Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
People who teach mindfulness meditation often recommend counting breaths to keep the attention focused on the breath. Methods vary little, all some variation of counting to ten. Some recommend counting inhales and exhales, others count only exhales. Most count each breath from one to ten and then start over again at one. Another method has the meditator count exhales to ten, and then count exhales down from nine to zero. Repeat. But you get the point. Focus on the breath by counting each breath. If you lose your count, or realize you’ve counted past ten because your mind has wandered, just return to one and start over.
But sometimes the counting becomes so automatic, so routine, that I can count from one to ten and repeat, barely noticing the count, my mind wandering all the while. Little work with focused attention is being done. To counter this I learned a very effective counting method from James Austin at a workshop on Zen and the Brain.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
I've been posting some stuff from a book I'm working on. Here's more:
Years ago I sat as a student in an eight-week MBSR class. There was a woman sitting next to me who was disturbed about the class. During the second class she spoke up. She said she was an executive at a high stress firm, and she liked the pace. Type A-plus, she wanted to move fast and was afraid meditation would make her lose a step. She didn’t want to be all calm and laid back and warm feeling. She wanted to clear her head and be creative. She wondered if she shouldn’t be in the class. The teacher missed a tremendous teaching moment. Meditation could help her realize who she was, not change her into a person she didn’t want to be. The beauty of the practice is that it offers almost exactly what anyone wants to get out of it. For crying out loud, this same MBSR program trained military snipers. But the teacher told her she was wrong. She should be all calm and laid back and hippie-like. She would be so much happier. The woman left at break and never came back.
I swore then that if I ever taught it would be for people like her.