Meditation Los Angeles

Month: October, 2012

Running Meditation

Though I’ve not posted for quite some time — I continue to meditate daily. Last evening I just started an MBSR class — Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, the secular take on mindfulness meditation as formulated by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The class is large and as people introduced themselves I was rather impressed with the level of self-disclosure and variety backgrounds. There are a lot of very stressed out people out there! A lot of suffering.

We progressed to a body-scan meditation and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep almost immediately. My consolation is that I don’t think I snored — which I once did rather loudly at the conclusion of a yoga class many years ago.

In my running, I am focussing on form. So this body-scan meditation feels familiar. I’m awakening to the many facets of running form. That it’s really not just the legs. How the whole body is flexing together in various units and subunits. The shoulders must be relaxed, the arms moving like pistons, forward, but loose. The foot plant, below the hips. The hips pushing forward. The posture erect.

In fact, I treat my easy runs as something of a meditation. Since I’m not bothered about the intensity and pacing so much, I can really focus on form. This has been wonderful. With the body scan — you also bring body consciousness into focus in unexpected ways. The jaws, the throat, the nasal cavity. So you might say I have two practices going at the moment.

I’ll be sharing more about my experience in the MBSR class, soon. My overall impression of the class is favorable, indeed.


Rockets Red Glare


Possibly emblematic? Concentration’s been a little hard to come by lately. This was the finale at the 1812 Overture as performed at the Hollywood Bowl not so long ago, September 8. Fantastic ending.

Could be time to switch back to lovingkindness!



Off Topic: Vivian Maier

For the photo enthusiast, there’s a wonderful review and assortment of photos to gaze at from the new Vivian Maier book, here, at The Online Photographer (TOP). Maier might be what photographers now refer to as a “street photographer.” She also happened to be a very private person, so it is something of a marvel that these photos were discovered at all. They could easily have disintegrated in storage.

Apparently, the book does her work justice, and if they say that on TOP, then I would tend to believe it. Recommended good stuff.

Too Religious

Somewhere smack in the late middle of this podcast on the mindfulness of breathing by Alan Wallace he starts talking about the bardo. If you’re not up on Tibetan Buddhism, the bardo, as I understand it, is the limbo where the soul (or whatever you want to call it) exists in the 49 days following death, before it goes on to its rebirth.

Generally, I’m used to the type of nightstand (some call it “consensus Buddhism” — where Westerners pick out the parts they don’t like) Buddhism where people don’t get into the karma or rebirth thing, because it’s generally not what people come for. But out in Phuket, this kind of talk might play a little differently. But I was in my living room. So it kind of took me aback.

For my very subjective money, the karma and rebirth thing is where Buddhism just starts to look like every other religion and offers you the panacea of a better life in some not-now future. It starts to be precipitously much less interesting. I was turned off. I’ll probably return to this series of podcasts at some point, though. As there’s lots of good stuff. But for now I need an extended break, I think.

I’ve just wrangled a free (or fee reduced) spot in another meditation class, which is nice because the thinking, thinking, thinking has been quite relentless lately, and I could use another perspective.


I Forgot to Turn Off the Buzz Saw

My routine has settled into one 45 minute morning meditation, often quite early, 4:45, 4:57, etc. The evening-late afternoon has fallen away for the moment. And lately it’s been tough going. For instance, this morning it was just back to the thoughts, back to the thoughts — only the most gross sensations of the abdomen rising and falling. Not until the last fifteen minutes or so, did I get a nice subtle sensation of the breath leaving the nostrils, and stay with it.

Reminds me of something Wallace (B. Alan) said about the mind. The analytical mind is a powerful tool, like a buzz saw. You wouldn’t just leave it on and put it back in your garage, or hang it from the side of your head while still running. When you’re done using it, it’s helpful to quiet it, if not turn it off completely. He said it better. I’ll find the link.

Perhaps this is because the running part of my life has taken over for the moment. Perhaps it’s just the usual ebb and flow. In any case, I need to get an afternoon meditation going again, soon.