|Preparation for Contemplation|
Script for the Guided Meditation Called "The Preparation for Contemplation" (PFC)
The PFC is a subsidence type of meditation. Subsidence practices calm the nervous system so that the mind and emotions settle down. This promotes an empty state that is good for contemplation.
This meditation also instructs us about the nature of the base. You find the base when the field of awareness is empty. “Returning to the base” is a key practice of Dogzen.
We do four short meditation practices in the PFC:
Each practice follows immediately after the previous one. You stay in the meditation as you move from one practice to the next.
We usually do these practices with our eyes closed, but it is not a rule. “Whatever works” is the rule.
We don’t do each section very long. Two to three minutes for each one is enough.
Sit in a comfortable meditation position, one that will keep your body from being a distraction. It is best if you sit up, with your back straight, and with your head balanced above your spine. Stay relaxed and attentive.
The first practice is called Nekashum (nee-kah-shoom). It is a simple breathing exercise that helps you detach awareness from its involvement in the external world and settle in the central channel of the body.
On the in-breath, let your awareness ride the flow of breath into the central channel of the body. For our purposes, the central channel is anything that, to you, seems like a central channel. It is generally described as an energy channel that runs verticaly inside the body, parallel to the spine.
On the out-breath, rest in the central channel. Remain within. Let the breath go out without your awareness going out with it.
Breath slowly and naturally. Just go in on the in-breath and rest within during the out-breath.
Do this at your own pace for a few minutes. Just go in and in and in.
The next meditation is Stillness.
Look around in your field of awareness and find something that to you is stillness. Don’t try to get an exceptionally strong experience of stillness, or a perfect experience of stillness. Just get a little. Just get a taste of stillness. If you can't find anything that, to you, is stillness, just imagine finding some stillness and go with that.
If you are distracted by any movement (non-stillness), just understand that stillness is at the base and is sometimes obscured or covered over by movement. Just reconnect with the stillness. Treat stillness as the base of your awareness.
If you find yourself struggling to make the stillness experience stronger, give that up for now. Just go for a little bit of stillness.
Gently work with this for a few minutes. Become familiar with the stillness that lies at the base of awareness.
Next, we will challenge your connection with the stillness a little. Hold your hands out in front of your body, palms up. While staying in touch with the stillness, slowly raise your hands over your head until the palms touch.
Keeping the palms touching, slowly lower your hands to about where your heart is and let them rest there.
During this whole movement, stay in touch with the stillness, even though your hands are in motion. Try not to let the movement obscure the underlying stillness.
As your hands come to rest in front of your heart, you can have the stillness of your hands strengthen your sense of stillness. Do this only if it seems to help.
Do this movement a few times at your own pace. If you lose touch with the stillness, stop and reconnect with it, then continue.
Finish the movement you are on while staying with the stillness.
The next meditation is silence.
Look around in your field of awareness and find something that to you is silence. Don’t try to get an exceptionaly strong experience of silence, or a perfect experience of silence. Just get a little. Just get a taste of silence. If you can't find anything that, to you, is silence, just imagine some silence and go with that.
If you are distracted by any sounds, just understand that silence is at the base and is sometimes obscured or covered over by sounds. Just reconnect with the silence. Treat silence as the underlying base of your awareness.
If you find yourself struggling to make the silence stronger, give that up for now. Just go for a little bit of silence.
Gently work with this for a few minutes. Become familiar with the silence that lies at the base of awareness.
Next, let’s challenge your connection with the silence a little. We will say the syllable “Ah” while staying in touch with the silence. “Ah” is one of the simplest and gentlest sounds, so it is a good one to begin with.
Take a breath and say “Ahhhhhhhhhh” while staying connected to the silence. Understand that silence is at the base and that sounds can sometimes obscure the base, hiding it from awareness.
If you lose touch with the silence while chanting, stop and reconnect with it, then continue.
Chant “Ahhhhhhs” for a couple of minutes.
The next meditation is non-conceptual mind.
Look around in your field of awareness and find something that to you is non-conceptual mind. This is how the mind is when it is not conceiving of something or thinking about something. Just find something that to you is non-conceptual mind. If you can't find something that, to you, is non-conceptual mind, just imagine it and go with it.
Don’t try to hold off your thoughts, or try to get a strong experience of non-conceptual mind, or try to get a perfect experience of non-conceptual mind. Just get a little. Just get a taste of non-conceptual mind.
If you are distracted by any thoughts or concepts, understand that non-conceptual mind is at the base and is sometimes obscured or covered over by thoughts. Just reconnect with non-conceptual mind. Treat this as the natural base of your awareness.
If you find yourself struggling with thoughts, give that up for now. Just reconnect with the base.
Gently work with this for a few minutes. Become familiar with not conceiving of anything, just being present.
Open your eyes slowly and see the room with fresh awareness. Notice if your state has changed and how it has changed. Don’t be too hasty to re-engage with movement, sounds, and concepts. Take a minute or two to be nakedly aware, until the state loses its freshness.
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