sitting still in peace A C T I V I T I E S   ии  M E D I T A T I O N

R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S

Active

Buddha Mind - get one, be one.

INTRODUCTION | VISUALISATION | ACTIVE

The concept of active meditation may seem a bit incongruous. However, many people's minds are so in the habit of being engaged with 'things' - either material or mental - that to be still and sit in silence is all but impossible; they are often just overwhelmed with thoughts, body energies, emotions, etc. Anything but nothing! And so, the idea is to provide something - tangible enough to stem the tide of unregulated associative thought or to be engaging enough to hold interest for a span of time. How long that attention span can be held will vary enormously and a group leader will need to be sensitive to this; what worked for ten minutes with that group may only work for five with this. Part of meditation is about developing contentment with little, but 'little' is very relative. Each of us has thoughts of an ideal state of being but can only begin from the actual - starting from here.
The aim of these suggestions is to get people in touch with their experience. In essence this is coming to an understanding of the mind - where all things are experienced. Two questions can run as an implicit thread through most of these activities - 'What?' and 'Why?' - with feelings as a regular port of call.

BREATH

 

Using the breath as a meditation object is the most common technique. [see: LIFESTYLE - MEDITATION] One way this can be made more tangible is by the leader directing the group breath.
Counting: Close the eyes, listen closely to the breath, feel the vibration - at the nose, the throat, chest. Breathing in slowly through the nose to a count of five - hold for a count of five - slowly out. Repeat this a few times. Now, do that on your own until I ring the bell. Then do another round of led counting. It can be varied - ten in, five hold, eight out - to require a higher degree of concentration.
Sa Ha: You can imagine the in-breath makes the 'sa' (as in car) sound and the out-breath 'ha.' Try that for a few minutes on your own to get the feel. Now as a group breathe in together through the nose - make the air vibrate - saaaaaaahh. And breathing out together through the mouth softly but quite audibly - HAAAAAAAhh. If the breath is not too long or short this can be kept going for a dozen or more breaths quite comfortably.
In-Out: That's how we do it, yes? Good ho! Imagine breathing through the heart centre. On the in-breathe breathe in the air that is fresh, pure, cleansing, life giving, etc. - on the out-breath exhale the air that is stale, not required, used, unwanted, etc. Use associative words - in: life, purity, uplifting, love, new, alive, vital, vigorous, energy, health, spirit - out: letting go, freedom, relaxation, discharge, forgive, liberate. Simplify things by using just one or two words? - in: may I be happy and well; out: may I be free from suffering and pain - or: love / relaxation.

PULSE
In pairs have people look for each other's pulse. The wrist is the obvious. Try the neck - a bit more intimate. The one who is looking can give an audible signal to register the pulse to help the other person tune in to it - boom, boom. It could be a physical signal - gently squeezing the others finger. Is the other person internally aware of their pulse? Where? This exercise could be done after some physical exercise and the pulse recorded and then done again after a period of meditation. A nice alternative is to listen to the heart beat at the chest. Or try listening to someone's stomach - hear lunch on the move.
TOUCHING

Place the hands on various parts of the body.
With breath meditation it helps some people to feel the rise and fall of their abdomen or chest to get an inner sense of their breath. Feel one's own pulse - wrist, chest.
Place both hands over the heart centre - doing the in-out breath above or just meditate with the hands here - or a metta meditation (see visualisation - energy)
Hold the hands in anjali (palms joined) over the heart centre.
Two hands over the face - ones' own or another (one person sits on a chair the other stands behind them (blindfolded?) and explores the face of the person sitting. Swap.)
One finger pressing on one of the main energy centres - belly, heart, throat (several fingers), 'third eye', crown. Use the pressure to aid concentration at that point.

FRONT ON
In pairs, standing facing each other.
Hearts: see Visualisation - Energy
Space
: Get a sense of your personal space. Just move one step closer at a time. Pause, how does that feel? When do you feel encroached? Try to repeat this with different people. It could even be written down and compared over several weeks. Has the distance changed? Just with some people or generally?
Love: One person say the word (or it could be 'I love you') - take a step closer. The other person says it - take a step closer. At what point does it become awkward or embarrassing? Different words could be experimented with - hate, lonely, joy, glad to see you!

PASSING

 

Sitting in a circle. Pass various things around from person to person.
Squeeze: Holding hands pass a hand squeeze around the circle. Begin a (business or whatever) meeting by standing in a circle holding hands. The circle is broken (i.e. time to move on) when someone initiates a squeeze. Who starts it? Not me - I will wait just a little longer. And so the circle is held just that little bit longer. Nobody knows who said 'time.' Finish the meeting in the same way.
Bell: Pass a small hand bell around the circle without it ringing. Try this with eyes closed. If the bell has a hole at the top (if not tie a loop of cord on) thread light string or cotton through it and have everyone hold this thread. Pass the bell around - with eyes closed and no ringing. If it rings just keep on with eyes closed.
Water: Pass a full dish of water around the circle. Do it with eyes closed. Allow that some will spill so think of what is on the floor.
Candle: Pass it around. It really does give reason to concentrate - especially with eyes closed. Care is needed with younger folk.
Smell: Pass something(s) fragrant for all to smell.
Taste: A slice of apple, root ginger, etc.
Touch: A range of textures - cotton wool, rock, ice, wire wool, etc.
MOVING
Stones: Have a dish - e.g. glass or porcelain - filled with nice stones; polished ones or river stones are lovely. Move these stones into a similar dish next to it without making any sound. People could take turns.
Water: Move it from one container to the other with a spoon without noise and no spillage. This could be from one end of the room to the other. It could be done in groups - measure who got the most to the other end.
Sand: Same as water.
WALKING
This can be as a group - see: Drama - Warming Up - Snake - or, in a circle - possibly around a centre piece (candle, flowers, mandala, etc.) or, individually. [see: LIFESTYLE - MEDITATION] For inexperienced meditators it is probably best to be with a group with some guidance.
In a line: All line up side by side with an extended arm on the shoulder of the person next to you (i.e. not too close). Have a stopping point marked - this could be the width of a room. Walk at the same pace, together, to that point, stop, wait till the leader indicates (this could be a bell) turn around, stop, bell, return to the starting point. Repeat. This can be very boring. What is boredom? The desire for excitement? Can life always be exciting? A mantra could be chanted while walking.

LOTUS

On the floor in a circle, arms around knees (foetal position) with feet at the centre of the circle. About ten is the maximum for a circle - make more than one. People are the seeds in a lotus pod at the bottom of a pond. They are immersed in the mud - feel the warmth of the sun as the season changes. The water moves, gets warmer. The seed opens (they unfurl and lay back on the floor). Tiny shoots are sent upward to the sun. Break the surface, leaves uncurl and rest peacefully on the water. Flower buds form, grow, open. A perfect blossom - dragonflies, bees, warm sun. The season changes, the flower wilts, petals fall away, drift, gradually decompose. The fibres slowly sink in the water and rest on the mud embracing the seeds that have also settled. They are nourishing the seed - which is waiting for the seasons change - waiting - still - silent -at peace.

BELL
Ring the bell and see how long it continues - when does the sound stop? where does it go to?
Bells are just great for ringing - they do help to wake the mind up. Wind chimes are nice as well.
Wellness: Each person rings the bell - they are 'it.' All the others in the circle chant (with hand actions?): 'May I be well, may you be well (all pointing to the person with the bell as 'you'), may we all be well, may all the world be well.' Pass on the bell - ring - chant - pass - etc. Young boys squirm when it is suggested but love ringing (whacking) the bell and do enjoy the direct attention.
SOUND
Eyes closed. Make various sounds - hitting metal, scraping wood, glass on glass, etc. Guesses - with eyes closed.
CHATTING
Put an agreed problem on an empty chair. One or two (or more) could ask that problem questions. They could be written down. Once the problem has been quizzed (this will need some assistance) have someone sit on the empty chair and they can be asked questions. Decide beforehand if they are to answer - they need not.
CIRCLE & DOT
This can be done in conjunction with discussing and making mandalas.
You are the dot in the middle of the circle. The world is the circle.
What colour is your dot? How far away is the circle? What colour is the circle?
Put energy into the dot - use your power - use your love - make it get bigger and bigger.
Can you see that as your dot gets bigger so the edge of the circle gets closer?
Now your dot is so big that it has touched the circle - and now they are joined.
What colour is it all now?
BOOK OF TRUTH

One of my favourites.
The world is desolate - a few fringe cities on the edge of barren wasteland. There is a legend about a book of truth to be found in an oasis in the middle of the badlands. A group sets out - one by one they turn back, discouraged. You continue alone. Finally after many creative images and suggestive story telling you arrive at the oasis. The wise one greets you and confirms the existance of the book - but - a warning! many have fled screaming in madness having seen the book. Yes! you can do it. Led into a secret chamber in the rocks - a faint shaft of sunlight falls on the book. You are alone -trembling. You open the book -the pages appear empty! but - they are thin reflective mirrors - you look - and what you see! is yourself! every page reflects your history back to you -every detail - can you stand so much truth? All is revealed - you want to run - you stay. Coming back into the bright light of day. You join the others living there and - live happily ever after.
The end.

INTRODUCTION | VISUALISATION | ACTIVE