A short piece beautifully describing the Welsh hills, which I do not know well enough, but dearly miss.

May Meditation Nudge 16

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


No judgement
Whatever the object of meditation, for example the breath, on trying to focus on that object you will find yourself distracted by your mind. Sometimes more distractions than other, but still you will be distracted. The distractions can be many things, but for me might look like,

  • thinking of the next meal,
  • something that happened just before I came to sit,
  • planning a meeting for tomorrow,
  • a book that I have read,
  • some memory from the past,
  • a noise outside and the story that I create around it,
  • an emotional reaction to someone moving around in another room.

I’m sure that you get the picture. My mind just thinking, being distracted and reacting.

As I have chosen to sit with an object of meditation, when I am distracted I find that that sometimes emotions such as annoyance or anger arise. I am getting annoyed or frustrated with myself that I have lost focus of the object of meditation. I find it can easily happen when I fall into the trap of setting myself standards to meet.

Instead of allowing annoyance to enter your mind, allow yourself to simply note that you have been distracted. Allow there to be no judgement, but a simple acceptance that in that moment you have lost the object of meditation, and with that acceptance return to the breath. However often you are drawn away from the breath, note it, accept it, and gently return to the breath.

In noting and accepting I am applying the ultimate non-violence to myself. I am simply accepting what is and returning to the object of meditation, free of judgement. I might not like what is in my mind, I might not like that I have lost awareness of the breath, but I am training myself to not act out against it - the daily life equivalent being getting lost in addictive or time waisting habits in order to try and blank out what has arisen in the mind.

In response to requests, HH the Dalai Lama is giving teachings today & tomorrow from his residence in Dharamsala, India. The teachings are based Nagarjuna’s “Precious Garland”. His Holiness will also be offering advice for these times. Today’s talk can be viewed here.

It’s Saturday! Where’s the week gone?

Dusk.

I find it interesting how my mood for different music changes sometimes for reasons that I cannot fathom. In the last twenty four hours I have been listening to Pink Floyd. It’s not that I have ever gone off their music, just that I have not listened to it for a long time.

May Meditation Nudge 15

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Community
Meditation can be a lonely practice. It is just me sitting with myself. I am choosing to show up and sit with my mind, regardless of how my mind feels. Sometimes I am keen to get to the meditation cushion, sometimes I experience real resistance. My mind feels heavy, I am dealing with life and what I really want to do is distract myself, not sit directly looking at my life.

Getting myself to the meditation cushion can be difficult even if I am blessed with someone to share my sitting with, like a family member or good friend. However, the fact that the other is showing up becomes an impetus for me to show up. “They are sitting and so I can as well.” Somehow that physical presence of the other motivates me to show up as well, even if my meditation practice is a struggle today.

However, perhaps you are a lone meditator with no one in your immediate circle to sit with? Unless you have built a strong muscle of commitment to your meditation practice, come what may, the dedication to showing up can be a struggle and a lonely process. What to do?

My suggestion is look for an accountability partner. This might come in a variety of disguises. Here are some suggestions.

  • Find a friend or family member who you can text/call/email each day at an agreed time to say that you have completed your meditation, or even to share that you couldn’t bring yourself to sit today. That person doesn’t have to be a meditator themselves, simply someone who supports you in what you are doing. Someone who does not judge you for how you show up, but is willing to listen and where appropriate offer some words of support.
  • Find a book/audio recording of someone who inspires you within the realm of meditation practice and read or listen to some words by that person when you are looking for encouragement.
  • Build a support group through social media where you can check in with each other, and encourage each other in your practice.
  • In a time other than this period of social-distancing when I am writing this, look for a meditation group near to you.

You’ll see that most of these do not require you having someone physically with you, but just knowing that you have someone within reach through technology to help support you in your practice. I encourage you to reach out and ask.

May Meditation Nudge 14

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Just show up
Sometimes I find that I just don’t have the enthusiasm for meditating. The day in, day out routine of sitting regardless of what is going on in my life just feels too much. It is just another thing to do. And still I sit.

When I lived in the Buddhist Community in South Wales we had a regular meditation practice every morning and every evening. This was easy to attend, even a joy to attend when the community was not busy. However when we were busy with visitors and courses, showing up for these practices while feeling tired was a real effort. Focusing and staying awake were a challenge. When I caught myself nodding off to sleep I wondered what I was doing there. My bed, reading a book, or listening to the radio (one luxury that we were allowed), felt much more appealing.

However, with time I saw that those other options were easy. I could choose to take time off, take a rest, not show if I didn’t feel like it. Or I could choose to just show up, come what may. Yes, at times my meditation was far from focused, but this wasn’t about good or bad meditations. This was about building the habit of showing up to meditate. It was a recognition that to gain benefit from meditation came from making it a priority in my life.

My encouragement to you would be to make showing up be the priority. To not decide not to meditate just on the whim of not feeling like it. Instead, look to build the muscle of forbearance and tolerance. Not a grit the teeth resentment at having to be there, but with an honest recognition that that which is beneficial might not always feel good. That that which helps us is there for us when the going gets tough and not only when the going is easy. That meditation is about familiarization, habit building, and if I just meditate when I am feeling good, that will become my habit and I will loose the strength of applying the meditation practice when life gets difficult - and that is probably when I need it the most.

Give yourself a break if you are hurting. Use your wisdom to decide when a break is beneficial, but have that wisdom be informed by an understanding of the part that meditation is playing in your life.

Sitting in a still, cool, quiet morning, listening to the dawn chorus, drinking my coffee. I could stay here forever, though I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much then? ☕️

May Meditation Nudge 13

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Boredom
I write this about meditation practice, but the ideas can be used just as well in your everyday life.

Boredom can arise in our lives when we are feeling uninspired, disliking and uninterested in what we find ourselves doing in that moment. I find that it can be a heavy state of mind, one that can feel as though my mind is dragging a heavy weight behind it. I experience it as dull, ponderous, thick and ceaseless.

When I sit in meditation I do not know what emotion might arise, but boredom can be one of them. From my experience anything done day in and day out, however important it might be in my life, will have days when I am inspired to be there, and days when I just feel as though I am going through the motions. Devoid of any particular insights, I am just sitting again.

So for the duration of my meditation I might find myself sitting with boredom.

If boredom is present and dragging for your attention, give it your attention. Do not push it away, and also do not engage with it. Rather, watch it. Make boredom the object of your meditation. The problems with boredom come out of seeing it as something solid and unchanging that we do not want. Let’s try and change our relationship with it. You do not have to like boredom, but start from the point of being curious about it. Let’s really get to know it. What is it doing?

So watch it, observe from a detached distance as best you can. As you do so, ask yourself,

  • What does boredom look like?
  • Does it have a colour?
  • Does it have a shape?
  • Does it have a smell?
  • What does it feel like?
  • Is it solid, or changing?

These are some starting questions. Stick with these or add your own. The important thing is to be curious and start to get to know this thing called boredom. Like any relationship, do not expect to be comfortable with boredom after a first visit. This will take time, but in time you can develop a more tolerant, open relationship with boredom when it shows up in your meditation and life.

As Meditation Teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, in time the boredom,

begins to become cool boredom

Today I am feeling particularly grateful to the developers of the software and platforms that I use. They make my work, and play, more enjoyable and easier. Thank you to you all. 🙏🏼

And this is my first post from iA Writer to Micro.blog.

I don’t know what species of tomato these two are, but they are delicious. Just picked in the garden and illuminated by the early morning sun.

Random acts of kindness.

With grateful thanks to @rnv for hearing my yearning for Hobnobs on micro.blog a couple of weeks back and very kindly sending me two packets. They arrived yesterday and a cup of tea tastes all that much better for having a Hobnob to dunk!

A message from His Holiness the Dalai calling for the world to unite in response to COVID-19 .

And here it is read by his good friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

May Meditation Nudge 12

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Take a break
If your set meditation time is 5 minutes, I encourage you to sit through that time. If your set meditation time is 15 minutes, I encourage you to sit through that time. If your set meditation time is 45 minutes, I encourage you to sit through that time. However long your regular meditation time is, I encourage you to sit through that time using your practice as the anchor that navigates you through difficulties that arise - whether in the mind or body.

Sometimes a pain in the body or mind, if sat with, if used as the object of meditation - watching the pain, asking yourself what is its nature? What colour is it? What shape is it? Is it solid, liquid gas? - just the process of watching it, becoming more personal with it, will in time see it pass away.

However, occasionally that is not the case. Maybe a particular difficult state of mind arises out of the blue? Maybe your body starts hurting in a way that just won’t go away? In such circumstances I advise you to take a break. Stretch, breathe, find an expansive view to look out over, stare up at the sky. When you are refreshed and ready, you can come back to your meditation.

May Meditation Nudge 11

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


The Breath
So far I have looked at practicalities of meditation, and not so much at technique. In these nudges I won’t be going into a lot of detail, but intend to give a flavour of what I am talking about. If you have further questions, please do get in touch (see above).

A foundation meditation is awareness of the breath. We breathe every day, the body just breathing itself. We can use the breath as a way to stabilize the mind, to focus the mind, to gain insight into how our mind works, and as preparation and anchor for other meditation techniques.

Here is an outline for a simple breath meditation:

  • Get into a comfortable meditation posture.
  • Reflect for a moment on your motivation.
  • If you are using one, start your meditation timer.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths to help bring yourself to your cushion, to let go of the activities of the day so far.
  • Allow the breath to slowly settle into its natural rhythm. Don’t force the breath. Just allow the breath to breathe itself.
  • Gently bring your awareness to the breath as it enters and leaves the nose. Don’t get involved in the breathing, just be a silent observer to the breath’s presence, the flow of the breath.
  • If you loose the breath by getting lost in thoughts, stories, external distractions, just note the thought or distraction and without judgement simply come back to the breath. How ever often you get lost in thoughts, when you catch yourself gently come back to the breath.
  • If it helps, count each in and out breath as “1”, in and out, “2”, in and out, “3” until you reach “10”, and then come back to “1” again. If you loose count, don’t judge yourself or concern yourself with what number you are at, just come back to “1”.
  • At the end of your meditation session, dedicate the benefits of your meditation.

May Meditation Nudge 10

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Meditate where you are
As well as having your personal meditation place, I recommend looking for opportunities to meditate in your daily life. They might not be as formal as your regular sitting, in fact you might not even be sitting, but they give you the opportunity to keep the familiarization with you practice going and help you bring your meditation into your life.

Places that you might choose to meditate could include,

  • standing in line at the checkout at the grocery store, bank, etc
  • at this time of the COVID-19 virus, standing in line waiting to get into the store
  • when you go to the toilet
  • out walking
  • working in the garden
  • are you on the computer? Stop periodically to breathe and come back to yourself. Perhaps every 30, 45 minutes? There is software available for most platforms to remind to take a break
  • while waiting to pick the car up from a service
  • sitting in the park, on the beach, etc
  • are you on your phone? Put it down and meditate instead

Use your creativity in looking for those opportunities to meditate. It doesn’t have to be long. Thirty seconds, a minute grabbed here and there keeps the building the acquaintance with your practice.

Last night we had a power outage at dusk. It lasted until about 9:00pm. We played Rummikub by flashlight and read for the rest of the evening. Despite being quite happy doing what we were doing, I could still feel a twitch for the inaccessible conveniences.

I want to customize a part of a micro.blog site and am wondering where to go? I want to replace the text “Follow xxx on Micro.blog” that sits under the site’s name, with my own text. However, I cannot find where to do that. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thank you.

May Meditation Nudge 9

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Beware of waiting for silence before you meditate
At first glance this nudge might appear contradictory to yesterday’s post, but it is not. I still advocate for the importance of having your own special place where you go to sit. Having such a place gets me in the right frame of mind for meditating and I look forward to being there. However, for me my meditation place is in my home. At times my home is quiet when I choose to sit, at other times it is not. The disturbances can be all sorts of unexpected everyday occurrences and the time of day doesn’t seem to matter much either, though early morning I am less likely to be disturbed.

The risk is to go looking for silence when you sit, of seeing your meditation as an escape from the noise of life. Sometimes that might have a place, but the important thing is to show up regardless of external circumstances. Meditation is not an escape from life, but a coming back to life, to paraphrase Zen Meditation Master Thich Naht Hanh.

If meditation becomes a habit of finding a place to run to escape the noise of life, its results will be conditional. If I am looking for silence in my move to meditate, I will probably find myself also having to deal with the annoyance that I feel when my meditation is disturbed by external interruptions.

The key is acceptance of what is. I am not suggesting that you don’t ask for what you want, less noise, but accept that sometimes you are not going to get it. If you can change it, great. If not, make do with what is and still meditate.

So still look to create that meditation place, but accept that sometimes it might not have all of the qualities that you are after.

I woke up this morning to a Flash Flood warning on Dark Sky. I thought, “well they’ve got it wrong this time.” It now appears that I got it wrong. It is pouring outside. Rivers and puddles are forming all over the place.

May Meditation Nudge 8

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Creating a place to sit
When we sit it is helpful, indeed I might say important that we have a place that is conducive to us for calming our mind. A place of our own which is just for sitting. That just to think about this place, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, will bring the mind to a calmer place because of what you associate it with. A space that we look forward to returning to each time that we sit.

Such a place can be a room of your own if you are blessed with enough space at home, or it can be in the corner of a room. You can set a table up there with images and/or pictures of people who inspire you. You can place books on there with words that inspire you, a book that you perhaps pick up and read just before sitting. There might be a candle there, or some flowers. Perhaps you burn some incense just before you sit or use a vaporizer with some essential oils? AND it can just be very simple.

The important thing is that you create a place that is special for you for sitting.

May Meditation Nudge 7

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Motivation & Dedication
If you are joining the meditation sessions, you’ll know that just before the sitting starts I suggest that we sit for a moment and reflect on our reason for being there. In saying that I mean what is our motivation, our intention, our goal in deciding to spend a part of our day sitting in meditation? Something is bringing us to the meditation cushion. What is it?

At the end of the meditation, before getting up and resuming our day, I invite us to reflect back on the motivation that we set ourselves at the beginning of the meditation, and in our own way dedicate any benefits that we have received through meditation to the accomplishment of that motivation. You might feel that the benefits are intangible, maybe even questionable? However, we have spent time meditating instead of doing something else. We are building that habit of meditation for ourselves. We are building that muscle of meditation, taking that one step further in our practice. There is benefit alone in that. It is that idea of Familiarization that I spoke about two days ago.

By creating this moment to sit and reflect, we are creating a gap between daily life and our meditation. I am not suggesting that we will not receive benefit if we do not do this, but from my experience giving myself time to reflect on my motivation and dedicating the benefits, cements the practice that little bit deeper in me and helps me to take an awareness of the practice into my life.

Calling on MarsEdit users and AppleScripters. I am looking for a way of getting text from iA Writer to MarsEdit. Copy/Paste is an option, but I was wondering if there is any way that I can automate the process? Drafts is another app that I would like to transfer text from.

May Meditation Nudge 6

This is an ongoing series running through May to compliment the twice weekly meditation sessions that I will be hosting on YouTube. If you have any questions, please contact me.


Meditation is a marathon not a sprint
We live in a world of quick results (a lot of the time). Flick a switch and the light goes on. Look at the speed and capability of the device that you are reading this on.

Meditation is not the place to go for swift results. The results will come but they’ll take time. Meditation teaches me patience and acceptance of myself as I look at my mind, wanting it to be at peace with the world and seeing it struggle at times. An insight comes from one sitting and is gone within five minutes of getting up. It is not embedded into my being. So I go back to the practice.

This is one reason why I said a couple of days back to beware of judging your meditation sessions good or bad. Just stick with the practice. Be patient, and the results will come.