Unusual Meditation Techniques
Here you’ll find some unique meditation techniques. Some of these I made up, others were inspired by other therapeutic or meditative methods. I sometimes teach these to people who have a hard time with conventional meditation instructions.
Beginner meditators often complain of not being able to silence their mind. While mental silence is not required to successfully meditate, as you can learn to accept whatever arises, this technique provides a way to quiet needless inner chatter.
Say out loud, slowly, “Rest as the space between thoughts.” Then say this same phrase in your mind only.
Repeat a few times to memorize it. After it is memorized, you don’t have to do this level in the future, just start with Level 1.
Next even slower, one word per breath: “Rest…as…the…space…between…thoughts.” First out loud, then it in your mind, same pace (one word per breath).
One breath/word every 3-6 seconds is good. Repeat a few times. Listen to the silence between the words.
Then one word per two breaths. If this is too hard, go back to one word per breath.
Once you can do this, try one word per three breaths. If you lose your place, go back to one word per two breaths.
Sink into the silence. Become the space. Some minor background thoughts is OK as long as you don’t forget what you are doing.
Once you can do that, drop the words and rest as the silence or space. At first this will be for seconds at a time, then up to a minute or more, and from there longer periods or even hearing the “silence” in the thoughts. Or thoughts might become wispy, partially formed, and in the background only. If you lose the silence (get caught up in thinking), return to a previous level.
I find this is a great way to temporarily silence self talk. 5-10 minutes is enough, longer if you really want to go deep.
Each time you practice, start with Level 1 and go higher as you are able.
Rest and relax, don’t suppress or push. If you are getting a headache, you are forcing it.
If verbal thoughts arise, you can use them instead of the phrase. In other words you repeat the automatic thought deliberately and slowly, out loud and then in your mind, slower and slower.
The ultimate aim is to enter a state of inner silence on demand, whenever you want for as long as you want. And beyond that, to notice that silence and thinking are made of the same awareness.
Masters of Dzogchen meditation talk about being able to enter a state of total inner silence, stillness, or space for an hour or more, effortlessly. That’s an Olympic level feat, but this method gives us a glimpse of that possibility.
Based on Nick Kemp’s voice tempo technique for anxiety. Shinzen Young has a similar method.
How Long was
Your Last Breath?
Here’s something inspired by the Anapanasati Sutta:
Breathing in long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in long’; or breathing out long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out long.’ Or breathing in short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in short’; or breathing out short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out short.’
Many people count breaths, but here we’ll measure them. Since “long” and “short” are relative, we’ll compare the previous breath to this breath. This will create a rolling comparison every few seconds, creating a mental challenge to stay vibrantly alert.
Notice you are breathing.
At the end of your second exhale say out loud “longer,” “shorter,” or “same,” comparing the length of this breath to the length of the previous one.
At the third exhale, again say “longer,” “shorter,” or “same” comparing the length of the third breath to the previous one.
And so on. Continue for at least 5-15 minutes.
I find this makes me very mindful very fast, because you are constantly comparing to something that happened a few seconds ago and thus have to be vigilant.
Whispering the labels is fine, or you can even say them in your mind only.
If you are concerned you “got it wrong,” just move onto the next breath. There’s always another chance to be present.
It is normal that you might notice yourself subtly controlling the length of the breath sometimes. Relax this tendency as much as you can.
Thanks for reading. If you found this useful, please share it on social media or directly with friends and family.
May all beings be happy and free from suffering.
(Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com.)
- Published October 26, 2020
- Last Updated on October 27, 2020