Meditation Los Angeles

Category: beginners

Start All Over Again

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photo by freya cardiff

Getting some steam. Can’t beat that. My Insight Timer indicates that I have 14 consecutive days of meditation. And I’ve settled back into a 20-minute sit. Gradually, I’ll be increasing that soon. Twenty minutes was challenging at first. In fact, some of my 10-minute sits were challenging. Thirty seconds in sometimes, the restless energy. That rises to just barely tolerable. In other words — almost entirely intolerable. A restless, tantrum-like energy. Where does that come from? It has to be something that’s there the rest of the time. It doesn’t just magically manifest when I sit. So how am I acting out on that?

It’s great to be meditating regularly again

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.

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!

Refugees of Mindfulness

Not my title, but a fascinating post re some of the risks of meditation – of interest to anyone new to meditation or introduced via mainstream psychology, MBSR, DBT, ACT, MBCT, etc.

Interesting!

It’s at the Aloha Dharma blog and is well worth a read!

Floss One Tooth

My 10 minutes a day meditation habit fills my mind with some dismissive thoughts, it’s true.

But in the vein of an injunction at Zen Habits, which I thought was brilliant, I am only committing to a minimum while I strengthen my habit. He said, for those trying to take up the habit of flossing, simply commit to flossing one tooth.

May seem trivial, but it’s not likely to be overwhelming, and one tooth may lead to another.

30 Days in a Row

That’s it. I would like that I be doing (which sounds very passive) longer sits, but am happy with the consistency for the time being.

First, lay down a habit.

I’ve been doing 10 minute meditations. Sometimes I decide which practice I’m going to do after I start, which is probably bad. Mostly it’s a mindfulness practice, lately more a focus on the breathe, that is to say, a concentration practice.

Four Days in a Row

Just completed a 20 minute mindfulness of breathe meditation. Gradually easing back into the routine. Would like to re-read the Chodron book, the Gunaratana book, and then or even before then find a good meditation group. Against the Stream has a few offerings, not too far away.

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.

The Somewhat Taboo World of Attainments

I was either going to write a really long post about the state of entry-level mindfulness technique, and the vagueness that surrounds such practice, or just a short little post with some links. Short version is these folks aren’t afraid to talk about attainments. Meaning, simply, they meditate more efficiently. And, they might have a map of how to do that — and what it might mean. I know it makes many people uncomfortable to talk about one meditator having reached certain states — or even to be somewhat confused about what that even might mean. It scares people off. It’s like believing that some kung fu masters can fly. Anyway, that was a funny little hybrid of my long post and some short links.

Check out Aloha Dharma. And in his links you’ll find Kenneth Folk Dharma. And if you really want to get immersed, click over to Dharma Underground. All, interesting, non-flaky approaches to meditation that include maps of where you might want to go. When you need more than just “relax into the breath”.

Mapping the Territory, Not Monolithic

Have hardly touched the newer books, but continue to incorporate the Alan Wallace meditations in my sitting practice, though about half of them I’m doing in corpse pose. I thought I might fall asleep, lying down at 5 a.m., but it hasn’t happened yet. Dr. Wallace’s voice is quite alert, and his mind is vigorous. I am inspired by the number of meditative practices that are out there.

I have been fortunate to find a very good book that maps out much of the meditative territory, explaining the different meditative practices and how they relate to one another, support one another, which I shall share in a future post. The most basic example of this is simple “concentration” practices, as a prelude and support to “mindfulness” practices such as Vipasssana. Wallace is filling in some of the blanks. He focusses on the mindfulness of breathing meditation. Then he contrasts and supports by “settling the mind in its natural state,” or meditations on one of what some Buddhists have called the four immeasurables — meditations on qualities such as lovingkindness, compassion, empathetic joy — and so forth (sorry, I don’t know my immeasurables!)

I am struck by how alert and precise these practices are in their focus. There is no room for spacing out or becoming groggy, though of course, this happens from time to time — but within the practices there are precautions against slipping into the mush.

It reminds me of a passing crack the Dalai Lama’s brother made about zen meditators in the Pico Iyer book (short review: can’t really recommend, but interesting) — he called them “those vegetables in Japan!” Of course, this is probably not fair, but it illuminates that neither the practices, nor the communities are monolithic.