Notes from Meditation classes by Stanley Merrill

— Basic Instructions

  • Commit to one long slow breath a day. If you are having a busy day do a short meditation.  Doing just a single long slow deep breath is better than not doing anything.
  • No matter how long your formal meditation practice is taking long slow mindful breaths throughout the day helps cultivate mindfulness and awareness.
  • Try to meditate the same time each day. Preferably in the morning.
  • Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable erect and dignified posture if you can.
  • Goal is NOT stopping thoughts but being aware of them. When your mind wanders and you recognize that it has wandered you are cultivating awareness.
  • Goal is to cultivate a kind attention.  Be gentle with yourself.  No one is perfect.  You can be kind to yourself no matter what.
  • Notice the tone of voice you have when the voice in your head is talking to you.  Part of the practice is to notice the tone of voice and notice if you are being kind and fair to yourself and others.
  • The obstacles such as being tired, bored and or lazy are opportunities to practice kindness, dedication, persistence, confidence and acceptance. Don’t give up too easily but don’t try too hard.  If you are challenged, see if you can overcome the resistance for 30 seconds or a minute and if you are frustrated then you should stop.
  • Every meditation is a good meditation. It may seem difficult at the time but the practice is building your capabilities for the next meditation.
  • Doing the practices regularly helps strengthen your practice. It is like a truck going up the hill.  If you keep doing it every day you develop momentum.   When you stop for a couple of days you are starting from the bottom of the hill.
  • Be curious. Have a beginner’s mind.  Really be curious about your breathing.   What does it feel like.   Can you feel the moisture in your breath?  How deep do you breathe?  What happens when you pause between breaths?
  • Do as many informal exercises as you can:
    • Long slow breath (1 or more)
      • Develop a list of triggers that will make this a habit. Examples of triggers:
        • Get into or out of your car.
        • Whenever you are waiting – in line, traffic jams, red lights.
      • Wishing others well. See if you can say to yourself “Just like me they want happiness” every time that you see someone.
  • Aspirations before formal meditation
    • When you meditate it can be very helpful to think about your motivation. If you start out your meditation with your aspirations then it can help inspire you and help you cultivate a sense of well-being.     Here are some suggestions:
      • May I find peace, calmness and contentment.
        May I be kind to myself and others.
        May I have realistic expectations of myself and others
        May I find the wisdom to respond constructively to difficult situations.
  • Gratitude after formal meditation

It can also be helpful if you think about all of the things that you are grateful for.

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Personalize your practice

Prayers and quotes