A simple and easy to follow (not
boring) meditation technique similar to Mindfulness. Meditation is not
suitable for all people and you undertake it at your own risk. If you
have any history of mental illness or trauma, I would advise seeking a
suitable teacher before proceeding.
Find somewhere quiet, or at least
you won't be disturbed.
Sit comfortably or lie down if you wish. This meditation can be done whilst walking so posture is not too crucial, providing you are comfortable.
Allow 15 to 30 minutes.... setting a timer or alarm is useful as it is best to close your eyes for the duration (not entirely necessary but it does help to take the attention inwards and reduce the dominance of sight perceptions).
When ready to begin, start by asking yourself the first question.
Q1. What is happening now?
This can be
anything that comes into
your awareness. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, intuitions,
images, breathing etc. (more on this later).
Keep asking the same question every now and then. You will find your attention drifts off, but do not worry about this. Return to the question and notice what is happening now.
Every now and then ask yourself the second question.
Q2. How am I with that?
This is designed to notice your attitude to what you are experiencing and dis-identifies you from the experience. Often this cycles back into Q1 as your answer often becomes what is happening now for you e.g I am pissed off with the pain in my knee I noticed in Q1, so now I am pissed off.
repeating the questions until the session ends
either alternately or ad hoc with more Q1's than Q2's.
is no getting it right or wrong, or not doing it well. What is
happening, is what is happening and how you are with that, is how you are
with that. If you think you are not doing it well, that is what you are
thinking, and how you are with not doing it well, is how you are with
not doing it well.
This section is designed to answer possible questions arising from the directions and to deepen understanding of the practice.
It does not
at what time of day you do the practice, or how many times a day you
choose to do it. It can be worth trying to set a regular time for
yourself each day as this helps with the commitment. The hardest part
of meditation is sitting down to do it.
You can also, and you might find it happening spontaneously, do mini-practices in the day when the opportunity presents e.g. whilst walking or queueing.
You might wonder how you will find the time to practice even 15 minutes a day, but it is my experience that the meditation somehow produces more time in the day, or it seems like it does.
The list of ways
things can be perceived I usually limit to the four psychological
functions as described by Carl Jung; thinking, feeling, sensation and
Thinking and feeling (not so much emotions as described by Jung) are reflective processes. By this I mean they are not immediate, or direct from the source. They are reflections and to some extent value judgements on the raw data of sensation, intuition and images, i.e. your direct experience.
At the beginning of your practice you might find it difficult to notice anything other than your thoughts running wild. This is quite usual for beginners and is known as "Monkey mind". Don't worry about it, allow what is there to be there and see if you notice anything else. For instance "How am I with... all this incessant thinking?" is probably answered with "I feel frustrated with all these same thoughts repeating" and then frustration becomes the object of attention i.e. what is happening.
If "Monkey mind" continues to be a difficulty for you, or alternatively if you keep"zoning out" (periods of time where you dissociate, wondering where you have been), it might be worth focussing solely on your breath, following it all the way in and all the way out. If you lose focus just come back to breath. If focussing on breath proves difficult e.g. produces anxiety, then some other focus can be chosen such as counting to ten, looking at a candle or an inspiring image, repeating a mantra or suitable word or phrase. This is designed to increase concentration, forever pulling the mind back to a single focus, and as such is quite different to the open awareness of the 2 Question Meditation technique.
therapeutic reasons it can be best to explore or skew attention towards
intuition and sensation (or the
felt-sense as it is sometimes described), rather than the usually more
dominant functions of thinking and feelings.
By sensations I mean everything perceived by the 5 senses, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Given the eyes are closed this will include images, colours, patterns etc. that you perceive. Spontaneously occurring images are the language of the psyche (like dreams) and as such should be allowed to be, however care needs to be taken not to get caught up in fantasising, as this is an ego-mind driven activity. Touch includes any sensation on the skin's surface; tickles, draughts, irritations etc.. Beyond this though, sensation or the felt-sense, includes everything sensed within the body and this is the area of greatest therapeutic benefit. This includes "gut feelings" and intuition (which I am using here as anything we might perceive but not necessarily ascribed to one of the senses, a 6th sense so to speak).
The following simple exercise might help you grasp what I mean by felt-sense.
Hold your hand up so you can see the palm of your hand. Now slowly tighten your hand into a fist noticing the sensations as you do so. Then continuing to notice the sensations open your hand again. Repeat the exercise with your eyes closed. You probably noticed far more the second time because the mind's image of what was happening was dominant the first time.
It is not "I think therefore I am" but "I am therefore I think". Reversing the flow of how we do ourselves is crucial to undoing habitual dysfunctional patterns, including trauma. Understanding and insight might help us understand how we are, and give us a little more wriggle room, but will do little for changing habitual patterns deeply rooted in the bodymind. By becoming aware of exactly what is there, rather than allowing the mind to subsume everything to it's will, allows for a different experience of ourselves.
The reality of our experience brings us into the here and now, enabling us to be the spontaneous and creative beings we are.
The practice can be done alone or with assistance. I am available for individual guidance/tuition for those wanting to learn the technique. I am also available for people wanting to deepen their experience in a shared and supportive environment.
Counselling & Supervision
in Frome and Somerset.
07812 544542 (Mob)
Gary Tomkins 2017