Meditation Los Angeles

Month: November, 2012

Back to Sitting

Technically, I’ve not been sitting much. I’ve been doing body scans and yoga meditations. Alternating. But now, in my MBSR class, we are moving back into some sitting meditation, which was a bit difficult. I’m no longer used to the sit. I tried some lovingkindness (though I’ve largely forgotten the words) and some inclusive awareness to pass the time. In the end, the 30 minutes went by without too much discomfort.

Yesterday had a wonderful body scan. I mention it because it informed my sitting meditation today. Thinking about sensation. In MBSR we talk about the triangle of experience — that most experience is made out of three components: thoughts, emotions, sensation. The useful trick of a body scan, in my opinion, is that it gets one focussing on sensation. The same could be said of Mindfulness of the Breath meditation practices as well, I suppose. But there’s something about moving from one body part to another that keeps the restless mind at bay — a new play thing, a new thing to focus on… And then just sensation.

Gives one the chance to bypass, sidestep all that mindless chatter. And emotions.

Extended Break, Indeed

Still meditating, but having less to say about it. Still doing the MBSR class, but don’t have much to say about it. It’s the secular version of meditation, and body scans, and a little yoga. A kind of caterers platter of techniques for beginners.

I doubt very much they’ll ever talk of liberation, and while religious Buddhism turns me off I miss the jazziness of implied freedoms in the offing.

For those seeking just that kind of jazz, I recommend the page from where the quote comes. It’s about the lack of focus, in most secular, insight meditation practices on the Three Characteristics, those being, as the writer translates them, Impermanence, Suffering, and No Self. Here’s the quote:

Somehow this exceedingly important message just doesn’t typically seem to get through to insight meditators, and thus they spend so much time doing anything but looking precisely moment to moment into the Three Characteristics. They may be thinking about something, lost in the stories and tape loops of the mind, trying to work on their stuff, philosophizing, trying to quiet the mind, or who knows what, and this can go on for year after year, retreat after retreat, and of course they wonder why they don’t have more insight yet. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions, but you do not have to be part of it! You can be one of those insight meditators that knows what to do, does it, and finally “gets it” in the grandest sense.

The wonderful Jack Kornfield has an interesting section on Wisdom in one of his recent books where he covers this issue, in typical, wise, non-dismissive, instructive fashion.

Many Hours Later – Mindful Listening

Still meditating. Have continued with the MBSR class. About 15 minutes into a meditation where we were focussing on sound someone in the neighborhood began blasting “Eye of the Tiger”, and that’s when I suspected Obama had won the election.

The body meditation is a good place to work from if you’ve had a lot of difficulty concentrating recently, as I have. Because it’s so structured. There’s a good one, here, at InsightLA’s website.

Another great thing in the class was the mindful listening exercise. Since the class has over 25 people, we broke into groups of 5 and introduced ourselves, spoke about how our practice was going. Often I find such exchanges can be tedious, but the added component of having a substantial focus on your body while listening and while speaking, was very interesting. It’s easier, in my experience, to focus on your body sensations while listening — quite a bit more difficult while talking. I suspect this is because we do a lot of social monitoring when we are talking, gauging our audience. Who knows. In any case, I recommend this practice.

You could do it at almost any time, if it occurred to you.