How To Sit
We tend to see body, breath, and mind separately, but in meditation they become one. The sitting position is important, because how you position your body has a lot to do with what happens with your mind and your breath.
Throughout the years of evolution of Buddhism, the most effective position of the body for sitting meditation has been the posture of the seated Buddha.
Sitting on the floor or a mat is recommended, because it is very stable. We use a cushion to raise the rear just a little, so that the knees can touch the ground. With your bottom on the pillow and two knees touching the ground, you form a tripod base that gives firmness and stability.
Next, we move on to the sitting meditation period.
Sitting & Walking Meditation
After the Precepts student collects the chanting books, they will return to the altar to light the incense. Another couple of bows from everyone, then it is time for sitting meditation. Another student will be holding a bamboo “chugpi”, it is a split piece of bamboo that when struck against the palm, makes a loud “clack” sound.
This is used to signal the start and stop times of meditation periods.
Now is the time to adjust your sitting posture, if you are cross-legged, the back is straight, the hands are in “mudra” position in the lap (left fingers over the right fingers, thumbs touching lightly. Your head should be up, chin down slightly, and your eyes should be open, looking about 3 feet in front of you at the floor.
The student will hit the chugpi three times, and the first round of seated meditation begins.
Beginner’s Practice Suggestion: A simple, strong beginning meditation is to just be aware… notice the floor color, notice the sounds you hear, notice the way the cushion feels, just what your senses are experiencing. Don’t make any ideas about them, just be aware of them.
Pretty soon, the mind will do what it does, namely drift off into some past scenario, or some future daydream, and pretty soon you are lost in the “mind movie”. You will become aware that you have been “daydreaming”, and when you do, it’s no problem, just bring your awareness back to this moment – notice the floor color, notice the sounds you hear, notice the way the cushion feels, just what your senses are experiencing.
When your mind drifts again, just bring focus to your senses… again. After 20 minutes, the first period of sitting is over, and there will be one loud “clack” from the chugpi.
Everyone will stand up, and begin walking in a counter clockwise circle for walking meditation for 5 minutes. Just follow along, walking slowly, until the chugpi is struck again, then stop behind your cushion.
It is struck again, and you will sit the last round of meditation for 20 minutes. Use the practice described above. When you hear 3 clacks from the chugpi, meditation is over. Remain sitting, as there will be a brief Dharma talk from the guiding teacher. That’s it!