Meditation Los Angeles

Category: difficulty

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

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.

Back in the Saddle

Been having good luck with the Inclusive Awareness meditation I posted here some time ago. Five days in row. Recommended.

Here’s the raw link:

https://meditationlosangeles.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/inclusive-meditation-a-guided-meditation/

Cosmic Rainbows, Etc.

Man did I fall off that wagon. Last week I had 5 days straight of meditation. Not like hours and hours of meditation, mind you. Just 10 or 15 minutes per day. And now I have two days in a row. I’ll get there.

I really want to re-dedicate myself, resurrect my practice. The purpose? Not just relaxation or contemplation — those are by-products. Enlightenment. Sounds pretty way out, but I think, just maybe, maybe, the problem is in the definition of terms. We’re not talking cosmic rainbows pouring out of my third eye, here.

Stumbled Upon By Chance

I am not superstitious, fatalistic (in the sense of things being fated), or overly enamored of coincidence, but I must admit to a certain wry pleasure at finding a copy of Dharma Punx by Noah Levine in the free community library* a few blocks from my house, just a few hours before the final MBSR class. You see, Levine founded a meditation center that’s also not so far from my house, and it’s the clearest alternative to pay classes at the moment. Pay as you can sort of stuff.

Not only was it a book that I’d considered buying idly, but it had originally been purchased at Vroman’s — a likely point of purchase, even. The cover, tattoo’d hands in prayer, always turned off my middle-class sensibilities a little. And though I can’t say I expected to like the book much, I’m 60 pages in and finding it engaging, though I can’t say I like the guy much. Was surprised to find that his dad wrote a baker’s dozen of fairly respected meditation books. In a week or so, I’ll plop the book back in that library.

The class ended on a good note. Again, I was touched by the honesty and forthrightness of the class members. There was some silly stuff, but a really nice bunch of people. So, despite a lukewarm reception for the MBSR, I will pursue meditation. To be continued.

Blog not dead yet!

*these libraries are more like postal boxes — but delightful — see the link

Stream Entry at the New York Times

Wow, right there in the New York Times! A piece about a real (failed, oh well) attempt at stream entry! You just don’t see this very often. The piece, entitled “The Anxiety of the Long-Distance Meditator” just completely caught the attention of this longish-distance runner, and features Daniel Ingram and an appearance by Hokai Sobol, even. The real stuff, in my opinion. From what I know…

Here’s a brief quote from the article:

Ingram was encouraging but also somewhat ambivalent. He seemed to have some reservations. I soon found out why: the next day everything fell apart. My mind jangled like a live wire — old fears and insecurities, the heartbreak of an unhappy love affair — images and judgments tortured me for hours and then for days on end. I dreaded the meditation now — it was like sticking my attention into an electrical socket.

My schedule collapsed. I couldn’t sit, and the prospect of walking around the room pretending to be a wonder-struck bionic ninja was agonizing and ridiculous. Instead, feeling guilty, I went for long walks in the 100-degree heat, accompanied by the sinister hum of cicadas. People went on retreats for months — years even —- yet the thought of being confined for three more weeks terrified me. There was a Greyhound station in Huntsville, a 20-mile hike. Filled with self-loathing, I decided to leave the next day at dawn, before Ingram could convince me otherwise.

I plugged in the guesthouse phone and called a friend, looking for comfort. Ingram happened to make his visit then; as he entered I quickly put down the phone. He arched an eyebrow. “If you’re gonna blow the retreat, we have free long distance up at the house.”

I continue to do my body scans, yoga, and sitting meditation — the grab bag that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) offers for combatting stress, anxiety, etc. I’ve skipped a couple days, maybe. Tonight is the last class.

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.

Stress is a Tough Nut

In an agitated state the other day. I took a few moments to focus on the breath, a time out. It worked — for about 9 seconds. But stress will shoot right back up to its previous level. Stress, to wildly generalize, probably takes a much longer meditation to calm it, I would guess. Sometimes I find these agitated states, nervousness, driven, purposive conditions, while sitting in meditation. And I mistakenly think that, “oh, I am having a difficult time meditating.” But that’s not it at all. I’m simply finding a state that’s out there in my day-to-day business and facing it head on, without distraction. Meditation is not the difficult part. It is life that is difficult, from time to time.

Dogged Chaos

Up early and commenced to sit at 4:21 a.m. for 30 minutes. The conditions that lead to insomnia and jet lag are not conducive to a calm, focused meditation, me thinks. What arises is just a field of determined, dogged chaos. So that was the focus of the meditation — the mind is not still. The mind is creative and plan oriented, but it has a hard time focusing on the breath. This reminds me of, years ago when I did a little yoga and the teachers would talk about “the body”. It always struck me as a little odd, this third-person approach to the body. But it makes sense to me now. They were simply disidentifying with the body. Holding it at arm’s length, so to speak. We are not the body. (But we are.) And we are not our crazy busy thoughts, either.

I think today, perhaps yesterday or tomorrow, the Buddhist Geeks conference starts up. For myself, I’m probably more geek than Buddhist, but certainly they discuss many topics related to meditation, with frequent nods to neurobiology, science, research, etc. If you’re interested in such things it’s well worth checking out. There still may be time to register for watching parts of the conference live.

 

I’m appending registration link and info here, from an email I received, in the “PS” section at end:

Thank you for registering for the Buddhist Geeks Conference 2012 live streaming access.

This three-day live video event will start at 9 pm Eastern Time on August 9, 2012 (1 am GMT August 10, 2012). Please bookmark the link below to join the event once it starts. You can also sign in on this page to view the archived streaming content, available by 7 pm Eastern Time (GMT –4), within two business days after the event’s conclusion.

http://live.soundstrue.com/buddhistgeeks/event.php

We look forward to sharing this conference with you.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Sounds True

PS—If you’d like to let your friends know about this event, forward this email so they can register via the link below.

http://live.soundstrue.com/buddhistgeeks/