How to meditate without distraction

If you’re interested in meditating but can’t quite seem to do it without getting distracted, I recommend making a game of it. One game I use is, “How long can I take to count to five full breaths?”

The game itself is simple: Just before you begin to meditate, start a stopwatch on your phone. Then breathe in, and as you do so, internally say “one.” Then breathe out and internally (or externally) say “two.” Try to take these breaths as slowly as you can, with all of your focus on the current breath and current number. Keep doing this until you breathe out and say “ten,” and when that breath is finished, stop the stopwatch and see how long it took. The game is to make this time as long as possible.

How wonderful is enlightenment?

“People tend to overestimate or underestimate how wonderful the experience (enlightenment) is. How wonderful is it? Well, I would say that anyone who has entered into the world of no-self, emptiness, and wisdom mind, who abides in that world, if you gave them a choice to live one day knowing what they know, or live an entire lifetime but not be allowed to know that, I think — I can’t speak for everyone — but I would say most people who live in that world would say, ‘I’d rather have one day knowing what I know than a lifetime of not being able to know this.’ So that’s how wonderful it is.”

~ Shinzen Young, in this video

Enlightenment is like a free fall

“Enlightenment is like a free fall. It’s like falling off a cliff that never ends, and you’ve acclimatized to it.”

~ Shinzen Young, in this video

I’ve stuck with Zen because it is unflinchingly honest

“I’ve stuck with Zen because it is unflinchingly honest, but at the same time accepting, kind, and caring — not in a soft syrupy way, but in a rugged, rough and tumble way. To become clear you have to see what’s really there, all the mental junk you’ve made and accumulated over the years. The honesty will force you to acknowledge the parts of yourself you’d rather keep hidden. The acceptance allows you to look at the less savory parts of your self without being overly self-critical.”

~ from this page

There are planes where beings exist other than the physical ~ Ram Dass

“One way to handle extraordinary experiences is to be neither horrified not intrigued by them. In the course of meditation you may meet them all: powers, beauty, deaths, angels, demons, all of it. These are just forms, the stuff of the universe. You confront them on the path just as you meet all manner of people when walking on a busy street.

There are planes where beings exist other than the physical. If in meditation you enter other states of consciousness, you may meet such beings who seemingly come to instruct or guide you. Because of the uniqueness of these beings you might put more value on their teachings than is merited. Beings on other planes are not necessarily wiser than those on this plane. They may be well-meaning, but they may not know any more than you. All they may have to teach you is their existence itself, which shows you the relative nature of reality.

Just as with teachers on the physical plane, be open. Experience each being you meet and sense in your heart – do we have work to do together, or not? If that teacher feels relevant to your journey, work with him or her until you have fully grasped the teaching. Then thank the teacher and proceed.”

~ Ram Dass, Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook

Mindfulness lesson: Keep practicing, even when you don’t want to

Today’s mindfulness “lesson of the day” (mostly for myself) is a reminder to keep practicing, even when you don’t feel like it. You don’t get to choose when moments of enlightenment happen, so the best thing you can do is keep practicing so those moments will be possible when the right circumstances (karma?) come into alignment.

What happens is that over time, both the mindfulness and the enlightenment bits change the wrinkles in your brain, change your perspective and attitude, and cleanse the environmental conditioning of whatever happened to get you to this point. With continued practice you evolve (think “metamorphosis”) into a new person over time — this time a person of your own choosing, rather than a person conditioned by where and when you were born and lived.

Namaste. ;)

The intensity of a monk’s meditation states befuddles science

“While his brain was probed by the fMRI, Mingyur (a Buddhist monk) followed the instruction to engage compassion. Once again the minds of everyone watching in the control room felt as though they had stopped. The reason: Mingyur’s brain circuitry for empathy rose to an activity level 700 to 800 times greater than it had been in the rest period just before.”

“Such an extreme increase befuddles science; the intensity with which those states were activated in Mingyur’s brain far exceeds any that had ever been seen in ‘normal’ people. The closest resemblance is for epileptic seizures, but those episodes last brief seconds, not for a full minute. And besides, brains are controlled by seizures, in contrast to Mingyur’s display of intentionally controlling his brain activity.”

~ from a story about brainwave tests of a monk in 2002

If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change

“If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change, it’s that you need to change. If they’re a problem for themselves that’s their karma; if they’re causing you trouble that’s your problem with yourself.”

and also this:

“If I’m not appreciated, that’s your problem that you don’t appreciate me. Unless I need your love, then it’s my problem. So my needs are what is giving you the power over me.”

~ from Ram Dass post, A Heavy Curriculum

In my own experience I can say that when you’re with your soul this is true; and when you’re with your ego you can’t understand this.