More than just mindfulness

Mastering Meditation Series - Week 5. Meditation and Focus

February 17, 2019 Season 2 Episode 5
More than just mindfulness
Mastering Meditation Series - Week 5. Meditation and Focus
Chapters
More than just mindfulness
Mastering Meditation Series - Week 5. Meditation and Focus
Feb 17, 2019 Season 2 Episode 5
Robert Mitchell
Guided meditations for, and guidance on meditation and focus
Show Notes Transcript

Focused Attention meditation is at the heart of every useful mediation practice.
Before we can positively affect our lives, we need to be present to do so. While our minds wander, they leave us incapable of addressing our real lives which are a collection of present moments.
To train this we need to practice noticing that our minds have wandered and train ourselves to be present.
Meditations
Robert guides four familiar practices from the perspective of focus on the present moment:

Speaker 1:
0:01
Okay, so welcome back everybody and welcome to the new commerce. So this is session five of a series on it running called mastering meditation. You master meditation when you do it. That's as simple as that. So we need to do is do it. Practices are designed so that if you do them, I change your awareness of your experience in a very useful way. I'll explain how that works today because that's a key part of focus. So it's a little bit like juggling. See if you want to learn to juggle, what you need to do is set yourself some time to juggle and you do your few minutes a day juggling. And whether you like it or not, you get better at it because what you're doing is you're training your subconscious to catch the balls and throw them in a particular way and you train yourself by doing it.:
Speaker 1:
0:54
So you're either doing your juggling or you're not. If you do, you're juggling, you get better at it. If you don't, you don't. Uh, it doesn't seem to drift away that much. Once you've programmed in, it stays that mindfulness does to an extent. Once it's programmed in it studies there. But the upon I noticed because I think about two or three years ago, I stopped meditating for three weeks over Christmas because I wanted to see what happened. And the thing that happened wasn't that the volume or the duration of thoughts was greater. What happened is my thoughts became grittier, more unhelpful, less comfortable. So that's the thing that regular meditation gives you once you've meditated for a while and to get to that point takes a number of years to be fair. But the way that I teach this now is in a frictionless way, so there's less need to be able to fit in your daily time.:
Speaker 1:
2:05
So a later session in this series is called too busy to meditate. And in that I explain the frictionless practices and the friction. There's training method now, the traditional way that meditation has been taught, it's not frictionless and there's a lot of good reasons for that. And let's be honest, that's the way I've been teaching it. But I've got wise to this. If you look at what meditation consists of and what I teach is mindfulness meditation, which is what most meditation teachers teach. And the purpose of mindfulness meditation is to train yourself to bring your attention back to your present moment experience. And by that what I mean is the sensory experience of now what you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste and the whatever thoughts there are in your mind provided you're aware of the thoughts as part of your present moment experience. Instead of being caught up in, in the kelp call up in your thoughts, we tend to drift away.:
Speaker 1:
3:15
It's called mind wandering. So that isn't mindfulness. Uh, a very well researched, well, a very well designed piece of research by a couple of Harvard psychologists has uncovered evidence that on average we spend in the modern world 47% of our day with our mind wandering. And so that, that's not mindfulness. Mindfulness is the, my, my definition of it is the undistracted awareness of the experience of the present moment. So thoughts part of the present moment and you're aware that your thoughts are arising, then you'll present, which means your mind, you're experiencing mindfulness and, and it's the same with emotions. So it's not having a mind that's calm and clear and still luck amount in pool, which is what I wanted when I first started to meditate. And then the consequences of that are that you set yourself for all sorts of that expectations and that those expectations actually get in the way of you achieving what you want, which is unfortunate, but that's the way it is. And so what I do now is I, I teach in a way that helps new meditators. So meditate in a expectation free way.:
Speaker 1:
4:48
Obviously the mind gets in the way of that. But this, that's what this series is all about. And the next series, the next series is called meditation and the modern mind, and I'll be starting it in March, if you want to train yourself to be present in the present moment and you then want to train yourself to be less distracted by the past, the future and your life situation so that you can experience the present moment as it is, which for most people for most of the time is a good experience. So the right, right now in this very moment in this room, there is no stress for example. So if you're stressed, you brought it in the door with you and you'll take it out again and you'll carry it around. And this is what happens in the modern world. The focus of mindfulness meditation is to bring us back to now and then the, the meditations work and there are various meditations that enable us to refocus our awareness on the sensory experience of now and the information that we're receiving from our present moment experience instead of the relentless drumbeat of the mind telling us will ever, the drama of the day happens to be.:
Speaker 1:
6:22
There's a two stage process there. One is focusing our attention on now and the other is focusing our attention within now. Very important distinction there. So the way the mindfulness meditations work effectively, their mind wandering exercises, and this is where seemingly every body meditation teachers and every student will will adopt this unhelpful concept that there's a tendency to want to silence the mind and there's a tendency to not want the experiences that arise in the present moment, especially if they're uncomfortable ones. It appears to be operating as a a kind of active avoidance. And it's actually the opposite. Is this part of the common narrative? And you'll read it in articles. If you read enough articles about meditation, somebody who knows nothing about it will spout off about how arts just sticking your head in sand and avoiding how you feel. And actually it's completely the opposite because if you're noticing the sensory experience of now and there's uncomfortable emotions, then you are noticing the uncomfortable emotions and you're not, you're not distracting yourself from them, which is what we do most of the time.:
Speaker 1:
7:55
So the process of mindfulness meditation is firstly to train yourself to bring your attention back here and then to help you to refocus within the present moment so that you're not locked into the stress of your life situation, your future, and the past. So as, uh, as that's two stage process there. Um, so what I'll do, I'll start off with a meditation that isn't a meditation for a lot of very good reasons and meditation that isn't a meditation, I call it meditation of no meditation. There's some of you already know and that's a very good reason for that. So the meditation that I teach the teach everybody, and I do, this is the meditation that we do in every session now, which isn't also isn't a meditation, which I call the meditation of no meditation, um, which is actually a listening exercise. And so the only instructions are to listen. Now you can either close your eyes or look down past the tip of your nose with your eyes half shut. That way you just don't get distracted by anything that's going on around you. And this is a, it's a white thing exercise really. It's more like waiting when doing anything else and what are we waiting for? We're waiting for the next sound,:
Speaker 1:
9:46
whatever that might happen to be. Conveniently in the park and in the mansion. There's a a lovely variety of sounds that we get the birds and you get a doggies out in the park and you get people chatting in the mansion and walking around and there's movements in the room. Traffic and the distance sometimes and sirens. And then there's airplanes. So I've quite quiet. We can notice oh sound, but in a special way. In a why while we are waiting for the next sound or ways.:
Speaker 2:
10:40
Okay.:
Speaker 1:
10:45
I notice that the next sound can come from anywhere. Be All around you. So what we're doing there is where scanning our environment for sound. I'm going to notice that one sound is followed by another sound was another style and another sound.:
Speaker 2:
12:22
Oh,:
Speaker 1:
12:38
went there in his last name. So there's no instructions. So yeah, we're not trying to calm the mind. Why not trying to relax. We're not trying to not think by not focusing on anything except:
Speaker 2:
12:54
or, uh,:
Speaker 1:
13:00
next sound, whatever it might happen to be. So there's no trying, this is just waiting. That's why eating white in for the next sound. All right. Sorry. I know very on time with turn your attention to the room. So that experience has got a couple of things in it immediately. Obvious.:
Speaker 1:
14:35
One is that for 95% of people, it's quite a frictionless experience. Although there is that 5%. Anybody find it difficult to do that? It's okay if you do. You do. And as busy mind. Yeah. It just, yeah. Um, so unfortunately I taught you the traditional way before I told you this way. And so what you've done probably is you're looking for a calm mind in your meditations. Yeah. And so you find your, you've adopted this as a meditation. Um, the most useful way of approaching that is to remind yourself that it isn't. So it's not a meditation and there's no goal, there's no expectation. You don't want anything from it. So this isn't one of these mindfulness meditations that trains you to bring your attention back from. Now. What it is is two things. It's a, it's an introduction to meditation. Oh cause it's largely frictionless and, and it's also a present moment experience. So there's a bit of mindfulness on a bit of meditation and it kind of overlaps in a lot ways. And not only is it frictionless, it's also incredibly flexible because you can do it pretty much anywhere on it any time. So if you do that now listen for the next sound, you can notice that you can do it while you're listening to me speak.:
Speaker 1:
16:18
So is there something you can do in your day whenever you brings, gets brought to mind to do it? I, one of the other things is that if there's an irritating noise,:
Speaker 2:
16:35
okay,:
Speaker 1:
16:36
the modern mind tends to get obsessive. Lee hooked onto the irritating noise and there could be other noises, but why? Why stuck on it? Like a records stuck in a groove and it helps to step out of that and do the meditation of no meditation and notice whatever other noises there all it takes down. The unsatisfactoriness of the experience of diminishes it as a, as an emotional experience, become funk becomes more comfortable. Okay, so that's the introductory practice. And you can do that largely wherever you are and whatever you're doing and whenever you want. Not only is it frictionless as a practice, it's also frictionless and that you don't need to allocate any time. These are the main reasons people come to meditation is they've got a very busy mind or that they've got very busy life or both. And often they go together. So having a busy life to create a busy mind,:
Speaker 1:
17:52
and what happens is that you've come along to learn meditation and when you're taught in the traditional why, you'll talk meditations or the actually bring to your attention even more than normally how busy your mind is. So they become unsatisfactory. And as well as that, if you've got a busy life and you get another thing to do, they've already got all these other things to do. You've got work, you've got chores at home, you've got an endless supply of tasks and priorities and things to do. And then you've got to do all these things for your wellness. You've got to do your yoga, you've got to do your run, you got to eat your five a day. It's endless, right? So ask, giving you another thing to do is not a helpful thing, but if it's something that you can do during the day, so you're walking along the road and you're listening, waiting for the next sound, then you don't use up any time. So it's not only a frictionless experience, it's also a friction. This training method, okay? So what I'm gonna do is do another meditation of no meditation. This is the meditation of no meditation for the breath. And it isn't actually about the breath,:
Speaker 1:
19:19
it's about movement. And the movement is the movement of the belly. Just a point where the belly meets the chest. And you know it's in the belly rising and falling. No, it's in valley rising, right? We're saying the valet for him. So if you're a busy minded meditator and this is in any way on satisfactory, how many, if you're a busy minded meditator, if you find it frictionless, you just carry on doing it. Now it's in the valley rising, noticing what value for them. Well, the busy minded meditators, what you do is add a mantra to it and the mantra, what you're doing is labeling or noting the movement of the belly. No team yet by using your inner voice to note it by saying in your mind, rising,:
Speaker 2:
20:44
fallen, rising, folding,:
Speaker 1:
21:02
but forever everybody other than the busy minded meditators, which is the 90 probably 90% of people, 85 90% of people. Oh you David. You notice the movement. No goals, no expectations. Here, we're not trying to do anything, so there's no way of doing it wrong. Another way of framing this is that you're waiting for the next breath. Wow. That is rising and the white and for the ballet to fall while the bellies full and you're waiting for it to rise, you focus on it. However's comfortable for you. F as the most comfortable. It could just be noticing the movement or you can be assigned in your mind, rising and falling. As you breathe in and out, we can be waiting for the next breath. Well, I was the most comfortable.:
Speaker 2:
23:56
Okay.:
Speaker 1:
23:59
Okay. One of the already annual Jen, even Tony Robbins, attention to your surroundings. I'll show you with sound what you're focusing on. So if you're listening to the bell, so the sound of the bell guy was on for something like 15 seconds, but when you listen to it, you're not listening to that 15 seconds. You're listening to a tiny little sliver of that 15 seconds. That's it's as if it's moving through the sound of the bell. All the sound of the Bally's moving through time. Notice the movement through time or the movement of time. I know it's what's in that tiny little sliver of sound. Just the sound. Nothing else. No bank balance, career choices, relationship difficulties, property values. Calm maintenance, difficult neighbors, stroppy colleagues. If it's height in boss, nothing. That's what we're looking for is that experience. At some point meditation becomes a refuge because you're able to find this, but that's only a temporary thing.:
Speaker 1:
26:29
That's why they get the idea that it's a way of zooming out and burying your head in the sand because when you find that present moment and there's none of the life situation or the past or the future in it, it becomes raw the and you keep replacing it. So it's one of the things that hooks paypal and some meditation. Once they get there, they get that moment. I think I like that and the, even the emotional brain likes it. Even the modern mind likes it because it's a relaxation from the relentless drumbeat of the experience of living in a crazy, crazy society and a busy world. It's like a tiny vacation and micro vacation. Once you found that and hopefully these practices help to introduce you to it, your emotional brain goes, yeah, I like that. I'll have some more of that please. And then you've got a positive motivation to do the practices. But you know, it's those two, the meditations of no meditation. They can be done wherever you are, whatever you're doing. So you can be watching the TV and notes in the belly moving. You're listening to somebody talk you your notes, senior bally, Mo, and it's not. It doesn't take your entire focused awareness, so you're able to multitask, multitasking, meditation.:
Speaker 1:
28:12
What we're going to do now is I'll introduce you to the experience of refocusing on the present moment. Everybody has a mind that produces spontaneous thought, so you don't know what the next thing you're going to think is. Nobody does. Don't know what the next thing it shocks me when I discovered that I was about 56 there. How can you live for all these decades in your life without actually recognizing that I don't know what the next thing I'm going to think and that we've got 8 billion people don't know that and it's a simple fact that people aren't aware of it and so we get unhelpful beliefs such as I am my thoughts. Yeah. When you're listening to this, one of the things that tends to happen is the mind becomes silent and to meditate when you're sitting, your first priority is to be comfortable, especially if you've got a bad back or something like that in Ovo needs to sit, especially on these not comfortable chairs in the world, in a sit in Hawaii that's reasonably comfortable and then once you're comfortable, the other important things, our feet flat on the floor, elbows by the side. Can I have a lean against the chair back or set up? If you set up, that's fine. If you lean back, that's fine. I lean back, no reason not to, or the elbows by the side. All right? Improves our posture. Balance is our posture out and you're looking for the point at which the skull is most comfortably balanced on top of the spine.:
Speaker 1:
30:31
The point of maximum comfort. Find that and that's where you leave your head balanced on top of your spine and ideally we're noticing the breath in the nostrils, but if you prefer, and maybe if find that in any way uncomfortable. Got It. Back to noticing the movement of the valley. What we're doing is noticing the breath rising and falling either in the nostrils or in the ballet. Well, wherever else, chest rising and falling. Shoulders, Eh, hitting the back of the throat as comfortable. No. And noticing the breath of what we do is count the breath. I don't want on the in breath to on the out breath. Three on the breath for on the outbreath up to 10 when you get so 10 start at one again, when you lose count again at one. So it's one on the, in breath to on the out breath. Three on the in breath on the out breath. Thoughts of 10 gets a 10 begin at one lose count. But you're not one. Let me just repeat that. The next few minutes begin and end the meditation with a bell. Traditional lie since called counting the breaths.:
Speaker 2:
32:19
Yeah, yeah,:
Speaker 1:
35:24
no his name. Whatever it is. You can smell and taste. Sensation of sitting there. Young time. All surroundings.:
Speaker 2:
35:48
Yeah.:
Speaker 1:
35:49
So what happens when we count the price? Is it we lose count because the mind wanders because we're counting. We noticed that the mind's wandered quite quickly. The meditation, am I going to do it? And a little while following the breath is possible for the mind to wander for a long time but has less possible when my account in the breath. So you noticed the mind's wandered and you come back and start counting at one again counting in the y you either lose count, don't know where you are and you got it back and start at one or your count and then you notice your counting 2124 you got that one again. What's happening there is is three things we're noticing in the breath, the mind wanders, we notice that the mind's wandered and that's the bit we're practicing.:
Speaker 1:
36:53
So that's like catching the ball in juggling and juggling Visalia or practicing catching the ball over and over again on the why you practice it is by doing it and put first when you stall is more like a picking the ball up off the floor session than it is catching the ball session and the way you train yourself to catch the ball is by doing it more and more. And what we're doing is training ourselves to know is that our mind has wandered. And then why we do that is by doing it more than more and more. But the modern mind and many meditation teachers and meditation students look at it as a competition to try to stay counting. So getting to 10 is good, not getting to 10 we'll get into 53 is bad. This is a false dichotomy where pre I n a good and bad experience. It's not either. What we actually want is for the mind to wander so that we notice because we're training ourselves to notice the amines wandered. So in a way the more the minds wanders, the more we notice and each time we notice the mind's wandered. That's like catching a ball. And if juggling is catching, training yourself to catch a ball, the more you catch a ball, the better send a lot of wise, the more times you lose count, the better.:
Speaker 1:
38:38
And I know, I know people who've been meditating for 40 years and it's said I only get a 10 90% of the time cause it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's not a competition, but the modern mind will make it a competition. And when it does remind yourself in the same way that you notice that your mind's wandered, notice that you're setting up a competition and that guy had a compensation and repeat the practice. Mind Wanders. Notice back to the next. Count that. So the breath, that's a one repeat over and over again. So the mindfulness meditation is a mind wandering experience. That's why we have neutral experiences like the breath. Nothing more neutral than the breath. Unless you've got a respiratory issue, you can't distinguish between good and bad breath. Press the good press or bad press. Ask yourself that question. No such thing. So it's very, very neutral. So we've set ourselves up with a neutral experience. What happens in newt for an experience is the mind wanders. So this is what, this is why I teach. Following the breath instead of mantras. That's where you're repeating words in your head. You can do that. So this is one of the options for those people. If, if anybody finds noticing the breath, uncomfortable mind wanders back to the breath. If it's uncomfortable. Doing the mantra is a good alternative. The other thing you can do is, um, uh, Mandela got this wonderful,:
Speaker 2:
40:31
yeah.:
Speaker 1:
40:32
Grecian style ceiling here. While I don't know if it's Grecian. Yeah. Wedgwood plateaus on it. Say that there's at least a hint of Grecian unicorns out there. They're flying horses and there's all the colors. So what you could do is you can focus your attention on a piece of detail, but the mine choose the detail. Don't be rigorous, you know, so it could be anything. It can be any of the details on the doors and the windows, the way the light shines. Offer something. Just allow yourself to note is that visual element. And your mind will wander and you bring your attention back to the visual element. Mind Wanders, I see exactly the same thing. Because remember what we're training is not what we're focusing on. We're training ourselves to notice that the mind's wandered by flowering. It's wander over and over again and noticing it over and over again. We've done three of these meditations now with different sorts of focus on these. I've introduced you to the tiny little sliver of time that is the present moment. Here it is. Again, I've introduced you to the experience of waiting for the next sound to a payer in the present moment,:
Speaker 1:
42:02
wherever it might happen. Are they the experience of noticing the movement:
Speaker 2:
42:09
in the belly?:
Speaker 1:
42:14
All right, Marsha present moment experience:
Speaker 1:
42:18
and we've done a count in the practice meditation where you're noticing your mind wandering over and over again, which brings me to the key mindfulness meditation. If you do this for say, 20 minutes a day, 15 2025 minutes and dice. So if he did, if I, yeah, if I could sprinkle magic meditation dust on everybody and you'll win Hawaiian Cantabria arrange your life so that when you wake up in the morning, you're doing your pissed off with 15 maybe hang out to 2025 and you do your 25 minutes of meditation every day, five years time, your life would have changed completely 10 years' time completely again. It's designed to do all of. And all of the experience of your life will come into that 15 2025 minutes will be greeted the same way as part of the experience of now. So this next meditation, this is the following, the breath meditation and it's got four lines in the script. Notice the breath ideally in the nostrils, but can be anywhere else that you notice the mind wanders, return to the breath. Repeat. So notice the breath. Mind Wanders, returns to the breath, repeat. Oh, following the breath. Let's practice this for the next few minutes.:
Speaker 2:
46:12
Yeah.:
Speaker 1:
46:16
Again, breathing in and noticing what you can smell and taste. Sensation of city,:
Speaker 3:
46:26
very young time, gently, patiently, passionately.:
Speaker 1:
46:34
It's turn your attention to your surroundings.:
Speaker 1:
46:42
That's the ideal of meditation and do. But what you notice, what's changed throughout those meditation's we've gone from a meditation that's almost universally frictionless. So meditation, many people find challenging because of the busy mind gets in the way and they find themselves mind wandering a lot and they set up their own internal competition to stay focused on the breath. And I think it's about focusing on the breath. They don't realize that it's about mind wandering and notes in your mind's wandering. It's moved up in terms of friction. What you need do is find the one that's frictionless practice though some people, so something like 15% of people find the last meditation frictionless, and I like to do that, in which case to that and count in the brass, 45% of people find that frictionless. I like to do that. So do that. And then there's noticing the movement of the belly.:
Speaker 1:
47:40
85% of people find that frictionless. So if you want, you can do that and 95% of people find waiting for the next sound. Frictionless do that. And it changes from one day to the other. So you might sit down, I'll load the friction, mine's busy hating it. You move down. The friction scale didn't move down the scale in terms of time as well. Don't say, right, I've got to do my 15 minutes of, I don't know my 15 minutes. Here's a meditation. You've, you've done it a few times today. This is a 15 second meditation. Okay.:
Speaker 2:
48:29
Yeah.:
Speaker 1:
48:35
Meditation and focus.:
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