Hawaii is moving from a Stay-at-Home order to a Safer-at-Home order. Govenor Ige is allowing some retail stores and businesses to open on Thursday. Any visitors to the islands, if they can get here (there are not many flights), still have to quarantine for 14 days.

May Meditation Nudge 5

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.


Familiarization
My background in meditation comes via the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, specifically the Gelug-pa tradition, which I have been practicing for 30 years now. Although I have complimented my Tibetan practice with studies of other spiritual traditions and philosophies, my center and focus is the Gelug-pa tradition. In speaking about meditation I like to strip the conversation of Buddhist material while keeping the essence of what is useful to a wider audience regarding the practice of meditation.

With this in mind I find it useful to reflect on the Tibetan word for meditation, göm. Göm means ‘to familiarize’. Where I see meditation leading us comes out of this word göm.

Within the context of meditation we are looking to familiarize ourselves with our mind, to get to know it better, to spend time with our mind, to learn to be with and not react to difficult states of mind, and ultimately to transform our mind. The transformation here comes with familiarizing ourselves and developing positive states of mind - love, compassion, patience, generosity, and the like.

May Meditation Nudge 4

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.


Frequency - how often and for how long?
For me this is a question of quality over quantity. There are no awards in the meditation world for gritting your teeth and trying to sit for as long or as often as you can.

Build slowly and steadily.

If you sit for longer than you are truly comfortable with the danger is that in time you will develop an aversion to meditation. You look at your meditation cushion, you even just think of your meditation cushion and aversion to meditation starts to arise. Meditation starts to be associated with discomfort, mental and physical.

Scheduling & how long for:

  • Find a time or times in the day that work for you.
  • Times that fit into your wider life schedule.
  • Early morning is a good time, when the mind is settled and the world is waking up. However, if that is not a good time for you, that’s fine.
  • Better to sit for a short time everyday/every other day/etc, than grit your teeth and sit for an hour one day and never again for a week or two.
  • What do I mean by short time? In essence I mean a time that is comfortable for you. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever you are easily comfortable with. No rights or wrongs here. You will know what works for you. Use that. You can increase it in your own time with experience, if you want to.

In the same way that we can all have good and bad days, you will still have meditations that feel comfortable and others that feel difficult. However, by making your schedule workable for you, you will be able to handle the ups and downs.

As I said above, build slowly and steadily.

I have decided to retire my Now page from my business website, Crossing The Threshold. I feel that I allow it to languish too often. It sits there waiting to be updated. Also, I consider that between my Micro.blog site and Crossing The Threshold I give a pretty good idea as to what I am doing. At least enough that needs to be known!

May Meditation Nudge 3

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 Timer
A practical piece today.

I learnt to meditate before electronic aids were available. Well, some electronic timers were becoming available, but they didn’t work for me. Yes, I could have set an alarm clock for 15 minutes hence, but I found the sound rather jarring and so I didn’t use them. Instead I would do one of two things,

  1. sit until it felt like long enough,
  2. have a clock just in sight if I looked up and catch a glance at it occasionally to see how long I had been sitting.

However,

  • ‘1.’ didn’t feel right. My mind could very easily tell me when it had had enough as it looked for a way out of the mental gymnastics.
  • ‘2.’ put an added distraction in my head, “was ‘x’ minutes up yet?”

With our smart phones being able to hold apps, there are now many dedicated Timers or specifically Meditation Timers to be found. I recommend finding a timer because then you can set it for how long that you wish to meditate for and then just focus on your meditation. The nagging voice might come up, “how much longer do I have to sit for?” but that is just the mind distracting you. Note that distraction and come back to the object of meditation.

Here are some apps that I recommend (all iPhone),

  • Samsara - This is the app that I use in the YouTube sessions. It has a number of options for customization. However, I have dialed it back to some simple settings. I use it in the YouTube sessions as it sounds a gong at the beginning and end of the sessions. I find the gong sounds comfortable. It also will work if you turn the display off to save the phone’s battery.
  • Simple Meditation Timer - This is probably my favourite in that it is bare bones and just works. Set your time, press the button, a gong rings ‘x’ minutes later. I don’t use it on the YouTube videos as it does not have a starting gong. Like Samsara you can turn off the display and it will still work.
  • Simple Zazen Timer - Another bare bones app. This has a higher pitched gong sound that might appeal better to some. I don’t use it as the screen has to be left on while the timer is counting down.
  • And of course there is the countdown timer on the iPhone itself. I just don’t like the ringer sounds that come with that and so do not use it.

If you are using a phone to host your timer, I do recommend putting your phone into Airplane mode before sitting. That way you won’t be distracted by phone calls, text, notifications and the like.

If you do choose to use a smart phone timer, I do recommend finding one that will work easily for you and for which the sounds are comfortable to you. Ultimately you want something that you can just forget about so that you can just get on with your meditation.

Beware of finding the right timer becoming a more important project than your meditation!

I was just reminded of this quote by His Holiness the Dalai Lama,

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

Setting up, trying out and getting used to Indiepaper. Liking that I can pick up my saved articles in Feebin & NetNewsWire. // @cleverdevil @brentsimmons

I found myself in a field of sunflowers today.

With a bit of digging around to find out “how”, I updated my YouTube page to hopefully make it a little more navigable.

I’m ten posts off hitting my one thousandth post on Micro.blog. Make that nine now!

May Meditation Nudge 2

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 looking for good and bad meditations.
Whatever my meditation practice is, from my experience it is very easy to have judgements of how well I am doing. I can set arbitrary goals for myself based upon what I feel I should be aiming for, with the judge of whether I meet those goals being myself.

The problem with this arrangement is that both the self-imposed goals and the judgements of whether I have met them, is very subjective. In setting them up I drop into a duality of win or loose. There is a sense of aggression towards myself as to where I am at. This aggression can slip subtly into my daily life in my judgment of myself and others.

Instead, my invitation to you is to just follow the instruction of the meditation practice. Allow the wisdom and transformation to come out of the practice. Don’t go looking for answers, don’t go looking for insights, don’t go looking for anything. Just do the practice. Just follow the instruction.

I just sent out my second newsletter using Buttondown and was reminded how much I enjoy using the service.

May Meditation Nudge 1

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 Meditation Posture
First and foremost, be comfortable. If you are not comfortable, the body will be screaming, you will be distracted and at worst be put off the idea of meditation completely. Be comfortable.

Below I will run through the seven point posture as I was taught it:

  1. Sitting - Traditionally this is taught as the Lotus posture. If this is just not possible (I can’t maintain it!), one can sit in the half lotus, cross legged, kneeling (using a stool or cushions under your bum), or on a chair (feet on the floor).
  2. Hands - Either place your hands palm downwards on your thighs. Or with the palms upwards, right hand resting in the left hand and the two thumbs touching. The thumbs can be used to gauge your meditation. If you are trying too hard, they will tend to press together. If they drift apart, your mind is probably distracted.
  3. Back - The back should be straight but not rigid. As if your spine was like a stack of coins. If you are in a chair, do not lean back into the chair for support. That can make you drowsy.
  4. Shoulders - Level and not slumped.
  5. Head - Up with the chin slightly lowered and the jaw resting naturally, slightly open.
  6. Tongue on the palate - The tongue rests on the palate behind the top front teeth. This helps to stop the build up of saliva while keeping the mouth moist.
  7. Eyes - I was taught to keep the eyes open, with a soft gaze two or three feet in front of you, down the bridge of the nose. Meditation is an internal focus, not external. Some prefer to close the eyes (I sometimes do), just be careful not to fall asleep.

If at anytime you find yourself in a lot of discomfort, adjust your position and come back to the meditation.

May Meditation Schedule

Following the daily meditation sessions through April, I have decided to continue the meditations through May, just with fewer sessions. During May I will host two sessions a week, Monday and Thursday. They will be held live at 1:00pm Hawaiian time (to help - 3 hours behind the US West coast, 6 hours behind the East coast, 11 hours behind the UK, and 22 hours behind New Zealand). All videos will be archived on YouTube for later watching, as are the April sessions.

On the days between the meditations I plan to post short reminders about aspects of meditation on this page of my Micro.blog site. Just bookmark this page.

If there is sufficient interest and I can work things out logistically at home, I might have a meditation day, having three live meditation sessions (morning, lunchtime and late afternoon). Please let me know if you are interested in this and I will look into the logistics. Here are my contact details.

For more details, including April’s meditations, please visit my YouTube page. Otherwise, I hope to see you this coming Monday, May 4 for the first meditation session of the May series.

After 3½ weeks, in 45 minutes I will streaming my last daily April meditation session. Please do join me on my YouTube page.

I have enjoyed doing this through April and because of interest will be running further meditation sessions through May. Details to follow. 🧘🏼‍♂️

I know that I haven’t been out that much when cobwebs start appearing inside the truck! 🕸

The 11th Panchen Lama's birthday & disappearance

Today is the 31st birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as recognized by the current Dalai Lama on 14 May, 1995. Three days after His Holiness’ recognition of the young boy, then aged 6, the Chinese government placed him under house arrest, location unknown. Twenty five years later, the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts is still unknown and is undisclosed by the Chinese Government. At the time of his disappearance, human rights organizations called him the “youngest political prisoner in the world.”

Living on the North Shore of Maui, I see a little more rain than elsewhere on the island. The sun and warmth is appreciated, but the break the rain brings adds variety. Then I wake to a misty, wet morning. That is icing to the cake.

A friend parked his car outside our house before heading off on a bike ride. On returning we sat outside, 6 feet apart, and chatted for a good while. I just appreciated the human contact, even at a distant.

This Sunday Morning Jazz playlist on Apple Music reminds me of when I was a kid and the sort of music that my dad would have playing on a Sunday morning.

The cliffs at Ho’okipa.

My wife and I are just back from the cliffs near to Ho’okipa Beach Park. We went there to get some air and perspective. The exercise was a bonus! 🚶‍♂️

I suddenly find myself having a craving for a Chocolate Hobnob, a great British biscuit (cookie) for the uninitiated. There are certainly none here in Maui!

We were blessed with a beautiful rainbow this morning.

As life has got simpler, quieter with the stay at home order, I find myself marking the week by the evening that I put the trash out.