10-Day Meditation Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

The Big Picture

5 min - Talk
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How can we work with our mind more skillfully in meditation? Here's a talk on the big picture of meditation, the benefits, the challenges, and some of the techniques we'll be using in our meditation practices.
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Jul 01, 2017
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Welcome. We're going to take a moment or two just to kind of look at the bigger picture of the meditation experience. And I want to start by speaking really briefly to my own teachings lineage experience with the practice. So I was fortunate enough to grow up really near Tassajara Zen Center and my mama took me there when I was young. So I had my first taste of Buddhism and Zazen meditation. And then of course, as I started deepening my yoga practice, I discovered pranayama, which for me has been an incredible entry into meditation because it's such an organic natural way to kind of clear out the mind and heighten awareness. I also spent a fair amount of time up in Spirit Rock in Northern California studying Vipassana meditation, which I found to be really holistic and inclusive of not just breath and mind, but also kind of what's happening around us, the emotional body, the energetic body. So we're kind of distilling many of those teachings for this experience together. Some of the techniques that we'll be covering, of course, involve watching the breath, cultivating breath awareness, learning how to sit as comfortably as possible, and then as skillfully as possible, learning to kind of watch, sit with, observe the thinking mind so that we can start to create a little bit of space between awareness or witness and the kind of constant fluctuation of thought. So a moment or two on the benefits and the challenges of a meditation practice. It's not an easy endeavor. And there are many, many, many different variations, as many would say there are many paths to God. So I invite you to experience a lot of these different techniques and just kind of see what resonates with you. Just because you don't immediately drop into one technique doesn't mean that you don't meditate well, just means maybe you want to experience a different technique, or maybe you need to stay with it and kind of let it work its magic on you. Some of the obvious benefits, calmer mind, heightened sensitivity, a deeper connection to your own self, your body, your presence, it can help sleep, it can help focus, it can absolutely increase capacity for whatever life is thrown at you. Many, many, many benefits. And I invite you to kind of explore what they are for you and share them as they arise. I also want to take just a moment to speak to some of the challenges because I feel like maybe this doesn't get quite enough attention. They're the obvious ones. Sitting still can be challenging. We need open hips, we need strong back, we need patience, we need to explore to figure out what works for us physically. And on a more subtle sort of abstract level, if we're not accustomed to being quiet with ourselves, paying attention to the inner landscape, it can stir up a lot. We lead really, really full busy lives with a lot of demands. And it's easy to kind of push things aside. And then in the stillness and the silence, they start to arise. And maybe some of them are really sweet and really positive. And maybe some of them are a little bit scary and a little bit challenging. But I promise you from my own experience, from experiences of people I've worked with, friends, students, family, if you can stay with it, if you can cultivate that ability to be still, and to breathe through whatever is arising, then all of that stuff that gets pushed aside has an opportunity to clear out. And if it's arising, you will find the tools to work with it. I really believe life doesn't hand us what we can't handle. Sometimes it's right on the edge, but we can work through it. And ultimately, that meditation space is one of the greatest tools to listen to what is arising, to befriend ourselves, to listen to that deeper knowing the wisdom of the heart, the wisdom of our intuition, so that we can dance with what life offers. So again, your own benefits, your own challenges. Trust yourself. Listen to yourself throughout this experience and share what you may be going through. I really welcome you to the journey. I'm excited to share the journey with you. I welcome questions, insights, anything that may arise. Thank you for embarking on this challenge. Enjoy and namaste.


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