Meditation: What to Do & What Not to Do
1. I was taught to sit or lay down as comfortable as possible and relax during meditation. Why do you recommend to sit in full lotus? Wouldn't it be distractive for meditation due to the leg pain?
We teach people to sit in half or full lotus posture and endure the discomfort from the beginning. It might seem too difficult at first, however, everyone can do it as long as people are willing to work hard. The benefits and results are far much better, quicker and more solid. Mostly, people come to learn meditation from us because the comfortable way didn't work for them. If you try it, you will see for yourself. Your mind will become a lot more patient, calmer and stronger throughout the day, even when you have lots of external stresses. Because you already trained not to react to difficult conditions, you will find everything else a lot easier. You may struggle a lot at the beginning, but after you struggle, your mind will become more peaceful and calm.
If your happiness always depends on external conditions such as how comfortable we can sit or lay down, how good the meditation feels and so on, how can you ever become happy? Instead, we teach you to endure and put up with difficulties and do not react to it, you will be forced to look within and understand who you are and how your mind functions in a deeper level. You will naturally feel relaxed, peaceful and calm with any conditions.
2. Can I focus on breathing?
You can achieve pretty good results by focusing on breathing or do breathe counting meditation. However, we do not recommend this. There are two reasons. When you focus on breathing, you tend to intervene or meddle your breathe. According to Buddhist Sutra, Buddha said to be just aware but do not intervene the breathing during meditation. However, people have tendency to do so when they use this method. Additionally, breathing method wouldn't be able to take you all the way. Instead, we recommend you to focus on the navel during meditation. If you sit regularly and develop meditation skills, your breathing will naturally become slower and deeper without manipulating it.
Focus on your navel. In general, we tend to think too much. For example, if you focus on the spot between the eyes, your Qi (energy) will go to head area so you won't be able to reduce your thinking mind effectively.
3. Guided Meditation.
This is my personal opinion. I did not like guided meditation. Our main goal of meditation is to increase the concentration power. When you improve your concentration power (also called samadhi power), you will become automatically more relaxed, reduce thinking processing, less angry or anxious. If you want to improve your meditation practice, I highly recommend not to depend on external sound. It is better if you recite a short phrase "Empty the mind" or Buddha's name, "A-mi-ta-bha" instead. When I went to tried "guided meditation", I personally found that it's harder to enter samadhi.
4. Do not use sitting cushion.
I do not recommend using thick cushion for meditation. It's too comfortable. Our first instruction is to sit and endure the discomforts. Remember?
When you sit with a thick cushion under your butts, you won't be able to go for longer sits. If you are ambitious to improve more and go further, don't use it. We recommend to sit with thin yoga mat or on a rug. Sit on flat surface. The longer you sit, the more stable you will feel on flat surface. If you have injuries or physically can't sit on the floor, you may sit in the chair but make sure to put something under your feet so that your energy is not sucked into the floor.
5. Do not straight your back too much. Sit naturally.
I often see meditation photos of people looking so stiff and make the back so straight. In fact, your back will be straighten up itself once your meditation skill improves and your Qi flow gets stronger. It's the best to sit naturally. As long as your back is not curved, and let it straight naturally, it's better.
6. Do not seek feeling good.
People are so conditioned to seek "feeling good". You may feel really good or bad in meditation. You shouldn't seek for good feeling only. In fact, you will have the best chance to improve by meditating when you struggle the most. Right before you make to the next level, you tend to have more problems and hard time. If you are always feeling so fantastic after meditation, that is a very sign that you are not improving.
7. Do not read too much about meditation.
Why do I say this? I often found that many meditation instructions on internet or youtube are misleading and confusing. Be careful and see who wrote the article. The writer might not be an expert in meditation. A doctor, physician, PhD or celebrity who meditate every day for a few years doesn't mean they are experts.
When you make progress in meditation, you can slowly start recognizing the proper and improper information on meditation. One basic characteristic of meditation is not to rely on spoken words. A lot of people believe that they understand meditation by using their thinking mind. Meditation doesn't rely on words. Meditation is meant to be experienced. A good meditation teacher needs to teach you what to do in order for you to make progress.
8. Reduce ego, not feed it.
Again, meditation should help you reduce your ego. Ego likes to feel good, feels important and wants to be sure of itself. If my teacher always praised me, instead of pointing out what I was doing wrong, I would have gone to find another teacher already. A good teacher can tell the truth about us so that we can always improve ourselves. This is one of many reasons why we teach meditation for free. We need to tell you what you don't want to hear and hard to swallow.
I am always grateful to my teacher who showed me how to change my life.