This is a rough draft of the notes and little essays posted to the Facebook RSMTT page in late February 2107 -

Radiance Sutras Meditation Teacher Training

The beautiful skills of Radiance Sutras Meditation


  • A checklist of skills 3
  • When do you feel like yourself? 8
  • The Mothers of Invention 9
  • Go at your own pace 10
  • Time to reread Meditation Made Easy 11
  • 3 Simple Sensing Meditations 12
  • The Basic Recipe for Meditation 15
  • "Continuing" rather than "bringing attention back." 18
  • No Scolding 19
  • Wounds Turn Golden 20
  • Drugs and withdrawal from drugs 22
  • Practice Doesn't Make Perfect 24
  • Emotion is an Activation of Biological Intelligence 25
  • Friends with the Life Force 27
  • Mind Wandering is Mental Preparation 28
  • Being Interested 29
  • Meditation for Lovers of Life 30
  • Being With Whatever Was Suppressed 31
  • How to have fewer thoughts during meditation 32
  • Lies Meditation Teachers Tell 33
  • Dreaming is involuntary 34
  • The Judgy Syndrome 36
  • The Seven Dwarfs 40
  • Make up your own names for your Dwarfs. 41
  • Go at your own pace with these teachings 42
  • Your natural everyday self 43
  • The anxiety of withdrawing from anti-anxiety drugs 44
  • Touch 46
  • Previsualization 48
  • Savor the Fullness 49
  • The muddled meaning of "mindfulness" 51
  • Intersecting rhythms of your life 52
  • Savor the tiny 53
  • Steven: Meditation is like Jazz 54
  • The difference between giving instructions and bugging people 55
  • Camille on Freedom 56
  • Meditation is not an end in itself 57
  • Absorption and transitions 58
  • UNPREDICTABILITY AND SURPRISE 61
  • ADDICTION TO PERFECTION 62
  • We need to continually be upgrading our language. 63
  • The devastating power of shame 64



A checklist of skills


The Skills of Instinctive Meditation - I just sat down and tossed this off in 20 minutes, so it's a first draft. This is probably very similar to previous skill lists I’ve posted. You can choose what you prefer to call this system – Radiance Sutras Meditation, Instinctive Meditation, or Pranava Meditation.

This is a simple way of talking about the skills we are learning and practicing, that allow meditation to be a healthy practice for a lifetime.

  • Welcome rhythms of restfulness and restlessness and the unpredictable alternation from one to the other – learn to trust the rhythms of life
  • Welcome all the senses: balance, motion, joint position, skin sensing, deep touch, light touch, tendon stretch, oxygen, hunger, thirst, need to excrete, “repair-sensations,” vision, hearing, taste, smell
  • Learn to selectively attend to the most useful sense or combination of senses in a given moment
  • The skill of welcoming the transitions between levels of perception of sound, emotion, sensation, and light – from the obvious levels, to subtle energies and sensations, to very quiet sensations and perceptions, to silent hums and vibrations, to just barely there pulsations
  • Welcome sensuality and erotic sensations and emotions
  • Welcome all the emotions – sad, mad, scared, peaceful, powerful, joyful, and all the near-infinite fine-grained expressions (excited, sensuous, creative, hurt, bored, lonely, intimate, nurturing, and so on)
  • Welcome all the instincts: homing, exploring, playing, resting, nesting, mating, bonding, socializing
  • Learn to welcome the weird and often chaotic sensations of the instincts sorting, transmuting, evolving, cooking, mixing, melding, transforming, refining, combining, learning from mistakes, planning future actions, mental practice
  • Learn to follow faint sensory trails
  • Learn to practice in a way that goes with your essential nature and gives freedom rather than imprisonment and suppression
  • Learn to practice in a way that gives you access to the essential bliss of your being
  • Learn to discern good pain from bad pain, as when you are doing asana or exercising and stretching to your limit
  • Learn to handle the stress release that is caused by relaxation and restfulness
  • Learn to delight in the ecstasy of resting when you are exhausted and letting the body repair itself – the sensations of recovery are amazing
  • Learn to ride through mind wandering and wander into your mantra or “area of interest” of your meditation – that is, learn to simply continue
  • Learn to allow meditation to be centered in what you love
  • Learn to allow all the negative or positive voices to just chat away and not feel you have to do anything about it – the brain has as many connections as there are stars in the universe
  • Learn to accept all the “noise” in your head as just the chakras (the instincts) talking to each other and working things out
  • Learn to accept the way the 8 R’s show up in each moment - the wonderfulness of resting, the painfulness of reviewing mistakes, the pain-ecstasy of releasing tension, the fast-slow movies of your to-do lists coming to awareness and then fading
  • Learn the way the TABOOS feel, the sense that you are doing something forbidden or naughty or illegal – being yourself always feels taboo, as does increasing the level of vitality you are circulating
  • Learning to allow meditation to feel like dancing, massage, sex, great music, wandering in nature, surfing, gazing at the stars, feeding, sleeping, being at a party – all at the same time
  • Finding the places in your body where awareness likes to rest and party
  • Finding the words, images, motions, sounds, that evoke what you love and love to be infused with – the skill of building your technique
  • The skill of knowing your personal doorways – dvara – and means of union – yukti
  • The skill of not being mean to yourself and blessing any little self-harm you detect
  • The skill of effortless attending – because you have constructed meditation to be what you love about prana, pranashakti, the life force
  • The skill of meditating in accord with your essence, your nature and being KIND to yourself
  • The skill of welcoming your future self into being
  • The skill of saying yes to what is essential to you in life - OM is the primordial YES to life – learn to continually bathe in your yes to life
  • The skill of knowing when to meditate and for how long, how to enter and exit meditation, knowledge of transitions
  • The skill of holding and being held – allowing what you love and are holding in your heart and mind to hold you
  • The skills of the different styles of attention, from detached noticing, to interest, to wonder, delight, avid absorption, warm embracing, melting, being one with
  • The skill of finding the right language for yourself, that works with your nature and preferences – whether it is an emotional language, or sensuous, instinctive, psychological, scientific, biological, or spiritual.



Vocabulary:

Skill: proficiency, dexterity that is acquired through training or experience. A developed talent or ability. An art or technique, particularly one requiring use of hands or body.

Vijñāna – The act of distinguishing or discerning, understanding. Recognizing. Skill, proficiency, art. Worldly or profane knowledge, as opposed to jñāna, “knowledge of the true nature of God.”

śakti – Power, ability, strength. Faculty, skill, the female aspect of the divine.

Mayya’s additions:

Expanding on a skill from Lorin's skill list:

The skill of welcoming your future self into being.

That would be the most useful skill for me for now.
However, I would say that the word "welcoming" doesn't fully describe what is required when some new part of future self comes into being.

Say, you are a woman and you love a man. You have been girlfriend and boyfriend for several years, and now you decided to take your relationship one step further and move in together, as a couple.

After first days of sheer excitement, you realize that no matter how dearly you love and appreciate your mate, you now have to learn how to live with him in your house. Like, he is a neat guy, but he does leave his mug on the coffee table every freaking night... And he likes to cook fish, and you hate the smell... And when he cooks, he listens to heavy rock, and you would have liked it far quieter in the kitchen.. In the morning, you want both of you to go for a run, because that's your idea of fun, and he wants to go get breakfast together at the dinery instead. In short, you pray that your love for each other can get you adjusted to living together. But all passes, and you make a wonderful married couple

I think that it is the same when a new part of you moves into the house of your being. There is some shifting, some renovation, furniture rearrangement, and arguments whether you want to have a TV and sound system in the house. And whether your Mom should come visit for two months or two weeks....But then, with this new part being at home, the house of your being becomes richer, and there is more love and care and power and creativity flowing in it.

(I think Mayya mentioned the skill of tolerating the play of opposites – let’s add that here)

Alison Potts - I often, in meditation, feel three inner guide, three women, three "me"s - around the area of my belly - deep in my core. I can see and feel their form. The first is seven year old me - who has much to remind me of (my age of very fresh and rich contact with the depths) the middle woman is me now (and I am in middle age, so that seems appropriate) and the third women is older and someone who has lived both in ancient times and now, far ahead. She has seen and been with me my whole life including that which is unseen to me. I feel the vibration of her wisdom and it is so steadying and shining and reassuring - she is saying "everything is fine, everything will be fine, it already has been and is." So I am flanked by past and future. I am in the middle of this texture of three dimensions. Whenever I feel unsteady or unsure or just want to come into full integration, I meditate with these three.


Lorin: Speaking of lists: keep in mind that about half of everyone's time in meditation is spent sorting to-do lists. This is okay.

The only way to minimize this is to have a separate time that you dedicate to sorting your action plans. This would take part of the And even if you did that, even if you spent an hour refining your lists, you would still spend time during meditation fine-tuning the choreography, and savoring the beautiful feeling of going through your moves.

Go DEEPER into the meaning of the Triple Shakti model, the three loves of Shakti. How wonderful that there are RESTING, HEALING, and ACTING. What a beautiful system.

Continue to de-hypnotize yourself from the ignorant notion that the brain is supposed to SHUT UP during meditation (STFU, if you know what that means).
Go deeper into the sense of Welcoming All Parts of the Self.

These skills could probably be grouped according to various kinds of similarity.
When do you feel like yourself?

The other day I went to a party and my friend, who was hosting it, was wearing a furry outfit, and looked sort of like a giant rabbit. He looked so happy and free.
This made me realize that putting on a costume can be a signal that "now I can be my real self." In other words, a disguise or costume REVEALS the natural self.
For some people, dressing up to look "normal" is slightly uncomfortable, a necessary compromise, but to be sloughed off whenever possible.

When we approach meditation, always the intent is to set ourselves free to be ourselves. So experiment with meditating naked, meditating wearing only flowers in your hair, meditating wearing your favorite silk, meditate in the garden wearing old dirty jeans, meditate near the pool wearing a bathing suit, meditate in the snow wearing your outdoor gears.

We each have many subpersonalities, aspects of the self, and we want every one of them to feel welcome into the space of our meditation. Give them a chance to show off what they can do. Each of your sub personalities has a lot to give to your other aspects. The SHOPPER in you may know how to go hunting for just the right food, or restaurant, or clothes, or perfume, or flowers that delights you. The mother in you may know how to make all the other inner people in you comfortable and well-fed, because that is what moms do. The Wild Rebel Rocker in you may have the energy to break all the stupid rules and show you how to set yourself free. The Trusted Friend in you knows how to listen to another being and let them spill their heart, and keep their secrets secret. The Wise Ancient Being in you has perspective and sees the Big Picture.

In practice, when you meditate, you may flow through many of your subpersonalities, and in one moment you may feel naked and alone, in the next moment dressed up and at a party, in the next moment walking in nature, and in the next flying through infinite space or confronting a strange, unknown sensation.
Therefore always be cultivating both the sense of being at home, in your most cozy comfortable self, and welcome the sense of adventure, letting yourself morph into whatever costume or camoflage that occurs to you. In this way, meditation is simultaneously soothing and thrilling, and every moment brings a new adventure.



The Mothers of Invention

No matter how wild or challenging meditation is, I doubt that there is anything that matches the intensity of actually giving birth, raising a child, then setting them free.

So all you mothers out there, I want you to consider that you might be decorated veterans of meditation, with all kinds of awards and ribbons for surviving each of the stages of tending, bonding, nurturing, educating, and letting go.

I'm not a woman, and Camille and I don't have kids, so I don't really know. I have three sisters, who each have kids, so I am Uncle Lorin to seven kids, but that is still knowledge at a distance.

I want all the mothers in this group to think about this for awhile and own it.
The role of a meditation guide at times is that of midwife, helping the individual to give birth to themselves. In the sense of allowing their inner richness to come into their body.

Many people live slightly above their bodies, or sideways, and we are welcoming them into reality, into their senses, into their sensations, instincts, and adaptive survival skills.

To enter the body.



Go at your own pace

Don't worry about hurry. Just find those meditations that support your life, and enjoy your life.

Now that we have gone over the major languages of experience – the senses, instincts, elements, emotions, rhythms – let this knowledge and set of skills sink in and become your own.

The minimal path is to just enjoy your own meditation practice and get help when you need it, get your questions answered when they arise. Read Meditation Made Easy slowly, or The Radiance Sutras, or Meditation Secrets for Women, a little bit at a time. Come to one of the 5-day retreats. At the teacher training retreat you can practice the skills. Don't worry about a thing. Just show up.

The medium path is to meditate and develop and explore several of your own practices, and study the material at MeditationTT.com and read Meditation Made Easy several times, and begin teaching with your friends.

The intensive path is to study an hour a day or more, reading and re-reading the books, make the material at meditationtt.com your own, and practice teaching.
Select your own way of being with the material. We are all different. You want this information and the skills of adapting meditation to become second nature, a comfortable and joyous expression of your being.


Maria Ramos / The minimal path has stretched my experience in such a way! First things first...getting healthy and establishing a personal practice that supports my life. That is so huge!!!! Life saving, life changing, life enriching. Nothing minimal about it. From this platform I can continue learning, exploring new skills. Thank you for this post!
Time to reread Meditation Made Easy

Meditation Made Easy was written as a teacher training manual, and then edited to be easy to read. The book is designed to be read over and over, at different speeds.
Let's call it MME.

MME was designed so that you can read a sentence or two, then think about it, take a walk and notice the principle, and practice with it. There are practices throughout the book.

Each sentence is to be savored. If you have read the entire book from cover to cover, then read it again either faster or slower.
Use whatever method of learning appeals to you. For example, you could write down any interesting sentences from MME into your journal. Or put them on cards. Make a chart or draw a picture. Find a youtube video that illustrates the idea. Make up a dance or listen to a song about the idea.

Go through MME and count up all the mini-meditations and the longer meditations. Make you own list.

By reading and re-reading, and then savoring the book sentence-by-sentence, you will make the language patterns and ideas your own and will be able to confidently use them in your own practice and in teaching.

Meditation Made Easy (the one written by Lorin, various people have stolen the title since it came out in 1998) is actually a teacher training manual disguised as an easy-to-read book.




3 Simple Sensing Meditations

Give a few minutes to these sensing explorations every couple of days. Think of them more as explorations than "meditations," unless you have learned to associate the word meditation with fun, pleasure and wonder.

Simple Gazing

Sit or stand anywhere you like. Simply gaze at something - the wall, out the window, or if you are outside, whatever is there.

Just be there for 5 minutes. Explore panoramic vision, the sense of embracing the whole hemisphere before you, the wide field.

When thoughts come, welcome them. It’s remarkable really – you’re seeing the outer world, the same time you can be seeing pictures that are internally generated.
Keep on developing the sense of welcoming light, and being in curiosity and wonder at what you are seeing.

Variations: be somewhere gorgeous. Do three cycles of five minutes each, and make a few notes about what you are experiencing.

Sky gazing variation: lie on your back outdoors and simply gaze at the sky.

Simple Hearing

Become interested in your ears and notice whatever sounds you hear. Hearing is spherical – sound can come from all around, above and below. The sense of hearing invites us to be aware in all directions simultaneously. Welcome whatever sounds are coming to you from all around. Depending on where you are and what time of day, you may find that also there is a sense of something else, a silence or vibrancy that is better than silence.

Variations: go to the beach, a river, waterfall, or lake and listen. Go to a forest or garden. Or put on music you love and simply listen, for 5 to 15 minutes, and then listen to the pulsing silence after the music ends.

Wild variation: if you are ever up at 4 am or so and rested, listen to the world. Usually between 3:30 and 4:30 am local time, the atmosphere goes from "the still of the night" to "the electricity of pre-dawn." There is a kind of zoom, a fresh energy that surges.

Simple Sensing Sensations in the body

With eyes open or closed, become interested in whatever sensations are flowing in your body.

Experiment with moving from the top of your head to the soles of your feet.
Or start with the hands and let awareness explore from the hands and fingers to the arms to the shoulders and then up into the head and then down through the chest and torso to the legs to the feet.

Or start the feet. Feel your soles touching the earth and then flow upward.
Explore and find which way is working best for you in this moment. Simply be alert to sensation

Welcome Mind Wandering

With each of these – gazing, hearing, sensing – welcome the process of mind wandering and welcome yourself to -continue-with your exploration.
Don’t use the internal dialogue or attitude of “I am bringing my attention back to….” This is boring. A tedious way to approach meditation.

When we are gazing, it’s interesting – when the brain wants to think a thought, that’s part of the flow of the moment. And when awareness wants to continue gazing (or hearing or sensing) then welcome the renewal of attention to that sense.
Taking attitude against mind wandering means that dozens of times in every meditation, hundreds of times a day, thousands of times a week, and millions of times a year there’s a little internal slap, a beat down, “you stupid brain,” or "you stupid attention." This is an insult to life.

Develop instead the sense that the mind journeys, is always journeying and returning home.

Everyone is different in terms of what voices, especially what critical voices they have in their head, constantly nagging them. In these three meditation explorations you’re developing your appreciation of simple sensory experience.

At the same time you’re practicing being nonjudgmental. And as you do this you’ll sometimes become aware of the judgments. When you don’t obey the judgments and don’t hit yourself, sometimes the judgments will get mad “you’re not listening to me.” They might even scream louder! This is good - write about it in your journal.

If you need it, remember the "Do Nothing Technique" (read about it in Meditation Made Easy.) This is a good curative or restorative meditation – just be somewhere standing sitting lying down and do nothing



The Basic Recipe for Meditation

In a way, being a meditation teacher is like being a cook. But instead of a set menu, you give the customer a chance to teach you about themselves and what they want.
Because it is good to work with local material, with local source. In this case, what is inside them is the local source. You want to do a minumum of importing exotic ideas into their head, like images of Buddha or the Dalai Lama. Meditation can feel like it comes from inside.

When someone comes into your restaurant, you can ask them, "What do you like?" or "What are you hungry for?”

There are variations on the basic question.

"When have you felt at home in the world?" "When do you feel alive and excited to be alive?”

As they talk, they will teach you their basic pathways into meditative states.
From this you can develop a menu for them, and a recipe for each dish.

Here is a menu plan:

Some kind of overall intention. This is the atmosphere of your restaurant. Comfortable or formal. "I am here to be myself, to rest in my natural self," is a comfortable intention. A more formal one might have spiritual or religious overtones, like a prayer. 1 to 3 minutes.

Gazing with eyes open, to develop the sens of wide-open space. This is usually indicated for everyone, to counteract the tendency to scowl and try to concentrate and narrow the focus. Gaze and embrace spaciousness. 1 to 3 minutes.

Cherishing the breath. With the person, develop some approach to being grateful for or intersted in the flow and rhythm of breathing. Just invite them to explore. 1 to 3 minutes.

Enhancement: as soon as possible, invite the student to enjoy hand motions with the breath, rhythmic in and out, up and down, or pendulum motions. Dance the breath.

With some people, it is better to start standing and then sit down whenever they feel like it.

These movements can look like Tai Chi warm-up motions, but I like what people invent.

4. Being with something you love. This could be a mantra the person makes up, a prayer, a way of enjoying breathing, or a subtle physical motion such as Dance the Breath (this could be sitting, and subtly moving the hands in rhythm with the breathing).

Let's use "mantra" to refer to all of this, because mantra means, manas + tra, mind + tool, or "tool of the heart-mind-instrument of perception."

5. Closing ritual. Several minutes transitioning.
Re-engage with the world.
That is a 5-course meal.

And what is great also is that you are teaching the person to cook for themselves.
————-
Marie Rose /Delish, that pretty much sums it up in terms of a menu/course/plan

Matt Eliot /Great metaphor

Rob Suhoza /Beautifully said - February 19 at 12:59am

Alison Potts /Delicious. And get to know your appetite.?See where your appetites take you - to which sources of nourishment. I like using the first phase of meditation to really feel my appetite, what tasty and nourishing qualities I am craving that day, what I react-

Diana Guest /Thanks! I love your metaphors!

Alison Potts /With no 4 "be with something you love"....sometimes I have people slip into the feeling they have to "stick to the recipe" and therefore end up resisting their own natural rhythm....so I add "cherish that time with what you love and also be aware that you will still have all kinds of thoughts, feelings and daydreams about all kinds of things. Welcome that rhythm. You may start with one thing you are with and then go on a journey that takes you somewhere completely different, but important. You are welcome to return to what you are cherishing when called, but you may be called to something equally profound and cherishable."

Maria Ramos /This is beautiful, simple, eloquent and profound. Thank you
"Continuing" rather than "bringing attention back."

I suggest that you switch out your language and train yourself to think of the rhythm of meditation as "continuing," or "continuing the journey," when you have been experiencing thoughts, memories, daydreams, planning, choreography, and sensations.

Change your language and your internal language here. This makes a world of difference.

When we take the attitude of continuing the journey, we are practicing being in the flow of meditation.

There are three models for the pulsation of meditation.

1. Resting and Acting.
2. Resting, Healing, and Acting. This is the Triple Shakti Model, the Three Loves of Shakti - "I love resting, I love healing, I love acting."
3. The 8 R's.

You can take your pick which model you want to have as your favorite. Each has its advantages.

The advantage of the 8 R model is that it has a specific phase for that moment when we remember, "Oh yeah, I'm meditating!" This little tiny moment is actually a skill-moment, when we simply allow the momentum of our exploration to shift into a new beginning.

All athletes do this, and animals. They spring from one move to the next, letting physics and graviation and the structure of their bodies give them flow and grace.

Your awareness is as fluid as a cheeta, as playful and brilliant as a dolphin, as courageous as a downhill ski racer, as competent as a juggler. In reading these words, you are effortlessly processing millions of bits of data on many levels, your eyes are absorbing trillions of photons and translating them into tiny electrical and chemical signals and then putting them together into associations, all while sipping your morning tea or coffee or whatever else you are doing.

No Scolding

The "scolding" attitude toward mind wandering and journeying is only for monks and nuns. Unfortunately it is everywhere in the language of meditation, even in teachers who should know better, and it keeps people from going deep in meditation.

Scolding and internal nagging work this way: if you make the meditation space uncomfortable, sort of like sitting in church or being in elementary school trapped in a chair in a boring class, then you won't be as restful, and because you aren't resting, you won't shift into a healing state. If you block your own healing, then you won't have to feel your body and heart and soul. Instead of meditation being like a a soul-baring conversation with yourself, a deep heart-to-heart, where you share everything, it's more like a polite, boring, superficial conversation like you have with a relative at a funeral, or someone at a PTA meeting. Sort of holding them at bay while trying to be polite.

We have a lot of work to do in making the space of meditation restful and healing, and not letting our language be taken over by the old mental viruses of domination, submission, control, and breaking of the spirit.



Wounds Turn Golden

The body is always healing itself, even when we are awake. When we are asleep or meditating, it really goes to town.

One of the miraculous gifts of this type of meditation we are studying, in my experience, is the way that healing can be so deep and thorough that we are changed, as if on an atomic and molecular level. The broken places, the torn places, the permanently bruised and wounded places, become permeated with the healing elixir we are meditating with.

This process is fast at times and slow, metabolic slow, in other ways, like healing a broken bone. In the process of healing a broken bone, there is a phase where the fracture site is stronger than the surrounding bone. Then the body evens out the strength. Always be prepared for both fast and slow.

In this style of meditation we are attending on a micro level to the brilliance of life, and allowing ourselves to be called into the wild elemental creativity that life is always engaged in as it heals and maintains and evolves itself. By giving generous permission to the nature of attention, we allow the healing process to go very deep.

As we have discussed, this style of meditation is the practice of being in love, falling love, being true to the love of the life force, or pranashakti. There is an aesthetic dimension, or many aesthetic dimensions to the experience of meditation.

This is one of the unique aspects of Radiance Sutras Meditation.

When we lovingly attend to life's healing processes, the repair process can become extremely thorough. It's as if all the atoms of the original wound are replaced with the loving awareness that we are giving.

This is why I keep emphasizing the relevance of embracing the stunning beauty of creation, as a tool for your meditation and healing. When we engage with life in this way, our broken places are repaired with high-quality prana-infused tissue.

The Japanese, in their cultural wisdom, have a term for this, kintsugi.
"The practice of 'kintsugi' is all about embracing broken bits, whether pottery or parts of ourselves, and showcasing the beauty therein.



EASTERN PHILOSOPHY - Kintsugi
‘Kintsugi’ is the remarkable Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with elegance and grace - a tradition with a lot to teach us more generally about how t...


Alison Potts writes / During this time when I was working with Lorin so closely - daily almost - and making such a commitment to my healing, with all the discomfort and often distress that brought up, I had his reassurance that those feelings and these wounds were coming up because they felt comfortable, because I had created a structure for healing. I find myself saying that to my own coaching clients again and again. It is so important as feelings of intense anxiety and fear often arise that could put a person off continuing, fearing they are doing themselves more harm than good. It is probably one of the most important things to remember to say to people who are embarking upon this whole body meditation approach is that, not only will it not always feel easy, sometimes it might feel really rough - and that is a natural and expected part of the process. Otherwise, people think they are doing it wrong. There seems such a strong urge for a quick fix with inner practices, to jump to the "happy place" without visiting the territory between you and it. I found myself really afraid at one point, and Lorin was like a wise protector....he texted me often and kept me safe with my feelings of unsafety. This is something we can do for our students and clients. The reward from choosing the path of no band-aid, is deep and lasting healing and serenity where there once seemed there would forever be turbulence, and a recognition of how strong is the desire for us to receive healing (i would say, in my own beliefs, the desire of Spirit and that includes our own divine spirit which mirrors that outer miracle of constant regeneration). We heal by our own life force. The very things that wounded us can heal us. This is a spectacular realisation.

Drugs and withdrawal from drugs

As meditation teachers, we don't need to have an opinion on whether people take any drug or not, prescribed or not.

It is useful to know a little about this, because people often come to us to get off of drugs, and they know better than we could ever say that there are side-effects. No need to preach.

The article I am linking to here is by a woman who went through hell to get off of a medication prescribed for her anxiety.

If you are interested, you may want to give this a read or file it away in case someone comes to you for help weaning themselves off of one of these very addictive medications.

Anti-anxiety medication: in 2015 over 5% of the US population filled prescriptions for benzos (benzodiazepines). [Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, Tranxene, Librium, Valium, Halcion, are all brand names for benzodiazepines]

Benzodiazepines came out in the 1960's and by the late 1970's were the most prescribed medication in the world.

"Unfortunately, for most people those miraculous anti-anxiety effects last only a few weeks or, if you're lucky, months. In one of the few studies ever done on the long-term effectiveness of benzos, people who took Xanax to manage anxiety did worse after eight weeks than people who took a placebo. "That finding has never been repeated because nobody will fund it," says Reid Finlayson, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.”

the article ends on an interesting note:

"It took me ten months to wean off benzos altogether, and now, six months later, I'm still experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. . . . The worst was continuous heart palpitations that made it impossible to sleep, eat, breathe, or function. I didn't want to see a doctor for them because I knew the treatment would involve more medication, and that was the last thing I wanted to start.
"I began meditating twice a day, to cope with what I hoped would be a temporary symptom. To my surprise, after a few weeks the palpitations diminished, and have stayed manageable as I continue to meditate daily.

"If I ever have another really bad year, I'll know what to do."
Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

There is an old saying that practice makes perfect. But there is a modification to the adage. In reality, practice just embeds whatever habits you are practicing at a deeper and deeper level.

If you have mistakes in your practice, in your approach, these will become trained into your body and mind.

If you want to get better at something, practice the refined skills involved with an intent to improve. Find out what the skills are and practice them in an elegant way, always moving toward the most graceful and effortless manner of practice.
Experience shows that people who have been meditating for years often have many bad habits. Meditation is invisible, unlike asana which is quite visible. People get corrections and modifications to their asana practice. Very few people ever get correction to their meditation. People do not even know what they are doing inside.
This is why I don't push for people to just start meditating every day without access to guidance.

Some food for thought:

DURING meditation you are practicing skills for welcoming all the impulses and energies of life, as they oscillate quickly or slowly, in unpredictable and surprising ways.

Also during meditation, your body/mind system will be practicing the movements of life, taking advantage of the fact that you are somewhat relaxed and centered, because the body always wants to be streamlined, elegant and efficient in its motion. This spontaneous practice - where the body mind is choreographing its moves - is an important part of the benefits of meditation. In a sense, the body has it right all along, and we are learning from the innate smarts of life.

On many levels meditation is practice, the practice of engaging in life with all our chakras, all our smarts, all our senses, all our instincts alive and awake and tuned for love, work, and play.





Emotion is an Activation of Biological Intelligence


An emotion is activated when your organism recognizes a pattern. What we call an emotion is an offering from life’s storehouse of survival memories on how to deal with a situation. Emotions are ancestral advisors, offering a variety of coping strategies for dealing with what is happening in your outer environment, your internal environment, and the relationship between them.

Therefore we honor each emotion as a potential gift. “Oh, your great great great great grandfather or grandmother (or the first mammals 300 million years ago) experienced situation that has some similarities and (select one) the complex neuromuscular and biochemical reaction called ANGER SADNESS FEAR DISGUST JOY helped them respond to it and survive.

To give you the most, the emotional brain needs access to the best sensory data available about what is happening in the outer and inner worlds. This is where meditation comes in. During meditation, as you welcome and savor

Emotions don’t have an independent life. They don’t “happen to you.” Your own innate of the brain recognize patterns in your life and generate these physical, chemical, and subjective changes. The whole body and brain get involved.

A more nuanced map of emotions:

ECSTASY ADMIRATION TERROR AMAZEMENT GRIEF LOATHING RAGE VIGILANCE

“Granularity” is good.

When an emotion arises or is noticed, feel into it and get more detail.

JOY TRUST FEAR SURPRISE SADNESS DISGUST ANGER ANTICIPATION

and be sure to add

LOVE
AWE
GRATITUDE
AMUSEMENT

When you notice an emotion, give it space and attention and see what it needs. Give it a chance to be informed by contact with your senses and to transmute into its next form. Fear can be transmuted into excitement, for example. Sometimes.

Also be alert to extend your vocabulary.

And mine other languges for great emotion terms:

Desbundar (Portuguese) – to shed one’s inhibitions in having fun
Shinrin-yoku (Japanese) – the relaxation gained from bathing in the forest, figuratively or literally
Gigil (Tagalog) – the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished
Dadirri (Australian aboriginal) term – a deep, spiritual act of reflective and respectful listening
Pihentagyú (Hungarian) – literally meaning “with a relaxed brain”, it describes quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions
Desenrascanço (Portuguese) – to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation
Sukha (Sanskrit) – genuine lasting happiness independent of circumstances
Orenda (Huron) – the power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces such as fate
Saudade (Portuguese) – a melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away either spatially or in time – a vague, dreaming wistfulness for phenomena that may not even exist
Sehnsucht (German) – “life-longings”, an intense desire for alternative states and realisations of life, even if they are unattainable

(from Tim Lomas at the University of East London, UK)

Friends with the Life Force

One of the great things about this approach to meditation, and what makes being a teacher so exciting, is that you are always discovering new aspects and manifestations of life’s brillliance.

We are continually invited to perceive the intelligence inside

Senses
Instincts
Emotions
The body’s engagement with the elements

This is always exciting.

Life is continually renewing itself, and meditation is a way of cooperating with this dynamic, unstoppable energy.

When we dedicate ourselves to this current of insight that we can call The Radiance Sutras, or Instinctive Meditation, then we are continually learning more and more of life’s adaptaptive genius.





Mind Wandering is Mental Preparation


When we are daydreaming, there are many processes going on. One of them is creating a model world and running scenarios or simulations of events. In our minds, we can create models of reality or simulations and experiment with different action strategies.

This is a highly useful and adaptive function.

There are other processes, such as showing us different ways to view a situation, and lessons to be learned. There can also be a downside to imagination. Like all gifts, we have to learn to use this capacity.

Imagination is preparation and it is part of our skills at adapting to change.








Being Interested

What interests you about breathing? What interests you in the sensations of motion? What sounds interest you?

What instinctive ways of engaging interest you – eating, nurturing, exploring, tending, nesting, dreaming, making trails, sex, mating, bonding, meeting new people?

When you develop your meditation practice around what you are interested in, the whole experience flows differently.

Being interested is a skill that makes the kind of attention called “mindfulness” more accessible.

I was watching a group of people gambling –

Attentive to cards, math, everyone’s expressions.








Meditation for Lovers of Life


There are many paths. Our approach to meditation is generally oriented toward people who live in the world and have friends, families, jobs, and need a vacation. (that’s a reference to the Terminator).

There are people who permanently want to get away from it all, and bless them. We aren’t really set up to serve them, but if a monk or nun should come for instruction, don’t send them away, ask how you can serve them on their path. We love monks and nuns.

In general, our path is more of a gourmet approach, savoring every bit of life that we can, sipping the juicy essence.

There is a paradox here, as always, the play of opposites.

The more restful your approach to meditation is, the more luxurious, the more you open the door to restoration and healing. So although your conscious attitude, your technique, is restful, you will feel your automatic processes are very busy, hard at work processing, assimilating, sorting, reviewing, clearing the deck, cleaning off your mental desk, so that after meditation you feel good to go.

The overall skill to to keep your technique simple and effortless, while tolerating the sensations and emotions that go with how busy your body-mind system is while healing and refreshing itself.














Being With Whatever Was Suppressed

If you have responsibilities and busy days, then lots of your feelings get pushed into the background – suppressed, pushed down.

When you meditate in a healthy way, all those emotions will surge into awareness to be felt and tended to and healed.

The NOISE in my head.

I feel busy and like working DURING meditation and AFTER I feel so great.












How to have fewer thoughts during meditation

Over the past few thousand years, the meditation traditions have come up with a few simple guidelines for how to live the untroubled life.

1. Don't love anyone. If unfortunately you do have to be around other human beings, don't bond with them.

2. Don't be a woman. Women's bodies have the capacity to have children, and that's trouble.

3. Don't want to be touched. Touching leads to bonding, and bonding makes it harder to be completely detached.

4. Following from rules 1-3, don't have kids. If you have kids, you will have thoughts about them during meditation.

5. Don't have a home. Live in a monastery. If you have a home, you will have thoughts about it.

6. Don't have desires. If you have dreams and desires, you will have thoughts about them. This will lead to being involved in life, and that will cause attachment.

7. Don't be born in modern times, when things change so rapidly. Be born in a time and place where the pace of life is much slower, like ancient India in 500 BC.

So there you have it. These are the time-tested rules given to us by the wisdom traditions.

Oh, I forgot to mention, these rules only work once in awhile. Like a specific medicine, or chemotherapy medication, they only work when for some reason life itself is defined as a disease.






Lies Meditation Teachers Tell

We live in stressful times, unlike in the past.
Our senses are bombarded by too much information.
If you do this, you will get inner peace/become enlightened/be saved.



Dreaming is involuntary


Life is a self-renewing process that is always repairing and readying itself for action.

Dreaming is one of the brain's methods for assimilating learning, digesting experience, resolving tensions, integrating the instincts.

Dreaming, like sleep, is involuntary. No matter how you try to stay awake, eventually sleep will overtake. And while sleeping the brain will cycle between deep sleep and dreaming.

If you approach meditation as a restful, healing place, then you will spend time in meditative dreaming and half-asleep states. This is good and natural. Adjust your theories of meditation to match reality.

It is after meditation that the mind feels more clear. Meditation is like doing the dishes and clearing the counters - messy, detail-oriented, tedious at times, but afterwards a good feeling, AH! And then you mess it up again in preparing the next meal.

(Traditionally, much of meditation teaching has been infused with a "war against life" attitude. If you declare war against life, who is going to win?")


Alison Potts / There are so many different levels of dreamstate and I find it fascinating noticing some of them, and at what times they come. I have a habit, which I have had all my life and people pick up on frequently, of dropping into that state in the middle of conversations, just talking. It's as if a word becomes a gateway to that dropping down into dreaminess. It might be a word I say or the other person says. It could look as if I am not concentrating. Sometimes people say "where did you go?". It may look as if I am wandering away from the conversation or "losing my thread" but it is in fact another part of the thread. I have absolutely been listening. I have been cherishing the words so much that they have taken me on a journey, briefly. Then when I come back, often the conversation gets deeper too.


Alison Potts / Mayya Shveygert and I have been talking and one thing we have in common is we LOVE and LEARN FROM our dreams! We both love going to bed to see where we are going to travel. I feel exactly the same way about meditation. I travel there very quickly and I think that's because I let myself. I have full permission. Until I discovered that some people are learning rules counter to their instincts about things like that, I thought that was a definition of meditation. Freedom to roam and go on an adventure within. I am wary to the dangers of that though, than inner life can get so much more exciting than outer life you lose the love of outer life and the inner/outer pulse becomes distorted to be more internalised and less orienated towards anything external at all.....that is where the skills of meditation come in. Be alert to attending to that pulse, so you don't lose the inner-outer dance which is the magic. But seriously, where would we be without the dreamers? No movies, for one thing.




The Judgy Syndrome

When some people close their eyes to meditate, they begin to feel bad within a few seconds – it’s a “Oh, I’m not doing it right,” kind of feeling.

This bad feeling can start within about 15 seconds of beginning a meditation exploration.

The details vary. Here are some patterns students have described:

"I began to pay attention to myself, the way I am feeling. Right away, in a few seconds, I noticed a kind of let down feeling, a sensation of sinking. I started to feel heavy. Then I associated this with an old familiar feeling of failing at something, or being somehow inadequate. Like everyone else in class is smarter than me, or everyone else knows how to do something and I am awkward and left out."

Another person said, "As soon as I closed my eyes, a mental picture flashed in my mind's eye: I visualized everyone else as being sort of cool, very Zen, all peaceful, and here I am stuck with my noisy brain. I'll never get it. I am left out. My stupid brain. It doesn't work right. I have to give up. And then I opened my eyes. All this happened in a couple of seconds."

A 25-year old woman said, "I closed my eyes and there were a million thoughts flying in every direction. And then I just shut the door. Don't go there. That is not good." (This is said with an absolute sense of judgment that this is forbidden territory.)

Someone else said, "As soon as we began, I felt my muscles start to relax, and as that happened, I felt sensations of fatigue and tension, so I tensed up again to block those sensations. I found that if I maintained a certain level of tension and blocking, that I wouldn't have to feel those sensations of fatigue."

It is rare that we can get descriptions of this sort. It takes real observation skill to perceive these sequences of thought and feeling and judgment, because they happen so quickly.

This "Judgy Syndrome" happens frequently enough that perhaps we should include it in all of our introductions, whether we are teaching a class or a one-to-one session. You want to practice giving this information very quickly and cheerfully, with a sense of humor. In order to do that, you need to understand it yourself and practice in inside yourself. It's okay to still be in the process of getting it.

The simplest way might be to present the Triple Shakti Model in a simple form, and even have the students dance it, move through resting, healing, acting.

I love resting.
I love healing.
I love acting.

Don't expect people to get it on one hearing, or even if they spend a couple of minutes doing mudras with the Triple Shakti flow. Everyone needs the experience of feeling their own judgy pattern arise and start to sabotage their meditation, and then awakening into the "Aha, that's not failure, that's a stage of meditation!" People need to experience this awakening over and over and over, because the judgy pattern is probably something that they have been experiencing every day, for years, since they were 5. They have a history of millions of repetitions of feeling like a failure.

Basic teaching methodology suggests you give information in multiple sensory channels:

1. Speak it clearly. Give them a short, well-shaped sentence.

2. Present a visual image. Perhaps the basic circle with three phases - resting, healing, acting, and how each phase is a manifestation of life's dynamic momentum.

3. Invite them to move, either make up their own movement to embody the principle, or suggest a basic mudra. Have them move their arms in a big circle and chant the phases, resting, healing, acting. I love sleep, I love being healed, I love to do things.

4. Additionally, you can have them pair up and demo their mudras to each other. This has two powerful dimensions - sharing, which is like teaching, and being witnessed.

It is challenging for anyone to unfold what’s happening with their own Judgy Syndrome because it happens so quickly, so covertly, and involves shame – and shame always wants to hide. Shame is "the hidden emotion," a feeling of never being enough, not being good enough, a primordial sense of being inadequate. It only comes out of hiding enough to sabotage one's meditation.

Once in a while a person can articulate it: “it’s as if there’s a voice in my head saying, I knew I couldn’t do it. My mother was right when she said, you are scattered, undisciplined, you can’t focus.”

Shame is usually NOT available to consciousness, and it controls us totally from its secret lair. We only experience flashes of crushing inadequacy and defensiveness. Shame is at work when for example, you and your partner are having people over for dinner, and you are both zooming around getting ready and your partner says, "I was hoping you would clean up the kitchen to get ready for the guests," and you instantly feel attacked and defensive and say, "You know, it's never enough with you! I'm moving as fast as I can!"

You might want to develop your own standup comedy routine about the Seven Dwarves and the Additional Meditation Dwarves.

The Standard Seven are

Bashful
Sleepy
Sneezy
Happy
Grumpy
Dopey
Doc

If you can, find some clips of the Disney movie or even purchase the DVD of Sleeping Beauty and play that.

And then you could suggest that maybe there is an invisible Dwarf that is called Judgy, who whispers "You're a failure."

The Seven Dwarves, by the way, is a great psychological model and especially a way of talking about MOODS.

The basic technique of meditation is the same - simply honor each Dwarf. Give them a space to be, give them some love, give them the food of your attention.

This is homework, everyone.

Summary: in transition from RESTING to RELAXING and RELEASING, sometimes primordial, pre-existing SHAME arises and tries to convince the meditator that they are a FAILURE, even though it has only been a few seconds.

This is actually a sign of success, because that very shame has shown itself and is now accessible for healing. Simply notice the thoughts and sensations. You don't have to do anything or improve anything. The noticing itself is healing

The Seven Dwarves + the Hidden Dwarf of SHAME and the invisible dwarf named Judgy show up in the transition from RESTING to RELAXING and actually in each transition.

Learn to attend to TRANSITIONS.

Use either the 3 Phases model (or Triple Shakti), of RESTING HEALING ACTING, or the 8 R's model.

http://www.meditationtt.com/8rs.html









The Seven Dwarfs

Keep in mind that the Dwarfs (or Dwarves) ARE WORKING IN THE DIAMOND MINE.

In other words, they are little spirits or aspect of intelligence that are in the depths, uncovering valuable stuff and bringing it to consciousness.

You could say that the Dwarfs are instincts and life processes, background maintainance routines, that we sometimes become aware of through weird sensations, moods, sleepiness, sneeziness, grumpiness, and so on.

Get to know the Dwarfs and have your own names for them, and learn to love them. As with an animal or a person, find out what food they like. How do the like to be petted. What is their favorite blanket to sit on.

(sometimes spelled the Seven Dwarves)

"Dwarfs vs. dwarves
"Dwarfs is the standard plural of the noun dwarf. Dwarves is a newer variant popularized (though not invented) by English author J.R.R. Tolkien in his fantasy fiction works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien spelling is appropriate when referring to little people in fantasy worlds. Dwarfs is better everywhere else. (There is controversy over whether dwarf is ever a polite term for real-life people, but we won’t go into that here.)”

-- from The Grammarist. - grammarist.com

LESSON PLAN for teaching- you might get the Seven Dwarfs Action Figures. I'll bet such a thing exists, this is a Disney movie and there are rides. Then develop a comedy routine in which each Dwarf shows up in meditation.

https://youtu.be/HI0x0KYChq4

and this is where Snow White meets the Dwarfs:

https://youtu.be/IjuA1VZftls



Make up your own names for your Dwarfs.

A couple of weeks ago I was in London teaching, and although it was freezing cold, dark, drizzly, and I didn't know which way to look when crossing the street, everything was going pretty well. But one day I noticed I was dropping things and bumping into things. Over and over. So I made a joke out of it and said, "I'm Clumsy." Then Sarah dropped something and said, "It's contagious!" This went on for about three days, then passed.

Names people have come up with for their inner moods or dwarfs include

Moonbeam
Bossy
Critize-illa (pronounced similar to Godzilla)
Scattered
Lazy
Hungry

Always be open to new Dwarfs showing themselves and be grateful when they do.

Whatever form they take, voice they speak in, is just a symbol for a profound inner process whose job is to work in the background to keep you safe and sane.

When the Dwarfs are working as a team, which they like to do, they balance each other and balance life. You are the one who has upset life's balance by banning or suppressing one or more of the Dwarfs, your instincts.

When they show up, singly or in groups, it is actually a win, a gift, because they are beginning to communicate with you and you are beginning to listen.

One of the skills of meditation is to recognize the appearance of a Dwarf as a sign of success. Even if the Dwarf is mad because you banned them for years, when you are able to hear them you have in fact started to re-establish a healthy flow.







Go at your own pace with these teachings

Don't worry about hurry. Just find those meditations that support your life, and enjoy your life.

Now that we have gone over the major languages of experience – the senses, instincts, elements, emotions, rhythms – let this knowledge and set of skills sink in and become your own.

The minimal path is to just enjoy your own meditation practice and get help when you need it, get your questions answered when they arise. Read Meditation Made Easy slowly, or The Radiance Sutras, or Meditation Secrets for Women, a little bit at a time. Come to one of the 5-day retreats. At the teacher training retreat you can practice the skills. Don't worry about a thing. Just show up.

The medium path is to meditate and develop and explore several of your own practices, and study the material at MeditationTT.com and read Meditation Made Easy several times, and begin teaching with your friends.

The intensive path is to study an hour a day or more, reading and re-reading the books, make the material at meditationtt.com your own, and practice teaching.

Select your own way of being with the material. We are all different. You want this information and the skills of adapting meditation to become second nature, a comfortable and joyous expression of your being.





Your natural everyday self


Meditation is not something to experience in your head. Rather, embrace your whole body, every part of it, in your awareness. Include every area. Bring all your senses. Attend to all the instinctive motions of life.

Rather than restraining yourself and restricting your thoughts and feelings, as recommended in the Yoga Sutras, set yourself free.

Inhabit your full self, take up space, let your personality fill the space all around you. Let your colors fly. Let your freak flag fly.

Even let your weird, particular preferences fill your form.

Let the force of your personality emerge and savor this force. Let the song of your being fill your body and the space around you.

Your personality is that quality to your being that is unlike anyone else.

Don’t try to change yourself at all. Just enjoy the flow of life.

Forget all the weird notions about meditation, and consider instead

Meditation is a way of experiencing your natural loves:

I love napping
I love daydreaming
I love having time to plan
I love the sensations of relaxing
I love the feeling of releasing tension

And when you emerge from daydreaming or thinking: I love waking up from fantasy and remembering the external sensuous world






The anxiety of withdrawing from anti-anxiety drugs

As meditation teachers, we don't need to have an opinion on whether people take any drug or not, prescribed or not.

It is useful to know a little about this, because people often come to us to get off of drugs, and they know better than we could ever say that there are side-effects. No need to preach.

The article I am linking to here is by a woman who went through hell to get off of a medication prescribed for her anxiety.

If you are interested, you may want to give this a read or file it away in case someone comes to you for help weaning themselves off of one of these very addictive medications.

Anti-anxiety medication: in 2015 over 5% of the US population filled prescriptions for benzos (benzodiazepines). [Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, Tranxene, Librium, Valium, Halcion, are all brand names for benzodiazepines]

Benzodiazepines came out in the 1960's and by the late 1970's were the most prescribed medication in the world.

"Unfortunately, for most people those miraculous anti-anxiety effects last only a few weeks or, if you're lucky, months. In one of the few studies ever done on the long-term effectiveness of benzos, people who took Xanax to manage anxiety did worse after eight weeks than people who took a placebo. "That finding has never been repeated because nobody will fund it," says Reid Finlayson, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville."

the article ends on an interesting note:

"It took me ten months to wean off benzos altogether, and now, six months later, I'm still experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. . . . The worst was continuous heart palpitations that made it impossible to sleep, eat, breathe, or function. I didn't want to see a doctor for them because I knew the treatment would involve more medication, and that was the last thing I wanted to start.

"I began meditating twice a day, to cope with what I hoped would be a temporary symptom. To my surprise, after a few weeks the palpitations diminished, and have stayed manageable as I continue to meditate daily.

"If I ever have another really bad year, I'll know what to do."



https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/i-tried-to-get-off-ativan?utm_source=tonicdigg

















Touch

Everyone has their favorite ways of being touched – the long stroke up the spine, slow circular motion around the shoulders, gentle deep pressure on the calves. The way that music touches our hearts and sends shivers up the spine. The way sunlight touches and warms the skin.

There are touches that soothe and heal, touches that electrify, touches that make us feel that we are in communion with something divine.

In Sanskrit, touch is sparśa, and is an essential gateway into meditative states.
During meditation there is a curious paradox – sometimes we are the one touching, sometimes we are the one being touched. We go back and forth, depending on where in the rhythm of resting - healing - acting, we are. Always be sensitive to what is needed, what is called for.

When we are touching, it is as if we are touching the elements of being - earth air fire water space motion gravity light sound - the raw material of experience.
When we are being touched, this is a recognition of reality, for we are always in every moment being touched. The air of the world is touching us on all sides every moment, as the molecules of air vibrate and put even pressure on the skin, 14.70 pounds per square inch at sea level, getting less and less and we move up in altitude, until at 18,000 feet it is only 7.34 pounds per square inch (psi). We are touched very subtly by gravity, which is attracting us always in toward the center of the earth. Gravity's attraction keeps us in touch with the ground, the earth, the world. These elemental forces of air and gravitation are also nourishing. They sustain us. Our bodies have evolved to thrive in air and gravity. We can surrender to being in an ocean of air and an ocean of that inward attraction we call gravity.

Meditation allows the body to enter states of restfulness deeper than sleep, and when we go there, delicious portals open, places in us that have been longing to let go and join in the dance, come alive. You might find yourself opening in places you never dreamed of, in ways you never thought possible, because of the infinitely delicate and intimate touch of breath, gravity, and sound.

In the play of touching and being touched, awakening into awareness and feeling more and more parts of you coming online and joining in, you learn to pay attention with your whole body, every cell attending to the life of the wholeness that is you, here pulsing as an individual being in infinity.
So we are touching the elements of existence with our awareness – and sometimes we are the one being touched. We alternate back and forth, depending on where in the rhythm of resting - healing - acting we are. When you are in the more restful phases, settling into that delicious state that is deeper than sleep, places in you will open up that have been closed and guarded, inaccessible. Tender intimate places where the soul and flesh come together.

Explorations:

Go for a walk in the wind, notice the way your body feels, the way your hair is tickled.

Take a cool or cold shower and notice the shock of cold and what it does to your skin.

Lie down and put a speaker on your chest (like a boom box or bluetooth speaker) and play music, enjoy the sensations and vibrations.

Get a massage, either very light or very deep, according to your preferences.
Go for a swim and study the sensations of the touch of the water.

Erotic explorations:

Touch of all kinds is related to the loving erotic tone of energy.

You might take a shower, rub lotion all over your body, engage in some light love-play with your partner or alone, then take a walk and enjoy the tingling.













Previsualization

The "acting" phase of meditation is action rehearsal, mental choreography. And this is internal action.

This is a major aspect of thinking and happens spontaneously, whether you want it to or not.

I use the term "ACTING" to be parallel to RESTING and HEALING, but it would be more accurate to say ACTION REHEARSAL.

When you find yourself visualizing your to-do list, or a conversation you'd like to have, this is action rehearsal. Awareness is involved in planning and pre-visualization of future actions. In our minds, we can game out different action routines and run a simulation of how they might turn out. This happens involuntarily and is a blessing. It's a profound mistake of the meditation traditions to shame people for visualizing future outcomes.









Savor the Fullness

Welcome and savor all the fulness

During meditation we are savoring the texture of our daily life, our bodies, our hearts, and our relationships.

If you have a family and a job, the texture of your life may feel like chaos! A swirl of worry, haste, urgency, unfinished conversations, and longing for a vacation you don't have time to take. Don't judge yourself and shame yourself for not being a monk living on a mountaintop in 300 BC.* You are here now in the party of everyday life.

In any given moment we may find ourselves FULL of worry - worryful. Or sad, tearful. Or joyful. Or Grateful.

Consider that these are all FULLNESSES

Fearful
Sorrowful
Anger-full
Lustful
Peaceful

Cherish them all, whatever the experience. As you do so, the state that is awkwardly referred to as "mindful" gradually emerges.

In terms of skill, keep shifting from judging yourself to welcoming your inner experience and letting it play out.

http://www.meditationtt.com/charts/fullness.html

*Many of us have an inner monk or nun, who is as if living on a mountain in Tibet or Nepal or the Andes. If so, don't judge yourself for not being her. Love her and bless her and ask her to pray for you and hold space for you as you walk this path called having a life on earth.



GEEK ALERT - read only if you are in the mood to look at the erratic hodge-podge chaos that is the origin of an English word.

**"mindful" is a really weird word to describe the attitude during meditation and the process of remembering, "Oh yeah, I'm meditating!" Heartful-senseful-grateful-peaceful might be a better term.

"Mindful" as an English word came into usage around 1450 AD, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary. Old English myndful meant "of good memory." When a scholar in1890 was translating ancient Buddhist texts into English, he settled on "mindful" as a translation of a word used in the Buddhist texts that could be considered untranslatable.

The Buddhist term is sati, from the Sanskrit smṛti स्मृति which has a range of meanings including "calling to mind, awareness, reminiscence, thinking on or of or upon, memory, tradition, the whole body of sacred tradition or what is remembered by human teachers.”

https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstre…/…/1/10718406/46521719.pdf…

Also - a New York Times article on the origins of "mindfulness" -
https://www.nytimes.com/…/the-muddied-meaning-of-mindfulnes…

“In the late 19th century, the heyday of both the British Empire and Victorian Orientalism, a British magistrate in Galle, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), with the formidable name of Thomas William Rhys Davids, found himself charged with adjudicating Buddhist ecclesiastical disputes. He set out to learn Pali, a Middle Indo-Aryan tongue and the liturgical language of Theravada, an early branch of Buddhism. In 1881, he thus pulled out “mindfulness” — a synonym for “attention” from 1530 — as an approximate translation of the Buddhist concept of sati.
The translation was indeed rough. Sati, which Buddhists consider the first of seven factors of enlightenment, means, more nearly, “memory of the present,” which didn’t track in tense-preoccupied English. “Mindfulness” stuck — but may have saddled the subtle sati with false-note connotations of Victorian caution, or even obedience. (“Mind your manners!”)”




The muddled meaning of "mindfulness"

If you are interested in the etymology of this word that we are all now stuck with - it's become part of American, British, Canadian, and Australian English usage - here is a good review:

The muddled meaning of "mindfulness" - a New York Times article by VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN from APRIL 14, 2015

quote from her article:

"In the late 19th century, the heyday of both the British Empire and Victorian Orientalism, a British magistrate in Galle, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), with the formidable name of Thomas William Rhys Davids, found himself charged with adjudicating Buddhist ecclesiastical disputes. He set out to learn Pali, a Middle Indo-Aryan tongue and the liturgical language of Theravada, an early branch of Buddhism. In 1881, he thus pulled out “mindfulness” — a synonym for “attention” from 1530 — as an approximate translation of the Buddhist concept of sati.

The translation was indeed rough. Sati, which Buddhists consider the first of seven factors of enlightenment, means, more nearly, “memory of the present,” which didn’t track in tense-preoccupied English. “Mindfulness” stuck — but may have saddled the subtle sati with false-note connotations of Victorian caution, or even obedience. (“Mind your manners!”)"

In our approach to meditation, we tend to not use the word mindful, but rather pay attention to the skills involved and the stages, such as the 8 R's. For people who live in the world, "mindfulness," with its sense of an arid awareness, with connotations of obedience and caution, can be too dry and serious.

We are really talking about the same universe of skills, just tuned slightly differently.

Even though I criticize the mindlessness of how mindfulness is taught sometimes, that is only to help us all discern how to help ourselves and our students to thrive.

I am calling to your attention some nuances in the language that may help you with your own practice and in teaching. In a meditation practice, even TEENY little nuances of language can throw you off of your real path and put you on a false path that will waste your time.
Intersecting rhythms of your life

When we are meditating, our experience from second to second is the result of a complex series of interacting energies:

- how tired we are from the day's work, or if we have just woken up, how groggy

- how anxious we are about an unfinished item of our to-do list, or an incomplete conversation, an plan in progress

- how hungry or full we are

- how lonely or the opposite, overloaded with people, we are

To be healthy in meditation, be open to sensing all the levels of your being, from the chemistry of your blood, to the sensations of your breath, to the pulsing of urgency about your chores, to the feelings in your heart and belly, to the thoughts and plans and daydreams and desires and longings.

When you are open to yourself and getting connected in this way, there is what is called polyrhythm - the intersection of many rhythms, for each area of your body, your emotions, your planning and choreographing mind, have different tempos and rhythms.

As you get used to attending simultaneously - or almost simultaneously - to all these levels, your experience of yourself becomes like that of being one dancer among many, or a musician in a band, or a surfer riding one of many waves while feeling the whole ocean.

Music teaches us about how to embrace rhythm and the complicated art of polyrhythm. Bach, Brahms and Beethoven were known to use polyrhythms.

Polyrhythm is also part of jazz and drum music. Baba Olatunji invited us all into his joyous dance with the rhythms of his dance.

This video of raindrops falling on water also illustrates the sensation of being with all your polyrhythms:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f169YnngRxQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzVjLEzN36M
Savor the tiny

Each time you ask yourself, "What delights me?" or "What are my natural doorways into meditation?" Or whenever you enter one of those doorways, with breath, mantra, dancing, body awareness, you set in motion tiny drops.

It is as if you dropped a drop into a pond, or dropped a pebble, or stirred a pool with your hand. Watch the ripples spread out. Drop another pebble and watch the intersection waves as they form interference patterns - or polyrhythmic waves.

Savor these tiny little fleeting ripples.









Steven: Meditation is like Jazz

Lately, for me, meditation is like jazz.

I start with a chord of desire or a note of memory or a rhythm of emotion and let it all go from there. As each experience flows from the mystery I go with it for a while, until it changes. There are melodies of simple pleasure and thoughts of the details of embodied life, loved ones, issues, challenges and inquiries. Sometimes "The Great Musician" will rip a solo that blows my mind right out of my body and into the hugeness of existence and the only thing to do is go, go, go or be, be, be.

There are moments when the spaces between notes seem so full and so loud that adding anything to the silence seems ridiculous.

Sometimes improvising or jamming is totally transcendental and creates an experience that could never be planned and especially not forced. Sometimes it feels flat and just not happening how you'd like it to, how it did in those moments of bliss. The flatness is part of it. The transcendence is part of it. The spontaneity, wonder and surprise is part of it.

Try meditating like Miles Davis blows.


- Steven Leonard in the RSMTT Facebook page, February 28 2017 around 7 am





The difference between giving instructions and bugging people

Dale says, when students are putting it all together and their minds are clicking along, enjoying themselves, don’t interfere. As a teacher you have to train yourself to not interfere with what they are doing and not talk too much.

In yoga, when the teacher says “close your eyes,” I feel irritated.

Let the students find their natural competence and enjoy that.

Lorin: “I no longer tell people to close their eyes. If I have done my job in setting up the invitation, then people’s eyes will close spontaneously, most of the time.”





Camille on Freedom

Alison Potts - February 23 at 1:14am - “Continuing discussion on Rules and Freedom, I love this from Camille”:

MUSINGS ON FREEDOM

Freedom to live in wonder and awe
Freedom to love and be loved
Freedom to be an individual Freedom to voice your truth Freedom to be silent Freedom to be the unique creature you are Freedom to belong and to be separate Freedom to dance all your energies Freedom to follow your wild heart Freedom to melt and be tender Freedom to meditate according to your nature Freedom to breathe in your own atmosphere Freedom to inhabit your full space Freedom to become space itself Freedom to rest and let go Freedom to change... What is freedom to you?
















Meditation is not an end in itself

Alison Potts writes, February 22 at 4:32pm

I adore these words from the very end of Meditation 24-7:

"Meditation, alluring as it is, is not an end in itself. The purpose of meditation is to help you learn how to love, work, play and rest. You will be able to notice how well you are doing in meditation by tiny, gradual enhancements in the ways you function in all these arenas.

As you become more open and perceptive, the world will seem more welcoming and friendly. You will see magic doorways everywhere, possibilities for enjoyment and connection.”

I adore "magic doorways”!

Michael McDowall

Yep I find this is hugely important for me.

It's about how it makes my life better, richer, more full of love outside of those meditative moments in a day. I'm not in bliss 24 7... goodness knows I'm not in bliss in meditation..... but the sky is bluer, the breeze is fresher, the flowers are fuller and my heart is bigger than they were a year ago.





Absorption and transitions

If you like the Triple Shakti Model, here is an enhancement you might find useful.

OVERVIEW - in practice, during meditation we are continually shifting between being absorbed in a phase, and then transitioning into another phase, often without noticing. Be skillful and gentle when you notice that you are transitioning.

RESTING

In the RESTING phase, you may become absorbed in the beauty of what you are experiencing – the rhythm and flow of breath, the enchanting beauty of your mantra, the wonderful qualities of the life force that you have selected to be with.

For the first few seconds that you are meditating, you might be aware that you are meditating and practicing the technique. After a while, if you are allowing yourself to simply enjoy yourself, you will in a way forget that you are meditating and simply be resting and engaging with whatever qualities, whatever mantra you have selected.

HEALING

Then without noticing it, you find yourself in the HEALING phase, feeling sensations that go with the release of stress, experiencing thoughts, mental imagery, conversations, that are side effects of the healing process. You are absorbed in the process, carried away by thoughts, emotions, sensations, and may not even know that you are meditating. That’s what absorption is.

Then there is a transition from the healing phase, and you realize, “Oh – that was intense.” Or you beat yourself up – “Damn all of those thoughts.” Note – often we don’t notice the transition from resting to healing, and we don’t notice the transition out of the healing phase.

ACTING

Having released a little stress, the body mind system now wants to flow through the motions of life by engaging in inward mental rehearsal – or we could say mental choreography, or pre-visualization. It is as if the intelligence of the body mind system says “okay, I feel like I’m now ready to generate more efficient and effective response to the world.”

Scientific research shows that when you visualize an activity, your nerves send signals to your muscles in the same pattern as when you are actually acting. So mental choreography is a form of action. What the body mind system wants to do is become more and more elegant, graceful, efficient, and adaptive in action. The ACTING phase is just as important to the body-mind system as the RESTING phase.

Each phase leads to and compels the other. Our technique of meditation is to cooperate with this powerful, unstoppable, dynamic creativity of life.

Each phase has its challenges. The challenge of the RESTING phase is to construct your technique so that you enjoy it and are quietly thrilled. You can meditate on anything, so you may as well choose that which is nourishing, energizing, soothing, and gives you what you need.

There are many challenges to the HEALING phase, because it is hard to tolerate how intense and noisy it is, and because we are there feeling the whole paradox of our life and whatever the crisis of the day is. We need to continually enrich our sense of beauty and the resourcefulness of nature, so that we can support and embrace the healing process.

The ACTING phase, where we are involved in inward choreography of our to-do list or other actions of life, tends to carry itself by its own momentum and the challenge is to cooperate and have a great visualization.

Each phase is instinctive and happens naturally, and the transitions also happen naturally. It’s a bit like breathing – the in breath leads to the out breath.

TRANSITIONING

The skills of transitioning are to have an instinctive sensibility about where you are in the processing to treat yourself well whatever phase you are transitioning into or out of.

THE SPEED OF LIFE

The body-mind system often cycles between RESTING HEALING ACTING in 30 to 90 seconds, over and over, and then after a few cycles tends to slow down and linger more. But the timing of each phase is unpredictable and results from the interaction of what the body needs and where you are in your metabolic cycles. It’s not something you need to actively interfere with.

People who have jobs and live in the modern world tend to think fast. This is not a problem. That is what adaptability means.

In our approach, we support meditating at the speed of life. We don’t try to meditate as if it’s 300 BC, and down in the village, life hasn’t changed much in a thousand years. We don’t try to meditate as if we have absolutely nothing to do, except sit on this hillside for years and years, while some peasant brings us food every day.

Our bodies and nerves are tuned to respond to life’s needs.



UNPREDICTABILITY AND SURPRISE

One day you might think, “Oh, I’m going to have a horrible meditation today – my mind is so full of noise.” And then you settle in and by surprise you drop into deep delicious restfulness. Another day you might think “oh God I’m going to hell such a beautiful meditation. My mind is so clear and I am full of love in my heart.” Then you spend the whole time unstressing, processing fears about love and loss.

You may find yourself transitioning from one phase to the other quickly at the speed of a hummingbird. There might be times when your body mind system wants to choreograph a certain action and then it finds it needs a little bit more relaxation and so it shifts to resting, and then back to mental choreography again very quickly.

ADDICTION TO PERFECTION

One of the challenges of teaching meditation in our time is that everyone is convinced that they are a failure because they are not living up to a mental ideal that they have created. People often feel like a failure when they are absorbed in resting, because they are not meta-aware that they are meditating and they feel guilty for relaxing so deeply. Then they feel guilty for thinking, whether they are stress-related thoughts or action choreography thoughts. Then they feel guilty when they emerge from mental rehearsal, and then they rush back to whatever their technique is without lingering in the delicious in-between state. At every stage, they are shaming themselves and inwardly beating themselves up. And as people practice what they think is meditation, in fact they are practicing internal shaming and this pattern gets more and more deeply encoded into their nerves and muscles and senses.

Meditators are like teenage girls who looked at a women’s magazine and saw an image of a runway model wearing fashionable clothes. So now the image in her head of a woman is – long skinny legs that go on forever, a tiny butt and hips, and very small breasts. Basically, a woman should look like an elongated 10-year old boy. Whenever she looks in the mirror, she hates herself for every tiny invented imperfection, every way that her flesh does not resemble the “ideal” woman she sees in the magazines. She is not seeing her own beauty, even the way that in person, without makeup and lighting, she may be much more beautiful than a runway model.

Basically, we have made Barbie out of Buddha. And inwardly, many meditators are chopping away at themselves, doing a kind of plastic surgery on their souls, to try to hack themselves into a meditative ideal.

*Look up Buddha’s life history. In brief, when his first child was born, he freaked out and abandoned the family by sneaking out in the middle of the night. Then he went out into the forest and practiced starving himself. Before taking flight, Buddha named his son, “Rāhula” meaning “impediment, fetter.”


We need to continually be upgrading our language.

For example – I no longer use the phrase “okay let’s close our eyes.” If I have done my job well in setting up the invitation, people’s eyes will close naturally and spontaneously. Quite a few people, if you suggest  that they close their eyes, will use too much effort, creating a sense of force, sometimes they scowl, and then they begin the process of ruining their meditation permanently. Forever after they have a sense of strain enforcing when they approach meditation.

*In teaching recently, guiding people in 20 different meditations, over a period of six hours I noticed that I use the phrase “lets close our eyes,” once, about four hours in, during an afternoon session. After the sense of gentleness had been established. This was day four of a training. 

We need to come up with the word for “focus,” and “mantra.”  We need to suggest basically that there is an “area of interest.” There is “an aspect of the life force that you are drawn to or enchanted with.”

And we need to come up with the language suggesting that we “engage with” this area of interest.

Using the words “concentrate,” and “bring attention to,” and “bring your attention back to the breath or mantra” obscure and crucify the actual kind of attention that we engage with. These phrases make meditation seem tedious, and suggest using effort.

“Right effort,” in meditation is generally “no effort.” what we are training people and is a delicate set of skills that is a very subtle form of guiding without hitting or striking.

Ahimsa means “not hitting, not harming anything.”




The devastating power of shame

When the meditation teacher uses the same shaming language as an exhausted nervous wreck of a mother or kindergarten teacher, they have tremendous power over the student.

When the mother or teacher has sore nerves, as on the verge of breaking down, they say to the child in a shrill tone, “sit down, hold still, shut up, don’t think, don’t feel.” There is a threat behind it – the threat of cutting off of love. The threat of exclusion.

If the mother is for example driving a car and the kids are in the back seat screaming, she may say some version of “shut up,” and add a real sense of danger.

So we are all primed with this language, and whether our mothers and teachers were exhausted and at their wits end, or just bullying, we’ve got that button.

In the monastic tradition, there is a necessary sacrifice that is like plastic surgery – you have parts of yourself cut off, amputated – sexuality, creativity, rebelliousness, the desire to own anything, the desire for a family, the desire for home. So perhaps when a monastic context bullying and shaming have a place, just like needles, drugs, knives, and attacking the body have a place in surgery.

In medicine there is an ethic, “above all do no harm.” Medical interventions are only used skillfully, as appropriate to the life of the patient. That is the aim. doctors are always trying to improve their skill wholeness and do less damage with the medications and interventions they prescribe.

Meditation teachers, because they are not part of the scientific tradition, tend to perpetuate same mistakes century after century after century. And with each passing year, the weight of tradition gets heavier. Tradition, what was taught way long ago in the past, has more importance than what works.

When what you are doing does not work, you simply blame the student for their failure to live up to your expectations. You train them to shame themselves and scold themselves for not being ideal, perfectly quiet inside and perfectly submissive.