Tag: Meditation

Morning Meditation

This post is part of the Lion Seats project created by Richard Bentley. You can read more about the project here.

Transcript of Recording
7am 26-09-17

‘Thoughts’
“Speech”
[sounds transcribed from recording]

Location:
Home office/studio/quiet room with interior door closed (the catch needs fixing so is presently difficult to open, which I initially thought was no bad thing!)
Woodcote
Oxfordshire

[muffled thumping sound from upstairs]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x2)’
[Muted invitation of the bell, then a full sustained sound]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x3)’
[Bell]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x3)’
[Bell]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x3)’
[Rustling of clothing as I adjust my posture on the cushions]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x2)’
‘It feels strange meditating with mics in my ears.’
‘Pressure on the side of my head.’
‘In, out (x3)’
‘What’s that banging?’
‘In, out (x2)’
“Dad?”
[Rapid loud knocking on the door]
‘Do I answer it or do I not?’
“Dad?”
[Struggling to get the door open followed by more knocking]
“Phoebe is it life and death?”
“No, can you make me some toast?”
“No, not for another fifteen minutes.”
“What?”
“Ellen can make you some toast if you like?”
‘Phoebe and Ellen arguing in the hallway’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x1)’
‘Nose whistling’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x11)’
[something hard clinking against the inside of the washing machine as it turns]
‘Ellen making Phoebe toast.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x4)’
[rustling of cereal packet]
‘Bowl’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x4)’
‘Should I have set the meditation timer on my phone?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x11)’
‘Sinus headache’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x4)’
[closing door and booming sound of someone walking up the stairs above me]
‘Who went upstairs?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x6)’
[buzz and mellow rising arpeggio of the phone’s notification sound]
‘Phone notification, but it’s on airplane mode?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x6)’
‘How do I record the breathing?’
[clinking of cutlery against china]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x11)’
‘I feel distracted’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x3)’
‘Is that Phoebe’s bowl and spoon or the cats eating out of their bowls? ‘
‘I thought she was having toast?’
[rhythmical clunking of the washing machine again]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x5)’
‘Replaying the incident with Phoebe in my mind.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x3)’
‘Birdsong. Chirping.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x16)’
[booming from upstairs continues, scrape of chair against the wood floor and the empty bowl and spoon being placed by the kitchen sink]
‘Perhaps it’s the washing machine?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x5)’
[more fast-paced booming from movement upstairs and closing of bathroom door]
‘Door shutting’
[shutting of bedroom door]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x9)’
‘Even the thought that I could be disturbed is unsettling my mind.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x22)’
[clinking of the washing machine, brighter, less muffled this time]
‘Is ‘Lion Seats’ a good name?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x13)’
[what sounds like the front door being opened and closed again]
‘Is that the front door?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x6)’
‘Thoughts form as a kind of cloud before you can actually describe them.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x29)’
‘What’s that noise?’
[high pitched clinking as zips knock against the glass door of the washing machine and lower clunks as the ‘washing ball’ does the same]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x16)’
[Engine starts up and drives off]
‘Steve leaving in his van’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x10)’
[Rattling of door handle as someone tries to enter the room]
‘Is that Phoebe again, or Elizabeth?’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x2)’
‘My right leg is feeling numb – pins and needles.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x8)’
[Door handle starts again followed by three loud knocks]
“Who is it? Who is it?”
“Pardon”
“Who is it?”
“It’s Beth”, I just woke up.”
“Why do you need to come in?”
“Yeah”
“Why do you need to come in?”
“I need to…I need to tell you two things: A. Can I use the leftover white bread and B. wasn’t I suppose to make my lunchbox?”
“OK, hang on five minutes.”
“Well, can I use the white bread?”
“Yep”
[Beth muttering under her breath]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x14 breathing noticeably speeding up)’
‘I’m feeling mildly angry and a little tense. I’ve been interrupted twice, they should know better, they….’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x26)’
‘Replaying events in my mind. Still feeling annoyed. Return to my breathing.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x14)’
[rattling of cutlery in draw and kitchen cupboard door opening.
‘Toaster’s pinged. Hope she’s not putting a knife in there to get the toast out.’
[Knife in jar and hitting against plate]
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x11)’
‘I should really make their packed lunches.’
‘Breathing in, breathing out (x10)’
‘Deep breath/sigh’
[Muted invitation of the bell, then a full sustained sound]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x3)’
[Bell]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x3)’
[Bell with thumping of feet going up the stairs]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x3)’
[Pouring tea, clink of tea cup]
“Dad, it’s almost half past seven”
“OK”
“Aren’t you going to get dressed and umm… and do the lunchboxes?”
“Yep, you get yourself sorted my darling and I’ll… I’ll get it all ready.”
“I’m ready, it’s just the lunch boxes aren’t done.”
“Uh-huh, yep, just coming to do those.”
[Slurp of tea and swallowing]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x4)’
[Slurp of tea and swallowing]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x2)’
[Slurp of tea and swallowing]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x2)’
[Slurp of tea and swallowing]
‘Breathing In, breathing Out (x2)’
[Clink of tea cup put back on its saucer]

Two Rivers Sangha

This post is part of the Lion Seats project created by Richard Bentley. You can read more about the project here.

20:00 28-05-17

Location: Berkshire Pilates, 101 London Street, Reading, RG1 4QA


 
“With posture upright and solid…
we are seated…
at the foot of…
the Bodhi tree…
Body speech and mind…
all are one…
in stillness…
There is no more thought of right and wrong…
Our minds and bodies dwell in perfect mindfulness…”


 
As I sung the evening chant I felt myself settling into the quiet of the space. Familiar words sung at an unnaturally slow tempo were usually effective in grounding me in the present and connecting me to the others at the sangha meeting. Next came the sitting meditation, a time to still the body and rest my attention on the breath to let the monologue of thoughts fade to silence (well that’s the theory any way). However, after a busy week, a succession of late nights and broken sleep, my practice was simply to keep my head upright and my body from slumping over in an unconscious heap on the floor. My lowered gaze frequently became a blackout, my head falling forward – all the time struggling to right itself. I do not remember hearing anything during these twenty-five minutes of sitting, though the low rumble of traffic noise, the clicks and buzzes of the heaters warming up and the even rhythm of the clock were no doubt still present. Neither did any other thoughts appear to arise, I was not plagued by the ‘to do’ list that so often pervades my mind. My attention was gathered and united in a single mission – to stay awake.

It was with great relief that we began kinh hanh or walking meditation. I had made it through the first sitting. The slow movement offered a long-awaited break from what seemed like a lifetime of remaining stationary and upright. The struggling mind I had needed to keep awake gently gave way to an ease and calm. I found my breathing synchronise intuitively with the rhythm of my feet on the carpet. This peacefulness continued into the second sitting. Feeling more awake and without the struggle, I settled quickly, following the rise and fall of my chest as I echoed the gatha ‘breathing in…breathing out’ to myself. My eyes were soft-focused through my eyelashes, resting on a small stain in the carpet in front of me. For short bursts of a few seconds I heard the gatha clearly in my mind. During these moments I became very still, a contented tranquility permeated my perception. Strangely, the carpet in front of me appeared less solid than it had done in the first sitting. I played with this experience, seeing how the stillness ebbed and flowed as thoughts arose and fell away. I noticed the way in which sounds that pierced the otherwise unbroken drone of traffic on London Street outside would bring my eyes into sharper focus on the carpet and interrupt the serene composure. Knocks, bangs and movements from people in a connected terrace further along the street, children laughing and screaming as they walked by the front door, a distant siren from the nearby hospital, all pulled my attention from the gatha. Although I may have briefly labelled these sounds, I noticed how I had no inclination to ‘follow’ them, to explore their origin, meaning or substance. Each time I brought my attention back to the gatha and breath, peace descended again. And so this continued through to the end of the period of sitting. In contrast to the first sitting meditation, I could have happily sat there for another hour or more. Still, the twenty-five minutes came to an end and having fostered some degree of stillness, gratitude was able to permeate my parting gasho (bow) to those present and the Buddha, a ritual marking the close of the meeting.

St.Mary’s Whitchurch

This post is part of the Lion Seats project created by Richard Bentley. You can read more about the project here.

13.00 22-06-2017

Location: St. Mary’s, Whitchurch on Thames, Oxfordshire


 
[Outside St Mary’s Whitchurch 1pm 20th Sept 17]

Beside an old oak tree in St Mary’s churchyard

As I passed from the graveyard, through the entrance and into the vestibule of the stone church, the drop in sound levels was marked. The difference in the soundscape was paralleled by the change in brightness, from summer sun to the shade offered by the church. Inside, the only light came from the subdued glow of the stained-glass windows and a handful of dim electric lightbulbs.

I set up my recording gear and sat down for a short meditation on a gratifyingly creaky, but well-padded pew. No sooner had I set the meditation timer underway, than the clacking of shoes on the stone floor interrupted the silence. I glanced back to the doorway to see a man in smart trousers, shirt and a weathered panama hat. The visitor had a relaxed gait as he wandered aimlessly around the back of the nave. I settled back into position, closing my eyes and resting my hands on my legs. The bell sounded to begin the meditation and after a few minutes, the gentleman departed.

Now, there was little to pull my attention away from the meditation. The soundscape of the empty church consisted predominantly of a low rumbling drone, probably from traffic going over the toll bridge at the bottom of the lane. This was layered with dogs barking, bird calls, aircraft passing overhead and the occasional rhythmic rumble of trains rattling through Pangbourne on the other side of the river.

[St Mary’s, Whitchurch on Thames 1pm 22-06-17]

Meditation inside the church

A clunk of the large iron handle on the church door signalled the arrival of another visitor. They moved across the back of the nave. The swishing of fabric and soft tread of rubber shoes came closer and stopped to rest a few pews behind me. A deep sigh seemed to signal a relief in finding somewhere quiet to rest. After some settling-in, unzipping and rummaging through a bag, the haptic bleeping of a phone’s keyboard began. The constant irregular tapping was accompanied by whispered sighs and groans and the occasional respectfully muted chuckle. I managed to return to my breath, the object of my meditation, for short periods of time. However, it was difficult not to get distracted, imagining the text conversation that was taking place. Perhaps due to these distractions, it did not feel long until the closing bell from the mobile phone sounded to signal the end of the meditation, surprising the visitor and affording both of us a moment of quiet reflection.