Elizabeth Lesser's Broken Open Toolbox
7. Pain: If you feel pain in the body—your knees, for example, or your back—bring your awareness to the pain. Surround the area in pain with breath. Witness yourself in pain, as opposed to responding to the pain. If the pain is persistent, move gently to release tension, and return to your posture and breath. You may need to lean against a wall or the back of your chair, or you may want to straighten your legs for a while. Avoid excess movement, but do not allow pain to dominate your experience.
8. Restlessness and Sleepiness: If you are agitated by thoughts or feelings, or if you feel as if you cannot sit still, or if you are bored to distraction, come back to your breath and your posture again and again. Treat yourself gently, as if you were training a puppy. Likewise, if a wave of sleepiness overtakes you, see if you can waken yourself by breathing a little more deeply, keeping your eyes open, and sitting up tall. Sleep and meditation are not the same thing. See if you can be as relaxed as you are during sleep, yet at the same time, awake and aware.
9. Counting Breaths: A good way to deal with all of these impediments to concentration is to count your breaths. On the in-breath, count "one," and on the out-breath, count "two." Continue up to ten. Then begin again. If you lose count at any point, start over at "one." As thoughts and feelings, pain and discomfort, restlessness and sleepiness arise, allow your counting to gently override their distracting chatter.
10. Discipline: For one week, practice meditation each day, whether you are in the mood or not. Even if it is for only five minutes, commit to a regular practice. See how you feel. If you notice a difference (or even if you don't), commit to another week. Then consider joining a meditation group or taking a retreat and receiving more in-depth instruction and support in your practice.