Meditation Direction

All of us who meditate regularly develop our own little quirks and idiosyncrasies in our practice. I haven’t tested this personal theory but here is an example of one of mine and I would appreciate any comments you might have about your practice.

As I have stated before, I do open eye meditation from the Zen school of Buddhism. That is, I keep my eyes open throughout the meditation and keep my gaze fixed on a single spot in front of me, usually an image in my iPhone meditation timer which I place in front of me. However, most people in our Western communities learn meditation in the traditional method with eyes closed. This choice to use the open eye method is however not one of my individual idiosyncrasies. But it does lead into one that I do have and that is, that I usually like to face east when I have a choice of direction, at least at home.

Why east?

Well, I was amazed when I was made aware of how fast the earth rotates. At the equator, the earth is spinning at about 1,675 kilometres per hour!  That speed decreases, of course, the further north or south you get from the equator but it is still a mind-boggling rate. The direction of rotation means that we are always heading east at 465 metres per second.

So here I am, sitting perfectly still in meditation, on my cushion, eyes gazing fixedly at a point in front of me, and for the 20 minutes that I sit there in that fixed position, I have traveled 558 kilometres toward the east! And I don’t feel I have moved even one centimetre!

When I realised that I was heading east regardless of how still I was sitting I thought, what does that represent? East seems to me to represent the future, what is coming and that is the direction I am heading anyway. Conversely, if I was to face west then I would be continually looking at the past, out the back window as it were of the vehicle in which I ride. Personally, I would rather look forward to the future with eagerness than to the past with regrets.

This choice of facing east,  however, presented me with a little dilemma recently when I needed to change the location within our house to meditate. If I was to face east in this new location I would be looking at my own reflection in the mirrors on the wardrobe doors.  Comfortable as I may be with my own image I did think it might be a little distracting. I am not a perfect meditator yet, it is called practice after all.

So not west then, how about the median way, north or south? North toward the sun traversing the sky, for us in the southern hemisphere at least? Perfect I thought because north could represent the now, the exact moment I am in at any point in the course of the meditation, and the moment we are all striving to live a mindful life in. So north it is, or at least till I can start facing east in comfort again.

What meditation quirks do you have?

Daisy’s “kiss”

I am always joined for meditation at home by our two cavoodle dogs, Daisy and Rosie. They seem to love it and are always keen to sit on the mat and then the zabuton and then the zafu as I put them down and I have to chide them out of the way so that I can get them all setup for my meditation practice. I sit and as soon as the gong goes on my timer to start, both dogs settle down on the smaller zabuton I set for them in front of me and mostly just go to sleep. Or what appears to be sleep. Their presence is not as you might think a distraction but provides me with a number of lessons.

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What qigong does for my body, meditation does for my mind.

Meditation calms the racing energy of my mind and gets it flowing in a single focussed stream. With regular practice of meditation I am able to get some control over the “monkey mind” that challenges us all, where the mind flits from thought to thought constantly, incessantly.  It has often been said meditation is the simplest and yet the most difficult thing to do.

After all, how hard can it be to simply sit and focus on your own breathing? Read More