Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Over time, through training and shaping your mind and brain, you can change what arises, increasing what’s positive and decreasing what’s negative.
~ Rick Hanson,
Buddha’s Brain

When I studied Zen, Vipassana and Christian meditation I was told by my teachers to “just be” or to “self-empty”. While I attempted to come back to the present moment or to let go of my thoughts and feelings, I kept drifting off or zoning out. I learned that feeling more grounded in my body helped me stay more present and go deeper in my practice. ~ Donna Varnau

The Practice of Breathing and Feeling

When I added two components to my meditation practice, I more easily stayed in the NOW. One was to incorporate a slow, rhythmic “balloon” breathing as I meditated. About “balloon” breathing. The second was to sense my body’s answer to the following repeated query: “What is the feeling of being alive in my body right now?”

In response, my attention now becomes like a probe gently scanning my inner landscape, sensing for anything there that needs attention. When the presencing probe encounters something tight or coiled, it rests there bringing light and a gentle breath to it, until eventually it softens and a gentle flow opens up again. Energetic experiences–tinglings, streaming sensations, micro-shiftings throughout the body, a sense of feeling re-aligned inside–are the response to the question of how it is to feel alive in my body right now.

This practice feels like a re-wiring of inner circuitry that has gotten thin or disconnected. Meditating in this way seems to transform my body into an energy conductor. Growing more and more still, I sink deeper inside until I gradually lose the sense of even having a body. As the mind grows still, there is a sense of oneness with Life. Coming out of this experience leaves me feeling deeply restored, receptive and energized.

To see Donna’s Meditation classes, click here.

Contemplative Practices | The Pause | Embodied Presence Focusing
Embodied Meditation | Labyrinth Walking