More than just mindfulness

What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?

September 13, 2018 Season 1 Episode 3
More than just mindfulness
What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?
Chapters
More than just mindfulness
What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?
Sep 13, 2018 Season 1 Episode 3
Robert Mitchell
Introduction to using meditation to build your mindfulness in a frictionless and sustainable way
Show Notes Transcript
From a session taught at The Mansion in Beckenham Place Park. Mindfulness and Meditation is an introduction to both subjects and an explanation of how to use frictionless techniques to enable you to build a sustainable practice. Practices: - The meditations of no meditation. - Following the breath. - The Pyramid meditation. - Counting the breaths.
Speaker 1:
0:00
Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. So first of all, I need to define what mindfulness is. The mindful Macy's, the undistracted awareness of the experience of the present moment. It's like a little bubble that follows you around wherever you go. The right now as sensory present moment and consists of what we can see and hear and smell and whatever we can taste if we've just had something to drink or eat. There's all of the other senses of which there are many. And then there is also whatever thoughts were have and whatever emotions we have. So emotions being what they are, they tend to be tend to be a background emotion so you can be anxious. So if you're anxious right now, that's part of your present moment. So that's mindfulness. If you're aware of your thoughts, then you're, that's mindfulness as well. When it stops being mindfulness is when we're in this autopilot where the mind has taken over and where the priorities of the 21st century intervene between our experience and our awareness of it and the way that happens.
Speaker 1:
1:30
We're all overloaded and some of us are overwhelmed with tasks and priorities and things to do and worries, and we're rehearsing for things and going through things in our mind, processing them and so on and modern life. So complex that if you let it, it will fill your mind from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed and you do this and you find yourself on it's kind of hamster wheel. And that's one of the reasons that mindfulness has become so popular because it isn't that. So one of the great things about mindfulness isn't what it is. It's what it isn't. It isn't the repetitive persistent compulsive thoughts. So it came from the east as a concept. What's happened is in the west, they're there. There's a kind of Toboo has arisen about the nature of the mind. It's just not spoken about. It's not discussed there. The the psychology studies, people's behavior and how they respond. So to a psychologist they do or say things or they initiate some initiative to help someone in some way. Then in their mind, stuff happens and then that person behaves in a particular way as a result of it so that the psychology is to do with the inputs and the output neuroscience. He's having a crack at understanding what's going on, but it's a very fuzzy perspective, you know, knowing that a certain part of the brain activates when different things happen is useful, but it doesn't actually tell you very much. Yeah, and, and it's easier for it to become,
Speaker 2:
3:38
yeah,
Speaker 1:
3:39
incorrect. If you rely on that. It's al because this part of the brain is activating. It means something because we don't actually know enough about the brain to be able to rely on that and it's very, very easy to misinterpret it. So cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience work in that area, trying to map the thoughts and emotions and responses and behaviors and so on and so forth to how the brain operates. But we've got a long, long way to go. In the interim, it's probably best to say from the perspective of psychology, you do things, people behave in a particular way and your correlating that, you're noticing that if you say or do this or if they changed something about their life, then subsequently there is uh, an outcome. And so some of those things are useful, useful and some of them aren't particularly useful.
Speaker 1:
4:37
But in the east, this taboo doesn't exist in the east. People learn to become familiar and comfortable with their mind through meditation. That's what it does. That's the purpose of meditation is to become familiar with your mind. And that familiar with familiarity with the mind helps us to be comfortable with the mind because it can be a scary place because we don't understand it. So if you think about this on this very iPhone, I've got an APP, I've got an app called track your happiness, which was developed by a couple of Harvard scientists in about 2008 and it was distributed onto to about 3000 die phones. And um, it would, it would go off at certain times during the day. And it would ask you 10 minutes ago, what were you doing? Was your mind wandering and how happy are you now? And from that we learned that people's minds wander about 50% of their day.
Speaker 1:
5:51
It's 47% to be exact. So, so close to 50 years makes no odds. And you think, you think to yourself, my mind isn't wandering. But the actual reality is while your mind's wandering, you're not aware of it. By definition this, that's what mind wandering is. It's, it's your, wherever your mind's wandered too, you're in having a conversation with somebody, your listen to what they've got, the PSI, you're formulating what you're saying or doing and or going back over something in the past thing called rumination and this is how we spend our lives. But where was your mind wandering lesson at school? Where was the mind lesson at school? This is what the mind is. Yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't exist. So it has become a bit of a turbo and that's really not helpful. And one way it's not helpful is because we, we, it's very easy to have a competitive and confrontational relationship with your own mind.
Speaker 1:
7:01
Yeah. Things like procrastination and perfectionism and addiction and all of the, all of the places where what they call in the east, the monkey mind pushes back and it makes life difficult for you. All of those places, our society has got nothing to say about him except that there's something wrong with you. The answer, if you're an addict, there's something wrong with you. If you, if you're procrastinating, there's something wrong with you. Despite the fact that we know it's almost universal. You've only got to look and look at university students or university students procrastinate. Almost invariably tiny fraction of them don't. That tiny fractions got other problems. I'd prefer to be a procrastinator. So that's the kind of background of mindfulness. What we have to do today is come as close to experiencing it as we can. And I can teach you that with the practice.
Speaker 1:
8:04
And the practice is not a meditation, but it's something similar to a meditation. But the experience of mindfulness isn't more of an absence of things than it is actually an experience. And what it is is the absence of your mind being drawn away from the present moment. And that can happen through thoughts or emotions. So if your emotions are uncomfortable enough, they can become overwhelming. And then that just constantly pushes you back to wherever those emotions are created. Those emotions, they're like a goad. Yeah. Which, which is something that you use to force animals to go in a particular direction. You go with them, you push them. This is part of our internal experience. The purpose of emotion is to motivate you. It's to motivate you to do certain things based on your past experiences that have created those emotions. That's fine. And then, but then what happens is the, the, the 21st century soon fills all of that space up with things that you must do or should not do or whatever it happens to be.
Speaker 1:
9:12
So our culture and our society and our economies goading us because when you wake up in the morning, the things that you're filling your head come from our economy, our society and our culture and our relationships. But they operate within that space. All of our relationships live within this cultural space. Say, you know, we've got names for the relationships. You know, there's family, there's neighbors, there's colleagues, there's friends, there's acquaintances. And we will go reasonably similar expectations about those relationships. And that's actually Eilean to human beings because throughout all of our evolution, until just recently, human beings lived in nature and what we were effectively where we're a number of extended families of human beings extended probably been about 150 people. Something like that. Though. What happens is, is they're born and they live and die with exactly the same people. They watch other people die and they watch other people being born.
Speaker 1:
10:21
There's no secrets because there are no walls, they don't live separately. And so here we are for instance in London, living in another with another 8 million. And then we've also got all of the artificial lawyers that the 21st century ads, you know, the economic stuff and the expectations and the social staff and peer pressure. And then the media is feeding us with expectations, pre, pre packaged expectations. This is how you should think or feel or respond or beehive. And then that gets in the way of us noticing what it's like to be human. So today what we'll do is we'll start off with I practice, which isn't a meditation.
Speaker 1:
11:09
I say that sometimes and other times I say it as a meditation. So what I do is I call it the meditation of no meditation. And the meditation of no meditation is actually a listening exercise. And so if you're going to listen by the closure eyes or look down and fix your eyes on something that otherwise you'll be distracted because we're highly visual. So what happens is you, whatever you see, we'll get your focus and your attention and your thoughts and your emotions and then that pushes sound into the background. But what we want to be able to do is to notice sound.
Speaker 3:
11:55
So this listening exercise, which is the meditation of no meditation for sound, is an exercise and it's a little bit of an insight and I'll explain what the is and insight to afterwards. And the way to start is by casting your mind to the furthest sound whenever that might happen today. So here in the park he might be able to hear birds in the distance, you might be able to hear the traffic noise and from time to time there'll be an airplane. So that fits an airplane. It can be five miles away, traffic noise, half a mile, something like that. And then there are all of the other sounds between the edge of what is basically like a bubble. It's the bubble of all sound around us and it stretches as far as the further sound. And then within that bubble, there were all sorts of other sounds. So there are noises in the park, dogs barking, people calling out children, but and then in the building there were sounds that people walking around speaking doors opening and closing, and then there are sounds in this room as movements in the room. The sound of my voice echoes
Speaker 3:
13:50
and what the mind tends to do is to focus on a specific sound and then it will hunt for another sound on it. We'll focus on that, but what this is an exercise in is in noticing all sound, so it's a notice all sound. It helps for you to become aware that you're here. Sitting here at the center of the bubble of all sound on the old sound is around here and what we're doing is resting in the center of all sound and we notice all sound, so we're noticing it's a little bit like if we listen to an orchestra, some points an instrument will take over the theme and then we're focused on that instrument and then the entire orchestra takes over. The theme. I say it's the difference between listening to individual sales on all sounds is the same as listening to an individual instrument or listening to the entire orchestra. All of the sound,
Speaker 2:
15:22
the hubbub
Speaker 3:
15:24
all sounds near and far is the orchestra of the present moment.
Speaker 2:
15:38
Yeah,
Speaker 3:
15:40
and we know tess.
Speaker 2:
15:41
Okay.
Speaker 3:
15:42
That were at the center of it because if our hearings okay, then we'll notice the sounds that are behind us to the leftovers to the of above us. Nightmare fall, what that Dallas is that helps to locate us. So that's all we'll do for the next few minutes is to listen. What we're doing is listening to the hubbub of all sound. It's a while too. To add to the orchestral nature of all sound is every so often
Speaker 2:
17:03
I'll sound the bell. Yeah. [inaudible] [inaudible]
Speaker 3:
18:07
and so whenever you find your mind being drawn to an individual sale, it helps. If you come back to the awareness of being here at the center of the popple on then and now allow all sound into your experience.
Speaker 2:
18:58
Okay.
Speaker 3:
19:16
Sorry, I'm very on time. Return your attention to what's surrounding you may be noticing what you can smell and taste when wearing nature, if we're alone in nature somewhere.
Speaker 3:
20:01
That's what we listened to. This collection of all sounds all added together. I mean the ideal place, if you want to notice what it's like for a human being to just scan their surroundings because this is what's basically happened happening. If you're not focused on an individual element of your present moment, if you're aware of all sound and you're letting it into your experience effectively, you're scanning all of that sound and what you're scanning it for is, is is anything hostile. You're not aware of it, but that's what the brain's doing all the time or a threat. So it's looking for a threat or listening for a threat, but there's no, no need to be anxious about listening a threat. It's a, it's how animals are when your cats walking across the lawn. It's is a flicking from side to side sometimes and what it's doing is it's scanning its environment for threats, but it looks completely relaxed.
Speaker 3:
21:04
So that's neutral experience. If you want to experience that, just be alone in the woods when it's dark and you can't see very much. So what happens is hearing takes over and you become aware of everything that you can hear. You can hear the wind in the trees, movements in the canopy, little creatures scurrying around in the forest floor. It comes alive and that's what we're designed to do. And this experience is part of our natural environment experience that gets relegated to the needs of the 21st century by the busy mind. And so by doing this exercise, what you're doing is your actually let in a little bit of mindfulness presence into your experience. It's a really, really good way of connecting some present moment, but it's not a meditation. It is and it isn't. So I call it the meditation of no meditation for sound. And then we've got another meditation of no meditation. And this meditation of no meditation is just, we're noticing movement. The place we notice the movement is the belly. Yeah. Just at the top of the belly where it meets the rib cage. And you can either notice that movement, you might be able to feel it.
Speaker 2:
22:34
Okay.
Speaker 3:
22:35
Or if he can't feel it, you put your fingers there for a moment. You notice the movement, and this is the meditation of no meditation for the breath. So you're the only element of the price that you're noticing is that movement. No. Say it rising.
Speaker 2:
23:01
Okay.
Speaker 3:
23:01
Right. Is it falling? And that's how it went down. We are aware of the movement. Again, there's no other instructions, so you're not trying to get anything out of it. There was nothing to be had. You don't experience anything from it. It's not mental training, it's just a practice. It's called a meditation of no meditation for the breath. I don't know. What you're doing
Speaker 2:
23:46
is noticing the movement of the belly rising. Folding. Yeah.
Speaker 3:
25:02
So this again, we're not trying to do anything, so there's no instructions to focus on this. If the mind wanders, the mind wanders. If there's thoughts running in the background, the loop, that's fine. Whatever emotions there are, whatever happens internally or externally, it doesn't make any difference at all. Only thing we do is we're noticing this movement belly rising on the belly falling.
Speaker 2:
25:40
Yeah,
Speaker 3:
26:02
I so again, and they return your attention to your surroundings. Open your eyes. Why do the belly instead of the nostrils? Um, because it's easier. It's easier. Anybody finds on the satisfactory in this about noticing the breath, it will be more likely buy them, noticing the breath in the nostrils.
Speaker 1:
26:44
The other thing is you're not really, you're not really noticing the breath. What you're doing is noticing the movement. So it becomes minimized. So that's the, the meditations of no meditation. And then what we're going to do now is the following the breath meditation. This is the key mindfulness meditation. So if you want to learn mindfulness and what you're doing here is we're training ourselves to become aware that we're unaware. You know what I said earlier, which is that you don't notice your mind's wandering. You only notice when you look back through the day and you've discovered you had been on autopilot all day. What we want to be able to do is to train ourselves to notice that mind is wandering and we can't use the conscious mind because it's the conscious mind wandering.
Speaker 1:
27:46
It's the me, the I am that's having a conversation with someone. One of my students explained it really well a little while back. She said that when our mind wanders, it consumes, Huh? Is it takes you to that place or to those thoughts and everything else becomes tuned out. So for this meditation, this is the simplest meditation. It's a meditation. So what I'll do is I'll run through the posture a little bit. So to meditate, ideally you want to be sitting comfortably first. That's the priority. That's no point imposing discomfort on yourself unless it says a means to stay awake. If you choose to meditate at a time when you're really tired and you want to somehow stay awake, uh, then you might choose a little bit of discomfort that will stop you from drifting off. Other than that, comfort is more important. And then after that, if you place your elbows by your side, you find you're naturally get a straighter back. And you're looking for the point at which your skull is balanced most comfortably on top of your spine. So the comfort of how your skull feels on top of your spine is an indicator of how well balanced
Speaker 1:
29:18
on the side of the spine is as straight as is comfortable and it's balanced on top of the pelvis with the elbows by the side and the skull balanced on top of the spine. If you place your tongue gently up against the back of your top teeth, provided you don't have a cold, of course, and you will notice
Speaker 3:
29:43
your breathe naturally in and out of the nostrils. And that's ideally where we're noticing the breath. For this, you can close your eyes or if you prefer not to just look down past the tip of your nose and fix your eyes on something that you can see that's just so you don't get distracted by anything that's going on around you and allow yourself to become aware of the sensations in the nostrils. The breath. Let's, this is a very simple meditation. It's called following the breath consists of four lines in the script. Notice the breath, mind wanders, return the attention to the breath. Repeat. So that's it. My notes in the breath, the mind will wander. When you notice that the mind's wandered. It could be a distraction.
Speaker 2:
30:53
It could be
Speaker 3:
30:56
faults. Oh, your awareness has been drawn away so you're no longer aware of the breath. When that happens and you notice, gently return your attention to the breath. So it doesn't matter if the mind is busy or not. It doesn't matter if there's continuous train of thought. What we're doing is staying in contact with a breath because it is a reality check for the present moment while are aware of the breath. Then we now have where present this history man. It few minutes, I'll begin and end the meditation with a bell. It's called following the breath. Just noticing the sensation in the breath of coolness and the warmth.
Speaker 2:
32:45
Okay,
Speaker 3:
32:46
now you're saying the breath rising and falling.
Speaker 2:
32:50
Yeah,
Speaker 3:
32:51
the rhythm and cycle of the breath.
Speaker 2:
33:07
Okay,
Speaker 3:
33:11
so I'm not setting up a competition for the mind to be quiet or for us to stay focused on the breath cause that makes it counterproductive. What we're doing is we're spending some time doing this and while we're doing it, whenever we notice our mind's wandered, come back and notice the breath. Cool. We'll breath in. Long breath out.
Speaker 2:
34:50
Yeah. Okay.
Speaker 3:
35:18
It's not a competition.
Speaker 2:
35:20
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
35:22
The mind wandering is key part of the exercise.
Speaker 2:
35:30
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
35:32
Okay. Your mind is busy when you're doing this. It's not a bad meditation. It's what is expected to happen. Mind wanders a thousand times.
Speaker 2:
35:47
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
35:47
Well we do is gently patient and I compassionately return our attention to the breath for a thousand times. Hi.
Speaker 2:
36:16
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
36:18
So in your very own time,
Speaker 2:
36:23
whenever you're ready,
Speaker 3:
36:26
gently return your attention to the run. There's all sorts of different calmness. This combination of techniques provides a very specific sort of calmness. It's very interesting. Okay, so what have we done? We've done three things. We've done the meditation of no meditation for sound. So imagine you've got a pyramid and that's the base of the pyramid and then you've got the meditation of no meditation for breath. Will you just noticing the movement of the ballet?
Speaker 3:
37:03
That's the middle of the pyramid, not the top of the pyramid is the following, the breath meditation. Okay? So what you can do is a thing I call the pyramid meditation. What we do is we start off by noticing the breath, noticing the breath rising and falling, and that's the following. The breath meditation, and this is difficult. It's officially difficult. Everybody says it's difficult. What happens is the mind sets up on unhelpful competition to try to make it silent. It becomes an unsatisfactory experience when the mind wanders a lot. So subsequently it becomes gritty. Okay? What you've noticed is a growth in grittiness of experience. We've gone from the meditation and no meditation for sound, which is universally, it appears frictionless experience. If I did a little bit more friction with the movement of the belly, the meditation of no meditation for the breath, and then we're back to a friction before meditation where the following the breath meditation because of all the expectations that the mind brings to it. So what we do is we meditate anywhere in that space that we want. Start off by noticing the breath and doing the following. The breath meditation, but any time you can move to any of the other practices so you can move from doing following the breath. You can move to the meditation of no meditation for the breath or you can move to the meditation of no meditation for sound.
Speaker 2:
38:50
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
38:50
Try and Katelyn separate, see how it goes and then you can come back and do the following the breath so you can move from one to the other. Totally at well following the breath. Meditation of no meditation for breath. Meditation of no meditation for sound can move in and out of them completely. I will. Okay, so if you could just get yourselves comfortable. Start off with following your breath. You can leave whenever you want to anyway. You can stay in one can move from one to the other.
Speaker 2:
39:39
Yeah,
Speaker 3:
39:40
in any direction at any time. Remembering that to learn mindfulness in your day, following the breath is how it happens, not through the other two.
Speaker 2:
40:12
Okay. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah.
Speaker 3:
42:50
Okay. What we're going to save now, he's got a straight into another meditation, which is the counting the breath meditation. Thank you. Hold on. This, but if you can't remember it, all you're doing is noticing the breath, noticing the breath rising,
Speaker 3:
43:10
seeing the private folder. Then what we do is we count one on the inbreath till when the outbreath three on the in breath for on the out breath using the inner voice. So accounting and our minds till we get to 10 when we get to 10 start at one. When we lose count start one. So that was one on the, in breath to on the out rack, three on the breath forum. The outbreath up to 10 gets a 10 start at one lose count, start at one. Practice this for the next couple of minutes. It's called counting the breath.
Speaker 2:
44:30
Yeah. [inaudible] yeah.
Speaker 3:
46:18
Can I send out, just let your mind go free. Let it go wherever it wants. Any thoughts arise tight you wherever it wants to go. Notice whatever it wants to notice. So you and then at the center of your experience and what might be noticing sounds, sensations, thoughts or images in the mind might be looking around you, what you can smell, what you can taste, any emotions or anything like that. Just letting the mind go wherever it wants.
Speaker 1:
47:45
And then whenever you're ready,
Speaker 2:
47:49
what you can smell and taste, sensation of sitting
Speaker 1:
47:56
gently return yourself to awareness of your surroundings, your eyes. That's a little journey through some really useful meditations and non meditation. The key to this, but a few keys, hair. One is the meditation of no meditation for sound, which is isn't. Why isn't it isn't a meditation, so it's probably better off not trying to qualify it, but it's definitely a human experience and it's a definitely an element, very good element of the human experience of mindfulness presence, the awareness of being here right now and notice when you do it, what the sounds help you to locate yourself. If you're not aware of that, you just need to close your eyes
Speaker 1:
48:50
and listen to where the sounds are coming from. A notice that if you did couldn't, weren't able to open your eyes, you'd still be able to navigate yourself around your environment because of the sounds that are around you. So there's an a big element of presence mindfulness in that. And because we're allowing the sound into our awareness, it doesn't get trampled on by the stuff we've got to do. And think about in places we have to go. It isn't so much a thing. It's the absence of a thing. We're noticing that we can become aware of our environment and still have spice. And then as a similar experience to the meditation of no meditation for the breath. And then we get to the gritty unsatisfactoriness of the following, the breath meditation, which is what people refer to as difficult. But the reason it becomes difficult is because of the way that the, the mind nominates it as something that must be done and it gives you something.
Speaker 1:
49:58
So whatever it is you expect to get out of meditation, you attach to the following, the breath meditation and the mind supplies all on its own. This idea that you got to stay in contact with the breath and therefore once you become a guru, you're just noticing the breath and there's no thoughts and that there would be some great benefit to that anyway. And none of that's the case. But the mind unfortunately does that. And then what it'll do is it'll compare one meditation session with another depending on how busy your mind was and she to have a good meditation than a bad meditation. Notice the mind does all of this all on its own and what it's doing is it applying the same set of rules that it does to the rest of life, work, career study, diet, exercise, all of these things. They all become willpower based, goal oriented activities and so the mind applies the willpower based goal oriented element to it.
Speaker 1:
50:58
So it has an element of unsatisfactoriness. So then what happens is if we do the pyramid meditation where we're starting off by following the breath and we can move to either of the other practices, meditations of no meditation takes a lot of the pressure off of following the breath. So that becomes a less friction, full experience and becomes more frictionless if you finding it difficult doing following the breath, do the pyramid meditation on a busy mind, irritated, stressed and worried die. What will happen is you'll spend a lot of time doing the meditation of no meditation instead, and that's got subtle benefits to it that I'm not going to go into. And then there's the counting the breath meditation, which is the meditation that beginners find calms their mind more than any other meditation. 50 50 50% of people find that it calms the mind.
Speaker 1:
52:04
The other 50 find that it's irritatingly noticeable that the mind is busy. I added that on the end because that's a little bit grittier than following the breath for some people and you're able to notice how having done these initial practices, the meditation and no meditation, how that changes as well. So the whole thing becomes a relatively frictionless activity. Doing this and as a result of that mind actually becomes Karma. It's you notice it's not willpower, it's making your mind calm. It's the opposite. It's taking away the friction, taking away the expectations, taking away the goals, taking away the wants, the needs, the musts, the shoots, the shouldn't, all of this. And then it becomes a friction. This activity. That's the homework is to try the pyramid meditation out and feed it back to me. And the other things to do is to, whenever you are around in your day, you could be in a cafe, you could be on a bus, you could be walking along the road, he could be chatting to someone, notice all sound. So you can do that. You can be listening to somebody and you're also aware of all sound.
Speaker 3:
53:27
And what I saying is part of all sound, and you're not ignoring what they're saying. If anything, it's more clear and obvious, but you're aware of all sound as a way of plugging into the present moment. Okay? So that's it for today. That's a meditation and mindfulness.