This four-step transition is a useful technique to relax and settle on the meditation object in a pleasant and effective way. It will also teach you a lot about attention and awareness, which are two faculties of the mind we’ll be exploring extensively in later stages.
Use the four-step transition at the beginning of your sit, right after the six points preparation you’ve already learned. This enjoyable practice will help you calmly bring your attention to the meditation object.
- Focus on the present. First, bring your attention to the different experiences that arise in this moment, here and now. Pay attention to the sounds, smells or to the atmosphere of the room you’re sitting in. Notice, in particular, feelings of relaxation, enjoyment and happiness.
- Focus on bodily sensations. Then, limit your attention to the sensations arising within your body. It is normal to continue hearing sounds or being aware of thoughts, but don’t focus on them. Simply let them be, and let them fall into the background. Observe the tactile sensations that appear and disappear. If your attention wanders to a thought or sound, gently bring it back to the body.
- Focus on breath sensations throughout the body. Now, pay attention to the body sensations produced by breathing in particular, such as sensations in the chest or abdomen area, or the feeling of air passing through your nose and throat. can you notice differences between the sensations produced by the in-breath and the out-breath?
- Focus on breath sensations at the nose. Lastly, direct your attention to the sensations in the nose area, either inside the nostrils or in the region above the upper lip. Remember that you don’t want to suppress other sensations, sounds or thoughts from awareness, you only want to focus on the breath sensations at the nose.
I also encourage you to use it when ending your meditation session, as a way to expand your attention and ensure a smooth transition into daily life. This also helps with bringing your meditation practicing off the cushion and into other activities.