Building Up Your Mindfulness Muscle
Well look a at d c b for a second he's in a simple cross like posture with one leg over the other and then you want your butt to be sort of grounded into the cushion and then you just rest your hands on your knees or your wise as they are sometimes if you just let your hands hanging down on your sides and then just drop it down that's going to be natural place that's good so then if we look at the rest of the posture we try to elongate the spine a little bit mostly ever beautiful posture already but if you have it is to sit like this you know what some of us have just become used to just think of somebody like a little genie comes and pulls up the hair on top your head he won't get the spine then um we have our back is strong and stable front of soft and open that's kind of sometimes we call this a warrior posture one of you mentioned warrior energy where he has good strong posture but is very soft and open in the front shoulders relaxed and then coming to the head um chin sometimes if...
we have computer chin so just tuck it back in a little bit and finally when we come up to the sense perceptions uh try to get this idea cross because people have again this idea of meditation is shutting down and it's not shutting down it's a relaxed wakefulness that we're talking about so just keep your eyes open with a soft downward gaze and you can pick a spot on the floor four to six feet in front of you I just relaxed you gays and sometimes called scene without looking half lidded or diffused case when we meditate like that we're actually getting very close to being ready to just get up and go about our business with this kind of relax wakefulness so we're not shutting down not going into internal space which is present all the sense perceptions are soft and open so all of that is step one taking your seat then the second uh sapping the instructions that you have is to, um begin to place your attention on on your breathing as the object of the meditation so if you like you can feel the breath of the tip of the nose, just be aware of it so there is it's not a conceptual thing we're just sort of feeling the breath go in and out of our body at the tip of the nose we're just paying attention that simple experience that's simple one aspect of our experience with allowing our attention arrest there and then the third step is when we notice that are my r james joyce spaghetti monkey mind has taking our attention away from the breath we simply label that thinking to say the word thinking quietly to yourself without judging a rejecting what goes on we simply bring our awareness back to the breathing that's the most important gesture right there's when you notice you're lost and thought they both thinking and bring your awareness back to the breath so maybe every everybody here at home we could just try a couple of minutes uh of doing that and I'll give a little bit of sort of reminding of the instruction as we do it if you're not used to sitting this way and you need to shift your posture as we go that's fine not giving into you know every uh kind of distraction but if you if your leg gets uh painfully frozen up you can simply pull your legs up in front of you like this and then resettle your posture anytime you need to do that you can so can you placing your attention with your breathing going in and out of your party focus at the tip of the nose if you prefer you can place your attention in the habit abdomen, stomach rising and falling or if you prefer you can just feel the full flow of breath throughout her body when you notice thoughts arising in your mind without judging them or trying to manipulate them you repress them just noticed that you've been engaged and thought just label thinking then return your awareness the present moment in the breath sometimes after you sit for a minute you can stretch a little bit roll your shoulders or twist so this is very simple. I think people overcook the goose in this area quite a bit, you know, that expression overcooking the goose, the more organic and the more straightforward and the more you can actually integrated into your life. So it's like brushing your teeth, taking a shower in the morning, uh, it is as a sacred feeling to it, there's a sort of feeling of sometimes coming home to a kind of very natural state. Uh, but sometimes we talk about nothing special, no big deal. Obviously, the ideas is to settle your mind, you know? So, um, a lot of agitation uh, comes comes across, um and just kind of sometimes I use the image if there was like, uh, sand or dirt in this glass all day long, we're shaking this glass, all right? Our activity is just kind of shaking us up, but if we just put the glass down, if we try to settle it by moving them or it doesn't work right, but you put the glass down gradually over time just settles, then there's some clarity there, so I think I want oh, emphasize a couple of points now, uh, and then have a little discussion you know that we could go back and forth, especially with the people at home if you haven't done this practice ever before. It's new to you? Just kidding. The groundwork set up for this is very important then it's something you have, you can you can take it. You can take it away with you. Um, most of the time people practicing, we're on our own it's an interview it's an inner kind of practice, um, but getting their sails set right? Getting technology, right is very, very important. So here's a couple of kind of things, maybe this isn't you say, at least from the point of this practice, we're not cultivating a trance state, okay? Not a trance. Um, you can. There are meditations that will induce trances and kind of stuporous states, probably better than most drugs you're going to find if you know how to operate the mind, you know, but that's not what we're doing here. Um, in fact, those states could be kind of view that sand traps, you know, kind of blessing out on dh kind of going into dreaming kind of space. So that's a subtle point. I mean, a lot of people would like to get the hell out of here, you know what I'm saying? Like this is a painful place to be and like this meditation they think is a way out it doesn't really take you out just you're just still there everybody else can still see you I mean if you really know how to disappear okay, but I'm telling you the bit else's like you're still there when you get up off the cushion your bills we're still going to be there um your wife and your husband still gonna be there um you know, the garbage is still going to be there um your dilemma over your artwork in your career is there going to be there? So we're not trying to get into some kind of quote unquote transcendental state and then uh somehow this is we get to skip over the ordinary garden variety confusion and pain that we have in our lives it's much more way of dealing with those things, so um that's a very important point, I think you could save yourself I've said to people you could save yourself atleast ten years of trying to get into some kind of trans out state with meditation, ordinary awareness, ordinary awareness, ordinary women's very powerful. So I say that till I'm red in the face, you know, I have kind of um we're not cultivating ignorance and it's not a tranquilizer were developing mindfulness awareness and insight uh, which we're going to apply and this works up to the other two areas of our life the creativity and the making a buck part we're going to use this clarity and focus uh to to to have a sort of more, um successful relationship to our real life build up your mindfulness muscle so this is another way of talking about what are we building in the gym right using the gym analogy you're building up your muscles you like your muscles of these little things here and then when you work on then you build them up they're huge you look like arnold schwarzenegger you know, weaken at the same time our mindfulness is inherently there are kind of ability to be awakened present, but we can build up the strength of that and what you see is, you know, somebody who does this kind of practice they're going to move gradually from a kind of busy, distracted kind of like, you know, kind spaghetti kind of quality too much more focus and stability that's the sign if somebody's doing this practice that's not happening something's not being done right? So the practice is said to have a fruition of clarity, strength and stability and the mindfulness not muscle is interesting because if you look how this works, I don't know what you experience wasn't well, I'm gonna have plenty of time to talk about it did you feel like you're being dragged away like he's trying to sit there and be attentive to breath could you could you say I just kept thinking and then I wasn't even know thing that I was thinking right so you like in a way they came they carried you away your thoughts came like little grandma hey enough of this being here present with breath let's drag you off into the weeds here and have our way in that way so um from the point of view of developing this muscle though as you practice you recognize that you have a few moments of recognize here and you label it thinking and then you came back to the breath so that's a muscle that's being used that kind of returning to a mindful of muscle and you get it gets stronger what is happening when our thoughts or just dragging us away like that is that good maybe just being creative you know maybe we just had a brilliant idea but what's happening most of the time anybody yeah for me it tends to be kind of obsessing with problems that I'm aware of that I want to solve there is some error that I want to iron out so or steam I find steaming is actually much more relaxing it's great it's such a interesting thing to see your mind from what we would call a more abstract perspective and that's we call it sometimes the abstract watcher or the witness we're instead of simply participating in that did you say obsessive? You used the word obsessed with not the right process we simply observe it you know and without judging it saying it's good or bad that's a very important point without saying it's good or bad and without trying to change it that might be unbelievably powerful for some of us do not try to change something and just simply observe it uh so that's a big part of this is that kind of ah ability to see and be friend whatever arises but also not have a drag you out of the room so in the meditation tradition we talked about kind of three main areas of where our mind gets hung up you know? And they're in the area of grasping at some things right rejecting others and ignoring the third category so these were like the three kind of um major slices of pizza pie in our mind we're spending the time if you look every thought that's dragging us away is maybe about something we want but if you think about what you were thinking about, you know I wish if only I had if only if only if only if only if only and then there's a you know, aggressive thing if only not and could I just get rid of this if I could get rid of this, I'd be happy, you know um you know if I could shoot my boss in the head you know or my mother or my father or my ex you know, and that's the kind of feeling wanted to push certain experience away we don't want that experience and the third qualities sort of general dullness you know, just really not paying attention at all sort of vast forests like I had one student over the last week and she said it's like when she sits down a fog bank rolls in she's sitting there it's just like woo this fog bank has rules and has no idea what she's thinking about it's not clear at all so the sharp edges desire and aggression and then the sort of middle zone is just coming and of course maybe you fall asleep you know? You see people sitting you know, who knows what's going on in there so those, uh those three areas are very, very characterize herbal as the three arenas off our mind activity then you couldn't look at two other big ones let's see if we got any smart, smart alexa, where is your mind? Ninety nine percent of the time boom passing the future now obviously there's some merit to consider where we came from how did we get here and then there's uh some intelligence about thinking where you're going but we're obsessed and we're spending too much time in the past the future so kind of a lot of times when people talk about meditation about net right now right now present being a very powerful place um and when you do your creative work you know since that that's a big part of who we are as creative artists who are engaged this you really want to find the present is very important to find the present um you know it's interesting like if you talk about writing you know I'm a musician talk about writing a song it's so present feeling of doing that it's not like oh well it's gonna be you know you could get your mind could get completely stolen away but what it's all gonna mean later on and you could get completely caught up in the past so we're kind of like slicing into obsession with the past the future mud cutting cutting through um think about, um every activity do which is what the rest of worships gonna be and how valuable it is to be present with the activity to have your full presence there when we recognise that those thoughts can no longer steal that our mind away so like if you have ah uh able to see the obsessive quality of thinking um what happens is when we have a thought of this is going to be great in the future right get all up and then what happens when things fall apart? Disappointment haven't we crash we're spending a lot of our time getting high and crashing we're kind of using our own mind as a kind of ferris wheel roller coaster ride so when we start seeing those things coming and going you know then there's the stability of the present awareness and uh all of a sudden it's not we're not on the roller coaster ride anymore we're just taking one thing after another you know? You wake up in the morning go goodness this is a new day you know? So ah lot of this means we have to really think of ourselves a different way who we are and a big part of that is making friends with ourselves um it's very hard to do this practice of you're too hard on yourself very hard like hell just, um burnout you know, if you approach meditation from a perfectionist point of view nobody's ever meditated perfectly as far as I'm aware of it it's more organic every meditation session you do is going to be different is going to always be different so we just sort of tuning into that kind of quality of being present with whatever arises another thing that comes up for people uh we're so hard on ourselves everybody some of us are so hard on ourselves you know and um the idea of you undertake a practice like this you have some idea I'd like to be peaceful and you know come and then you experience all kinds of people you know, like you're sitting there and your mind is rolling and you just really just all you can think about is lunch and beyond that all you can think about is like assumes this session's over I'm gonna quit my job and I'm gonna end my relationship and you know we have so much turbulence but in meditation we just let it be there you're saying so I call it weather you know we have mind weather there's weather outside right and everybody it's interesting in new york this winter every is freaking out you know all has the worst winter but well it's just this is a little colder and more snow my canadian friends they say what you talking about? You know, there's nothing so a lot of times we're in freak out mode you know about the mind weather you know? And sometimes the practice will make us more sensitive to the mind weather um but uh that's part of the process and the important point is everything we experience the meditation is going to come and go trick we do is we think oh if I could just do it right then I could freeze dry it but every time is going to be different um and bad weather and good weather are going to come and go and seeing that is very profound because then we're less attached the good weather, and were less afraid of the bad weather. And that means we have some stability, you see.