My kids are doing 1-minute meditations now. I think that’s about right for elementary age. They are building the skill of slow. Of self-awareness while stationary. Of being okay and even interested in nothing.
Why should this matter?
Because their brains are different. They are almost a different species from us. Our brains develop according to our experience. And today kids’ brains are subjected to a near constant flow of instantaneous gratification – through TVs with Tivo, smart phones, game consoles, etc.
They never slow. And so they wire themselves to need constant stimulus, constant control, constant pleasure. And the worst possible experience is boredom.
I think we need to slow our kids. I’m doing it with meditation.
Need more convincing and/or info? Check out Phil Zimbardo’s view.
What are the best 5 minutes you can spend? You know, if you only had five minutes to do something you sometimes claim you don’t have time for?
- Praising your child
- Training the dog
- Encouraging your team members
- Thinking about strategy
- Telling your spouse how much you love him/her
- Taking a walk
- Writing a note to an old friend
- Writing an email to keep in touch with an old business contact
- Clearing your mind
- Listening to music
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator
Now what was it you really don’t have time for?
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, was the eighth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is an advanced how-to type meditation book.) This is the third of (1, 2) 3 posts on this book.
In perhaps one of the most beautiful and simplest (simple does not equal easy) lessons of the book, Chodron tells us,
The lojong teachings encourage us, if we enjoy what we are experiencing, to think of other people and wish for them to feel that. Share the wealth. Be generous with your joy . . . Instead of fearing that they’re going to slip away and holding on to them, share them.
That’s it. Beautiful. Simple. Not easy.
As a post-script to this book review, I don’t think my review will be fully complete for several months. The 8 Minute Meditation book asks you to try each of the 8 meditation techniques daily for a week. I felt I needed to be past the halfway mark of that before passing lessons along to you.
Similarly, to really grasp the value of this book I think I would need to take at least one meditation session to consider each of the 59 lojong slogans. That said, perhaps I will write another review in a few months time.
Next up I will review another brain book, The Hidden Brain, that was not on my 2012 list, but popped up recently and was too enticing for me to wait.
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, was the eighth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is an advanced how-to type meditation book.) This is the second of (1, 2) 3 posts on this book.
While this book is incredibly deep and complex, one of the central messages is quite simple.
Whatever stress or anxiety you feel in your life, it has been felt before. It is, in fact, a pattern of worry that your brain and human society work together to repeat in people throughout the ages.
And we all have a standard response to the pains we feel. We either fight or flee.
Lojong teaches us to do otherwise. Chodron guides us to move toward the pain. Look at it. Examine it. Embrace the emotion.
Not that you should confirm that the emotion is right (nor should you proclaim to yourself that it is wrong). Rather, through the slogans of lojong, understand the pain. And through the breathing technique of tonglen soften your heart to both yourself and any external source contributing to your experience of pain.
It is the fight against pain that prolongs it and strengthens the emotional response the next time around. So the more we fight, the more we prolong and intensify the very feelings we wish to avoid.
Rather, if we train ourselves to greet the pain with kindness, to move toward it, accept it, embrace it, we can soften the effect of that pain and it’s control over our emotions and actions.
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, was the eighth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is an advanced how-to type meditation book.)
If 8 Minute Meditation was perfect for the beginner, this book is the opposite.
Pema Chodron (one of the most brilliant and aware thinkers I’ve encountered) teaches us the practice of lojong, a series of meditations to purify your motives. The practice consists of focusing on one of the 59 slogans (e.g., Drive all blames into one.) during your meditation. Chodron guides the reader through intricate, nuanced, fascinating interpretations of these slogans.
Along with this she describes a specific meditation practice, tonglen, in which you build empathy, understanding, and kinship with others by breathing in the pain you, yourself feel and see around you and breath out the inspiring, relieving, relaxing feelings you experience. This practice begins with understanding and recognizing these feelings in yourself and then opens you to building kinship with all others who share those same feelings.
As I said, if the last book was meditation for the beginner, this is advanced practice. For anyone ready to explore at this level, the insights are, while sometimes challenging, consistently brilliant.
8 Minute Meditation by Victor Davich, was the seventh book from my 2012 reading list. (It is a beginner’s how-to type meditation book.) This is my third of (1, 2) 3 posts.
Perhaps my favorite element from how Davich introduces the reader to meditation is the posture he recommends. I mean, how many of us can actually fold our legs into lotus position? And even if we could, how many of us would then spend the entire meditation feeling totally self-conscious that someone would walk in on us and see us sitting in the lotus position?
Davich instead emphasizes posture that facilitates the #1 most important objective – actually doing your meditation. So he suggests sitting on a chair.
That’s it. Just sit on a chair.
The simpler and easier it is for you to get started, the more likely you will stick with your daily 8-minute routine. So sit down, close your eyes, and begin.
He offers 2 important caveats. One, sit on the edge of your seat so that you don’t recline and fall asleep (a legitimate concern). Two, if it hurts, stop.
He gives more guidance than that, but I really like that his emphasis is on the practical. And there seems little more practical advice for getting started than to just take a seat.
8 Minute Meditation by Victor Davich, was the seventh book from my 2012 reading list. (It is a beginner’s how-to type meditation book.) This is my second of (1, 2) 3 posts.
When fishing, if you catch a small fish, you release it back into the water. Thus, you allow the fish to live past breeding age and encourage the fish population to thrive. This practice is aptly called “catch and release.”
Davich uses this term, “catch and release,” to describe the practice of mindfulness in meditation. One of your objectives in meditation is to “catch” your wandering thoughts, to notice that they have arrived and what they are, and then to “release” them so that you may bring your mind back to the focus of your meditation.
I have used this phrase personally and with a few of my coaching clients since first reading Davich’s description. They find it very helpful in guiding them during meditation. Instead of getting angry that the mind has wandered, we can feel pleased that we have caught a wayward thought. Then we can gently release it back into the currents of our minds. If the thought swims back to us, we catch and release again.
So happy fishing, I mean meditating.