1.2 Concentration Q

The Elements of Meditation Practice 1 - Concentration
7 minutes
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So maybe we'll do a little debrief. anyone have a question about that technique? What were some of the challenges that happened? Or what were some of the things you're wondering about? Like, imagine that was it? Imagine that was a practice you're going to do for the rest of your life?

Well, when you think about that, what is it? Do you have any questions? Like, how's this gonna work or whatever? Yeah. Yeah. So that's interesting that it happened.

As soon as you were supposed to do the thing we're supposed to be here to do so then I was pressured. I gotta meditate, right? Sometimes the body can get tense, like, kind of get uptight, you're like, I gotta do this right? It'd be great. We do the last meditation, which is when you can't screw up, and nobody can hear you. You can't screw up any of them.

But it's like, where you can't a little bit but by being really tense, you know, because then you're just practicing being tense, you know? So the question was, had sort of an observation that as soon as you were fine before you started metta. Testing is perfect, comfortable as soon as it became the official meditation time, and all of a sudden, all this tension and body discomfort was there. And so what to do about that. So, the first thing is to kind of really try to be like, you know what, the stakes are pretty low here, I'm just sitting and paying attention to my breath, and you're allowed to sit in a way that's comfortable for you. So if you need to sit in a comfortable chair, that's totally good.

If you need to sit in a couch, you know, some people sit meditating in bed, there's a reason we do sit in a, in a classic meditation position, just with the spine up and, and your, your legs open like this, because it just creates a really solid foundation underneath you and a sense of alertness in the spine. So it helps to be in a posture, you can do that sitting. So I would say the first thing to do is just kind of make yourself comfortable that way, even leaning against the wall. And and then also give yourself a break. There's gonna be pains that come and go seeing if you can really be to like, back off, and be really gentle with yourself and in terms of your attitude with the practice. And then finally, you can actually work with uncomfort body sensations, sensations in a practice, like there's two ways, two general ways One way is to focus away.

So in a concentration practice, you might have pain in your back, but you could just focus on your breath. And eventually, if you can get absorbed enough, it can be hard because it's distracting. You can eventually just sort of that stuff goes away, because you're focused elsewhere and you get concentrated. The other option is to actually go into the discomfort itself and use it as a something to meditate on. And we'll talk a little bit about that in the mindfulness section. So yeah, good question.

Hope you feel more comfortable in the second one, you're gonna lean against the wall there be anything. Yeah, that's a good one. Glad somebody asked that. So, falling asleep in fact, getting sleepy in a meditation is one of the main hindrances that go on hindrances in Buddhism. It's like, in other words is a pain in the asses? Isn't?

What's the Buddha once called them probably when he was pissed and tired. So how do you work with them? The main thing is don't meditate when you're really tired. That sounds like, you know, common sense. But we are often so sleep deprived. And we're banging from one thing to another, and we finally sit down to meditate.

It's like, it all catches up to us. The only way we were staying awake was by moving so fast. So it's natural to feel sleepy and it's harder to meditate when it's sleepy, there's no doubt about it. So the two different options again, you can choose a time when you're most alert when you're not super sleepy. So you can actually get the most of the practice in a way or you can work with the sleepiness. There's certain things you can do like take a few deep breaths and the breath is energizing breath is your best friend in life.

And in practice learning how to use the breath to bring energy up, like breathing in slow and kind of directing it upwards, you can actually get yourself feeling a little bit more refreshed, like connecting to the sort of oxygenating quality of breathing. So there's that there's standing up, meditate, standing up is a great way to do it. Just you know, it's just as legitimate to stand up and keeps the standing kind of keeps you awake and get your body active. You can get up and jump around a little bit, dunk your head in some cold water. I mean, very all these things work is if you're in a retreat or something, you're like, Oh, god, this is going to be agony. Because then you're just like, you know, you're like one of those punching those sand bottom dolls swaying back and forth.

Like these are the Zen lurch. So hopefully those strategies help Yeah, please. Oh, yeah. So the Liz just mentioned the value of just opening your eyes, how beneficial that can be. When you're really sleepy, it can flood everything with light and kind of like wake you up a little bit. So some people do that as a strategy.

Yeah. Boy, great question. So, my life, you're describing the challenge of my life. So the question was, tips on how to decelerate yourself slow down enough to actually get to a place where you feel like you can meditate. Was that your experience today that you're still kind of accelerated? Not today?

Yeah, it's a real world problem. So this is something that's going to be very different for different people. I have tried different strategies and different things work at different times for me for that Sometimes the act of you know, when I have a regular place to go to to meditate, I have my spot, I have all my associations with meditation. They're like, I got my little Buddha statue, and I got my, you know my bell. And it's like a nice picture of my wife. And it's like, awesome.

As soon as I sit down there, I start to feel a little bit more settled. And it can be that having a go to place and all those associations with that place can start to help you feel a little bit more settled. And, and it can be that when you sit down to work, even if you're feeling very agitated and excitable, as you start to get concentrated, that can start to settle a little bit. That definitely happens for some people. There's also a mindfulness way of working with it, which we'll talk about shortly around where you're working directly with that agitation is a way to work with it, and I'll talk about that. But other times, I'm too agitated.

I actually don't need to meditate right now. I need to go hit a punching bag or I need to go and like run or get on my bike and just walk in nature, whatever it is, and I've learned to do that. So often if I'm in a very agitated mood, I'll do a physical practice. I'll do yoga, I'll do, like some kind of martial arts, the punching thing I'll do, I'll bike you know, those are all perfectly legitimate. So you got to kind of learn about your own nervous system and what works for you probably have a some of you probably have a sense of it already. A lot of us.

What do you do when you're feeling really in that way? Sometimes talking to a good friend, someone who's really grounding can be the right thing. So there's definitely ways to do it in practice, and you got to kind of see how it works for you. But don't discount those other practices because they're just as important

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