacher will engage you in a conversation about your meditation to help you flesh out the details, see aspects of your meditation you didn’t notice, or see patterns in your experience. This process helps with deepening your awareness.
I’ve been associated with Sati Sangha and Pine Street Sangha for many years and when I read their ‘Getting Started’, I liked it so much I decided to keep their words. Many thanks to Linda Modaro and Nelly Kaufer for permission to do so. I hope you find this as helpful as I did.