Imagine yourself laying on a grassy green hill beneath a vibrant blue sky, remarkably like the Windows XP default wallpaper for those old enough to remember. The sun is shining bright, but now and then you are cast into shadow as one of these passing clouds blocks its rays. What if you could learn to view all sensations and thoughts, even and especially undesirable ones, in such a way when you so choose? One of my resolutions was and still is to practice mindfulness meditation, and indeed this is the goal of undertaking such an exercise.
What is meditation?
The Blue Sky Meditation Protocol
As you start your meditation, picture a beautiful blue sky without any clouds in it. As you picture the clear blue sky, feel that your body is growing lighter and lighter. Close your eyes and keep the image of the blue sky in your mind. There are no limits to the blue sky. It stretches on endlessly in every direction, never beginning and never ending. As you visualize the blue sky, feel that your body has become so light that you have floated up into the clear blue sky. Visualize that you are floating in the sky, and that all tension, fatigue, worry, and problems have left you. Relax your mind and allow your breathing to seek its own level. Feel yourself floating gently in the clear blue sky that stretches endlessly in every direction, never beginning and never ending. After several minutes have passed and you feel your thoughts slowing, picture that your entire body is merging with the blue sky.
Where do you meditate?
This meditation will help guide you into stillness and silence deep within yourself. Your one pointed focus will be the sky, vivid and blue. Clouds may obscure the sky. Some times puffy white clouds may be there, or icy cold, high plumes of cloud can be driven across the sky. Yet other times dark, heavy, and stormy clouds may cover the entire sky. When these pass the sky is still there. When the resting mind is still and silent it is like the sky, clear and unobstructed. The clouds can be likened to our thoughts.
I get this question a lot from friends: what exactly do you do when you meditate? In order to demystify the mechanics of meditation and help others feel comfortable getting started, I wanted to lay out the basics of my routine. Per Yale's "Science of Happiness" course that I took via Coursera, meditation is defined as the practice of turning your attention away from distracting thoughts to one focal point, like the breath, body, sensations, or compassion. I meditate anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes a day, generally about 4 to 5 times a week. Most often, my practice is minutes. My bedroom, on the floor or using a cushion which at this point is either a pillow or stuffed animal. It's starting to make more sense for me to invest in an actual meditation cushion though.