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Lie down to meditate?

When students think of meditating, they often envision someone seated in Lotus, and imagine that their mind is empty, free from all thoughts.

So when students actually sit upright and try to meditate, they can feel enormous discomfort and disappointment with their experience.

"Emptying" the mind is only one of MANY meditation techniques. For highly distracted, restless minds (um, like most people), trying to reach "emptiness," even by using a focal point such as the breath or a mantra, can be so difficult as to make students give up. It can even be agitating, disturbing or triggering for those with trauma (replicating a "freeze" or dissociative response).

What if instead of looking for empty, we came into the fullness of the body? By lying down to meditate, the agitated, high vata student may be doing something fairly radical, and probably outside their usual habit.

With as much of the body touching the floor as possible, the body has a better chance at getting grounded.

From the felt experience of contact with the ground, we feel our self in relationship to our context, not separate from it. Sensing, feeling, expanding outwards with our attention, we remember there is a sphere of experience beyond the narrow ruts of future/past thinking. With embodied meditation, we incorporate, situate and live in the now, instead of separating, distancing or escaping it.

Now I do like the experience of emptiness; it has its place as a useful meditation tool. However, learning to be here and now (present) in the body, rather than transcending it, might just be the key to making meditation work for many more people. It might take meditation from an esoteric experience for the elite to an everyday one, possible while walking, during savasana or just lying down in the middle of a hectic day.

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