At the beginning of a meditation session, it can be helpful to check in with your mind before you begin. See where you’re at right now. To find yourself in the present moment, it can help if you run through a series of questions to help you contact your mind, to help you become aware of what’s happening in this very moment.
So the first question is: What are you feeling? Can you contact what you’re feeling? It could be your mood or your physical body, a quality of drowsiness or peacefulness, agitation or physical pain—anything. Can you contact that nonverbally and just get a sense of what you’re feeling? To refine this question a little bit: Are there any emotions? Can you be present to them? Can you contact them?
We’re not talking about having to name anything or remembering the history of the emotion, or anything like that. Just be present to what you’re feeling right now.
Are you experiencing any physical sensations right now? Pain, tightness, relaxation?
What about your thoughts? What’s the quality of your thoughts right now? Is your mind very busy? Is it quite drowsy? Is it surprisingly still? Are your thoughts raging or peaceful or dull? Obsessive or calm?
If I were to ask you personally, right now, “What is the quality of your mind at this moment?” Whether it’s still or wild or dull, whatever it might be, what would you say?
Hopefully these questions will help you touch in and make deep contact with yourself. I suggest that you begin your meditation practice with these questions. With practice, you’ll find that you don’t need to run through a list of questions to bring yourself into the present moment on your cushion. It will become more automatic. Your intention is to simply locate your mind and stabilize the mind as you launch into your practice.
Excerpted from How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chödrön. Copyright © 2013 by Pema Chödrön.