1994 Hot Springs workshop – 2 (Instruction in Meditation)

Allen Ginsberg, Boulder Colorado, June 1994. photo c. Steve Miles

 Instruction in Sitting Meditation

AG: So what I’ll do is give a formal instruction in traditional sitting practice of meditation for a few minutes (it doesn’t take very long) and then we’ll sit for maybe three, four, five minutes – just to sit with ourselves, sit with our own minds, (and that involves maybe some observation of the nature of the movement of the mind, what’s going on in your own head, sitting with your own thoughts)

So, if you can sit forward on your seats, spine straight, not leaning back (unless you have to), feet planted on the ground (I’m giving you a little bit of.. a little support), hands in restful mind gesture (maybe on the thighs, or wherever your hands fall conveniently), spine straight (not too tight, not too loose, but sort of middle path, mid… between marine stiffness and bohemian slouch, just the middle..), eyes open (since we’re not trying to escape the world), so, either tending toward the horizon, or at a  forty-five degree angle south, down (if the light is too bright, or (it’s) too disturbing to look at people – please don’t focus on me!) – and top of the head supporting heaven, or as if a puppet, dangling from a string, and eyeballs relaxed (not staring at a single point but letting your gaze rest in space, perhaps with some slight awareness of the periphery of the optical field, but letting the optical field hang out there, not necessarily trying to bring a picture into your brain, (in other words, non-aggression with your eyeballs, letting things be, resting your gaze in middle distance, or toward the floor, but eyes open). Mouth. mostly closed. Nose, in line with belly-button. Ears, in line with shoulder blades. So that you have a straight, upright, alert, awake posture (because if you slump you’ll tend to go off into daydream. If you’re sitting up straight, you tend to stay in this place where you are.)

So the traditional practice, both in Japanese and Tibetan style meditation is to follow the breath. The focal point of attention is to put your attention on the breath, and to simplify that, just the out-breath, following the breath leaving your nostril and dissolving in space. On the in-breath, take a vacation (maybe check your posture, make sure you’re still sitting up straight with good head and shoulders).

So we’re following the breath from the nostril till the end of the breath. And then you let go of the breath and let go of the thought, let go of your attention to the breath (and you don’t have to pay attention to anything in particular on the in-breath.) And any breath will do – long breath or short breath. Simply the awareness of the breath we’re adding, rather than any control over the breath. So, we’re just letting things be, (but observing them.) Breath is an on-going process anyway. You’re not adding anything there, except your awareness of what’s going on… Is that pretty clear? Anybody got any questions about the practice?

Then why don’t we sit for just a few minutes.. just test it out. I have thirteen minutes of two so we’ll sit till ten of two.

oh and  I should also say, if you find yourself day-dreaming, or spacing out, or thinking, take a friendly attitude toward your thoughts, don’t try and push them away (on the other hand, you don’t have to invite them in for tea), just let them go, or observe them, acknowledge them as thinking, acknowledge your thought, take a friendly attitude toward it, and when you catch yourself thinking return your attention back to the next out-breath. So that..  It’s the nature of the mind to think, so there’s nothing wrong with the fact that you.. that your mind wanders, into subconscious gossip, or memory, thinking of the future, self-consciousness. or whatever (or thoughts of children, or grandmothers). When you become aware of that return your attention to your next out breath

So I’ll be quiet now for about three minutes


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