More than just mindfulness

Mindfulness Meditation for The Modern Mind

April 03, 2019 Season 2 Episode 29
More than just mindfulness
Mindfulness Meditation for The Modern Mind
Chapters
More than just mindfulness
Mindfulness Meditation for The Modern Mind
Apr 03, 2019 Season 2 Episode 29
Robert Mitchell
An introduction to the modern mind through meditation
Show Notes Transcript

The Modern Mind is a collection of lists. A list of lists. Each list consists of tasks, priorities, values, desires, jobs, people, memories and so-on. The lists continually revolve in our minds leading to the overload that is all part of the modern life.
Imagine what life would be like without this constantly overflowing stream of wants, needs, fears, worries, doubts and other emotionally charged thoughts.
Mindfulness is the undistracted awareness of the experience of the present moment. The present moment is the sensory experience of now. The sensory experience of now is overwhelmingly good for most people, for most of the time.
In the Mindfulness Meditation for the Modern Mind series, Robert will clarify how we can learn to calm and diminish this constant flow of internal messages to the point where they are proportional to the that experiences they represent. We can find balance and harmony, perspective and clarity from meditation.
In this session, Robert teaches how can become aware of the deep inner experience of thoughts arising in the mind and begin to rebalance the scales of the mind.
Meditations include the Modern Mind meditation.

Speaker 1:
0:00
The modern mind, what I've been doing for, I suppose the last five years I've been teaching people to meditate with varying levels of success. The reason is the method of training people to meditate the traditional way doesn't really align very well with the modern mind and the modern life and the modern world. And what happens is it becomes just, just another thing to do. People find it difficult. So this is like the traditional, you just sit down and you grind out your 15 minutes of meditation and if you don't, you feel bad. It doesn't work for the vast majority of people. So whenever I teach in an organization, I get a show of hands and, and so I was teaching in a law firm last week, show of hands, who's tried to meditate? Half the people in there, I've tried to meditate who's got a regular meditation practice and the numbers are always around about 50 60% have tried to meditate and about 5% have got a regular practice.
Speaker 1:
1:08
So over the course of the last few years, I've been investigating various different ways of helping people to learn to adopt a practice. There's two things that matter. One is that they start off with the right practices and then to start off with a a why of learning that works, you know? So there's, there's two things. So there's the training methodology, not just me teaching you, but meet teaching you to train yourself into this new habit. Because that's basically what it consists of. And habit formation is the most difficult thing in the world. The evidence of that is, for example, people need to make lifestyle changes to stay alive and they don't do it. But say you, you've got a clinical program of some sort or another, even if it's something as simple as taking drugs on average, if you tell people, you know, you take these medications at this time and so on, a third of them won't do it at all.
Speaker 1:
2:18
A third of them will not follow the instructions. And the other third will do that. There's a new science of habit formation, which helps us to be able to adopt new habits. There's a few good books, there's a lot of really useful research, but it's still, it's, it's finding it difficult to get in because of all of the old junky old dogma that's floating around. And if you've got five people and you're talking about habits, they'll all have their side. Oh, you need to do something for 60 days for it to become a habit. Or you need to do something for 90 days or a week or something that the actual numbers are something like 20 or 30 days to 250 depending on, and that's the spread of, and that's, if you do it, if you don't do it, then that's not gonna work. So what I do now is I teach practices that are incredibly easily accessible and the methodology that I apply is one that we know works. Process of incremental change, where the things that you do are so ridiculously small, it seems laughable. Let's say you've got a messy bedroom, [inaudible] bedroom, get messy. And if you don't ever met Betsy man messy bedroom, you know someone who does. Right? And what, what do messy bedroom types like me do? What happens is we let it become, it looks like it. You would just been burgled.
Speaker 1:
4:01
And then you'd come in one day and you think, oh no, it's a complete mess. I'm gonna have to sort it all out. So you saw it all out and it's looking immaculate and you get this, Aha, this is nice. It should be like this all the time. And then it gets messy again. And you can see this if you work on people's desks, you can see this right the way across life. So let's say you want to say, okay, what I want to do is I want a morning routine that stops me from making the bedroom messy.
Speaker 1:
4:29
The way to do it is to pick one absurdly simple thing that you know you can do that is so ridiculously easy. It's beyond belief. For example, take your cup from the previous night through. Okay, that's it. That's all you do. Sometimes you do it, sometimes you won't. But over time you're, you're taking your cup. Then what you do is you take your cup and you tidy up the bedside table, two things, and then you take your cup, you tidy up the bedside table, you look on the chest of drawers to see if you've left anything there. And then take the tidy that up and you put a bit of waste away and you're hang your clothes and bit by bit by bit by bit. And then two things happen. One is the bedroom gets tidy and the other is you have this practice, you've got this habit and you've got there one step at a time and a step that is so ridiculously simple and easy that nothing's ever going to get in the way of it.
Speaker 1:
5:44
Now, for a long time, meditation teachers have said things like, well, the, the ones that know what they're talking about. Yeah. Some meditation teachers have said things like it's meditation is a single breath can, you can meditate with a single breath. And so for a newcomer you come along and you think, well no, because I've got these goals, right? And My, I've got a goal from meditation, so everybody's here for a reason. You want something in your life that you don't have or if you meditate regularly, you want to keep that thing that you've got and that's your goal and it's like how do I get there as quickly as possible and it's probably better to say, how do I build a sustainable habit that gives me what I want rather than how do I get to where I want to be. When I very first started learning to meditate in 1988 I wanted my mind to be calm and still like a mountain pool and I wanted it now because it didn't happen.
Speaker 1:
6:48
Now, I never built a sustainable meditation practice. It would be a reactive thing if I couldn't get to sleep. There's one meditation I do and if it was a nice sunny day and I was on my own and sitting on the grass, there was another meditation I do. So that wasn't a regular practice. The thing that gets in the way of the regular practice is the thing that causes us to need to have the regular practice in the first place and what that is is the modern mind. Okay, so what is the modern mind? What we're in? What is the mind thoughts and emotions. That's what the mind is. Thoughts and emotions and an awareness and intuition and choice. That's about it really. That's the mind. Very, very simple thing, but what is it about the modern mind that makes us want to come and meditate? It isn't.
Speaker 1:
7:46
The system that's operating there is nothing, is nothing broken in the system. Even if you are like deeply depressed or anxious, you're running the right hardware. It's just that the software is broken and the software is the modern mind and what the modern mind is. It isn't about how the mind operates, it's what's in it. It's the content of the modern mind. The easiest way to look at the modern mind is it's a collection of lists. Yeah, it's a list of lists and it's quite a long list of long lists, but I thought I'd write down some of the lists so there's bad things that have happened, bad things that are happening, bad things that might happen, things to remember, problems to solve, things that are right, things that are wrong, things that are good things or bad things that are fair. Things that are unfair, things to do, places to go.
Speaker 1:
8:39
People will see people to avoid experiences, to have things, to have, things to learn, things you want, things you want to avoid and so on and so on. And so, okay, that's the software that's running in all of our heads and it doesn't matter how useful or not useful it is. What do you notice from it? It's almost infinite. It is infinite, but say you're a worrier, but everything in your life is absolutely perfect. You've got the perfect family, perfect pop partner, perfect kids. You live in a perfect straight with perfect neighbors. You've got a perfect, everything's perfect, but you're a worrier. You got to find plenty to worry about. We've got to do is turn the TV on, look at the Internet, listen to a radio. There's a whole universe of Egypt's worry about that instead. The nature of the modern mind is it's actually trying to cope with an infinity of tasks, priorities, concepts, beliefs means labels. You've got this big jug of water and a small glass and you're constantly pouring the big job into the small glass. Well, what it means is the glass is permanently full. That's the nature of the modern mind. So it doesn't matter what the content is, it's the volume. That's the problem. Now the thing is how do you switch off the volume? How do you
Speaker 1:
10:23
reduce it? This is the process of being able to divert the endless stream of information and the infinite loop of the is trying to make sense of it. Churn, churn, churn. They might sense of this like this. Should I say they should do, they should have go to their shit. They have this just to make this experience that the uncomfortable, this, I'm not comfortable with that. The good, bad, fair, unfair, right, wrong, useful, not useful and so on. And so on. And as it goes on forever and all that needs to happen is we need to be able to diver at and, and to find a clear, present moment and experience. So if this room is the mind, I am the awareness. If I'm here on my own, I'm the awareness of my experience, inner and outer experience. I can look out over the park as my ass for experience on, I can look into the room and here's my inner experience, my inner experiences, thoughts and emotions. Purpose of meditation is to become comfortable with the mind, comfortable with the thoughts and emotions. Because if you've got a constant stream of people coming into the room, you're either comfortable with that experience or you're not.
Speaker 2:
11:39
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
11:39
On the more comfortable you get with it. When you get an obnoxious person come into the room, easier life gets. That's the same with the mind with thoughts. It's about finding a way to familiar and comfortable with the mind. And then the also in the same sign, why what we're doing is calming it down. Just calming it down, Kiddo. So this, begin this with the meditation of no meditation, which isn't actually a meditation. It's a listening exercise. And when you want to start a new practice, this is what you do. This is how to start a new pro practice and all it consists of, you don't have to close your eyes, but it helps because it's listening and what we're listening for is the next sound, whatever the next sound might happen today, what we're not dwelling on a particular sound. So if there's a sound in a particular direction, you'll find the modern mind just focuses on that sound to the exclusion of everything else. The ancient mind, however, is capable of taking in information from,
Speaker 2:
13:18
okay,
Speaker 1:
13:19
everything that we hear and what it wants to do is to be aware of any new sound. And the reason for that is because it's a survival trait because let's say we're walking through the jungle and we're just listening to the sound of a particular bird. We don't hear the movement of the creature coming towards us from the other direction. So the ancient mind can allow itself to be by used in sound. The sounds arise and the sound subside and there's a constant flow of sound.
Speaker 2:
14:21
Okay.
Speaker 1:
14:22
And there's no goal, so you can't get this wrong. You don't get anything out of it. It doesn't change your brain other than making this experience a little bit more accessible because you cover around today and there's no expectations just listening to the next sound. So if the, if the present moments about three seconds long, this is the very beginning of it. It's the leading edge of the present moment. And once you've done this for a while, you can notice sound moving through time. But to make a bit easier for you, our sound this bell and you can notice the sound of the bell moving through time.
Speaker 2:
15:49
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
16:12
And that was slightly different exercise. I'll still sound the bell, but allow the bell to be in the background of your awareness.
Speaker 2:
16:25
Okay.
Speaker 1:
16:25
And for your focus of what you're listening to, to be, to listen to the hubbub of sound all around you. Voices in the park, movements in the building, movements in the room. Sound the Buds, children, dogs barking at appliance traffic.
Speaker 2:
16:48
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
16:49
And I'll sound the bell and the bell will be in the background helping you to notice.
Speaker 2:
16:56
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
16:57
The movement of time.
Speaker 2:
17:01
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
17:02
Through listening to the next sound, listening for the next sound, whatever it might happen to be and wherever it might happen to be. So that's tiny little slice of awareness moving through time, what time? This tiny little of time moving through our awareness don't really know which is which.
Speaker 2:
18:02
Wow.
Speaker 1:
18:04
And of course as well as the sound, there's also my voice and my voice consists of words and now don't listen to my voice. Instead listen to the sounds, whatever the next sound is, wherever it's coming from, it's you're able to process what I'm saying in the background without concentrating on it. Buying, allowing yourself to notice, well, ever the next sound might be noticing it flowing through time, the hubbub of sound. And so then all that happens is that my voice, my words
Speaker 2:
19:37
just
Speaker 1:
19:48
sound. And then of course you're also aware of your thoughts arising.
Speaker 2:
20:03
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
20:05
In the same way there's a hubbub of sound and my words parts of that. There's also the hub up in your mind. Thoughts arising. Juliana dialogue chattering away.
Speaker 2:
20:43
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
20:54
I notice thoughts moving through time thought arises, thought subsides, sound arises, sounds subsides, replaced by another one. Thoughts replaced by another one. Word replaced by an Alpha her. Now I'm noticing the thoughts. What we do is whenever a thought arises, we label it in Ammo and to use in the world.
Speaker 2:
21:33
It's fine.
Speaker 1:
21:35
Sitting quietly and I'm noticing my thoughts. I'm waiting for the next thought or eyes. When a thought arises I say in my mind thinking and then I'll come back and I'll wait for the next thought. Why 10 for a full thought arises in my mind thinking white for the next thought. And you know, you might still be aware of sound. I'm still aware of time passing. We're just labeling each thought with the word thinking in our head and I'm waiting for the next thought. So we're listening for the next thought.
Speaker 2:
23:20
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
23:26
Okay, so now what we're going to do is label thought in a slightly different way.
Speaker 1:
23:32
Oh, thoughts fall into one of four categories. It's fleeting. So the thought just pops up, goes away, repeating. It's might be a quick thought, like a memory, a reminder to do something and it will keep repeating in your head, oh, I've got to do the gospel. And then you go in while the thoughts and it pops up like, oh, I've got to do the gas bill. So that's a repeating thought. Fleeting, repeating other thoughts. Stay in the mind conversation you might've had, should have said this should have said that. This is right, this is wrong, this is good, this is bad. You know, this should have happened. Wonder what they thought when they said this. I wonder under this person thought when they said that so and so. And so that's persisting, hanging around, fleeting, repeating, persisting. And then there are compelling thoughts, usually something that is unhelpful for our happiness or uncomfortable. And the mind goes there and it's just get stuck in this loop of compelling thought, fleeting, repeating, persisting, compelling what you do now. So you're waiting for a thought when a thought arises. Label it fleeting. Repeating, persisting or compelling.
Speaker 2:
25:25
Okay.
Speaker 1:
25:26
And they might for the next door.
Speaker 2:
25:39
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
25:41
Fleeting. Repeating. Persisting. Compelling.
Speaker 2:
25:50
Yeah. [inaudible]
Speaker 1:
27:08
[inaudible] assistant or compelling breathing in noticing whatever it is you can smell and taste on the sensation of setting might be wiggling your fingers and toes and in your ferry ferry on time,
Speaker 1:
27:59
gently return your attention to the room. Okay. So what was going on there then? That's an interesting experience. So if the feedback I've had from other people is, it's quite similar to what I experienced, who felt like they would last the end of it, that they were drifting into a kind of semi dreamy, sleepy state. Anybody. Yeah, yeah. That's quite consistent thing then they really find it uncomfortable. The last, don't worry if you did, you can also tell me afterwards if he found out. Okay, good. So here we are in the room of the mind.
Speaker 2:
28:39
Hmm.
Speaker 1:
28:41
And there are thoughts coming in and out of the room.
Speaker 2:
28:49
Okay.
Speaker 1:
28:52
And they're coming out of a crowd of people that are outside the room.
Speaker 2:
28:57
Right.
Speaker 1:
29:00
The crowd's always there. Every time somebody comes in and opens the door, you get to see out and you get to see the crowd, but you can't hear what they're saying.
Speaker 2:
29:11
There's a hub bub. Yeah.
Speaker 1:
29:15
Every so often somebody comes into the room, they might say something my own light, not they go back out.
Speaker 2:
29:21
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
29:22
That's what you're seeing there. Your awareness is aware of the thought that arises and because what they said, this is a thing called metacognition. It's quite enjoyable. That all dreamy bit isn't it?
Speaker 2:
29:42
That's
Speaker 1:
29:42
closest to a thing called a hypnagogic state than anything else. So the hypnogogic state is you're completely knackered, you've just eaten a big lunch and you're somewhere and you've got a nice comfortable chair and you go, wow, dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. And it's the waking you up in the dream. It's, you're still you. You haven't become the dream you, it was the dream. You who doesn't know that it's in this dream, but the waking you does, and this is, this isn't about lucid dreaming, this is what almost everybody would actually is what pretty much everybody experiences at some point or not.
Speaker 1:
30:26
So what you're then aware of is, I'm not mad about the concept of the subconscious mind, but we can call it that if you want. Yeah. And the reason for that is actually all the mind is subconscious as only an awareness that's aware of the subconscious mind. It's as simple as that and you're seeing it there. And then what happens is every so often as a thought separates itself from the hubbub of thought and the streams of thought and imagination and stories that are constantly washing up on the shores of the subconscious mind, waiting for some of them to be drawn out so that they become separate and get your attention. To my mind, from my personal experience and from what I speak to other people, that's basically what happens. So for number of years now, I've been able to silence my inner voice and any thought by focusing on where thought comes from, you know, you're looking, you look, you're looking for the, the your awareness and you're looking for thought itself.
Speaker 1:
31:38
And that's what we're doing. In that process. You're, you're waiting for the next thought. So in the same way that when you're listening, you're listening for the next sound, you're at the edge, the big, early beginning edge of the present moment and staying there. When you're looking at thoughts because you want to categorize it, you're waiting for it and then you know is how the answer to what sort of thought is just pop straight into your mind. Yet another thing up, it arises from the subconscious. There's, there's that, my categorize that thought in this way, categorize that fall in that way and the the, it's not really a barrier but the difference between the conscious thoughts that walk in and the crowd out in, out in the other side of the door diminishes. And so you're getting an insight into your process of your, the ancient mind and you're doing that all the time, constantly out in the morning this, this process is running in your head. It looks for something that doesn't make sense, tries to make sense of it, and it's looking for a label to attached to it. That brings some sense of certainty about what it is, what sort of experience is, what sort of thing is. If it's a new thing, once a label, what we were doing, their labeling. Notice how once you've labeled the thoughts like, Oh why?
Speaker 1:
33:22
Yeah, because the the, the consciousness, the ancient mind, it's done what? It's designed to things or isn't in its experience. It's decided what it is and it doesn't, doesn't need it any longer. And that's why the labeling, the unhelpful thought patterns, which I teach from south at the time worked so well because it's giving you a resolution to the thought process and then so the, it becomes quieter in the mind becomes Karma. So it's counter intuitive meditation. Notice the more closely we look, her thought the calm of the mind becomes. But the more we avoid it, the more turmoil areas
Speaker 2:
34:16
it's
Speaker 1:
34:17
doesn't operate externally. That's fine. A willpower based goal oriented practice to, to build your meditation practice doesn't help. It just doesn't help. It's far easier to find an intuitive one that enables you to do the practice wherever you are, whatever you're doing. That's why the listening meditation, the meditation of no meditation works so well. Keep calling it the meditation of no meditation because there's parts of your brain you want to keep him confused. You don't want them to connect to something and get an expectation that isn't there, which is why I couldn't learn to meditate when I want it to calm my mind.
Speaker 1:
35:03
You count, you can't. Well you probably could, but it wouldn't be a comfortable experience in a tight ages to calm your mind. Just by bludgeoning it with repetitive internal processes like noisy Manford is not helpful. You actually want to become familiar and comfortable with the mind and the closer you get to it, the source of thought. Notice how comfortable that experience was for all, most all of us. And if it wasn't is because not there's anything wrong with you. If you're having a rubbish day, week, year, whatever it happens to be, then your thoughts are uncomfortable and nail arise in your own experiencing it won't be too brilliant. So what you do is you wait for a time when you feel better and to find a time when you feel better. If you find that difficult, get out into nature. Go and sit in the park, sit in a park bench,
Speaker 1:
36:02
read a book, put it down, and allow your thoughts into your mind on a sunny day and you'll find that it your capacity to experience them comfortably grubs. And that's, that's it in a nutshell. That's the mindfulness meditation. And then this is slightly deeper. This is closer to the design of meditation, which is to understand clarity. Okay? So what we're gonna do now is to go back into the meditations of no meditation. Let them find their way into your day and choose a ridiculously short and easy [inaudible] to bring them into your day. Fix that shed you'll to some thing that happens. For instance, let's say you're in the bathroom where you're just about to walk out the door and you want to put something in place, a physical object that's not normally there could be a pebble, could be a post it note, stick it on the door, stick it on your bathroom mirror, your bedside lamp, the steering wheel of your car. Then you do the meditation of no meditation for sound when you're listening for the next sound ever. That might happen to be, start with just the sounds. I didn't do it for two minutes
Speaker 1:
37:54
and if you forget or you, you're on autopilot and you don't notice your pebble or your post it note or your sticker or your little signs saying, wake up, you can move them all and then that will break into your autopilot. But if you don't, then when you remember that you haven't done it.
Speaker 2:
38:15
Yeah.
Speaker 1:
38:15
Then you do your two minutes of meditation of no meditation for sound. So cool. When noticing is the hop, hop and notice it's all around us and if you're doing this at home you can do another practice or if you're sitting somewhere where you don't need to be focused on anything external, what you can do is move your attention to a tiny little movement
Speaker 2:
40:13
in the valley
Speaker 1:
40:22
and your notes in the belly rising and falling just at the point where the belly meets the chest and if your mind's very busy, what you can do is you can repeat in your mind as you're breathing in. You say rising as you breathing out. You say folding.
Speaker 2:
41:00
Yeah,
Speaker 1:
41:01
rising. Folding. Just noticing what movement. So there's no goals, no expectations. It doesn't matter if the mind's busy in the minds wanders, you'd get distracted. None of that matters. Just noticing that and movement. Belly rising,
Speaker 2:
41:50
belly falling.
Speaker 1:
42:43
I don't know. Seeing the movement of time, the flow of time, which is the flower, the present moment and time moves internally. Generally speaking the same way as it moves next time, like while we're aware
Speaker 2:
43:11
of
Speaker 1:
43:14
something happening, aware of our party, something like that. We kind of lose track of time when we're meditating. We're noticing that something happened in the body or noticing thought, witnessing thought arise still as a flower time. All righty. And your ferry on time.
Speaker 2:
44:13
Okay.
Speaker 1:
44:16
It's better, isn't it? Notice what's happening. Clarity.