Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meditation for Deep Space

So you’ve decided to establish a meditation practice?


Many veteran deep-space pilots have found that meditating for as few as ten minutes at the beginning of every wake-cycle can bestow numerous physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.

Whether you aim to experience ultimate enlightenment, reduce stress levels, lower your blood pressure, or just to carve out a little “me time” in your crazy schedule, this short guide will help you take your first steps to attaining your goals.

1 - When beginning your practice it will be important to find a quiet place where you can sit without any distractions. This is not always possible if you have been assigned a co-pilot, as is typically the case with multi-year deep-space missions. Persevere! Your bunk, the wash-area, or an unused corner of the storage bay can serve nicely.

2 - While the traditional position for meditation -- the so-called “full lotus” -- has one sitting with legs folded so that the tops of the feet rest on the thighs of the opposite legs, low-to-no-gravity makes maintaining this kind of position difficult. Many deep-space meditators have found success with simply pulling their legs in towards their chest and letting themselves float. This is sometimes called “unopened lotus” position.

3 - The mouth should be kept closed, with the tip of the tongue pressing lightly against the back of the front-teeth, while the eyes should be kept half open. However, if you find your co-pilot is unable to stop wandering into your field of vision, thereby breaking your concentration and generally agitating the mind, you may close your eyes completely.

4 - It is recommended that those new to meditation begin with a technique called “breath counting”. One breathes naturally and counts each breath on the apex of the inhalation, counting from one till ten and then cycling back to one.

5 - When counting breaths, if you find yourself distracted by thoughts or sounds -- perhaps your co-pilot interrupts you with an unimportant question, or continually sucks at his teeth, or scrapes his god-damned chair across the bridge’s floor again and again and it cuts through you like nails across a chalk-board and you’re already at the end of your patience otherwise you wouldn't need to meditate in the first place -- just let go of the thought, or distraction, and begin counting from one again.

6 - (Optional)  At the beginning of their meditation practice, some people find themselves needing to take vigorous action in order to establish the requisite peace and quiet. On closing the airlock many of these meditators report hearing a deep ringing through the ship’s hull. This is natural and should pass quickly. In order not to disturb one’s equanimity it is best not to think of this sound as, for instance, the thrashings of a man or woman banging frantically on the ship’s exterior, but rather as the universe ringing out in celebration of one achieving some measure of peace.

7 -  Count your breath for at least ten minutes or longer, if you feel you can manage it. At the end of your session, take three deep, sharp breaths. Your mind and body should now both feel relaxed and ready for a full wake-cycle.