4.2 Do Nothing Q

The Elements of Meditation Practice 4 - Do Nothing
17 minutes
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Yeah, I mean that is that it is literally the pure practice of equanimity. So. And it's not just something you practice in your, in your meditation sit in the act of practicing in your meditation sit, it allows you to open up to deeper and more, more fundamental aspects of who you are. But it's also a wonderful life practice to it's like learning how to be more energy efficient and choosing your battles, you know, where like accepting the natural flow of life, and then in that stance of acceptance, you know, when you really do need to make a stand around something, then that energy is it's your attend to be more effective. And actually the most effective way this is traditionally what's talked about when they talk about not being attached to food of your actions. The most effective way to often make change in your life is to not be attached to the need to do so.

You know, it's just you do because that's what the right thing is to do in the moment or with the necessary thing in a moment, isn't it sort of just something you get a sense for over time and practice, I think is a lot About so my whole thing with meditation is, I think of it as it's basically accelerating the aging gracefully gradients that every, you know, there are people who are know how to who are aging well in the world and they're basically those are those are the people we could learn from there. It's it's meditations like learning how to do what they're learning is learning how to do it a little bit more deliberately earlier in life. So you can bring some of that maturity of old age into the prime of your life. And not that at all aging works that way. You can also age in a more contracted and rigid way, but it's about learning how to kind of go with the flow and having that more mature stance.

You know, equity is all about equanimity. You know, it's there's other things too, but that's why I'm obsessed with equanimity. Because I so I'm not a cuantos you know, at least I wasn't for so long. I was just spastic and insane and smashing things and breaking bones and being ridiculous and I had to like learn how to like win. work so you can use this as a strategy to work with your own energy. It was it was talking about being having the agitation quality, you know I you can have, were we right up and down on these energy currents of our own excitability and pushing away in our own, especially when we've had traumatic history, that energy gets stuck and you can get into these fight flight responses so quickly.

Equanimity is learning how to actually back off when you see that happening you can let you can watch that spike come up and and just Peter right out and you don't have to follow along with it. That's sanity. And that's literally that's probably the best definition or like a good definition of sanity is the bet is an OK definition of sanity. See, I just went I was like, No, no, not going up that peak. That's the greatest definition of sanity that you know, and whatever, some crazy shit but so you can learn how to back off those impulses, you know, but you're still just human beings screwing up doing all the things humans do. But you you know, it's that that's the essence of mindfulness to is that starting to know your own rackets.

You On patterns so you always thread just like you thread concentration these practices thread equanimity through you thread that friendliness through there those are the skills are there that's fundamental life skills, you know, and choose what's important for you to thread through. I guess that's a really empowering part of this is that you make your life what you want it to be. It's like what qualities of existence? Do you want to train in yourself? Yeah, I don't know what they're going to be. But they does tend they tend to clump in a certain way around ones that are make like better.

You know, various people choose to deliberately be more mean spirited, but you could you could do that if you wanted to. It is training. Yeah. That's the next door class. The next is the elements of wrath. So any questions about the do nothing or anything about anything, and I'll say a little bit about how we put them all together.

But so I guess my intention of this was just to for those of you who are meditators to kind of just, you know, give a little bit of a refresher on some of the principles. There are many elements to a meditation practice. You know, we just talked about some of them today, but there are other ones. But it I guess, if you weren't, if you didn't have a practice, you haven't done one before that you've got an idea of something you might do now, and if it felt you felt compelled to do it, you'd know how to do it. I really think of these as, like I said, as building blocks. So for me, a basic go to practice just knowing without having to think about it all the time is just a really good idea.

And if you have so you can think about what we did today is or one of these that felt like, you know, or over recombination of a few of these that felt right for you, then I would try to make that your default practice. The typical one people do is a kind of concentration practice, you know, just sit the with the breath. Do that for a little while and then maybe you have a letting go at the end you just relax and kind of just let yourself be in a finished up with a loving kindness. That's like a good routine. But if you got emotional challenges or things going on, you can do Even deliberately implement some mindfulness but I really think of the mindfulness as being a dated a moment to moment practice. You know, it's something that gets a lot of mileage out of just using it as you're cruising around.

But they all do. The compassion does too. So does anybody feel like they don't know how to meditate anymore? Anyone feel like they don't have necessarily a practice they could do if they wanted to go tomorrow and do a meditation sit. Mission accomplished. Okay.

Any any questions about meditation? Hey, we're here. elements of meditation. Anyone feel depressed? That like, Oh, no, no, you're Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. Well, yeah, I'm happy to talk about that because it's actually trying to make a little bit more realistic for people. I've actually gone through, gone through a phase where I don't meditate very Much, I've had to shift into a practice where I'm doing more physical practices. So I tend to meditate. Now, at the end of the day, you know, I'll meditate for 20 minutes at night or half an hour at night. But my main practice in the morning is a core movement practice, because I and it's sort of a meditation.

So moving meditation, because I'm following my breath, and I'm falling along. But I found that I just come through a period, a lot of energetic instability and like feeling really dysregulated and more reactive than I've been in a long time. And there's lots of reasons for that. But so I found it very, very hard to sit and do the typical mindfulness practice that I would normally do a concentration practice, where I'll just get either concentrated or I would explore particular feelings, because the feelings I would go into would be so strong, that I would be like, I couldn't meditate anymore. And I've been meditating a long time. So that's just the reality of my life.

So I decided why, why am I making this hard on myself, I'm not going to meditate. I'm going to go and hit the punching bag or go bike around or whatever. And that's what I find really helps get that energy out. And then once the energy is out, then I'll come sit down. And then that's why the end of the day, it's great, I find I'm able to do that. At past times in my life, I've been able to sit with really very uncomfortable feelings and emotions and sensations.

And that's not been a problem. For whatever reason, this is the strategy's working for me now. So that's what I mean by being your own teacher, like, you know, there's the fantasy of what this is supposed to look like the ideal, and some people can do that ideal. Some people can sit every day, and they have a fairly straightforward set of experiences, or they have a wide range of experiences, but you're gonna you're a different person. So you got to look at what's gonna work for you. You got to start somewhere, though, and the practices are a place to start.

So yeah, that's, that's a little bit what practice looks like now. And it's also changed you know, there's a time when it was super, super, super concentrated and was so good and all that special, cool stuff was happening. And I read about in the book, and I was like, getting enlightened. And then I was just like, I just like the shit hit the fan and I was done. I was going in the opposite direction. And I was like de evolving.

So no Go figure. Anyone else want to have your practice trajectories? Yeah, I guess the way I see it is it's like, it's sort of up and down. But overall, there's a sense in which the baseline, there's definitely a way there's no question. I'm happier in my life now than I was 15 years ago, before I started practicing because I, you know, I'm my connections are deeper, my relationships are deeper my capacity to stay with my creative ideas, like my service, all those things, you know, there's so much more meaning and fulfillment, but I think I was saying, Yeah, saying this to you the line I like about how practice develops this guy, Bill Hamilton, who is a very no nonsense American meditator and he was like, hurts more, suffers less, hurts more, suffer less. That was his summary, and I add 200% my experience hurts more because there's less coming in between you and stuff, less resistance, you're more and more open to things.

So you care. The screwed up stuff in the world you know you you've you feel your own emotional pain more other people's pain more. But because you have equanimity, like the suffering comes from resisting that or struggling with it or fighting with it or holding on to it, you have more of this stance of knowing that things are coming and going. And so you just let go. So you you you reset more quickly. So more pain, but then it's more reset.

For me it's worth it. That's that's very much a product of a kind of insight or mindfulness practice. I think people who exclusively work with more concentration bliss practices, they may have a different report. Maybe it's maybe that's the one. So listen, ponies and unicorns Who knows? Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah, well actually, it Sort of like what we were saying that rhythm of withdrawal and return, where there's a time when you're really engaged in your life and there's a time when you kind of pull out a little bit to recharge. That's really what retreats are, how I see retreats, most people see retreats, it's an opportunity to reconnect to kind of your own yourself, your values. It's also a place where you really talk about the gym, you can really develop concentration, clarity equanimity in a way that you may not be able to do in a sitting practice, because you're just a consecutive hour after hour nature of a retreat. And so what happens is you start these things you hear, so it's very interesting, it the insights get very, very deep and they just keep going. And it's like, and insights are like it's like fractal, you hear the same insight letting go, but you can understand what letting go means deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.

And eventually, you can get to a point where it's like, you're letting go of your entire Life and you see what that actually means not just the words. And so practices, you know, traditionally in a Buddhist way, it's designed to bring you into your freedom, you know, to, to, to train you the sensorium in a way that, that you're training yourself to realize that you're, you know, not just this isolated person over here, but you're part of this rich, alive, energetic network of people and that, that's, they're your brothers and sisters, you know, and so you get those insights really strongly. So it's amazing for rejuvenating your practice, like and reconnecting to the motivation for doing it. But they can be challenging to retreats because you're sitting with yourself, hour after hour, day after day, and I know I'm not always my best company, not at all, especially the beginning.

It was like, this guy's so boring. Yeah, and then challenging things can come up to challenging feelings and emotions because you're working through. It's like you're fully getting through the layers, so Oh, stuff from your history old traumas they can come into the surface. So that's again, a safe container where that can happen. Yeah. Curious about meditation.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's the number one thing people ask about because the optics of meditation are terrible. It looks like they look like you're just, it's like you're just sitting it seems like the ultimate selfish act. And the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and you're just, you know, you're in a cave blissed out, but the basic idea, you know, you like, you know, meditation is interpersonal hygiene matters, like I practice so I can be more of service, I can be more efficient, more presence of people in my lives more caring with the people that are there so I can when, when I need to respond and act i can do so more efficiently and more effectively.

You know, I really think that practice that's you needed a period where you're kind of working on yourself to be able to do that because in the middle of the Hurly burly, you're only almost ever just reaction and reactivity. So your most skillful responses are not coming out. And a lot of teachers would say, you're actually often making things worse, because you're bringing your own violence, your own, your own fierce anger and convictions, your own, like, you know, attachments to the way in which you're trying to solve a problem. And it's actually creating all this friction and more reactivity in other people, and it could be making things worse. Whereas if you have 20 minutes a day, or half an hour, a day or an hour a day, do a meditation practice where you're working on being more sane and compassionate, then you can be much more effective out in the world.

And I mean, that's the traditional movement. Within the world. Spirituality is always this, this, this idea of withdraw and return, that you withdraw to work on yourself, so you're able better able to return and be more effective in that compassionate response. And that's kind of a classic movement of those sages and saints. It's that back and forth description. If you only ever give yourself that out there.

I mean, I see it all the time with caregivers with activists, you burn out and all of a sudden, now you're Anybody, whereas if you just took a little bit of time for yourself, then you would be potentially much more effective. But guess what else, you also deserve the compassion, you also deserve the peace if you don't give yourself that kindness and that care, how are you going to be able to really end up giving it to other people, you know, you're going to get to the bottom of your reservoir. So hopefully that's a decent answer. Yeah, and there's actually there's a wonderful essay about this, that Thomas Merton wrote in the 60s, was called, it's like, something like activism in a time of crisis or something. And it's all about what meditation or what a contemplative practice has to offer activists excuse living in the time when it was huge change.

He was very interested in also the social justice movements of his day. And that's also why you see within traditions, you know, there's, I mean, there's so much I can say about this. There's an entire book actually called mysticism, which is a brilliant book written in the 20s by a woman named Evelyn Underhill. And it's all about it, basically. The challenge the mystical the beliefs of the day, which is that mystics were kind of checking out that most of these great mystics and saints, a lot of them were amazing changemakers they were deep activists, and they depended on their practice to make that happen. And actually, some of the most effective activists of all have had that foundation.

She really kind of puts it together and in the 1920s languages, it's a good book. Yeah, but it's a great question, you know, and so that's what we try to do. We, it's easy, we work on practice, or about working on ourselves or about trying to be more present. But we're also interested in understanding how people want to give back and what that looks like, and how we can support each other in those endeavors to but I think the the other thing to say about this is, I used to get really down on myself because I'm, I'm not, you know, at the food station in Africa, because that's what my dad did. And that's what my mom did. It's like, you know, you, you we each give back in a way we can give back based on our circumstances and who we are and where we are.

So the Service is a very deep and multi level thing caring for the world is very deep and multi layered thing. Some people are going to do it in a very obvious way. They're the they're the heroic caregivers in the social justice activists and reformers, but other people, it's through their relationships with their family, you know, and like being that presence in their family or in some other mode. And so I think that you have to really, you know, there's so much suffering that can happen when you're judging yourself by these ideals or standards, that but but that you're the form in which you can be most present in your life and most caring for people around you might look quite a bit different. So looking at your life with through that lens, you know, is that's important, because otherwise you're just, you know, you're just gonna create a lot of suffering for yourself.

And when you create something for yourself, you created for people around you, because we're all interconnected. That's the other punch line. It's like, that's it, you know, everybody, you know, if someone's in a bad mood, then they can often spread that bad mood around. I mean, we know that so it's Awesome, good question. Now there's so much stuff going on with meditation. There's actually it's a really interesting time to be alive because things are really screwed up in lots of ways.

But then there's also all this good stuff that's happening. It's sort of like the devil and daughter. You know, it's like neck and neck. Like, who's gonna win? Nobody? Probably.

No. Thanks for coming, guys. And you can come up to feel free to come and say hi, or if you have a question that you want to ask me in private, that's totally understandable. You can also email me too.

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