Today I thought I’d share a meditation practice I have been engaging for a little while from Rick Hanson’s book Neurodharma. Among other things in this book Rick Hanson explores how to develop seven practices of awakening, which he identifies as steadying the mind, warming the heart, resting in a sense of enoughness and of being whole, receiving nowness, opening into allness and finding timelessness. Rick Hanson suggests that we can engage with each practice separately or as a whole meditation. Below is a summary of this meditation practice:
Steadiness. To develop steadiness we choose an object of attention such as the sensations of breathing or a word and we stay aware of it. For example, if it’s the breath, we apply attention to the beginning of each inhalation and sustain our attention to its full course, and then we do the same with each exhalation, breath after breath after breath.
Lovingness. Once our mind has steadied we move our focus on warmhearted feelings as our object of attention. Our focus can turn to people we love and care about and who care about us, feelings of compassion and kindness. The focus is on the emotions and if other thoughts and feelings arise we let them come and go as we continue to focus on a sense of warm heartedness. As we breathe, we could sense love flowing in and out through our chest and heart.
Fullness. We turn our focus on the sense of enoughness and safety of the moment as it is, resting in a growing sense of contentment. Also, we can focus on gratitude and simple feelings of gladness and other positive emotions … while letting go of disappointment, resentment, stress, etc.
Wholeness. As we rest at ease in fullness, we turn our awareness to the sensations of breathing in the left side of our chest, then the right side, then our whole chest as a whole, and then we gradually widen our awareness of breathing to include all of our body. Rick Hanson writes: “…. being aware of your whole body as a single field of experience … abiding as a whole body breathing … all of you as a whole … abiding undivided”
Nowness. As we abide as a whole, we stay in the present and we remain alert, while letting go and finding comfort in the present… the nowness. Rick Hanson writes: “Be at ease, you’re all right … here in the present as it changes … receiving this moment … receiving now … resting at the front edge of now … and now.”
Allness. Abiding as a whole, air flowing in and flowing out … “inhaling oxygen from green growing things … exhaling carbon dioxide to them … what you’re receiving becoming a part of you, what you’re giving becoming part of other things … Letting these knowings become feelings of relatedness … of inter-being … with plants … and animals … and people … and with air and water … and mountains and all of this earth.” (Rick Hanson)
Timelessness. We continue to abide in the present letting go of thoughts and we settle back into a wordless sense of being, perhaps experiencing a sense of possibility, spaciousness and stillness.
Finally, we come into a bodily grounded sense of this moment perhaps moving feet and hands and breathing more fully.