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Meditation for Everyday Life

Lesson 8 of 28

Meditation Q&A

David Nichtern

Meditation for Everyday Life

David Nichtern

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Lesson Info

8. Meditation Q&A

Lesson Info

Meditation Q&A

I'm going to spend some time talking about kind of commonalities, things that come up for a lot of people. Uh, but before I do that, maybe let's. See if I can add to that list any questions that you all might have so far terms understanding this. You know how to go about this. And I'm sure that people online have some things coming up for them. So we ready to start with them? You have things coming in. There is a general theme, huh? In the question of breathing. Uh, lorraine says it's weird, but I sometimes have difficulty breathing naturally. Wanna concentrate on it? My breathing gets more and more shallow until I need to take a deep breath, like an iron lung. Like any tips on how normal breathing should be and then to follow that up. Uh, chicky um just finds himself yawning, often focusing on their breath. Um, and you know, it is that there is at the mind's way of snapping them out of drifting. Yeah, you know, the breath, of course. In other disciplines, the very power in the yoga ti...

ghty or things like that are even sports. Breath is extremely important to mention I have a good friend, who's, a high level skier. And his instructor said I'm not going to teach you how to ski and he had a very good instructor high level so I'm gonna teach you how to breathe on do you know the breath is a very very important to mention to a lot of our activity and if you do any of that kind of work you notice that we set seize up the breath we catch up the breath and then some people if we become mindful of it they become kind of self conscious and anxious about the breath and I even have some students who can't focus on the breath as the object of the meditation because it's too anxiety provoking for them so um the principle applies you could just shift the object of meditation is something else for example you could shift it to sound uh you know what what are you hearing you know just come back to that but in general the breath is a really good cause it's kind of us just being alive we are kind of like a bellows and on life you know there is some and when you see sea creatures they have this kind of quality of just like a nominee is that what it's called is just and we are like that we're just doing it all the time so just being mindful of that kind of basic activity if it makes you anxious one approach could be just lighten your grip on the mindfulness technique, do a lighter touch, you know, don't try so hard don't don't work at it so hard. Um, yawney, of course, as we all know, is that we have equalizing the breath I mean physiologically that's what it is, you know, if you're not getting enough oxygen that's that's what you do, you wantto equalize the oxygen pumping so there's nothing wrong with that? And sometimes if we're very tired, we didn't recognize it when we start to meditate, go oh, you know, so there's no problem with any of that gradually over time, though, you know, the ideas were trying to get to a nice sort of even steady breath and now not worrying about it too much, you know, being so light touch on that and if it is something for interview out there, it doesn't seem to be for anybody here where this is just too anxiety provoking um just shift who awareness of sound as the object of the meditation don't don't drive yourself nuts over this, you know not not, not what we mean to do was there any other? Yes, I stained with the theme of breathing cesar is joining us from mexico is asking, how do you watch an event breathing, for example without altering it? We're trying to control it the heisenberg uncertainty principle yes, it must be a physicist cesar you a physicist out their truth is it's been proven you can't watch any but without altering it uh, yeah, we are altering and introducing mindfulness I would say is there's a notion of actually adding another layer off observation that normally we don't have um so this is sometimes called the watcher um, but this watches different normally are watchers going like dave? You're not doing a very good job teaching this class, you know, you really should have studied harder. You know what? That's our normal watcher has got an attitude, you know, like, um, you talking to me, it's like the negro, so we're trying to get a watcher that has less attitude but takes a seat in the process, so we call it the abstract watcher sometimes called the witness. Some of you may have heard of the witness consciousness and just to see what's going on like that kind of watchers like more like the swedish chef, you know, just sort of looking around seeing what's going on, you know how the muppets are like a muppet watcher doesn't have a lot of big stake in the game not trying too hard to dramatically affect the course, so yes, cesar, you're right, we are adding a layer of um um watching what's going on but hopefully it's a it's a kind of very transparent layer and you know, maybe later on we let that go a little bit more but right now we're going like we're trying to pull ourselves in from a highly distracted state um we're leaving some space so um that watcher is necessary uh, intermediate step but a good point and anybody else out there in cyberspace different questions on lots of different topics it's interesting that's something coming through becca made a comment I think we've built here from her earlier I feel grounded and open when I take my seat a sense of being right where I am on the spot um but other people are asking also things I don't want to get in this now whether you'd rather wait but things like back pain and neck pain and giants and things like that, but we can certainly hold those questions unless you want to dive into those man well, what's interesting is that's kind of what we're going to look at moving forward is when I said common threads you know, what comes up for a lot of people is informative for us because you might go yeah, that you know, that happened to me too, so let's hear a few of those show uh, when we have this one uh actually yeah lorraine has a question about the cushion your cushions setup looks a lot more comfortable than the cushion tower I've created at home. Are they available to buyer is there something that you created yourself? Yes. No, no, no I'm not in the cushion business or the christian tower business it's bad enough. I'm in the music business that's challenging enough there is a cushion. There are many cushion companies that make these cushions you can buy them on amazon dot com just liquid meditation cushions there's a company called samadi cushions which is associated with the meditation center I used to live at samadi s a m a d h I dot or ge dot com I'm not sure which and you can buy and see them online and choose your exact some people like a puffy one some people like one made out of beans and some people like one made of you know ke pa or whatever you have so you can order your own cushions. I would say, you know, this is uh if you think you're going to be doing some serious sitting definitely get yourself ah flat cushion underneath and some kind of support cushion some people need to some people that's these smaller support cushions julie, can you just throw that up here for a second? This kind of thing, maybe you could put one under your knees because your knee is killing you and so it gives it a little bit more support um you could put one under both knees the main thing is you find your seat and that it's a comfortable seat for you and it works for you so um I think it's really valuable because it goes back teo being easy on yourself which is what you're saying this is supposed to be comfortable so make yourself comfortable and this might be the question that jennifer jennifer very lots is asking three question is I have a lot of problems with back and neck pain in meditation it starts within seconds of city maybe it's the sitting maybe it's the arrangement of the cushions but any suggestions you have well the general you know, sort of a guideline is if you having some kind of physical problem you should deal with that with the appropriate health care professional so that might be a sign that somebody needs to go see a chiropractor or osteopaths of whatever you have um and if those things are bother you that much right away we start sitting probably there's some kind of maur underlying issue so you could definitely take care of those things um it may be a sign that we need to work with our body more you know and that's that there's somebody worked that we want to do undertake uh it may be just resistance to sitting practice that's another thing that comes up all of a sudden you know my back doesn't work for my knee it doesn't work so we have to look at that the kind of psychological component of it but the main principle is to try to um uh just you know so that realistically we're able to do this practice and not feel like it's torture I think that's really, really important it's hard enough as it is can we just get a clarification on do you need to be on a floor or I see a lot of people are sitting here I'm trying some of the meditations I'm in a chair it really doesn't matter you could be in a perch on a floor I mean good meditator um you should be able to meditate uh in any situation because you're bringing your awareness to it that's what fundament points but in order to practice that the seated position is is really helpless we discussed if you're lying down there's a tendency to go to sleep if you're moving around there's too much distraction. So as we said earlier a chair is a really, really viable way to go at it and for most western people that could be for many western people that could be much easier way to go so if you're sitting on the chair than the feeder in front on the floor hands resting on the knees and then try to sit up so they're not supporting your back with the chair having said that, if you have, like we have people all the time, they have a back issue of some like that then they lean against the wall. You know, the idea is to get as much independent strength as you can muster. And, um um, within those parameters to make yourself comfortable, I think a number of our audience are still getting used to the idea of meditating with their eyes open and they tend to down it with their eyes closed on I think it's mr a d z twenty to help I've got that correct saying since this is the first time they've been meditating with their eyes open, their gaze keeps jumping around. Is it more helpful to place something like a candle in front of you to help center your gaze? Yeah, I mean, you know, the eyes are powerful, uh, channels of communication for us, it's sort of we're not used to resting our gaze, but keeping it, uh, awake. So one image I like is a frog on a lily pad, my particular resonate with an emergent frogs, this sort of sitting there and then a fly comes along, the steadiness and the kind of receptivity without like, where is the fly so there's a kind of resting visual space now you can pick a spot on the floor and kind of rest your gaze there but not too hard to focus so I don't think it's necessary to get a candle for that purpose but maybe experiment with relaxing the eye gaze some um and so sometimes we say a diffuse gays it's not his focus is like, you know, a lot of us a lot of time wow did you see that look at that shirt you know, like just and so we sometimes called seeing without looking you know, there's this kind of sense of like these but if we're not used to that it might take some getting used to look if you're just that's the principle of it the principle of it is we're going to get up from our meditation cushion and go live our life that you definitely want to do with your eyes open so we're not getting used to some kind of like special state we're just kind of like softening the whole thing up and developing kind of mindful threat on dh if having understood that principle you just go like you know my eyes and just drive me to crazy it's okay to close your eyes there's nothing about any of this it's meant to be dogmatic or you know kind of rules just won't understand the principle of it principal is soft awareness, muted awareness and then when you finish your practice you get up and you're able tto just very seamlessly go about living your life the more you meditate the less contrast there is between meditating and not meditating we have more questions you want to move on no, I think this is this afternoon's a lot about common thread so I don't mind taking a few more and we'll take some from the folks here and then I'm gonna kind of weave them together into a call yusuf let's hear from our students we haven't heard in a while I would like to comment on mine particularly after world name perhaps experienced in the last session just go ahead. Um drowsiness so we just had lunch yeah and I have a very soft gays but sometimes my legs get very heavy in my soft gays and fighting that right now after eating yeah. So drop josie this is interesting one in general we talk about to obstacles to meditation being laxity and elation so everything is a middle way kind of approach so if we have too much elation you know it's kind of wow, this is so great to meditate I'm getting terrific and pass on to see what wow, did you see the beads around the guys neck and yeah, I'm following my breath that's like the energy is jumpy, you know and that's elation laxity is kind of like a you know, just when you feel like your energies jobs up, down and out so of course sleep is ultimate laxity you know? I'm not saying laxative out there by the way just so you know that we're not going to talk about those so laxity is too low the energy source right? And any serious meditated if they haven't gone through this simply I don't believe it some of the great meditators of all time in fact, there is a practice that these do in tibet which was sitting at the edge of a cliff five thousand foot drop off so of course that would keep you awake, but we don't vote for anything that extreme this case so there's a sense of how do I work with this after lunch is a classic why? Well, all the blood's in your stomach digesting your food and not much of it is going up your brain to keep you away. So one thing is you're doing a day of meditation maybe eat a light lunch, you know, if you can do that um but it's going to come up so the main thing is to be very again what's our general poaches sort of gentle, non aggressive okay one of the recommendations sit up a little better during that time and add more precision to the technique be a little clear about what you're doing um but I found that all the antidotes applied sometimes it's just coming on too strong. So if you it is a temporary situation, do your best with it and if you're not in a little bit what's interesting is that twenty minutes later you might feel like quite awake so don't immortalize it don't make a big drama about it just passed through you're gonna pass through all kinds of landscapes when you meditate there's going to be, uh, elation, laxity, there's going to be emotional peoples of all kinds just look, it is your passing through and he practices to keep keep related to practice much as possible, so I would say, don't worry about it too much, you know, maybe sit up a little better work with the breath a little bit more on, uh, view it as a passing temporary situation very interesting comment is that he's, the opposite to alison's challenge here from dave are online, and I've certainly sympathize with this davis thing I have on set insomnia it takes me a long time to doze off to sleep is meditating before going to bed a good way to help with that. How it's such an interesting question because it could, because if the insomnia is coming from the mind being sort of hyperactive, this could settle the mind down on dumb in a way how we approach sleep is very important because it's going to affect the dreams and the whole experience of being asleep the period right before it so if you find what's his name sorry dave are yeah dave so dave, if you find you could try it and you find it sort of settled you down and makes you a little bit more uh you know, tamed in terms of how your mind is working and that lets you drop into sleep easier so be it but if you find that it's sort of creating a kind of wakeful space you know and you feel like wow, you know, I could just stay here like this uh and therefore it's compound in your problem at that point that I would say don't meditate right out of bed maybe in the morning or afternoon do we have any other questions from the students you know, I was just uh I was thinking about that also and you know, over time I've asked myself the question about meditating to go to sleep, to be relaxed enough and, you know, I wonder if I'm also training myself to fall asleep when I'm sitting up, you know, by doing that, you know, just subtle, subtle habits, so I've always been really suspicious of myself when I've thought about using that but that's that's, may I you know, I don't have usually too much problem obviously, you know, it's interesting and sure willow knows this but the word buddha, you know, which is obviously what is buddhism basins were based on this dude who they called the buddha uh doesn't really mean anything other than awakened so there's a a kind of quality of the mind when it's really awake and alert that we're talking about here. So even when sort of advanced practitioners, when they sleep, even there's a sort of quality of awareness going on it's a different kind of sleep actually. So, um, you know, for us at this point we're saying, you know, uh, we're tryingto begin to find a thread off paying attention of being wakeful, and when we're doing that, all kinds of experiences are going to arise, we'll have, like all kinds of things come up and the best advice is just stick with the practice and just keep going always stick with your practice if you say I'm sitting for twenty minutes, even if the whole time you're doing that that's okay, you know, because the one thing you don't want to do is in the middle of it lie down, just give up that's considered kind of like not a good idea, you know, but you know through thick and thin, you keep the practice going any other I said I'm gonna do I'm gonna talk about we're covering of course since these air common threads there coming up now so kelly yeah kind of going with what he was saying the only time I tried a couple of sessions of meditation was in june it was kind of stressed out over some medical tests and whatnot and I was doing it before bed because that's of course when my brain would start racing and so I had guided meditation friend of mine who taught yoga on her link and bla bla bla anybody and helped tremendously and and the test came back and I was fine and I didn't meditate till now so there is a very big difference between this quiet meditations and having that kind of guided with that lovely waves and a british accent was over the waves so what was it jae cale doing a voice over on the side from tennessee? I just I just do this trying to oppress people live the difference between this silent meditation mindful vs no doubt the unguided medicines the most difficult because now you're on your own and it's similar to the scuba diving now you're out there you've got to remember what you're doing and you're taking your own uh responsibility for managing the process so we sometimes it's very good to meditating groups especially when you're getting started but all always because there's a lot of support you know uh you know, if here this place if enough people want to meditate you provided a space for them in somebody bring the bell and you started and then people went about their work, you know, that's going to an easy easier context and somebody at home and I got a minute here and I maybe so I want to do my jogging or doing, you know, so context that khun set up as a group is very good um er but ultimately we're moving layers and layers of distraction so um it's like, who is that one with the blanket? Which one of the peanuts character linus you had the black we're taking the blank the security blanket away some people think meditation is giving you another security blanket, but actually, from my tradition we're taking it away and saying you khun, you can do without it on duh but of course all these things that we reach for first comfort and support um uh entertainment you know really is what it is. So this is pretty austere from that point of view that's why that might come up, we don't use music one of those things were not really actually trying to relax and all we're trying to wake up and, uh, you know, it's a different uh, that's a different, uh, approach approach of like you need a tranquilizer somehow this is a better one is already saying there's so much disturbance and there's so much problem that you need you know you need a tranquilizer so this is kind of saying if we remove the tranquilizer every move that layer off kneading uh distraction and support can you manifest in that space? Can you really show up so that's good that you're saying that you know, then it's up to you how much? Until you want to dig you had somebody just one final question on mentioning the thread. So this is this is actually a question for me in the past and a longer meditation I have had a moment where my body actually was kind of moving our swing by itself, and I had that a swell and one of the meditations here the five minute one where I was sitting in my body is that common? What is that? You know, really that's a form of you just when you relax more and see children do that sometimes, you know, they they sort of start to rock. Um, I would say that first of all, we're never completely still, even when you sit meditating, breathing your blood is moving um the wind is moving through your body the front, as we call it, you know, so the idea of being rigid and stiff and still is too extreme the same time, then that kind of motion have become quite subtle, you know? And you don't have to kind of, like, go me not controlling, and I'm actually kind of riding you could. You could ride it in a little smaller, okay, and just kind of feel a little bit of that kind of like, like, this is sort of a combination in a sense of chee kong and buddhism, but the idea that you're kind of very loose, but without having to kind of, you know, just very subtle movement, and then you feel you realize that everything your body's moving so I just want to say the period after lunch is the famed meditation killer that's when we're all like you, look around the room, so we just passed through it, you know, and gradually blood returns to her brain, so but just keep keep sitting. So yeah. So, um, I think just, you know, allowing some of those things to to loosen us up and then and then to remain kind of subtle dimensions of the practice.

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.