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Mindful : December 2015
If I have an itch, can I scratch it? Yes—however, first try scratching it with your mind before using your fingers. Should I breathe fast or slow or in between? Only worry if you’ve stopped breathing. Otherwise, you’re doing fine. Should my eyes be open or closed? No hard and fast rules. Try both. If open, not too wide, and with a soft, slightly downward gaze, not focusing on anything in par ticular. If closed, not too hard, and not imagining anything in par ticular in your mind’s eye. Is it possible I’m someone who just CANNOT meditate? When you find yourself asking that question, your meditation has officially begun. Everyone wonders that. Notice it. Escor t your attention back to your object of focus. When you’re lost and questioning again, come back again. There’s no limit to the number of times you can do that. Meditating is not a race to perfection. Is it better to practice in a group or by myself? Both are great! It’s enormously supportive to meditate with others. And, practicing on your own builds discipline. What’s the best time of day to meditate? Whatever works. Consider your circumstances: children, pets, work. Experiment. But watch out. If you always choose the most convenient time, it will usually be tomorrow. What if I get sexually (and physically) aroused by thoughts in my head? No big deal. Meditation stokes the imagination. In time, every thought and sensation will pop up (so to speak). And come back. Same old story. Release the thought, bring awareness and receptivity to body sensations, bring attention back to your chosen object. Repeat. Do you have any tips on integrating pets into meditation practice? While meditating, we don’t have to fight off distractions like a knight slaying dragons. If your dog or cat comes into the room and barks and meows and brushes up against you or settles down on a par t of your cushion, no big deal. Let it be. What works less well is to interrupt your session to relate to them. If that’s what’s going to happen, try to find a way to avoid their interrupting your practice. The Lightning Round I use meditation apps and audio guides mostly. Is that OK or should I try it without? Guided meditation on audio can be great sup- port for meditation practice. For some, it’s a long-term part of their practice life. For others, it’s something they do for awhile and then leave aside, like training wheels. As usual, there’s no rigid rule about it. If you’re someone who really likes using audio guidance, it might be interesting to explore practicing silently for a while. The quiet that comes with silent meditation can bring a lot of relief in our noisy world. You may come to appreciate the sound of your own mind. You might also consider finding ways to meditate with others, by joining a class or a group. Prac- ticing together with others often turns out to be a great way to get silent support from others in the room. It’s also nice to share your insights with new friends who are going through similar experiences. → 4 December 2015 mindful 53