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Meditation for Everyday Life

Lesson 4 of 28

How to Meditate - Taking Your Seat

David Nichtern

Meditation for Everyday Life

David Nichtern

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Lesson Info

4. How to Meditate - Taking Your Seat

Lesson Info

How to Meditate - Taking Your Seat

On welcome back welcome back to creative life and welcome back to two to meditation for everyday life with david. Nick, turn david over to you welcome back thank you welcome back, everybody on uh, everybody in our online audience welcome back if you're just joining us that's okay too? We're going to be kind of fun going progressively, but also re capping a little bit as we go. So in our first segment, we talked about a general idea of meditation how to go, what the what the premise of it is what are we working with? We talked to upping kind to oneself gentle, inquisitive, the fact that there's some courage involved some bravery in terms of, uh, meeting your self and learning about yourself in a in a new kind of way on dh now this segment, we're going to really be looking at how to go about it. So if you remember, we talked about the view which we looked at and now this is the practice how do you practice? Um, practice is something that all of us have some familiar familiarity with in t...

erms of something that we've learned how to do well, so I think if everybody could just in your mind think of one thing that you learn how to do well in your life and how did that happen um how did you get there and probably was some dimension of practice and study actually and apply yourself to it recognizing the a desire to do that and then really getting into it. So um our segment today is uh um actually digging into taking in a little deeper into the practice so what I'm going to do is basically kind of lead us into it. So step wise there's it's very simple meditation practices sometimes instructions very simple very straightforward. Ah, but there are a few steps to it there's a handout that we had um and uh that's available online is it marie uh hand out uh taking your seat? Yeah. Yeah. So if you like you can download that is that is that right? Yes, you can download it when you click within roll on the opening page there are two documents that david is prepared this free to enroll and they come free and then you'll be able to download the pdf. Yeah. And so what we're going to cover here is quite, uh summarized the notes and I recommend that people hear that you get a hold of that and use it as a review but I'm going to really be walking us through it so that you know in a way you have to worry too much about taking notes for this because the instruction is really crystallized there and hand out but essentially we're talking about three steps you know and uh carla torched the first one is just what do we do with this clunky thing that we seem to be walking around and call the body you want to meditate well what do you do with your body when you meditate and uh um you know we have a certain body which is interesting that you kind of can't trade it in actually you can trade in your car and you can swap houses and so forth you can you know, work with the body you have so this is meaning that there is no ideal body shape for a meditator and even someone who looks fantastic and look about what they look great there could be a mess inside their mind and it doesn't really matter so really what we're working with is our state of mind but obviously we have to park the body in a certain way and that's ergonomic you see because we have basically what we have is a trunk you know central thing and then four limbs hang five real if you look at the head has with him usually people think of it is more important than that but um we have these two flappers and we've got the legs we've got the head which has all the sense perceptions on it and we've got this sort of trunk of a body here so we're trying to align those that there's something effective in terms of settling in in a way where we can create a certain kind of strength and stillness in the body uh normally, like we're moving all the time and, you know later on we'll see what can you meditate and move around the same time meditation in action, right? But for right now we're saying to focus on this mindfulness practice the best thing we can do is get our body into a comfortable seat uh, seated position on of course does that mean you can meditate standing up show you can can you meditate lying down? Sure you can, but the thing about lying down what's what's happening when you're lying down what's the next thing that happens right after lie down everybody, you've got to get a close up of these people wei have a look at what happens when again, when you lie down, ok s so yeah it's going to lead toward sleep most likely on if we're standing up what's the most next thing gonna happen vegging moving around accomplished things, thinking, setting so what? So the seated posture is is like a tripod. The idea is that we create a kind of very stable, a position in which our body is aligned and very healthy and very strong within whatever limits we have with the body that we have, so, um one version of that is taking a seat on the ground on a cushion like people maybe it's going to be during this session if we look at our the people in front here sort of has a way of talking about it. Uh, so these folks are sitting cross legged, as am I right? And, um then we have the notion of what to do with the bottom part of her body, what to do with the trunk and what to do with the head in the arms and the classic posture. You see, people met it meditating. It is some kind of cross legged posture which can range from let's. See, I wonder if I move this out of the way. Will you see me better if I move this out of the way in terms my legs and things like that? I think that will work. Yes, yeah, if I'd just slide that over for just a moment, you can see that I'm sitting on a cushion. I have a flat cushion that sort of, uh, softening the knees on the ground. It's a little hard if you're sitting on a hardwood floor or even a carpet, so some kind of under cushion is a deal if you don't have it, you khun you can work on carpet or even on the floor or a blanket you could use to put down at home I'm gonna work with the people at home here so they have some idea how to go about this and then some kind of cushion if you don't have a meditation cushion you could use a pillow from your bed um or couch or whatever and then some kind of cross legged posture in this case we have the kind of fun native style of two sitting with legs loosely crossed okay that's gonna be easiest for most people if however your very loose and open in this pelvic area and you want to uh um extend the posture you can work with uh um this is called a half lotus position. Um there's uh other ways that you may have learned in a yoga class or the fitness class to sit cross like any of them are fine from this point of view whatever is gonna be comfortable for you so if you're not sure just start with a simple cross like posture then the next thing is you want to have your knees should be lower than your pelvis is so some of us you know, we're not used to seeing this way may find something this kind of position like this, right? And if that's the case get more cushions and get your butt up higher so um you have to make those adjustments and I'm gonna work with the people here in a minute t to make those adjustments the main thing is you're finding some relationship where you can sit cross legged your butt is firmly on the ground you've landed you know, this is not a flying perched kind of situation like you haven't landed on the ground like a like a the chiefs that you are you know oh it's sitting bull time you know from that point of view strong seat okay, grounded seat then you can take your arms just let them hang by your sides like this from and like see how your arms so just kind of dangle if you just let them relax and then so the arms want to be sort of parallel to the torso and then just raise your arms up and just let him drop down onto your knees or your thighs wherever they fall depending on the length of your arms yeah actually this is, um actually called resting the mind um it's actually a hand gesture it's not just vegas like there's, a definite sense of purchase and taking your seat so having gotten that for then the next thing is the tour so right so isn't funny we're just like we have a body it's like we're living in this things were moving through the world in it so we're just talking about how to relate to that in this particular situation and the torso now has a kind of this spine thing in it you know that you ever seen a spine what that looks like it's sort of not straight by the way it's curved but we want to elongate the spine so some of us at home the people here have pretty good pretty good posture but some of us may either not be used to sitting up straight or you know this we might have a lot of curve in our spine just kinda from hanging out the old computer or tv set or whatever reason but whatever you have just imagine that I just came into your house hologram of me and I'm pulling up on this little hair on the top of your head and your spine is elongating and coming up and up and up but without tension and all of a sudden you have a kind of beautifully upright posture wow every looks fantastic. So then working with the torso we make sure that the front part of our body is soft and open not like looking to like get all tough in defense of this kind of softness but the back part of the body is strong powerful and the shoulders you know maybe some of us are used to this and just drop your shoulders a little bit, you know there shouldn't be much tension needed to hold you up right this way then um if you like just tuck your chin and slightly so counteract this kind of, you know, jutting jaw syndrome just kind of like you all right? So it's again not tense but just sort of contained um so that your head is in alignment with your spine and then we go into the head and your jaw should be relaxed and uh can feel your tongue in there as relaxed khun rested light against the roof of your mouth if you like, the mouth can be just lightly closed or slightly open as if you were saying the word ah, even sometimes in meditation see a little smile just a little trace of a smile and that if you've seen that little enigmatic smile because we're not, uh really going into a painful situation we're going to a very eas ful uh, situation so the fake muscles of face can relax, relax your face and then the sense perceptions because we're doing basically what's kind of an awareness practice the sense perceptions are open so I want you all just for a moment now if you close your eyes, open your eyes just right and look what's that right in front of you uh we're not trying to get away from anything here there's a little bit of a thing like and pulling in but this practice is an awareness practice you're practicing for everyday life, right? So we keep the eyes open but we soften our gaze and allow the gays to drop it about six feet on the floor in front of you at home poor to six feet on the floor the gaze is called a relaxed diffused gays it's not that hard staring energy but it's also not internalizing or going to sleep it's not it's not an internal practice in that way so if you can imagine a sweet spot in between being very relaxed entities and kind of awake and alert usually when we're awake and alert it's like we're wired and when we're going down we're just kind of crashing so if you imagine this middle way sweet spot between that where this sense perceptions are alive and wake but kind of muted slightly softened so for example we may hear things right? Um you might hear the neighbor's dog barking you might even have a rock band uh in the loft next year's you know, playing loud it doesn't mean you can meditate you see we don't wait for ideal circumstances we're just going to do with around so there might be a bakery underneath that's um making questions while you're practicing you know I can't meditate well, yes you can so just, um whatever sense perceptions arrives, we just could include those um but not focus on them so once we take our seat um now is go back to where you were before maybe you were taking notes maybe like texting someone just to ask this quick question from michelle and r vo who's asking is the cross legged posture simply for stability? Can those with joint problems basically use whatever works yes okay, so that's a great timing on that question because the second piece that I want to go to is if this sitting on the cushion doesn't feel comfortable for you and that could be for whatever reason, you don't even need to have a you know, clinical reason for it it's completely okay as I mentioned earlier to sit on a chair so if you're sitting on the chair, let me go through that with people who would rather sit on a chair usually people can do one or the other of these, so if you're sitting on a chair um maybe, uh we could look at willow here is it possible to get a shot of uh well on there at the end, you can see that she's sitting upright with or without a cushion actually have an extra cushion underneath you, but you don't need that necessarily and her hands are resting on her thighs and her feet are flat on the floor in front of her um so uh she's got the feet about shoulder with the part flat on the floor in front of her that's better than sort of dangling or crossing your legs or something and if you look at alison alison's got a cushion underneath her because that's maybe it's too long away down to the ground so that helps her to uh to have a better seat so yes uh what was the name of the president of that question it was uh michelle and yeah some michelle and no in rvs in via no the three initials I'm sorry I thought she was in france somewhere I never way do have some french guest today but michelle is not one of those on the shell is a french name I'm assuming it's somewhere in virginia yeah our via robbing michelle richmond virginia show if you're out there still if you stayed on yes it's ok to either sit cross legged or sitting on a chair even if you have a further physical uh disability or some situation like maybe have a broken leg or something like that just make the adjustments that you need to do to get some kind of comfortable seat better if you can sit upright if you're you know dealing with some kind of serious clinical situation the practice you could just lie down and do this but that's that's if you don't if you're not dealing with a physical situation sitting up it's gonna be better so in the chair than a cz we saw person still has a nice upright posture the rest of the instructions the same and please don't lean back against the chair you know every bit of your energy is going to get blocked up that way and we're trying to get like you know a kind of feeling of strength kind of um alignment with the body when things are aligned energy flows better everybody knows that you know so uh this first thing so we now slumping and everybody got there whatever going on now let's try again to take your seat and watch the transition that happens just with this first stage of practice just to take your seat and that's what it's called taking your seat that's the actual first step lamentations taking your seat you can go on then kind of have a feeling you've arrived and sometimes we say this is sort of almost regal quality to this posture and if you look throughout history and time and space people have taken this seat in a lot of different cultures and different times american indian you know europeans asians so there's something quite anthropomorphic about it's a it's very uh universal kind of thing and you taking that pasta and you feel like okay you know and then there's also a feeling like kind of being more exposed maybe then usedto there's something about just taking the sea that opens up a lot of space so big notice if you kind of tending to like, shy away from it and allow yourself to expand out into that regal seat so that's the first step the sham attar of mindfulness meditation instruction let's just try for a minute or two just to sit that way and see what that feels like ok, we've taken our seat on eyes open with a soft down with gays hands on the thighs and just experience just feel what it feels like to be there right now doing that just for a minute or two oh so there's a kind of ah feeling of settling in just that that physical level and uh I'm wondering maybe I could just ask a few of you how that feels that feels like yeah kelly uh little silly okay and my brain is constantly thinking okay, that it's just something else which is why I'm hearing this and trying to bring it back to acknowledging those and not letting it get to me and preoccupied my thoughts but it feels very active to just sit all of a sudden one became hyper aware ofthe kind of this movement of the mind whatever it's doing feel sillier but what's this happening on what this itch is over here so there's all of a sudden a field of activity that kind of all the suddenly becoming much more aware of right which is what you're saying yeah uh calming um settling uh I also feel like different parts of my body chai ming in their comfort level but I in my practice I've allowed my mind to just go there and in that time just being in that part of my body like communicating with myself it generally I'm solves itself into way before we get into the history of the the the uh of the whole thing just in this one minute yeah you said you felt a little bit settled yeah said I'll calm and subtle bits of discomfort but you know they resolved okay, so there was a feeling of like kanis and settle nous and maybe a few little things but because of your practice you you just allow them to settle back in yeah, I'm not sure of the timing but I feel like um it was a moment when there was, like got to it's like a soft focus that I was settling in on dh feeling more relaxed and would hear the air conditioning and feel the air uh so that was like, oh there's an atmosphere in which this is happening there's air in the room maybe uh, you know, I'm not completely cut off from the experience in fact, maybe perception of the environment is a little more subtle, you know, it's usually that you don't usually hear the ground noise, so um julie, you wanted to say yeah, I had gerbil wheel brain for sure and then I also notice that my breath was really shallow s so I tried deepening my breath and then I got really tired you're tired okay yeah and I have some tension in my upper back. Yeah okay so you noticed some things about what your mind your body we're experiencing yeah became sort of mind so maybe does anybody written in from the some comments as well? That was a really unusual thing to do for our live television I'm really interested to hear how the audience reacted there but so many off we're clearly going into a space and just concentrating and following along d ct designs saying they was they were centering focused it was a peaceful a sense of release on jennifer age such as she was a tease and seth deficit was like a short breath of air but an interesting comment from msf twenty twenty said when I heard the sound of the end the sound of the bell I saw like an explosion of light with my eyes closed oh so they had their eyes closed yeah, yeah this is, um who is that person that was called sf twenty twenty? Well, s f twenty twenty twenty twenty vision and I'm walking around blind you know that some countries right? I wish later on I'll do a list of the songs that I wish written probably top among those happy birthday which works actually composed by somebody specific even though it seems like be public domain but that's it I die grass that's another topic I think let's try um while we're in this workshop for the folks here and the folks at home uh even if you've meditated another way in the past which I'm sure many of you have or some of you have I tried to follow this particular method for now because you know, uh there's going to be a through line to it and one of the three lines were talking about in terms of meditation every day living everyday life is how to use the sense perceptions in a meditative away you know, while you're in full body contact with your life so that's why we're starting with the eyes open with the soft down we gaze even later on we might even raise the gays and meditate like with full presence, you know? So what we're not doing is kind of going in two in the world and then were shocked when the bell rings you know it's like, uh, what happened? You know, ok it's back to reality, so as of twenty twenty, try sitting with your eyes slightly open everybody just try it, uh, you know, there's no reason to, uh um, not give it a world in terms of what we're talking about, ok? Yeah. So we have one in the show we alternate or should we stay with the well, I could go with what I've got here. Obviously we're practicing meditation with others. You could do it by yourself also. But this actually root actually relates to meditating with others. Lotus three three three says I have to go. Hello? Uh, I have I have had a daily meditation practice as well as yoga. For four years when mindfulness became more natural for me, I found that I became more aggravated or frustrated because I realized how rude and unmindful people are compassion towards them is tough. Is it compassion or what? What do you d'oh? Well, we're going to be a lotus. We're going to talking a lot more about the interactive space and kind of working with others and things like that that's way up on the agenda here right now. I like people that they can't just focus or what did it feel like to sit still for one minute and just we will I promise you we will get back to that it's a good question, we'll get back to it. This this happens to me sometimes and it happened today where immediately it's like anxiety about my body like my body is going to do something wrong and it manifests itself in this desire toe laugh out loud on kind of interrupt everyone else and it's like, oh, I don't want that to happen so it's a it's a nervousness and you know, anxiety I think that's called church mind in church all right, you think I'm gonna laugh and that's gonna be the end of me and you know so of course then the more that you think you can't laugh, the more you want a laugh I would say go ahead and laugh seriously just removed I think everybody else it'll just be part of their sonic background for a minute um you know and by allowing that it's going to go away you know that's what happens this is all the senate's this filter of like I can't possibly sneeze even some people you know, when they sees they go you know, it's just our bodies, you know, expressing there's a lot of energy moving through and not to worry about that too much. So yeah, I think you're just feeling kind of stored energy that comes up, you know, when you settle down you feel like the momentum you know so that's that's the first instruction all we're talking about their it'sjust taking that seat. And all of a sudden, I think the common thread here is our mind comes into highly high relief. All listen, you're very aware of the activity of the mind.

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.