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Meditation for Everyday Life

Lesson 9 of 28

Common Threads in Meditation

David Nichtern

Meditation for Everyday Life

David Nichtern

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Lesson Info

9. Common Threads in Meditation


  Class Trailer
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1 Introduction - Why Meditate? Duration:40:49
5 Placing Attention on Breath Duration:19:31
8 Meditation Q&A Duration:25:05
9 Common Threads in Meditation Duration:26:42
10 Review the Day's Lessons Duration:13:18
12 Homework & Q&A Duration:16:06
  Class Trailer
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1 Digging Into the Practice Duration:44:30
3 Obstacles Along the Way Duration:43:03
7 The True Meaning of Success Duration:45:15
  Class Trailer
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3 Compassion and Mindfulness Duration:36:47
5 Happiness and Joy Duration:47:07
6 Happiness and Joy Part 2 Duration:25:55
7 How to Go Forward Duration:54:31
8 How to Go Forward Part 2 Duration:27:05

Lesson Info

Common Threads in Meditation

So you know, one of the things that I've noticed about doing some meditation is it tends to calm me down thames intends to make me more observe it um I think it also tends to change my personality a little bit to make me calmer and maybe not as interesting and not even to myself and maybe not as sort of spicy and you know and there's a lot of that that I like about life you know? And I'm just curious if you know and you even think of a monastery you think it is very uh serena mooring is there room is there space in this for well thanks citing life thank you for that question it's a great question that comes up a lot uh am I going to be you know, just something I'm not gonna become a vegetable you know from meditating and so I think you know really look at this sort of, um it actually ties into something I wanted to talk about a little bit we've covered physical discomfort covered sleepiness um we've covered a couple of these uh what happens with sense perceptions coming up? You know, u...

m we've covered ah bunch of the major themes that arise which is how they got to be major themes, by the way common common themes but a few that I want to talk explicitly about and my favorite one is boredom topic of boredom because people and this will tie into your question david a certain point the idea that you're understanding boredom like uh when when I was studying one of things that, uh, trunk room which is to say is that we needed to learn how to get properly board and of course that is just completely the, uh, anti establishment thing to say when you're talking to in a western people who basically don't ever get bored or if they do is a kind of boredom that he called hot boredom so he distinguish between two kinds of boredom hot boredom and cool border and what most people mean when they say boredom is a kind of irritation so it's really looking at the term I call it red ants in your pants when somebody says I'm oneself board you know, um what they mean is I'm irritated basically and there's not enough going on and I need to create some kind of I need to shop I need to change channels I need to move I need to change something so when we say boredom music, referring to what he called hot boredom, hunt boredom and it's absolutely important if you won't understand this practice to go through that and look at it not as a block but as a gateway that actually why do you experience that? Because you are beginning to slow down a little bit your speed is slowing down a little bit and now you have it is to like, okay, let's make something happen do something, you know, and people start to talk really fast. So, um, hot boredom is something that weeks everybody will experience when you're doing this practice because you're slowing down, some of us will go right unconscious. In fact, you can see oh, boy, nothing going on. Um or it can take the form of, like, really, really fancy, you know, a lot of people experience that, you know, I've had people can't sit for one minute. What are you saying about your world? If you can't sit still for one minute? What statement is that really, really making about your own relationship to your own mind? So the hot boredom is something that we are going to experience and it's part of the path it's actually part of the experience, but what we say is that if you go through that, if you allow that to settle a little bit there's another threshold cool, cool boredom, which is a little closer what you're talking about, david, you know, where is it? Can we see this diagram? What are you saying it picture yeah, so there's space there if you were going on your vacation and you want to have this great time and you take your little blanket out on the beach there and you're looking at the beach and looking at this space at a certain point you're gonna go okay what's next you flew all that way you made all that money and now you're on the beach looking this beautiful expands and you going let's do something okay, so we really can't relax into even our own vacation space actually, uh so cool boredom is actually you're sitting there look at that horizon and able to relax into that experience open up wider and there's a kind of feeling of, uh more spacious world opening up less compulsive world ah less uh habitual world and a less angst, anxiety ridden world um that is a deep, deeper threshold in the hot boredom if we abide in that there's another kind of space that opens up which is kind of what you would call a deep open space in which everything can happen uh and be appreciated as what it is so there's a kind of sense of delight and joy that's out there. So I think david this is where I want to pick up your question is that the teachers that I studied with had this unique combination of this kind of spaciousness and absolutely perkies delightful kind of like just the littlest things are given are given their due you know just that your kid comes running in with snot coming out of his nose and the light is glistening off this knot and it's sublime you know, normally all you think I get the sense perceptions are opening up much more vividly um there's a feeling of having time you know, we say we don't have any time you feel like you do have time you have all the time in the world you know um so we have to go through these portals but the idea is no it's not we're not moving into dead space not dead in any way it's haydn actually and uh there's a lot of energy there and a lot of communication going on maybe not as compulsive, you know, like just going through the knee jerk reactions to everything but you see things creatively and how could you maybe interact with the situation from the point her in the ground of that kind of spaciousness and things can get done that that space is cold enlightenment and things can get done very efficiently there there's a lot of things are done compassionately there there's a lot of a lot of dimensions to it. So does that answer your question makes gives me a direction yeah, there you go. Okay, yeah. Perspectives of stillness and irritation like you said in contentment say more um in stillness all things are possible and for some people in that stillness they're irritated because all these things are still going on in their head all these pressures all these thoughts where he's concerned and in the other they're still stillness but there's thie reception the openness of the potential of the possibility of the stillness of the of the grace and the gratitude of that now also I mean we should really realize that this is a particular training but there's other dimensions this training like for example if you look at what arts come out of meditation like martial arts music, calligraphy, there's a tremendous burst of energy and activity that's extremely vivid and accurate you know, if anybody has a chance to go see grandmaster has everything that movie at grand master you know I mean the meditative arts khun volvo tremendous speed and motion and accomplishment and in shin ball actually was supposed to be able to run an entire country if you understand the principles properly with that alone is uh an organization so it's not like we're sort of saying okay, everybody dial it down a dead world and then we'll be zombies it just looks like that while we're practicing you know and so when we bring these principles out you know you might find that there's more energy than you even know what to do with sometimes that happens julie yeah when you were beginning to talk to us one of the words you used about a place that we could find in ourselves was blazing you really resonated from you you feel like what happening is, uh this practice is all too being awake he and um examining habitual behavior and um and dave it seems to me like if if we can go into that practice you wouldn't become not interesting you would become more awake and more have more vitality and more um, moments spent being present and that's really exciting that's not boring at all that's the way it seems to me like I want I want to blaze yeah, without speed or aggression without peter peter aggression yeah, I mean, the flip side of this is sort of the experience of the world without that kind of speed in aggression is described also in the buddhist teachings it's a little bit further along but there's all kinds of wisdom energies that are at play and they have different qualities to them. You know, summer about how to be active in a very you know, powerful way how to be uh um intellectual in a in a clear way so uh definitely not a dead zone that's that's the thing but we're slowing we've got to slow down everybody look at what look at the world look at the world, look at our world what we're saying is to start with too much speed too much aggression too much momentum counter antidote leave some space balance re balancing and I think some of you asked for that at the beginning said can I re balance so is the anti don't so uh any other thoughts from that I think just diving right back into what you planned would be okay so there's one other topic it comes up quite frequently nobody really kind of went there interestingly enough but it will come up there was this great scene in star wars where ah luke meet yoda for the first time I remember that and he goes this little his guru turns out to be a little frog s o much for expectations but um is in the cave you know, on dh he's seeing uh darth vader you know, coming up and he has a strong emotional response to it and he says I'm not afraid remember this little scene and yoda says you will be so of course during a practice at some point we may experience, you know, something that's beyond the level of just a little casual thinking that we go okay thinking back to the breath we're going to experience what we call our strong habit mind going kicking back thing you want to discover this kind of space I'll show you some what what you're gonna have to go through to get there and that could take the form of you know kind of powerful aggression and usually it takes the other for most powerful uh grasping you know so those air stronger thoughts they're called emotions you know? So from the point of view the meditation practice the um emotions are looked at as a combination of thinking and some kind of energy dimension you know, uh if you look at an emotion what it is it has a story line we never just experience the energy of an emotion by itself like anger can be like that person really messed up you know? I used to have somebody you know that that I worked with and they would annoy me and you know, like but it has a strong story line with it and also has a certain kind of energy to it. So from the point of view this type of meditation practice we're basically lenny the energy be the way it is and just simply noticing the thinking mind and just going thinking coming back so I'm not trying to squish repress that would be the word this is not a repressive practice but at the same time we don't actively worked those things out or through at that time there's other practices where we might engage that in a different way but right now you just recognizing it but we're not trying to repress the energy of the emotions so that's that's an important point you understand that way haven't maybe practice enough yet, but if you do long practice you might get very riled up or very sad or lonely or whatever you have is kind of cooking, you know? So the jet the general practice principle is then the same and then the only other thing I wanted to say was some things come up like music you know, that came up a little bit uh I would say to the extent possible strip your meditation down too embarrassed component like if you were stripping a piece of wood you know, you want to get to the wood, you want to get rid of the finished so just adding a little candy, you know, like we're taking away your candy I feel so bad about it in a way I'm taking over your candy we want meditation to be another kind of candy don't wait there sugar addicts we want be sweet and nice and somehow it's more powerful than that from this point of view. So the idea of, like adding layers in of music and soothing and things like that it's not really what we're talking about now another level issue might find well, I'm having some really interesting ideas here and you want to write them down right away so I'm recommending that you don't do that and but if you want a journal folks at home on this practice you can start a general right now, and I'll talk about it more. When you finished meditating, you could track your footprints if you if you like to do that or any great ideas. But even for evening of e equals m c squared comes up in your meditation labeled thinking mr einstein can imagine he was one my students and he's saying, well, david, I just had this idea e equals m c squared, and then I forgot it because labeled it went back to the yeah, we're working much more with, um, while we're doing this practice being kind of strict about it afterwards, you can write down so some people want to contemplate their life or something. Do it after sit for ten minutes, then leave another ten minutes. You can stay right on the same cushion and think about your life and your project or something. Yeah, I had I was, uh there was this one melody with lyrics that were going round and run in my head that his holiness the dalai lama had stated and it was all I could do just to sit for the last fifteen minutes in hang on and let go hang on, let go and somehow it it all managed a lot of times it evaporates, but one of the things that we say it's first thought best thought so if there's some clarity in the mind the kind of spontaneous arising of that first thought can have a tremendous kick to it similar to intuition. It's, hard to be intuitive if your mind's too cluttered have you noticed that you know, it's it's like there's too much going on? But if if the minds more who leave some space, what comes through sometimes can really be accurate very, very sharp. So, uh, I think those are the sort of general comments on the commonality, this all those just to look at, we talked about hot and cool boredom. Um, and, um, the sense perceptions air rising, tense, emotion coming up, physical discomfort, sleepiness all these are things that were going to be working with, you know, and, uh so we're just pointing them out so you don't go that's happening. I better quit anya's asking slightly specifically about you. Dave, how long do you meditate in a day, and how much do you recommend for other no particular pounds beginners? Is there a maximum minimum that you recommend in the next segment? I'm going toe pack a lunchbox for today, you know? And in the end of the workshop, I'm gonna pack a big lunch, pack a picnic lunch, because obviously we were shooting for if you are moved by this is what's the next step is to get some kind of regularity to go into your practice otherwise I can guarantee this will just be added to your shopping bag it'll be another pamphlet in your shopping bag about things you could have sort of kind of I almost thought you kind of sort of wanted to do so we will get to that I'd liketo I'd liketo bookmark that one okay, terrific thanks for filling our lunch boxes and our shopping bags you're welcome e hope not overfilling but you guys gotta let me know how wonderful did we had win? One more question before you come back come coming back to dave's comment about not necessarily boredom but kind of losing a sense of humor or aggressive kind of knee jerk reactions to things I think that has a lot to do with others perceptions and coming back to way earlier someone wrote in the question about mindfulness and not be able to find compassion for people who weren't practicing and I think that dave's question comes to interactivity with others who maybe aren't practicing how are they going to interpret a change that he perceives in his personality? We're totally going to get into that because I think the interface between us as meditators and on the rest of the world is a big part of this program really coming up I think you know for closing off this segment maybe we could just try another period of meditating because this is really what we're going to come down to and if you find yourself going anything but that you're dealing with one of the commonalities they're which one would it be boredom irritation uh strong emotion so this will be another five minute uh meditation I'll lead us into it um and that that allows to close up this session and take a bio break after this mindful by break so take your seed on uh clear your mind but let's just take the approach he just got here and we're just starting over again fresh start take the good posture you might take a moment to notice how your mind feels right now how your body feels touch in with yourself in a way begin to bring your awareness to your breathing feel the breath going in out at the tip of the nose feel the stomach rising and falling with the breath or just track they breath about the whole body try the west rest your awareness with mindfulness of breathing you can notice if any of the obstacles that we talked about come up for you drowsiness, irritability, boredom and just let those go bring your awareness back to the breath staying with your discipline if you notice you're mind is wandering away simply notice what you're thinking actually sort of feel texture of that thought it's an angry thought or a vague johnathon are needy kind of thought there's no, take note of that and then just labeled thinking and bring your awareness back to the breath painful physical sensation. And you wanna shift your pastor? You can't do that experiencing the texture of hot boredom just noticed that keep coming back to the breath. Even the small thoughts come up. Seemed kind of relatively unimportant. Noticed those label those thinking come back to the breath, breath goes out. Just let your whole body relax with them. Wait. So I think we could take a mindful bio break at this point. What a fascinating way to end a segment. I'm certainly feeling so chilled here way are going to take a break. David, what are we going to be talking about in our next session? So also, if you if you like, have a cup of tea or something in the break, you know, and just kind of take a walk or stretch in some way. This is this time of the afternoon. This definitely kind of like energy will start picking back up again. Um, so the last segment is going to be, how do we work with mindfulness practice the other twenty three and a half hours a day? In other words, we're talking about a very special kind of practice here, which is focused on this type of sitting meditation. But we're going to look at how to practice off the cushion. And, uh, that could be a very powerful, uh, to mention because obviously, it's twenty three and a half, forty seven times as much time as we have to practice as we have doing these sitting meditation. So we're gonna be looking at that.

Class Description

In today’s hectic world, our busy lives often crowd out any chance to sit still. Who has time to focus on mindfulness when there are 40 emails to write? Join Buddhist teacher David Nichtern for an introduction to meditation. David will show you how meditating for just 15-30 minutes a day will clarify your mind and decrease your stress levels.

David will teach you the basics of meditation, unpacking the centuries-old spiritual tradition into a practical playbook for living a balanced life. You will learn simple posture, breathing, and directed contemplation techniques that will help you unclutter your mind and increase your energy.

Stillness is a powerful way to be kind to yourself. At the end of this workshop, you will be more present, aware, and connected to the world around you.


Sean Newton

I've tried to develop a meditation practice in the past and signed up for this course because of the title ..'everyday life' This course works!! I'd like to thank David and the Creative Live crew for providing a life enhancing course. At first I was a little impatient as I thought the sessions were long, drawn out and repetitive however, half way through it 'clicks' (it made sense) and what may seem as a long-winded preamble is in fact laying a firm foundation for understanding and progression. Hastily wanting to skip to some perceived 'good bit that helps hedge fund mangers etc ' is like sprinting to the end of the rainbow instead of appreciating the various colours. (Your own perceptual colours even ;-)) Anyway, a worthwhile course - so stay the course and feel better for fit

a Creativelive Student

David is an amazing teacher, he has a gift for relating the principles of mindfulness in an accessible, relatable way. Plus, he's really funny. I'm super psyched to participate in this workshop. Thanks CreativeLIVE!


Also found this through the DTFH podcast. What a wonderful, powerful, and approachable course in meditation. Highly recommended to anyone interested in starting on this path. It's chock full of practical information and ways to apply meditation to your life.