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Meditation for Everyday Life

Lesson 5 of 28

Placing Attention on Breath

David Nichtern

Meditation for Everyday Life

David Nichtern

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Lesson Info

5. Placing Attention on Breath

Lesson Info

Placing Attention on Breath

The first one is taking your seat the second part of the off the instruction is where to place your attention so this is called placing your attention or placing the attention and that we first back to the first segment where we talked about attention and what it is and one point in giving the attention the object one object of meditation and you allow yourself to focus on that and as you remember we talked about focusing on the breath so that's what I want to talk about next is some placing attention on the breath and how to go about that excuse me so the second tier is as you're sitting there you deliberately become aware of your breathing right mindful of the breath and there's a couple of things to think about one is we're going to for now follow the breath throughout the full cycle of breath in breath and when I talk about an abstraction here this is you on your cushion now breathing so there's no metaphysics involved what's offices directly experiential you are sitting there you ...

are breathing and you are paying attention to your breathing coming in and out now having said that it's kind of a light touch some people will become what I call iron lung meditators at this point I'm going to try to steal you away from the iron lung no that would be called too tight to having others we just kind of like that's too loose so a lot of times we say and not too tight not to lose that's a guideline ride straight through a light touch of awareness on the breath going in going out and, uh doesn't mean we shut down our awareness of the space that sort of sense perceptions are still runs. So sometimes we say even just that twenty five percent awareness on the breath is enough like a thread, we could bear awareness a threat of mindfulness course what happened? Something come up and all of a sudden you can recognize that your awareness is not on the breath and just bring it back. That's the whole exercise, normally we have much more complicated things to do in our life than this. And the simplicity of this is I guarantee you here and all you people out there will try to make this fancier than it is, and you'll come up with all kinds of inventions and schemes and diagrams and, you know, machinery and stuff to make this more complicated than it is. But the simplicity of it is the elegance of it. So just a simple bringing the attention to breath and when it wanders, bring it back that's the whole that's the second instruction now what may come up for you since now we're starting to sit for a bit is if your body begins to become your enemy you know and you feel like, oh my god, I'm really I can't sit like this for one more minute you can shift your posture so going back to that if we're doing it so serious period of sitting and you're thinking like my knee is frozen here and I'm gonna not be able to think about anything that like other than that you can just bring up your legs in front of you like that and to sit like this for a moment and don't look at it as a big vacation to hawaii a big break just keep the awareness of the breath going and then when your legs have come back in on the energy circulating again, you could just cross your legs up again and we settle your posture and just we say take a fresh start well, like you're starting all over again tension on the breath in and out mind wanders away you come back to the breathing that's really the hardness and self of this practice but there's more to it at stage two did you have a question? I was wondering about the crossing of your legs? Um doesn't matter if you change if you, uh, alternate which legs go in front which legs going back or is it important to do that? No doesn't matter doesn't matter the main thing is we're getting used to sitting in a certain way that maybe we're not you some people are very used to it others of us are not um so again the middle way it's what we talked about not too tight not too lose so if there's kind of like this is one version of two loose you know this is too tight you know, uh a nice middle way approach because you want to be, uh, comfortable enough so that your body doesn't become your enemy and you hate this practice and you never do it that's not that's, not a good outcome, you know, at the same time cultivating certain decision sort of certain point like you could develop a certain kind of physical presence that's very strong from taking your seat in this way and even if you're moving around there's a sense of still a seat, a seeded kind of quality, a present kind of court okay, so what I'd like to do is invite everybody here on dh remembering that you can shift your posture if if you need to and we're going to sit now with that instruction of taking your seat and following the breath in and out for five minutes last one we just did was one to two minutes that felt like an eternity yeah, well five most people have no idea how long you turn to be actually is okay, well, it's not like a really long yeah, yeah, yeah, you know, and I think, well, I'm gonna want again you're are sort of vanguard kelly, so we're gonna keep asking you, but let's, try it on let's see how it goes and, uh, see what arises also because we're going to talk a little bit more about what happens during that eternity as we go on. So for right now, take your seat, everybody. Thank you. Good seed. Okay, good posture. I'm going to ring the bell and then we'll have five minutes go by where you're just simply placing your attention on your breath as as we did and bring you back when you wonder wait. So so, kelly, why don't we start with you five minutes a shorter than one minute? We don't really know what he turned nto. So, um, thymus subjective would be another conclusion to come too, right? Yeah, I guess the breathing gave me something to focus on instead of like during the one minute thing I realised I don't think I was breathing for that time frame and then when I started to breathe, it was I was a little bit so, um what? And I would like to invite all of you when we're talking to sort of stay with us, we're going to talk about a lot of different dimensions of this practice over the next week three days together it's quite a good amount of time actually to say very focused on what we're doing right now, you know and if I could invite the online audience also to talk about thie those five minutes of your life that just happened if you did practice with us, you don't kind of watch you experienced just from a very simple point of view so going a little further with kelly here so okay had something to focus on so that allowed you to kind of stabilized a little bit I think that's what we're talking about with stability, by the way there's an idea of settling in what else did you experience when also it's part of it analysis of my breathing I started counting eight in eight out kind of the yoga practice and just thinking oh, wait that's a comfort thing like when I walked in account step whatever weirdness ideo but um so I stopped counting when I just started breathing more right? Come back to the simple, simple instructing in general goodness of simple human being yeah, great. Okay, anybody else? I heard laughter in the cafeteria okay, I just, you know, hearing and hearing the camera overhead um uh kind of distractions about but I I don't feel like I was thinking about you know anything in particular so let's come up um not not not a ton. I mean, I try try just to kind of you able to stay with the breath of it and then you also had some sense perceptions you sense perception was it was big you noticed sound and you know, uh but the thinking mind was a little bit quiet or maybe a little quieter uh, like, because I'm thinking about what I need to do um, what I need to focus on, but I kept on focusing on the breath thing and I was actually doing the breath thing on the one minute one as well, but this one was harder obviously because it was longer for me and, um I just I kept on thinking about why do I have to focus on on breathing versus something that I could actually not feel like a wasting time? Okay, doing so and I know that it's important, but and then I thought about that question and and asking that question and then kept on repeating in my head and I kept on trying to focus on the real you so you're going back and forth in a way being just simply doing the exercise and then thinking, well, maybe this be more effective if I was really thinking about something that would be useful to me or if I was sitting like this right, my legs were like yeah, you started being creative so maybe we could go to our online people actually there's a comment from these folks here from these folks great meditating by the way um d c ty's designs and paula also they collectively said that they've been meditating they have had that closed I'm meditating experience and just the act of keeping the eyes open it's an interesting challenge um I have a question for you though, and I don't know if you cover this if you're meditating and you want to meditate for five minutes or two minutes, how do you keep the time? Yes ok great thes air kind of very earthy questions so it's perfectly okay if you're going to set a set and we'll talk a lot more about setting parameters for doing this kind of practice but it's probably okay to have a little watch or a clock buy you some people there's an app you can get that zen time or I think and you can set it for ten minutes and it is rings at the end of the ten minutes with a nice chimes sound um depending on your aesthetic uh for me if I was you know we just have my watch on the side interesting after you practice for a while what's interesting is you can start to tell the time without looking er by how much you need hurts how you know, I'm settled together, whatever, but so then you could just look occasionally at the watch, but that's fine, you know, but you don't want to have a watch there if you're gonna obsess on and just be looking at every two seconds, because then you're not doing the practice. So then if you have that kind of mind, you might want to get a timer for we have an interesting comment from k bay, and I think this is something I've experienced unnecessarily meditation, but when I'm trying to sort of concentrating required, perhaps if I'm going to sleep at night, but cape a saying, I think my mind is quiet until I realized in in a voice like an aerator is saying and now breathe in notice you're breathing in northern distractions on paula's child and said she experiences exactly the same thing so many of us might notice that in among paying attention to the breath and coming back to the breath there's a certain kind of activity, which is sometimes we'll talk about that more later, but, uh, active mind, you know, and a lot of times, the active mind is commenting. It would be like uh, cnn of your mind you know, it's sort of like you heard the news already so what is there to talk about? Well, now we're going to analyze the news, you know, and so that that commentator often not only that is not just commenting from a neutral voice but it's actually kind of like the judge saying I don't think you should be doing that there, dave, you know, you kind of got an attitude so that kind of commentator mind sometimes has a negative kind of attitude of like on this is really this is not good it's not going well for you you're not good at this, you know, you boy, the person next to it looks like they're really sitting calmly and everybody else is doing this, I can't do it on never in fact, I'm not good at anything really so theo kind of that that kind of mind, uh is going to be evaluating experience commenting on experience uh and so we're gonna talk about that in one more minute, I just want to get one or two more er what happened? Yeah. Willow yeah, I have, you know, the usual amusements of, you know, thinking about what happened and thinking about what I'm going to dio and behind all that there's always some tune uh, rhythm going on, I and that's. Probably the hardest thing for me, too. If it's going to distract me, it'll be music. Yeah, yeah. So basically, we're saying is the mind is still generating. And even though we've given a sort of simple, simple task to do it's sort of habitually doing other things, and some of those air quite harmless, like a tune going on, is usually pretty harmless, and others are, like, really, kind of, um, you know, negative in the tone, you know, and I think that's what most people say. Well, I want to calm down and not meditating. I'm seeing my mind is very jagged and edgy and kind of pushy and upset, kind of quality on.

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.