A very warm welcome!

Thanks for visiting this, my second blog! You can visit Heart and Soil to see what I get up to on our 40 odd acres of land in Exmoor, basketry, crafts and general things and stuff.

I thought I would start this blog off by doing a day by day diary of my 2008 solitary retreat. You can find my posts on the preparation for this retreat over at Heart and Soil on this link:

Many people have said to me that they wish they could do a solitary retreat, because 'they really need one'. That's why I decided to share one of my retreat experiences, to hopefully make going on retreat alone, a bit less mysterious and a bit more 'doable'.

Offered with much love for your continued happiness!

Solitary Retreat Diary

Please remember that in order for the diary section of this blog to make sense you should start from Day 1 and work your way through. At the moment the best way to do this is by using the labels list on the right.

I will compile a links list to make this easier when I have posted the last day... and when I have a minute!


Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Simple, Short, Breathing Meditation

Every morning, before breakfast, find a quiet place to sit where you wont be disturbed.

Get yourself really comfortable and rest your hands on your lap.

Close your eyes and then mentally go through your body and relax the muscles in your toes, legs, belly, arms, chest, neck, mouth, forehead.

Don't worry if you don't remember the list, just remember to relax your body by focusing on the different parts. It helps to clench the muscle then release. Breathe into each of the muscles as you tighten & breathe out as you release.

Once you've relaxed your body and face turn your mind to your breath.

All you're going to do is count your breath. Nothing more.

Breath in Breath out ~ count one
Breath in Breath out ~ count two
Breath in breath out ~count three

continue until ten.

Then you change to counting the out breath:
Breathe out breathe in ~ count one
Breathe out breathe in~ count two
Breathe out breathe in ~ count three

continue till ten.

After that just sit for a moment. Let any thoughts that drift through your mind pass by without getting caught up in them. If you find you are getting caught up in them just focus on your breath again.

Some Notes

Everything you do, your breathing, when you relax your muscles, the way you move, all that should be a gentle action. Its a bit like when you're grumpy, if you force yourself to smile it kind of makes you cheer up a bit. So making your actions gentle, sort of tricks your mind into feeling more gentle (or more relaxed!)

You'll probably experience a barage of thoughts. Don't let this dishearten you. Meditation is all about practice. In fact some people call it practice instead of meditation! The trick is to stay calm and just return your focus to your breath. Another thought will come, just return your focus to your breath.

You might find you forget what number you were at! Don't try & remember, just start at one again! Its not the counting that's important, rather, it's the practice of returning your focus to your breath whenever a thought arises that's important.

One of the hardest things about meditation is actually starting it! Everyone is the same! Just keep trying :)

Offered with much love,

Monday, 9 November 2009

Meditation Tips

See also -

Getting Started in Meditation

Breathing Meditation

Here's some things I find useful - in no particular order...

1) don't try and do too much at once. 5 mins a day is plenty for your first few go's. Of course if you feel like you want to do more go ahead!

2) During meditation you may experience a mind that seems louder than you thought it was. This is ok, it's normal and it will pass with practice.

Practice is the key. When a thought arises, and you notice it has arisen move your focus onto your breath or on to the rising and falling of your belly. It may get frustrating at times, but even if you have to do it a millions times over it's all practice and it's perfectly normal. It's what meditation is - mind training. Mind excercise.

Thoughts appear and thoughts go away, like waves in an ocean. Let your thoughts ebb and flow without getting caught up in them or angry at the fact they're there and gradually you'll have a meditation where you felt no grasping at these thoughts at all.
I dream of that day!! :)

3) Try and get a routine. It helps to have a place especially set up for meditating. It's all about creating the conditions conducive to switching your brain into meditation mode. Like putting on a suit and going to an office - it's conducive to setting your brain to working mode. The more you use that meditation space the more it will take on that role.

5mins in the morning before breakfast (if poss') and then 5mins before bed is a great starting point. They are two points in the day that are generally fixed.

4) Mindfulness Bells. There is a buddhist teacher, an amazing teacher, called Thich Nhat Hanh. He taught me about mindfulness bells. Normally it would be an actual bell, but in day to day life I like to pick a 'thing' that I can use as a mindfulness bell - normally it's when ever I see someone smile. If you wear any jewellery or have a favourite wild plant you could use that as a mindfulness bell. Whenever one of those things catches your eye just take a moment. Focus on your breath or the rising and falling of your belly, just for 3 breaths. No more, just 3 breaths. Then continue with your day.

5) Meditating with others. This is really helpful. It is possible that you might be able to find a christian or other religion/nonreligion based meditation group. It is important that you have your own meditation routine at home though.

6) Do be physically comfortable when you meditate. If during meditation you feel uncomfortable adjust your position. You'll soon get comfy.

Any other tips to add?

A Simple Breathing Meditation

"Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!"
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

Breathing Meditation

See also -

Meditation Tips

Getting Started in Meditation

This meditation will take about 20 minutes.

  • Get into position and just sit quietly for a moment, breathing naturally and letting the feeling of busyness settle in your mind and body. With your eyes closed notice the sensation of your body sitting on the cushion.

  • Mentally work through your body, starting at your feet, relaxing each muscle as your mind passes it. Adjust your position, if you need to, at this stage. Relax your shoulders, let them drop and hang comfortably supported by your lap. Relax your face, your eyebrows, your jaw, your lips, your eyes.

  • When you are ready, start to count your breath. Place the count before your breath...
Count one - breathe in, count two - breathe out, count three - breathe in

Continue this until you reach ten, then begin again at one.

If you forget what number you're at, don't worry, just start again at one.

  • You will soon realise your mind has wandered off from this counting. It's very important that you don't lose patience with yourself when this happens. It happens to everybody!
Just gentley and kindly return your attention to your breathing and start your count at one. Keep doing this for the whole 20 minutes if you need to. It's okay, just continue this practice and it will get 'easier'!

  • After 5 minutes place the count after your breath.
Breathe in - count one, breathe out - count two, breathe in - count three...
Continue this till you reach ten, then begin again at one.

  • After 5 minutes stop counting and just focus on your breathing.
To help stay focused bring your attention to the point where your breath enters your body. It might be the top of your lip or where your breath enters your nostrils.

If you find this is too distracting you may find it helpful to focus on the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe in and breathe out. Choose whichever you feel suits you.

  • After 5 minutes, stop your focus on your breath and 'Just Sit'.
Allow your mind to experience the space created by your meditation. Thoughts may arise, let them, observe them, don't hold on to them, let them pass.
You may feel peaceful, calm. This last 5 minutes is for you to enjoy this feeling.

  • When you are ready, gradually allow your mind to return it's attention to your body, and then to the room you are meditating in.

  • Open your eyes!
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