To begin your meditation, please be seated in a comfortable posture, and keep the upper portion of your body upright, but not stiff or tense. You may choose to sit in the half lotus position or the easy posture. In the half lotus position one leg is put on top of the other, but in the easy posture one leg is put in front of the other. Important in all sitting positions is that you keep the upper portion of your body upright. You may rest your palms on top of your legs in front of you. Seeing is not necessary and it is better to close your eyes throughout the sitting meditation.
Now keep your mind on the abdomen and be mindful of the rising and falling movements of the abdomen. When you inhale, the abdomen extends or rises and when you exhale, it contracts or falls. Keep your mind on the abdomen and be really mindful of the rising movement from the beginning to the end, and also of the falling movement from the beginning to the end.
Be really mindful of the movements of the abdomen. You may feel a sensation of the air movements of the abdomen. Be mindful of it. And concentrate on the nature of movements of the abdomen, the moving nature or the supporting nature of movements of the abdomen, rather than the shape or form of the abdomen. Do not force or strain yourself. Just calmly be mindful and watch the movements of the abdomen. You may make a mental note, when the abdomen rises, as “rising”, when the abdomen falls, as “falling”. Making mental notes, or labeling, is just to help you keep your mind on the object; if it interferes with your meditation, you don’t have to do it, but just be mindful of the object. What is important in this meditation is mindfulness of the object at the moment, and not the notes you make.
If your mind can be on the movements of the abdomen only, that is very good. However, mind has a tendency to wander quite often. So, if, in the course of keeping your mind on the movements of the abdomen, your mind wanders or goes out and you are aware of it, do not feel guilty, or be upset; just be mindful of its wandering away. Or you may say to yourself, “wandering, wandering, wandering” two or three times and then go back to the movements of the abdomen.
If you see something or someone in your thoughts, be mindful of seeing, or say to yourself, “seeing, seeing, seeing” until that object disappears from your mind; then go back to the movements of the abdomen.
If you hear something, be mindful of hearing or say to yourself, “hearing, hearing, hearing” and then go back to the movements of the abdomen.
If you remember something in the past, be mindful of the remembering, or say to yourself, “remembering, remembering, remembering” or “thinking, thinking, thinking” and then go back to the movements of the abdomen. If you think of the future and make plans, be mindful of it, or say to yourself, “thinking of future, thinking of future, thinking of future”, or “planning, planning, planning” and then go back to the movements of the abdomen.
If you have an itching sensation, do not scratch it right away. Concentrate on the place of that itching and be mindful of it, saying to yourself, “itching, itching, itching” In most cases, itching will go away after some time. When it goes away, return to the movements of the abdomen. Sometimes, the itching will not go away, but will even become more intense. In that case try to be with it, taking note of it and be aware of it, as long as you can. If you think you cannot bear it any longer, you may scratch. But before scratching, be mindful of the intention or desire to scratch; and when you move your hand to the place where you experience the itch, be mindful of moving. Move your hand slowly, following the movement with mindfulness. When your fingers touch the place, say “touching, touching, touching” When you scratch, say “scratching, scratching, scratching” When you take the hand back, say “moving, moving, moving” When your hand touches your lap, the knee or the other hand again, be mindful of touching, or say to yourself, “touching, touching, touching” Then go back to the movements of the abdomen.
If you have painful or unpleasant feelings in the body -- numbness, stiffness, or heat -- focus your mind on the place of these feelings and be mindful of them. If you have pain somewhere in the body, focus on the place of that pain, and be mindful of that pain, or say to yourself, “pain, pain, pain” You will have to be very patient with painful feelings. Pain will not easily go away. You have to be patient and be mindful of it. It may go away or it may become more acute. Stay with it as long as you can. Actually pain is a very good object for meditation. It is a strong object. Your mind is pulled towards the place where there is pain. So be mindful of it and try to see it just as a sensation, an unpleasant sensation. And it is important that you do not identify pain with yourself, so do not say to yourself, "it is my pain" or "I feel pain." There is just the pain, just the sensation.
If the pain becomes so intense that you think you cannot bear it any longer, you may ignore pain altogether and go back to the movements of the abdomen, or you may make movements or change posture to ease pain. But when you make movements or change posture, first note the intention to change, or be mindful of the intention to change and then make movements slowly, one at a time, following each movement with mindfulness. And when you have made the changes, go back to the movements of the abdomen.
So the movements of the abdomen are the home object of your meditation. Whenever there are no other objects to be mindful of, you just continue with being mindful of the movements of the abdomen. If there are more prominent objects, then you take note of them, be aware of them, or be mindful of them, and then go back to the movements of the abdomen. Do not use force, do not strain yourself, just calmly watch the objects, take note of them, or be mindful of them. Do not try to forcefully push distractions or emotions or feelings in the body away, just watch them and let them go by themselves.