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Meditation for Everyday Life

Lesson 14 of 28

Digging Into the Practice Part 2

David Nichtern

Meditation for Everyday Life

David Nichtern

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Lesson Info

14. Digging Into the Practice Part 2

Lesson Info

Digging Into the Practice Part 2

So let's, just try that quiet quietly to ourselves if you're home on dh, please give this a moment where you can try the practice for yourself and we'll do it together both live and online and I'll ring the bell and in five minutes I'll ring it again so just give it a shot so if when you're sitting like that for a longer period of time you find your legs are cramped or your back isn't paying for some things perfectly ok to just, uh shift your posture and, um you can bring up your legs in front of you sometimes like this and you just kind of keep going with the practice of being mindful of the breath uh and let the circulation come back in and then re settle yourself, take a fresh start so there's what we call the middle way between too much uh, asceticism and pain is the driver and too much slackness and kind of laziness. We try to find a sweet spot in between those two so we don't fuss and fidget every chance we get, but at the same time, if there is some real pain involved, you can s...

hift yeah, julie about posture um as I'm sitting it, I noticed that like my fest kind of caved in a little bit slowly and white shoulders hunched over and straighten up um yeah it just seems it happens as as the moments passed and maybe that'll change with more sitting sure but the fact that you recognize that an adjusted that's going to be the process going on so our habits are of course I'm gonna talk about this a lot more later embodied you know our fear or anxiety is in the body level so maybe you know we covering up our hart you know in a certain situation people are hunched over a kind of like maybe they're waiting to get hit e I see some people I say like nobody's gonna hit you it's okay okay you know so these air deep habits so we working with those and the general principle done of checking your posture every once in a while and saying ok should I we extend my spine or um in general there's a sort of principle called head good head and shoulders that trunk roommate used to talk about a lot which is this feeling of head and shoulders are kind of our the peak of the mountain you know and they were making a very sort of confident presentation when we when we manifest those hadn't good head and shoulders so it's kind of part of the essence of warrior ship to manifest that good head and shoulders is not pride in the ordinary sense is so the uh the word in to ben xe gee it's some kind of blazing confidence we do have a question coming from online star eyes one wants to know how do I know that I have really reached a point of meditation rather than just being quiet and reflective? Well that's a very good question um and I think what we want to look at star eyes there's others out there are there sorry to start things secret um start eyes one the whole process is meditation meditation is not a result that's really the process that we're engaging here so every step of the way is part of it on dh if we could look at it that way that's a shift in perspective obviously instead of a place that we're going to get to it's actually a process of of working with ourselves in this way so the whole process is ismet his meditation because basically meditation just means putting your mind onto something that's what the word really means um when you meditate on something that well I'm going to meditate on you know, on the crisis in the middle east you know? So I'm putting my mind at like, you know are the people in government are meditating on that they're thinking how can we work with that? Um you could meditate on climate change you know it means it's taking your mind and putting it onto an object into a topic in this case the topic is what does it feel like to be with the breath it's a process what does it feel like to wander off what does it feel like to have that spaghetti mind become aware of it and what is it like to come back so I would say just the whole process is so it's exactly the point and actually star rise one did have ah follow up supplement to request in which we did discuss yesterday but I would just like to touch on it very very brief because I know you did share your thoughts already on this but maybe we have new viewers joining us today stories one might have ah medical titian condition perhaps because they're saying they have ringing in their ears all the time so they're saying because that's very distracting to meditate in that situation is it okay for them to use music and I think your philosophy it's what works for you you know not exactly what you know obviously what works for you is what you're going to do anyhow no matter what I say but representing this kind of particular school uh thought our method the music use of music is adding another layer to the practice of just looking directly at the mind you know it's giving us a distraction and sort of this is bare bones kind of way to practice you're just working with your awareness and your current state of mind now as to the ringing in the ears I mean that's obviously, um tricky situation um and if there's some kind of I guess in that case that there's some simple white noise or music that's extremely simple that khun relieve the pain of that if it's painful to you if it's not painful you couldjust included as part of the awareness of what's happening when you're meditating and for example if we're, uh like I sometimes travel quite a lot and I'm meditating in my hotel room and maybe there's a couple in the next room having a fight what am I going to do to stop my practice? So I included you know or there's a rock band in the loft next year when we had a meditation center in new york that used to be it was in the loft and had a rock band had rented another space there occasionally it's like you know uh you know, very very distracting um but we have a slogan that says um if you can practice when distracted you're well trained so the idea of including whatever distractions there might be internal out our external gives a little more grounding obviously if you get to a quieter space it's it's gonna be easier in the beginning but the notion ofthe including the sense perceptions even if their internal so if it's painful for her and she needs relief then that's a different story just like the posture of it's painful you have to make an adjustment um when you say glanced down clancy rise down and curious about the not the hair head so heads up eyes the head ok yeah so it's sort of um the head posture should be upright I slightly cast down so we have a whole nother uh area to get into today yea something new um of course you know if we're going to be really uh strict about it but it's okay now let's practice this for a couple of months then we'll do something new but were pretty compressed here for time and I wanted to introduce a whole nother dimension of meditation practice that for some people is going to be um I think very helpful and this is called contemplative meditation so what does the word contemplative mean it means you're thinking right content when you contemplate something you're thinking about something so now in this first practice we learned of mindfulness when you recognize your thinking you let it go on you come back to that of the awareness of breath in contemplative meditation we use a directed kind of thinking so actually there's a thought process involved but it's directed towards a particular topic that might be informative ah that might help us cultivate something in particular way and has the same premise of like holding your mind to object of meditation in this case the object in the meditations of particular train of thought that we want to call to it um in general the contemplative practices used to develop insight you know tio tio sharpen and clarify our understanding of the particular topic it might be used to develop certain qualities that we wanted developed like compassion or kindness er patients generosity you could contemplate any of those kind of topics so in general it's either to clarify you up inside or to cultivate and develop qualities that we would like to develop and sort of still a focused meditative approach but now all of a sudden we're working with the thinking mind that same basically we're taking, uh the spaghetti mind and kind of organizing it a little bit better and um also directing directing the um kind of random discuss something into a sort of more focused and more beneficial way of looking at something so a classic one is of course contemplating either things that are considered to be very deep facts of life that we may not have a tuned ourselves to yet and that's like impermanence we talked about yesterday really understanding impermanence so you actually think about it when your mind wanders you bring it back to that contemplation so there's still that that component of mindfulness um I thought that we could start our contemplation to develop insight and bring our mind to a particular topic that I think is a major topic for ah for people who are drawn towards meditation practice in the west primarily which is stress and anxiety how many of you experienced stress and anxiety the thie camera people are you raising your hands to uh our line producer brian doesn't have that so everybody here raised a hand so stress and anxiety you know I wonder if you could go back in a time machine to a two hundred years ago in america and if somebody would say you know too somebody living out on the prairie are you stressed out they might say well yeah we're a little bit concerned there's a bear that might attack us you know you know I think it's a modern uh definition coming from a lot of activity hyperactivity and compressed and all of us are really kind of reeling from it some sense so ironically this is driving people towards ancient remedies it's kind of funny in a way of course it's driving people towards modern remedies as well such as tranquilizers and uh all kinds of medication that didn't use to exist that I considered normal ways of dealing with stress and anxiety now take a pill so that's fine if that's your a cz we say your guess is as good as mine but the other approach that we're going to take us to really look into what stress and anxiety actually are because I think there's a lot of assumption what experience we're actually having and before we looked all the way into it we kind of want to get rid of it something you know I think with stress and anxiety is a real feeling one and get rid of something how do I shed this and people come to meditation think this will help me shed or repress or overlay my stress and anxiety but we'll take a slightly different approach which is using contemplative meditation toe actually you all said you have it well what is it what actually are you experiencing what actually are you experiencing that you've loved together with that with that definition so I'm gonna introduce this idea of contemplative meditation which is step one is the same you take your seat it's a formal practice so if you would in the audience here in the studio and at home I invite you again to take your meditation seat and this case okay to close your eyes because you're kind of just going to be thinking about something and I'm going to sort of talk us through it but in general you could take any topic this way that you thought would yield some insight and just run right through in your mind so um so just be aware now that we're focusing on this topic of let's let's do one at a time because maybe the two are different let's talk about stress estrus stressed out yeah you know that feeling you know so let's think of a time recently when we really experienced dress intense way just draw your mind to that experience now apart from you know the solidity of the experience and kind of the belief that it's really happening to you what did you actually experience for example where do you experience stress where did you experience dress in that situation? Where were you what was happening? What feelings came up for you where did you experience those feelings? Listen in your mind was it in your body wasn't in your breath what kind of thoughts arose was the flavor of those thoughts? How long did it last we'll be able to detect the onset of it out when it first sort of showed up did anything trigger it? Did you have memories of other situations that might have felt similar as part of it? Can you recreate that feeling right now you have that feeling right now where did it come from? Where was it before you experience in a stress where did exist that feeling where did he go and where is it now? So we're looking ride out the experience that we had so okay open your eyes for a minute we just had a brief contemplation sort of a dress that topic in mind didn't wander off the topic did it? It was really focused, you know? So that's a form of mindfulness right there we've just focused on a particular exploration so now I'd like to ask him since this is the you could say maybe this is thie illness of our age the disease of our time in place so many people are stressed out so many people looking for a way to soften that people most many people looking for meditation practice are looking at this this is this could this be an antidote so what did we come up with when we just look directly at it? Somebody live volunteer and just don't theorize I'm not interested right at the moment your theory what did you just actually experience when you went there but what is a concept okay uh in my chest a tight chest and it was interesting when you asked where did it go? I didn't even have a chance to really think about it but I felt that it went out my hands but I was driving at the time so it's possible that it had something to do with steering but and when you asked where it is now I felt that it was still in a different manifestation like ready to come out at any moment my stomach you know? Okay looking isn't that interesting? You know this is not you see, normally we take the approach of let's get rid of this thing before we even know what it is and this is the part of the process of making friends with ourself getting to know ourselves better what actually is happening so that's really good you had a tightness in your chest a feeling of it went away but it's lurking it's not completely gone could creep up yeah it's sort of like oh michael and what is it waiting for do you think a trigger this was usually when I think about stress I think about it in relation to difficult challenges I'm having in my relationships are at work for in my work life uh but this incident was very tangible because it was while I was driving so it was very easy to kind of track the feeling because it was triggered by not being able to shift on a hill san francisco stress yeah and we encounter that a lot traffic yeah traffic okay, yeah uh that was very interesting when you said think of the moment and my head I immediately said which one which one which one and it was actually the hardest part about the whole, uh exercise exercise was finding which one and then uh when you kept on um I'm talking about like, a certain aspect of that moment that's when I like focused on like a specific one, I just think maybe a lot of people could have felt the same thing I don't know but I just wanted to mention that yeah so it's like kind of there's a whole array of things oh uh I I thought of two things one is it was instant it was familiar when it happened when it happened uh just came on all of a sudden as yeah and it was similar and into other stressful moments while we're talking here I'm hoping some of the people online will join in this conversation because you see this is a seminal conversation if we can identify what stresses and see that it's a product of our mind on our habits in a way that we ourselves are are you know if not outright creating it from scratch we're clearly called participants in the creation and that that may be something we can work out from our end and that meditation is the practice of understanding the mind better could in a sense you know be a strong antidote for this this is a very valid entry point you see but we're not talking about dispelling it automatically will have talking about first getting to know it getting familiar with it more so kelly you had something you want to say I chose when it was well it kind of came to me but I knew the outcome and did well so I was thinking oh who was that not what is that not big enough that I shouldn't be addressing something larger something more on going on I know you like that I just pick an easy one way the outcome but the moment of stress that initially where I was when I experienced it was huge intense right yeah intense feeling so where did you experience it where specifically in a parking garage looking at a piece of paper from the doctor. Okay, you were sitting there on that what's happening but then it was an onset of a particular experience that you've characterized this stress. So what did you actually experience racing of the heart? Uh, kind of just stopping frozen yeah, like kind of frozen quality start kind of just all this going on sitting there and still and it was kind of very large so big four sort of locking you in a tight space and where is that now, where is that where's? The big forced locking you into a tight space right now? Uh I don't think I have one right now. That's gone? Yeah, it's dissolved back into a different kind of space it's a garage. Okay, so uh well let's see how our online community is doing with this it's interesting. The work pressure is coming up a lot because some comments here but interesting one from k bay here was with us yesterday. Thank youfor rejoining us today k base being involved with a long running dispute with her. What she's calling slumlord I think she's felt very, very stressful about this has just come from a hearing but what's happened is she associates anxiety and stress every time this issue comes up is becoming grained in her or him so like a trigger point exactly yeah yeah like I understand a lot of people do have their own ongoing issues that continually calls them anxiety sure, I don't know how helpful this is but for me it's time I don't have enough time I got too many things to do in too little time and then it gets to a critical mass of of a feeling of like I can't do any of them well anymore so I'm just gonna like um of course a release for that could be I think I'm just gonna do a few of them and do them well, but that takes a kind of discipline in the mind and it almost in a meditative away you have to focus in on something and take care of it but the feeling of everything clumping together and piling up and there's junk in your room and the papers are piling up and you didn't file them and you haven't paid your bills in a while and now you have to repair for this thing and that thing and then there's just a feeling of kind of like too much to too little time too much to do so time is something is coming up isn't definitely in time and constraints both sage john and jennifer h say time pressure to do things equal stress jennifer says stressed to me is usually characterized by pressure and three eighteen media says stress is delivering a perfect solution under tight constraints uh let's get into that one of them but they don't say that again stressed to me is delivering a perfect solution under tight constraints it was the pressure to deliver certainly yes she's not saying stresses the answer there right no no no and and I think this may be I don't know girl or guy either way uh let's see here we have the demands star eyes one is the demands to be creative on time stifling the creativity time time mrs time is a huge time peacefully occurring three eighteen media has cut into say he is a guy but thanks I said I'm sorry no ideal the time you don't take it personally because come yeah so also it doesn't really seem to care with stress doesn't really care whether you're a man or a woman does it a xeno actually shared their stress point but they've shared a way of dealing with it saying that she might dare say that everything is a product of creation of the mind her practice is about cutting through those concepts I think becker's somebody who you know yeah well I think still at that point we're not backup you out there and everybody we're not so much solution sometimes we skipped too quickly to the solution on the answer so that's like the call them not marinating long enough before you cook something you know what isthe stress so we all do experience it it's not so much a question of, like coming up with a clever response to what it is and how to deal with but we're talking about right now going like with this ideas about it and what actually are we experiencing when we say we're experiencing stress you want to say to you thing that I was thinking about that was a stressful moment brought a physiological response I felt like an electrical pressure charge right right here in my breath got really shallow and quick and what happens for me when I have stress or anxiety and often they're linked I think my imagination disappears on and it's like tunnel vision very um I I forget that there is a moment beyond this I forget that this is a moment of moments pass and uh it's it's a terrifying feeling and it's often about time like thank you mentioned were time or being responsible for getting something done because mary genius has come in and say extract stress activates severe facial nerve pain so controlling her stress is very important to her yeah there's no doubt in modern world then and I think the medical community with supports that stress is bad for your health and that actually caused a lot of illness and certainly in asian medicine uh medical motifs it's considered to be like, you know, kind of uh an energy that throws us out of balance on dwight's we're out of balance health is going to suffer so from that point of view we're looking at a meditation practice as um medical and you don't because we're not generating stress when we're doing the sitting practice we're actually not generating the kind of uh we may experience it but we're not generating because we're not engaging in any situations in which we're creating new karma so to speak knew situations so it's considered a gap and that whole process when you're just looking at it and being creative and just exploring we'll get you in one second you got some more yes we have and actually a very specific question here that has come from lorraine who I think is joining us from the uk welcome back lorraine is stress driven by our fears maybe we can better manage our fears we can better manage your stress yeah well that's that's a really good question and I think what I'm encouraging us all to do through this contemplative practice and through meditation but is actually see like that question is interesting question so are you experiencing fear and then we could do the same kind of meditation on fear what is fear where went when am I experiencing how to actually experience it? What is the actual experience of it so we're kind of in a way just looking directly at our own experience that these practices which can be very illuminating and develop a lot a lot of insight it assumes of course that we have the patients before barron's toe look directly at her own experience and not need to summarize it real quickly but actually taste the experience it's that we're having so that's part of the meditative attrition really being will have the experience that you having rather than trying to manage it she used the word managing their that she or he lorraine is she okay? So before managing it we are going to sort of make some suggestions about how to work with it maybe rather than manage it but first we're just talking about what is it and and being willing to open to the experience more so on that liberates a lot of space that opens up a lot of space. So you've been raising your hand there? Yeah um I just went to the most recent one this morning getting ready and uh felt shortness of breath also felt less like a tenseness and I intentionally got up early to get ready and have enough time and I was shaving and then the shaver died a charge and then it wasn't a battery one pulled out batteries and then it was a charge on the wall so put it in the charger and I was waiting for it and then when I finally picked it back up it was it got click down to a lower setting, and then half my face was longer and have to face a shorter. And I was definitely experiencing the whole thing of like time. But as I dug through it, a kind of challenge time is a stressor justus like, uh, a surface sort of of the first layer of what the stress appears to be, because as I dug through it, I found for myself it was more the concern of disappointing somebody of being later, not looking the way I thought I should look through having the right appearance. So fear definitely tied in to a large part of it for me. Tio layers layers. If we could keep going down through the layers. It's interesting that not probably good enough. Well, and I believe that there's nothing, actually, there's just there's just kind of open space. And all these things that we come up with and fill the space with are really incense personal and an ultimate sense. Arbitrary. They're conditioned, you know, things so that's, what synching is, can we look all the way down through it, to the point where we get to the open space to see the layers, layers, layers, layers and then kind of, uh, sense of letting go of all of it, uh without dismissing it, you know that we're all like that. You know, all of us. I would say you can tell me if I'm right or wrong out there. One side of her face is too long. Our side is too short. Is anybody out there? Think you're perfect just the way you are. Wait, what about jake hale? Is he perfect? Not a tool. He could improve his act. Yeah. Bringing on stopped doing the tennessee he's perfect buddy there's room for improvement. That would be the sport of titles. I know this is a really juicy topic, and, um, we're in a way we're just introducing the idea. Just the review of contemplative meditation, where you use that creative mind to look at something directly through the filter of your own so innocent. Take on your own experience without judging it without trying to minute manipulated right away just to see what it is then the other dimension of contemporary meditation, which will get into tomorrow, is actually beginning to cultivate certain types of thoughts that, you know, maybe more productive on dh that's gonna be a compassion meditation. How can we read track our mind in such a way that it's actually generating so positive imagery and kind of creative thought process and unplug or dial down kind of habitual negative process? So that's just a glimpse we have the two have the mindfulness meditation, which is very pure kind of simple awareness developing the golden dot of everyday life mindfulness and the contemplative practices that we have and there's quite a range of these you see will try to you know over the course of our workshop learn a few of them and uh no ground one though I just want to emphasize this sitting mindfulness meditation that's the kind of rock that you build the rest of it on if there's if we don't have the ability to pay attention in a sort of pure way, all these other things will just turn into a kind of fractured fragment and kind of approach including our whole life. So the rock of mindfulness is something that is ghost is a thread that goes through all of these so that's what we're trying encourages like if you can, if you can practice, you know, four or five times a week to start with for fifteen or twenty minutes and just get that rock of mindfulness kind of pregnant practice and all these other things are going to be much, much easier to to undertake and it does seem to influence people's lives in a very a productive and creative way I know you talked a little bit about what we're getting to is there anything else you wanna cover? Yeah what we're gonna cover in the next segment yeah let's look ahead we have a few minutes just to look ahead eso we're gonna take a fifteen minute break in a couple of minutes and as we're kinda mindful bio break okay, so that's of course an interesting place to bring your awareness and uh um in the classic tradition we don't exclude any of those domains from awareness including the bathroom there's actually into bed they had certain mantra is that they would say when they were going to the bathroom and the idea is to be awake the whole time even even in situations like that are cooking whatever you have so uh we'll take a mind full bio break but then when we come back we're gonna have a little closer look to the uh at the obstacles and challenges that we face trying to develop these qualities what comes up for us that gets in the way why is this hard? Why is it challenging we're talking about something that everybody seems a little inspired about and sort of positive why aren't we practising what's hard about practicing why is it so difficult and challenging to sit still for twenty minutes a day even when we recognize the benefits of it why do people so frequently come up and say you know I've been meaning to get to this for fifteen or twenty years and I know it would be good for me if I had a nickel every time somebody said that to me, um, I have a lot of nickels. So, um, so that's what we'll be looking at in the next segment, primarily and maybe a little bit more of the contemplative meditation practice. Wonderful sounds fantastic, uh, just share what's coming in some comments for you, version twenty three. Hello from greece, thank you for this workshop, turbo says. Finally, my colleagues went to lunch and I can listen to dave's, calm voice peacefully, and kathy s says, the really interesting thing I know my kaka to eddie is sitting on my knee as soon as the bell rings and I get quiet, so does he, although I have a feeling he's focusing on sound rather than his breath, you know, for a while, that was a limerick. Read the first two sentences again. My cock to eddie is sitting on my knee as soon as the bell rings and I get quiet, so does he.

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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Cultivating Mindfulness E-Book

Cultivating Compasion For Yourself and Others

Simple Meditation Instructions for Ordinary People

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.