Meditation 101 with the Albuquerque Zen Center

There are countless studies that demonstrate meditation can have a positive impact on both mental and physical health. Whether it’s by reducing stress, increasing focus, or improving relationships, research shows mindfulness works and it is especially important to prioritize our mental health in these very confusing times. Below is a beginner’s guide to meditation from the Albuquerque Zen Center.

Founded in 1989, the Albuquerque Zen Center is a community non-profit Zen Buddhist center which offers twice daily zazen sitting practice, monthly beginner’s instruction, weekly evening book discussions, monthly moon sits, all day sits with guest teachers, and outdoor meditation activities. Located near UNM, the center has a contemplative Japanese garden, an outdoor meditation tholus and xeric landscaping throughout its grounds. The center is supported solely by donations from members that use the center and the community at large.

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A simple entry into meditation practice

Find a quiet, uncluttered space where you can sit comfortably for an extended period of time. This can be either inside or outside.

Have a comfortable chair or bench you can sit upon. Sit with good posture and, if possible, don’t lean back against the chair for support.

Let your feet be slightly apart, approximately as wide as your shoulders.

It is recommended that we breathe through our noses, both inhaling and exhaling.

Tuck your chin in slightly, mouth is closed, and let your eyes follow the line of your nose and rest on the ground a few feet in-front of you. Close your eyes, if you wish, but the recommendation is slightly open.

Your hands can either be together in your lap or apart on each leg.

While maintaining good posture, let your muscles relax. Let your skeleton maintain the posture and let your awareness settle in your body.

Relaxing within our bodies, we breathe the way children do, using our diaphragms. Inhaling, our lower belly expands; and exhaling the lower belly contracts. Relax into this natural method of breathing.

Let your awareness be filled with the physical sense of inhaling…exhaling. Let this wave of sensation wash through your mind and body.

Anchor your attention on the physical sensing of your body’s breathing; focus here, on your breathing, and let thoughts and emotions disappear into exhaling.

Whenever our thoughts or emotions seem overwhelming, exhale firmly and completely. Let yourself inhale naturally and begin again. Just be willing to begin again repeatedly.

There is a spaciousness within everything. Breathe your way to your freedom.

Practical Tips

1. Begin slowly, maybe 5 minutes at a time. As you become more proficient, gradually add more time.

2. Just as with physical exercises, frequent repetition is the key to progress. Make it part of your daily routine. A traditional recommendation is early morning and just before retiring at night.

3. If possible, find time during your daily schedule to interrupt your ongoing mental narrative and return to your center within your body.

4. Don’t be discouraged. Engage completely but uncritically.

Other Resources

The Meditation Time App is a simple and clean timer for meditation sessions. It lets you set the duration of your meditation and offers a mindfulness bell that rings in an adjustable interval. Choose from a wide variety of Tibetan singing bowls for the gong.

The Plum Village: Zen Guided Meditation App can support us to cultivate mindfulness, compassion, anxiety relief and joy through guided meditations, deep relaxations, practice poems, bells of mindfulness and many other practices.

The Insight Timer App provides guided meditations and talks led by the world’s top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers from top universities and more. Join millions learning to meditate on Insight Timer to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness.

Daily Zen – Full Awareness of Breathing Anapanasati Sutta

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