In this webinar, I shared mindfulness practices for greater habit success and I answered some awesome questions.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: Mindfulness Practices for Greater Habit Success (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions on maintaining focus during meditation, keeping mindfulness working in the present moment, how to best set up one’s environment in advance, and more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Whether youâ€™re a beginner starting out in meditation, or someone who has been practicing for years, there is a lot we can learn from meditation practice.
And once weâ€™ve learned from meditation, thereâ€™s even more to learn! We can always deepen.
So Iâ€™d like to talk about a few key areas where we can deepen that learning.
First: Working with difficulties that arise.
Whenever we meditate, weâ€™ll encounter obstacles. Weâ€™ll have struggles and frustrations. A good example is that we get bored and impatient, and want the meditation to be over. Or our mind is completely distracted, anxious, busy.
The attitude to take is that these arenâ€™t actually obstacles, but exactly the areas we can work with and learn from! You might have heard of a saying from both Zen & Stoic traditions, â€œThe obstacle is the path.â€ Thatâ€™s exactly what weâ€™re talking about.
With this view, anything that comes up for you is not cause for quitting or despair, but instead is exactly the thing to work with.
- Youâ€™re impatient and want the meditation to end: Yep, this is probably how you are in many other areas of life. What would it be like to relax? Let yourself feel the impatience, and be with it with kindness. Realize that you donâ€™t need to rush, that things are just fine exactly as they are. Keep practicing relaxing with the way things are, including the feeling of impatience.
- Canâ€™t seem to calm down, and have an active mind? Thatâ€™s OK! Your mind doesnâ€™t need to be calm. Let yourself give this activity a little spaciousness. Suzuki Roshi said that the way to control sheep or cows is to give them a bigger meadow. Let your mind run around, but give it a sense of open space.
- Keep finding reasons not to sit in meditation? Yep, your mind does this for a lot of things, most likely. So itâ€™s the perfect thing to work with. The next time itâ€™s time to meditate, and you notice your mind wanting to put it off â€¦ just pause for a moment wherever you are, and notice what your mind and body feel like. Just for a few moments. Can you relax the mind? Can you let yourself sit for just 1 minute? If not, notice whatâ€™s getting in the way.
- Feeling sadness, grief, anxiety, pain? Most of us want to avoid these feelings, so if we feel them in meditation, it can feel like too much. If so, let yourself feel them at least a little. Theyâ€™re exactly what you need to feel right now. Open yourself to these feelings as much as youâ€™re able, without running.
What other obstacles have come up for you? You can share them when we get to the Q&A.
Second: Training the mind. Another rich area of learning in meditation is to train the mind.
The first thing weâ€™re training the mind to do is to open to whatever is present to us. Turn towards it, and notice. We start with the breath, but we can expand to emotions and other bodily sensations.
Next, we train the mind to stay. Stay for a little longer. Come back again, and stay for a little longer. This is training in concentration.
Third, we train the mind to come back, with patience. It goes away and starts thinking, thatâ€™s OK. Just notice, and come back.
Fourth, we train the mind to be open, to have compassion for what it touches in awareness, to have appreciation and reverence. To relax and rest in openness.
Third: Relaxing the tendencies of the mind.
Another way of training the mind is to train the mind to relax its feelings of separation from everything else. This constructed sense of me and other.
The mind also has tendencies to grasp onto what it wants, to really want to have it (think of a donut or chocolate). We can relax this sense of needing what we want.
The mind likes to reject what it doesnâ€™t want, and complains about what it doesnâ€™t want quite a lot. We can relax this as well.
Watch above, or here on Vimeo.
Part II: Questions and Answers
In the second part of the webinar, I answered a number of great questions from members, including:
- When I meditate for 2 minutes, it doesnâ€™t feel like enough
- How do I stop from feeling apathy
- Do you ever do applied meditation, like before public speaking or doing work?
- I feel boredom when I meditate – are you suggesting I give attention to the feeling of boredom?
- Do you find yourself getting better at meditating
Amazing questions, please watch!