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.

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.