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Reggie Ray – Finding Realization in The Body - Guided Somatic Meditation

A warm greeting to everyone. My name is Reggie Ray. I’m a meditation teacher and I teach meditation through the body and in terms of the body. Today I’m going to lead you in a guided practice. The practice involves developing awareness in the body. The body as we say in my Vajrayana tradition is already in an enlightened condition. The nature of the body is awareness of the unborn mind and through the body we can find all of the freedom, all of the openness and all of the joy that is possible for humans. So to begin with, pay attention to your posture, the more you can be sitting upright with a straight back, the better. I’m sitting on the front part of a chair. And put your attention in your lower belly, midway between the perineum and the navel. This is the source, the hara in Zen, the birthplace of awareness in Vajrayana Buddhism of Tibet. So find this midpoint between the perineum and the navel in the middle of the body and begin to imagine you’re breathing directly into it. 

You’re not bringing the breath down from your nostrils and lungs. You’re breathing directly into this midpoint. Imagine the breath entering right there as if it were a nostril itself. On the inbreath, bring the breath into that point, on the outbreath, just relax, keeping your attention right in the lower belly. 

So now we’re going to take a breath into the lower belly and when we empty, we’re going to empty out long and slow but very, very full. We’re going to try to empty out and squeeze the lower belly down to zero. So it requires some exertion in the lower belly. So give that a try for a few breaths. And another one. And one more.

And then relax. We are working with the inner breath here, what’s known as the prana or the chi. We’re bringing the awareness into the lower belly on the inbreath and then opening the lower belly through the intense squeezing down of the outbreath. So now we’re going to do twelve of these lower belly breaths. This is a very widely used practice in Zen, Ch’an, Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism especially. Ok, so twelve of these medium to full inbreaths and very very full exhalation on the outbreath, keeping our attention on the lower belly throughout. So please begin.

As you do this don’t be afraid to really squeeze down and increase the intensity of the outbreath with each succeeding breath. On each outbreath imagining you’re emptying out all of the stale breath in your body, all of the stale energy, all of the disease and emotional disturbance as you squeeze down.

And then let’s do one more altogether, medium to full inbreath, very, very full outbreath, squeezing down the lower belly so that not even a square millimeter, a cubic millimeter of breath remains and then hold the breath out just for a second or two. Ok, so one more.

And then just breathe naturally. So the last part of the exercise is to put your awareness, I’m showing you how to open up the space through the body here of your unborn mind. So we’re going to put our awareness in the back of our palate, so still working with the breath, and breathing in through your nostrils, feel the sensation at the back of your palate, a coolness of the breath on the inbreath. 

And then I want to have you open your mind, your awareness, your consciousness behind that sensation of the breath. So we’re opening out our awareness in back of our throat. It’s almost as if our eyes are turned around backward and we’re looking backward, we’re feeling, we’re sensing and we’re opening backward.

If you notice any thoughts, any experiences coming up, open behind them, open backward, let them go and open your awareness backward behind your head. 

And see how far back you can feel into the space behind your head. In fact your awareness goes out forever. It’s infinite behind you.

See if you can feel that. Open. Let go. Let go. Let go. Stay back. 

Relax. It’s as if you’re falling backward into the awareness behind your head and you’re opening to infinity behind you. 

So this is a practice that you can do. If you do any form of meditation you can do this at the beginning and it will greatly deepen it, make it more embodied and make the experience more real for you. You can also do this practice just by itself. In Tibet it’s done just on its own.  You might do three sets of these 12-fold lower belly breathing and then open your mind behind you and let your awareness go back and back and back and back. When you do that you begin to discover there’s an ocean of awareness underneath all of your experience. It’s peaceful, it’s open and there’s no ego in it and over time you can begin to live your life from that open free joyful space. Thank you. 

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