Sit in the sun or in the shade; look at the sky or close your eyes. Perhaps do some work in the garden. Allow your mind to contemplate without reservation.
Finding your breath
First, just observe how your body breathes. Is your breath deep or shallow? Fast or slow? Where in your body do you feel your breath the most? Is it around your nose or mouth? Maybe in the chest or abdomen? Consider what’s impeding your breathing. Maybe your clothes are too tight, or maybe you unconsciously hold your breath? Perhaps a certain thought makes you halt your breathing?
If necessary, loosen up your clothing. Imagine what it would be like to be free of the mental or emotional block that is causing your breath to be hampered. It does not necessarily have to go away completely, but it does not have to hold you back or bother you.
You can also take a moment to find a breathing rhythm that feels soothing. Each inhalation should be as long and smooth as each exhalation, and without strain.
Take a few deep breaths, focusing especially on the exhalation. Feel your mind and body relax. As you exhale, you can also gently make the sound ‘o’. As you inhale, focus on making the sound ‘a’, concentrating on strength and grounding. See if you can feel these qualities inside yourself; in your body, your emotions. What effect does the sound have on you? Can you match the quality of the sound to your breathing rhythm?
Treat this exercise lightly, with a sense of humour, as a kind of experiment, without the need to feel anything. See if this experiment changes something in you.
When spring is in the air, take a walk in nature – in the park, in the woods, or just around your garden. While strolling around, stop every now and then. Look at the flowers, trees and grass. See what it’s like to observe things around you. How does it make you feel? What feelings, associations, desires or intentions does it evoke?
During this contemplation, think about what is awakening inside of you. What is changing? What are you opening to, or wanting to open to? Perhaps acceptance, wisdom or tenderness? Maybe you allow yourself to notice something new, or see something you have long forgotten about, such as certain virtues, behaviours, or how you relate to others?
Light and darkness
Think about what is light and dark inside you, what is helpful and supportive, or destructive and harmful – for you and for others. Consider your traits, behaviours, thoughts, emotions, tendencies, relationships, both in relation to yourself and to others. Some of these features can simultaneously appear in both the light and dark spheres, and their tone and intensity will change depending on the circumstances.
Ask yourself, for example, in what situations can impatience be a virtue, and when is it an obstacle? Under what circumstances can creativity be helpful, and when is it a burden? Notice how these two sides intermingle and what affects them.
Exploring various states of consciousness
Think about your different states of consciousness. They might include times when you experienced mindfulness or calmness, did not give in to every emotion and thought, and were focused on yourself, your body and your feelings. Think about those times when you were in a trance, hypnotized, completely absorbed by certain thoughts, feelings and dreams, such as when taking a bus or driving.
Now think about when you have felt fully engaged and enthusiastic (also known as ‘flow’); completely engrossed in something, not noticing the world around you, even temporarily cutting yourself off from the external world. Think about those times when you could not pay attention, when you found it difficult to concentrate, were distracted, buzzing, your thoughts were restless and scattered.
Take a moment to reflect on the difference between each of these states. How did you feel during each one? What did it give you? How did it disturb you? Assess each of these states.
You can do this meditation while sitting or walking.
Think about what the word ‘freedom’ means to you; what you associate it with. What feelings and images appear? Imagine what it would be like to be free, maybe even regardless of your circumstances, without the need to give up responsibility and maturity. No need to abandon duties and people. You can also imagine what kind of person you would then be. How would you see yourself and others? Perhaps you could step outside of your own culture and personal beliefs? Take a moment to reflect on what limits you, and whether limitation means lack of freedom. Can the two coexist?
Also think about how you can feel freedom inside your body, or perhaps where in your body you feel it the most. Gently stretch as much as you can, observing how your sense of space and freedom increases, despite any discomfort or the limitations of your body.
Translated by Daniel J. Sax