Mountain Meditation

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“This meditation is normally done in a sitting position, either on the floor or a chair, and
begins by sensing into the support you have from the chair or the cushion, paying attention to
the actual sensations of contact. Finding a position of stability and poise, upper body
balanced over your hips and shoulders in a comfortable but alert posture, hands on your lap
or your knees, arms hanging by their own weight, like heavy curtains, stable and relaxed.
Actually sensing into your body, feeling your feet… legs… hips… lower and upper body…
arms… shoulders… neck… head…
And when you are ready, allowing your eyes to close, bringing awareness to breath, the
actual physical sensations, feeling each breath as it comes in and goes out… letting the breath
be just as it is, without trying to change or regulate it in any way… allowing it to flow easily
and naturally, with its own rhythm and pace, knowing you are breathing perfectly well right
now, nothing for you to do…
Allowing the body to be still and sitting with a sense of dignity, a sense of resolve, a
sense of being complete, whole, in this very moment, with your posture reflecting this sense
of wholeness… (long pause)
As you sit here, letting an image form in your mind’s eye, of the most magnificent or
beautiful mountain you know or have seen or can imagine…, letting it gradually come into
greater focus… and even if it doesn’t come as a visual image, allowing the sense of this
mountain and feeling its overall shape, its lofty peak or peaks high in the sky, the large base
rooted in the bedrock of the earth’s crust, it’s steep or gently sloping sides…
Noticing how massive it is, how solid, how unmoving, how beautiful, whether from a far
or up close…(pause)
Perhaps your mountain has snow blanketing its top and trees reaching down to the base,
or rugged granite sides… there may be streams and waterfalls cascading down the slopes…
there may be one peak or a series of peaks, or with meadows and high lakes…

Observing it, noting its qualities and when you feel ready, seeing if you can bring the
mountain into your own body sitting here so that your body and the mountain in your mind’s
eye become one so that as you sit here, you share in the massiveness and the stillness and
majesty of the mountain, you become the mountain.
Grounded in the sitting posture, your head becomes the lofty peak, supported by the rest
of the body and affording a panoramic view. Your shoulders and arms the sides of the
mountain. Your buttocks and legs the solid base, rooted to your cushion or your chair,
experiencing in your body a sense of uplift from deep within your pelvis and spine.
With each breath, as you continue sitting, becoming a little more a breathing mountain,
alive and vital, yet unwavering in your inner stillness, completely what you are, beyond
words and thought, a centered, grounded, unmoving presence…

As you sit here, becoming aware of the fact that as the sun travels across the sky, the light
and shadows and colors are changing virtually moment by moment in the mountain’s
stillness, and the surface teems with life and activity… streams, melting snow, waterfalls,
plants and wildlife. As the mountain sits, seeing and feeling how night follows day and day follows night.
The bright warming sun, followed by the cool night sky studded with stars, and the gradual
dawning of a new day…

Through it all, the mountain just sits, experiencing change in each moment, constantly
changing, yet always just being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow into one another
and as the weather changes moment by moment and day by day, calmness abiding all
change…

In summer, there is no snow on the mountain except perhaps for the very peaks or in
crags shielded from direct sunlight
In the fall, the mountain may wear a coat of brilliant fire colors.
In winter, a blanket of snow and ice.

In any season, it may find itself at times enshrouded in clouds or fog or pelted by
freezing rain. People may come to see the mountain and comment on how beautiful it is or
how it’s not a good day to see the mountain, that it’s too cloudy or rainy or foggy or dark.

None of this matters to the mountain, which remains at all times its essential self. Clouds
may come and clouds may go, tourists may like it or not. The mountain’s magnificence and
beauty are not changed one bit by whether people see it or not, seen or unseen, in sun or
clouds, broiling or frigid, day or night.
It just sits, being itself.
At times visited by violent storms, buffeted by snow and rain and winds of unthinkable
magnitude.
Through it all, the mountain sits.

Spring comes, trees leaf out, flowers bloom in the high meadows and slopes, birds sing
in the trees once again. Streams overflow with the waters of melting snow.

Through it all, the mountain continues to sit, unmoved by the weather, by what happens
on its surface, by the world of appearances… remaining its essential self, through the
seasons, the changing weather, the activity ebbing and flowing on its surface…

In the same way, as we sit in meditation, we can learn to experience the mountain, we can
embody the same central, unwavering stillness and groundedness in the face of everything
that changes in our own lives, over seconds, over hours, over years.
In our lives and in our meditation practice, we experience constantly the changing nature
of mind and body and of the outer world, we have our own periods of light and darkness,
activity and inactivity, our moments of color and our moments of drabness.
It’s true that we experience storms of varying intensity and violence in the outer world
and in our own minds and bodies, buffeted by high winds, by cold and rain, we endure
periods of darkness and pain, as well as the moments of joy and uplift, even our appearance
changes constantly, experiencing a weather of it’s own…
By becoming the mountain in our meditation practice, we can link up with its strength
and stability and adopt them for our own. We can use its energies to support our energy to
encounter each moment with mindfulness and equanimity and clarity.
It may help us to see that our thoughts and feelings, our preoccupations, our emotional
storms and crises, even the things that happen to us are very much like the weather on the
mountain. We tend to take it all personally, but its strongest characteristic is impersonal.
The weather of our own lives is not be ignored or denied, it is to be encountered,
honored, felt, known for what it is, and held in awareness… And in holding it in this way, we
come to know a deeper silence and stillness and wisdom.
Mountains have this to teach us and much more if we can let it in…

So if you find you resonate in some way with the strength and stability of the mountain in
your sitting, it may be helpful to use it from time to time in your meditation practice, to
remind you of what it means to sit mindfully with resolve and with wakefulness, in true
stillness…”

~adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mountain Meditation (taken from http://palousemindfulness.com/)~

*Jon Kabat-Zinn’s meditation available at http://www.mindfulnesstapes.com

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