Meditation Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign Selfies

If you ever get the chance to get near the Hollywood sign, near a place called Hollywood Lake Park, which for all intents and purposes is a dog park, you will see an amazing number of people taking selfies. They are from all over the world. They are using DSLRs and GoPros (connected to selfie sticks) and smartphones… There must be hundreds of these photos of people hamming it up with the Hollywood sign as the back drop. Below the dogs run around chasing one another.

Which reminds me (I really did think of it just now). I have not sat to meditate yet today.

Another Mindfulness Blog

Like we really need one? At this blog, here, more personal reflections — almost a journal.

At the other one — media related? — for lack of a better term. In any case it includes more resources, articles and such. It’s impersonal, but not in a bad way.

It’s called LA Eastsider Mindful.

Recent post topics:

  • Kabat Zinn and the explosion of mindfulness in popularity
  • an email meditation course
  • a pdf of mindfulness resources
  • 11 definitions of mindfulness
  • local meditation instruction (Los Feliz neighborhood, Los Angeles)

Back, getting back into it.

My trusty meditation timer says I’m up to 33 days in a row. While I think this sort of counting is, um, counterproductive — I believe it also falls under the umbrella of what some folks (i.e. Buddhists) call “skillful means”. In there words, while counting, at least for me, has an acquisitive and obsessive quality — it also does wonders for motivation.

So there it is. I’m meditating again.

I’ve just asked myself to do it every day, no strings attached. So if that’s two minutes a day for a week on, that’s just fine.

And I’ve started to feel a difference. Will check back in a few.

Rising Tide of Distraction (or Why the Nauseating Prevalence of Mindfulness is Tolerable)

We are all under the assault of a murderous distraction. I almost didn’t write this. I couldn’t focus. I almost couldn’t eat my lunch without surfing the internet at the same time. In fact, I failed. Mindfulness in its various forms has become so Coca-Cola. You know what I mean. While I find that nauseating, I think it’s worth stepping back take the finger out from the back of the throat (“gag me!”) and, maybe, meditate?

Because a little meditation just might actually be a powerful antidote to the instant gratification of internet, iPhone, iPad, iEverything, instant gratification and device absorbed mania that colors our world today. That said, here are a few things we might do to increase our mindfulness:

  1. read fiction
  2. keep a journal
  3. meditate
  4. do something creative that allows you to incorporate a meditative perspective: writing, drawing, photographing
  5. cut out the static – maybe declutter a room or a shelf
  6. practice frugality
  7. read an article in one sitting
  8. get in your body – yoga, running, tennis, whatever

Untethered

From the mouth of babes: “You’re on Twitter too much.” That did it for me. I deleted my Twitter and Facebook apps. I deactivated Facebook because it mostly just disgusts me. I can still tweet from the iPad, but it’s not gonna be 24/7. I was waking up with Twitter. I’m obsessive. I can’t have these things!

I downloaded Buddhify 2, also. I quite like it so far. So for 2014, more narrative (both in and out), less distraction. More meditation. Some unplugging involved, but just a cleanse I guess.

Before Guinness

I’m just getting back on track and very happy to report I decided to sit for 5 minutes before having a Guinness.

Now to enjoy.

Two Days in a Row

October was pretty dismal for meditation. Perhaps I sat twice. That’s the kind of streak that kills habits, but I somehow persuaded myself to sit for 10 minutes yesterday and today. It felt good!

Wings of Desire

This past week I sat — meaning, of course, meditated — three times and did not sit four times. Not so hot. I’ve fallen off meditating for 20 minutes and did a couple 10-minute sessions, too. Oh well. Today I sat for 20 minutes. I was again somewhat taken aback by the wash of blah blah blah thoughts — you know the stuff, unfinished business, to-do lists, grand schemes and how to execute them. But this is not one of those blogs, usually, where I spend a lot of energy sharing my hum drum blah blah blah thoughts.

A water main burst somewhere on our street last night. It’s burst before. It busts the street open and cracks spread from the tarmac right over into our house and into my fragile mind. Not having water is like camping. It’s fun if you’re camping. So I was in a bad mood this morning and in the car with the kids was cursing the traffic and really about to just let loose on a rant but stopped myself for a second and thought: equanimity. That moment when you hold the entire experience. Not just the thoughts, the emotions, but the experiencer — the witness. The part of you that is outside thoughts, emotions, sensations. Not identified with these things. Just watching. I tried to grab onto that. It is fleeting.

I think that’s part of what makes Wings of Desire such a delightful film. The angels are witnesses. Deprived of actually living, they observe and marvel at many of the every day experiences the characters are having, without being swept up in the thoughts and emotions (which, I suppose, they are not having) of the moment. You might say their experience is dispassionate, but it is not without sympathy. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but it was my impression that the angels are not distant, cerebral. Au contraire. My impression is that they were moved by the many of the experiences they observed.

This, I think, is a kind of ideal equanimity. (It makes me wonder if the film maker, Wim Wenders, is a Buddhist.) An equanimity that is not swept up by the emotions, sensations of everyday life, but nevertheless is deeply sympathetic to the experience. It is not empty or barren. There is kindness. And when we are feeling unkind toward the blah blah blah thoughts, kindness becomes invaluable.

Turning Down the Posterior Cingulate or Blah blah blah

Successfully back to 20 minutes of meditation. It had been 10 minutes for a while. And pretty regularly. I was inspired to add 2 minutes to the length of each of my sessions by the example of one of my “friends” on the insight meditation app.

Also, some interesting research from Judson Brewer re the posterior cingulate and how it’s implicated (and mostly not implicated) in flow states. It seems that turning off the blah blah blah part of the mind is healthy.

And no, that doesn’t mean regressing into a blissful narcissistic cocoon. Worth a look:

http://www.mindandlife.org/your-brain-on-meditation/

46 Days in a Row

Not currently, but not so long ago. Before the summer travel, which is one of the predictable things that gets in the way of practice. Not that it has to, but it does, if not attended to. I’ve been increasing my sits recently, by 2 minute increments. Thus, I am about to sit for 16 minutes. Increasing both consistency and duration. If this were running, that would be risky. But since it’s meditation, it’s just fine.

16 minutes. The mouth creates saliva, the mind creates thoughts. I’m enjoying focusing on posture a little, as also in the running.

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