What to do on those days when you just can’t meditate

This morning I’m reminded of a favorite meditation tip: Some days when you try to meditate, it just doesn’t work. On those days just put in your time on the cushion, or try to make game of it. Get up when the timer goes off, have a cookie, but don’t punish yourself for being a “bad meditator.” New wrinkles in the brain aren’t easily made.

But then on those days when it comes easily and naturally, turn off the timer/alarm, think, “Surf’s up, dude,” and ride that wave as long and as hard as you can. Good rides like these make those struggles worthwhile.

Happy New Year & Namaste

“The path I have followed has been dangerous”

“The path I have followed has been dangerous, destabilizing more than calm, excruciating more than pleasant, and hard to integrate (into ‘normal’ everyday life). It has also been profound, amazing, and glorious. Surfing the ragged edges of reality has been easier than slowing the thing down.”

~ A quote from the book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, by Daniel Ingram.

A few meditation notes (calming, quality)

When I first sit down to meditate, my mind is often too busy to get into it well, so one thing I’ve learned to do is to try to meditate for about eight minutes, then get up, stretch a little bit (a few yoga stretches), then sit back down to meditate normally. My second attempt is usually significantly better than my first attempt. There are other things you can do to calm the mind, but this works well for me.

Another thing I was reminded of again today is that the quality of meditation often changes over time. Today there was something new, and I thought, “Cool ... this is different,” before getting back to the meditation at hand. For me that happens a lot, so I assume it happens for other people as well.

Mindfulness in baseball (Joe Maddon, Cubs)

From time to time Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon stresses mindfulness in sports. He may not refer to it as mindfulness, but he certainly refers to staying in the present moment, which is the same thing.

In terms of sports and winning, I like his quote at the end of the clip I’m showing: “It comes down to what team competes better in the moment.” It may not be as obvious in baseball as it is with sports like football, basketball, and tennis, but as I’ve gotten older it’s become very clear that a lot of close games are won and lost in just a few key plays.

What disturbs the mind? Wanting.

“What disturbs the mind? Wanting, wanting, wanting everything.”

~ Swami Satchidananda

“I’m such a liar” alvin August 22, 2016 - 9:01am

“I’m such a liar.”

“What the heck, I feel offended.” (Religion pushers) alvin July 18, 2016 - 5:31am

About ten years ago I gave a friend a book on Zen. It wasn’t anything she asked for. I had just read some stories in it that I thought might be helpful for what she was going through at that time, so I gave it to her.

The next time we saw each other, she gave me a book on Christianity. My immediate reaction was, “What the heck, I’m not into Christianity. I feel offended!”

Within a few minutes I laughed at myself as I realized that I had created this situation. It hit me that I offended her first by saying, “Here’s some stuff about (what you might perceive as) a religion,” and then she responded in kind. (My exact thought was, “OMG Al, you’ve become a Religion Pusher.”)

As a result, these days I don’t offer anyone any books on Zen or mindfulness. If someone is at my place and asks if they can have one of my books, I always tell them to take whatever they want. (By doing this I think I’m on my fourth copy of Zen Master Raven.) But my days of offering unsolicited books ended ten years ago.

Even when I feel the urge to do this — when I see someone struggling with things that mindfulness can help, such as people bringing stress onto themselves like a sponge absorbs water — I have learned how offensive it is for other people to push their religious beliefs on me, so I don’t go there.

(I was reminded of this recently when someone else tried to push their religious beliefs onto me.)