The main goal of this practice is to strengthen one’s ability to simply be present in the moment; deeply aware of both self and surroundings. I developed this meditation method as a way to practice without the distraction or expectation of altered states, which I was prone to having happen with closed-eye meditation. While these “journeys” were entertaining and at times wondrously spiritual, I found that my anticipation of something possibly happening was spoiling my practice. I synthesized this technique based on what seemed to ground me, clear my mind, open my heart, and rejuvenate me best.

While somewhat similar to elements of zazen, vipassana, and mindfulness practice, this meditation technique is direct and simple. It does not concern itself with watching inner mental processes, other than to love, forgive, and release them. It is very nourishing to the nervous and endocrine systems, and you will likely feel greatly rejuvenated physically, emotionally, and mentally.

With regular practice, you are likely to notice yourself becoming increasingly present in the here and now, both in your own company and in the company of others. Being fully present in the context of a relationship is a particularly beneficial state that will nourish the relationship for you and whomever you are with.

The exercise is a circuitous progression of centering one’s attention on experience in the moment. Each shift of attention, from “perception” through “being”, adds a dimension of experience in the here and now. The mind becomes absorbed in the present moment, along with the inner space and immediate environment, until all merge into undifferentiated “being”. This last step may take time to experience even for fleeting moments, and it is advisable not to judge at all whether, for how long, or how often the mind achieves that state. The critical mind is the opposite of the present mind.

Also, the heart tends to activate when we are present, you may notice warm sensations in the middle of the chest: this is a welcome development, but is not sought out in this practice. Simply practice becoming and being present, and all will fall into place.

Position: seated on a chair with feet planted; on the floor or a meditation bench with legs crossed Indian-style, half-lotus, full-lotus; or on the floor with legs together, calves folded under thighs and sitting on heels. (Lying down if no other position is feasible; however, this is not an optimal position for this practice)

Posture: Back straight and relaxed (not ramrod); belly relaxed (not held in); shoulders upright and comfortable (not shrugged, slumped nor pulled back as if at military position of ‘attention’); head facing straight forward; eyes (whether open or closed) directed to a softly gazing at a point on the floor about three feet in front of you. (Note: do not direct your eyes upward to your third eye, as this induces a type of trance that does not promote being present)

Breathing: the breath is through the nostrils, soft, slow (12-16 full breaths per minute), and low into the, relaxed, expanding and contracting belly. The chest and shoulders should be relaxed and relatively still throughout the breathing. If the chest is visibly moving in and out, and/or the shoulders up and down, correct this by perceiving yourself inhaling down to your navel, crotch, and buttocks. Another way to correct chest-breathing is to first lie down on you back and notice how your belly naturally expands and contracts rather than your chest and shoulders when you breathe. The next step is to sit with your back at a 45-degree incline and breathe into the belly. Then reproduce this kind of breathing while sitting upright and standing. Once you get the hang of the sensation and mechanics of diaphragmatic (belly) breathing, remind yourself to breathe that way several times a day.

Mental focusing technique: This technique is a simple and powerful way to practicing bringing your attention to the present moment. It can be used as a meditation in its own right, but can also be applied to the therapeutic setting to help you refocus and bear witness in the therapeutic relationship.

Beginning – Start with the diaphragmatic breathing, focusing your attention on the process and sensation of the breathing; the subtle movement in your abdomen; the sensation of the airflow through your nostrils; the sensation the breathing causes throughout your body.
After about a minute, you will start shifting your full attention to each of these experiences, about a minute each, one after the next. Whenever you notice your awareness wondering outside or only on a portion of the intended focus, gently redirect it. If you are paying close attention to your awareness, you’ll most likely need to refocus your mind many times in just one minute. Keep the breathing steady.

1. Perception - Rest your awareness on the entire range of your visual field and auditory input; try not to single anything out –just consciously receive all the visual and auditory input coming into your eyes and ears. Whenever you find yourself focusing only on one or the other, gently expand your awareness to encompass both. To help you stay focused, you can mentally repeat the word “perception” as a periodic reminder of what you are doing.

2. Sensation – Shift your awareness to focusing on the sensations within your entire body; try not to single out any area(s) of the body or type(s) of sensation(s) out: see if you can feel and notice everything your nervous system is communicating to your brain from the rest of your body. Notice how the sensations shift as you inhale or exhale. Whenever you notice attention drifting, gently refocus to sensation.

3. Awareness – Shift your awareness to focusing on BOTH perception and sensation while you continue the gentle, slow belly breathing. Try to take it all in at once, encompassing every perception and sensation with your mind, singling nothing out. Be gentle with this, however. Just allow your attention to expand as far as it will to receive all of the input from your body and your environment. Whenever you notice yourself focusing on just one or the other (breathing, perception, or sensation), gently expand your awareness as far out as you can to embrace it all again.

4. Being – This is the most challenging step. Shift your awareness beyond your individual self as the locus of awareness so that you no longer differentiate yourself from the sensory and perceptual input or their source, and no longer differentiate them from each other. Every point in your immediate environment, as well as the totality of the space you occupy and the boundaries of your perception are now your primary frame of reference. Whenever you notice yourself “spacing out”, return your attention to your immediate environment.

Return to step 1 and cycle through again until complete. This exercise can generate a great deal of mental power and “chi” energy in and around the body, regardless of how well or poorly executed you may think your session was. Therefore, it is always important to ground yourself to close the session, regardless of where you end in the sequence.

Dealing with Distractions. Whenever you notice yourself distracted, caught up in a thought stream, or not focused within the step (1-4) you are intending, take a moment to notice that this is happening, express sincere love and forgiveness to yourself and the object and process of your distraction, and gently return your attention to the practice.

Grounding –It is important to ground yourself after even just a few minutes of this exercise. To do so, plant your fleet on the ground while standing or sitting in a chair with your hands clasped in your lap or flat on the sides of your thighs. Focus your attention on your feet and the ground or floor beneath them. Look around

You may want to limit yourself to a 4-minute period of this exercise at first, and gradually work your way up to 10 minutes. Any more than 20 or 30 minute a day is not really necessary. Some find the 4th step too challenging and prefer to only cycle through steps 1-3, and this works just fine

Author's Bio: 

Healing Arts master practitioner, graduate psychologist, certified TAT professional and trainer, BE SET FREE FAST practitioner, certified NLP, certified clinical hypnotherapist, and independent Reiki master. Nondenominational Christian mystic and teacher of Universal spiritual principles.