In the first week of the first term all students are introduced to ‘The Awareness Exercise’. This is a simple exercise of just sitting still, being relaxed, and quietly listening to the tutor giving simple directions which focus the mind on each of the 5 senses. Usually the effect is of finding inner stillness, peace and happiness. All students are encouraged to practise this exercise regularly during the week between classes.
You can listen to the exercise here and read a transcript given below.
The Practice of the Awareness Exercise
1. Find a balanced and comfortable posture, not stiff or slouching, but “poised”.
2. Start with connecting to the sense of touch, the most immediate sense. Connect with your feet on the ground, the weight of your body as it is distributed through your seat. Feel the touch of clothes on the skin, and the play of air on the face and hands.
3. Be aware of taste and smell, the subtle odours and flavours as they play on the senses.
4. Now be aware of sight. Be aware of simple form and colour, the rich contrasts, curves and shapes. This is a strong sense so just keep it simple. Some people may prefer to close their eyes if they find sight too distracting.
5. Now connect with the hearing, starting with those sounds close to you, within the room. Then allow the hearing to run slowly out, encompassing more sounds from the street outside, the surrounding town or area, and then letting it run right out to the furthest and gentlest sounds, embracing all. Don’t label the sounds, just allow them to flow through your awareness.
6. With the body completely relaxed, stay with the moment, stay with the edge of the awareness and the reality of what the senses are telling you. Simply rest with the awareness for a few moments.