What is heartbeat meditation?
There are many types of meditation and I would encourage you to try as many as you can, even when you think you have found the one that works for you. There is an advantage in trying something new, even if it just to reinforce what you think works for you already, and meditation is such a leap of faith that anything that builds your confidence in what you are doing has a benefit to you is worth spending some time on.
What you are investing your time for, is to have a positive experience, the experience of both the meditation and what you are like when meditation starts having an effect in your everyday actions and reactions. It is call meditation practise for a good reason, you are practising for the real world, meditation or as the military calls it leadership detachment is having an awareness of what you are doing at the time that you are doing it.
If you have never regretted something after you have done it and believe that you always act in the best possible way at the moment you are doing it, you probably do not need to meditate but you would also be a supernatural being so you would know that already. For the rest of us mere mortals who make lots of mistakes, meditation is a useful way to have presence in the moment and as such we are less likely to make the kind of mistakes that we usually realise in hindsight.
Heartbeat meditation takes advantage of your interoception, the internal feeling of your heartbeat, it draws you into your internal body. It is what Tolle, in the power of now, calls depth, that is increasing the depth of your experience instead of just worrying about the length of your experience or as he would put it, you are shifting your focus to the moment instead of being lost in regretting the past and fearing the future.
So if you are wondering how you do this, here is my method, though I would point out that it is a work in progress, also I am not a mediation teacher and as such I am not liable for any out of body enlightenment experiences you have or Karmic events.
Sit in a comfortable position, normally it would be cross legged and with a straight back, but any position will do.
Breathe through your nose and your diaphragm will follow.
Notice your breath, the air pasting your over your lips or the movement of your diaphragm.
You might have to concentrate at first, but we are aiming for awareness of your breath, a relaxed concentration.
We are sitting without expectations of what is going to happen or attachment to the results.
We are sitting without reacting to our thoughts or anything in our awareness, and acceptance of what is happening.
Once we are settled on the breath, we then extend our awareness and notice our heartbeat as well, whether it is listening to the internal sound, the feeling of the heart muscle contracting or both if you are lucky.
Then we sit and lightly hold on to our awareness, sometimes, most of the time, we will notice that we are thinking again and even that we have a feeling about that thought. The practise of mediation is how quickly we bring our awareness back to our breath and extending our awareness back to the heartbeat.
Then repeat, keep noting and sitting until the timer goes off. (the insight app is very good and free)
If these instructions seem very short, that is because meditation is at it's base very simple, and the less I say the better as it is an experience, it is very hard to explain the colour blue, so instructions end up getting in the way of the experience as they put ideas in your head which is the opposite of what you are trying to do. That is what words are, they are thoughts or at least labels that we put on thoughts which have a common meaning between people.
We are not trying to not think! Thoughts happen, we do not chose to think, we are trying to note them and not react to them, what you do chose is whether you have a thought about the first thought, that is the gap that we are trying to create and we do so by distracting the mind through bringing it back to the awareness of the breath and heartbeat.
Meditation is the experience of being aware of the world from the internal point of view, and when your awareness is fully engaged, the thinking mind will go quiet (in theory), a mind fully engaged with awareness can not also have thoughts. In time you become closer to the watcher of your thoughts and can even become aware of the watcher itself. One of the points of the Buddhist question of who are you, is that if you keep on asking it, you can become aware of the fact that you are ultimately the watching experience. Though again, this is an idea or thought which is itself a distraction from the experience itself.
Most meditation teaching is about giving up ideas, noticing what is happening without reacting and just having the experience. It is a list of what you should not be doing rather than the core message of what to do, as it is very simple and yet so difficult to achieve. Our mind have after all been thinking continuously for the whole of our lives without rest, the ego has been protecting us from the world, and Buddhists would argue that it has been doing this to give us the opportunity to become aware and that is the whole point of life.
I hope you take the chance to explore your inner depth and if you wish to deepen your awareness even further you can then use meditation to try and become aware of everything, including the infinite amount of silence that surrounds us all, the infinite amount of space we exist in and the infinite amount of timelessness that exists compared to the single moment that is occurring right now. And if you want to explore such ideas and you find the meditation experience valuable, please and I can not stress this enough, find a much better teacher than me.