Posted in meditation

What Meditation Is Not

Many people have ideas about meditation.

I want to address some of those ideas that I think might be misconceptions. I’m doing that because many times I think people go to meditation events with certain expectations. Some ideas we associate with meditation are true and others are not. And some ideas may apply to some systems of meditation, but not the simple practices that I lead at Fountain City Meditation.

We do not chant secret words, we do not visualize magical things appearing, we do not pray or ask spirits to appear. And also we aren’t going to shave our heads or put on weird costumes. That’s not what we do, we’ll leave that to others.

We are training our minds to be fully present and to gain insight into our selves. The goals are attention and awareness. So, with that being said, I’m going to go over some common misconceptions.

  1. Meditation is just for relaxation: the issue here is with that word “just”. Relaxation is a part of this but it isn’t everything. Concentration, relaxation, and insight. This is about changing the way we interact with the world. If it was all relaxation, we’d just be going to sleep.
  2. Meditation is zoning out: There may be forms of meditation where this is true, but that’s not what we’re doing. If anything, it’s the opposite. We’re zoning in. We’re becoming more deeply involved in our experience, not going away from our experience.
  3. Meditation is mysterious and/or weird: I like to say I’m selling water by the river. It may not always be easy to talk about, especially if we’re thinking in terms of measurement or success, but it is about being where we already are. It’s all right here.
  4. Meditation is for people who are calm or spiritual: I think it’s for everyone. We can all improve our lives with this practice. There are no gatekeepers or prerequisites. If we think we have to have some measure of stability BEFORE we start a meditation practice, we’re probably never going to start.

 

So, those are some common misconceptions. It’s all here. Are you?

What are some other misconceptions you can think of?

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Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast The Kansas City Meditation Podcast

 

Posted in meditation, videos

Insight Meditation by Ram Dass (video)

These are Vipassana (Insight) Meditation instructions that were written by Ram Dass. Ram Dass passed away yesterday at the age of 88. He was a beloved spiritual teacher who wrote the books “Be Here Now” and “Be Love Now”. He said, “I want my life to be a statement of love and compassion and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.” Giving this guided meditation is my tribute to him. Go here for more: https://www.ramdass.org/meditation-2/

 

 

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Want to come meditate with me? I’m at Ubuntu Village Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast Scharpening the Mind

Posted in meditation

Why Bother Meditating?

Meditation is challenging.

Anyone that tells you it’s easy is probably trying to sell you something. It takes time, energy, and determination. Often in life we feel like we have a shortage of these things. It’s tempting to avoid meditation. I could meditate, but I’d rather watch Netflix or sit and drink beer. These days it’s so easy to fill our time with many things that are either productive or pleasurable. We always have things to do. Is it worth our time to stop and do nothing for a little while?

Why should we spend our time meditating?

We do this because life and hard and it helps. Every one of us is a mess. We may think we are and some people aren’t, but we’re wrong. Everyone is a mess. We’re confused, we struggle to be happy, and we’re distracted. A lot of the time we’re just sleepwalking through life, missing everything. We have difficulty being fully present.

There is a way we can learn how to live our lives more fully. That what this is about. We’re trying to learn how to be more present and aware, to see more clearly, and to be more genuine. There is depth and clarity in our lives that we’re missing.

Sometimes we get stuck in an “if only” perspective. If only this or that was different, then I could be happy. That can easily steal all our joy. We have a pervasive mental habit of always wanting. We spend a lot of time labeling the world around us, putting things into categories to try to make sense of the world. Good, bad, boring, fun, etc. We put things in categories then decide how to react. And sometimes we don’t even know we’re making those judgments ourselves. When we call something bad we want to push it away. When we call something good, we want to try to hold on. We always have less power than we’d like to push and pull these things. No matter how hard we try to hold onto good, sometimes we can’t. No matter how hard we try to push away bad, sometimes we can’t. And when there’s nothing good or bad, we’re often bored. We have put ourselves in chains of grasping our likes and pushing our dislikes. We’ve put ourselves in chains but the truth is we have the key.

And we can improve that by seeing clearly.

Another thing we struggle with is change. Things are always changing when we want them to stay the same. Change is the nature of the universe. When we learn to pay attention to our minds we see that there’s plenty of change there too. Our thoughts come and go and lead to others thoughts, sometimes so fast that we  don’t even know how we got from one thought to another. People come and go in our lives. Good things come and go. Bad things come and go too. It’s all about change. And, of course, ultimately it becomes increasingly clear to us that we’re getting older. Our bodies are, slowly but surely, going too. Change is inevitable and hard to accept.

What it all comes down to is this. We are carried around by a subtle discontent that I call suffering. We can learn how to manage that by learning how our minds work and training them. We can learn how to recognize our desires and not be controlled by them. We can want or fear something without becoming unreasonable and/or obsessed.

Through meditation we learn to see how our minds work, then we can learn to see ourselves more clearly. That’s where the magic happens. When we see ourselves clearly we can really learn how to manage our suffering. Mental cultivation through consistent meditation practice is a powerful method transforming our relationships to ourselves and to the world. Meditation purifies our minds. It cuts through the baggage and the bullshit and shows us what’s really happening. This brings us clarity and helps us develop wisdom, mindfulness, and compassion. Meditation softens us and opens us up so we stop making enemies out of everything all the time. Meditation can make us deeply aware of the world and our place in it. Meditation also helps us sharpen our concentration so we can pay attention, really pay attention, and experience the world in a more full way.

Why meditate?

Because I want to live my best life. I want to see the world in a more clear and full way than I ever have before. We may not be able to add years to our lives, but we can add life to our years.

Why not try?

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Want to come meditate with me? I’m at Ubuntu Village Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast Scharpening the Mind

Posted in buddhism, mindfulness

Taking Away From Our Lives

This life right now, in each moment, is all we really have. The past is gone and the future is only potential. We spend so much time not focused on the here and now, but we do have the power to change that.

We have a few ways that we tend to take away from the fullness of our lives. We take away from our lives by sleepwalking, just going through the motions of life without being present or acting with intention. This is where we just let things happen and we don’t really reflect on why we do the things we do. We also take away from the fullness of our lives by wishing. We pretty consistently don’t value where we are. To wish we were somewhere else is to take away from here. To wish to be entertained instead of doing nothing is to take away from doing nothing. There is value in doing nothing.

To give to our lives is to understand “good enough”. We are good enough. What we are doing is good enough. We’re trying to learn how to enter this moment completely without judgment, without hating our experience or wishing for something else.

We lose so much of our lives by dwelling on the past, obsessing about the future, or just wishing really hard that right now was different. But this is where we are. We might imagine our meditation practice taking us to some special place or giving us some magical experience. That’s not what happens. We’re training to be here. That’s it. It is completely ordinary.

When we’re fully present we can learn how to be content.


Want to come meditate with me? I’m at Ubuntu Village Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast Scharpening the Mind

Posted in fountain city meditation

The Thing About Meditation Is… (audio and video)

This talk and discussion was recorded at Fountain City Meditation on 12/2/19.

We talked about believing our practice and some common obstacles. We had a really good discussion this time.

Here is the audio recording from the talk:

The Thing About Meditation Is… (Podcast)

and below is the video of the entire session.

0:00-30:00: Meditation

30:00-46:00: Talk and Discussion

 

 

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If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

Want to come meditate with me? I’m at Ubuntu Village Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

And go check out my Podcast Scharpening the Mind

Posted in fountain city meditation

The Second Arrow (video and podcast)

This talk was recorded at Fountain City Meditation on 11/25/19.

We talked about how we sometimes tend to make our own suffering worse and how mindfulness can help us out with that.

Here’s the audio of the talk:

The Second Arrow (podcast)

Here’s the video of the entire session:

Meditation: 0:0028:00
Talk: 28:0040:13

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If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

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Want to come meditate with me? I’m at HDKC Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

Visit my YouTube Channel to hear Talks!

And go check out my Podcast Scharpening the Mind

 

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Posted in videos

What Meditation is Not (Video)

Just wanted to clear up some common misconceptions about the meditation that I teach. Here you go:

 

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Want to come meditate with me? I’m at HDKC Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

Visit my YouTube Channel to hear Dharma Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast Scharpening the Mind

Posted in meditation

Development and Acceptance

It’s a really good feeling sometimes when we think our meditation is working. If we’ve been struggling for a while and then we are suddenly able to stay with the breath or stay with our experience for several minutes, that can be a satisfying experience.

We spend so much time in the daydream, not being fully present that when we step into this moment it can be a shock to our system sometimes. And that can create it’s own problems. Once we have a moment of clarity, we might tend to cling to it. It can be very discouraging when some of our meditation sessions feel successful and others do not. It’s so hard to maintain a passive attitude sometimes.

What I want to encourage you to do is accept whatever your experience is in your meditation practice. This can be very challenging. We want to have feelings of satisfaction or frustration and just notice them, just be aware of them and be with them. If we attach a lot of significance to either experience, then our practice could suffer. We want to be with these feelings and not cling to the satisfaction but also not push away the frustration. The fact is that sometimes our sit will feel really successful and other times it will feel like a failure.

Your attention will improve over time. This is about training the mind. No one expects you to be great at this right away. No one is great at this right away. Our minds naturally wander and get lost. What we want to try to do is have a passive attitude so we aren’t really hard on ourselves when we get off track. We want to try to learn how to gently bring the mind back.

New meditators sometimes feel like their minds are just too crazy to meditate and that sort of misses the point. We’re not meditating because it’s easy to still the mind and be present. We’re meditating because it’s hard.

Hopefully with practice it gets a little easier to simply notice when our minds are wandering and to just bring them back to the present moment without getting caught up in it.

 

Posted in meditation

Is Meditation Boring?

Meditation tends to be a struggle for a lot of people. People come to the path with a lot of expectations.

The practice I teach is called Silent Illumination. It’s a bare bones and simple practice. Well, that’s not true. There’s a lot to it. But the instructions are very simple. We are sitting very still, being very quiet, and doing nothing.

We’re not trying to focus on anything. We aren’t trying to stop thinking (good luck) or trying to redirect our thoughts toward some weird picture or something. We are just sitting very still and being very quiet.

“The practice of true reality is simply to sit serenely in silent introspection.” -Hongzhi

It sounds like we’re doing nothing. I’ve had people say, “is that it?” more than once when I present the practice. It sounds like nothing, but what we’re doing is settling into the present moment. When the body is still the mind becomes still of it’s own accord. We’re not forcing anything because we don’t have to.

We may tell ourselves while we’re practicing that nothing is happening…but that’s not really true. There’s never a point where nothing is happening. Things are happening all the time. Wonderful, painful, scary things. There’s never a moment when nothing is going on and life is never really boring. If we really come into our experience we can see that.

 But the truth is that only boring people get bored. What we’re doing with this practice is really learning to pay attention. When we train in attention, we can start to see how not-boring everything is. The world is transformed by our attention.

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Upcoming Events:

5/18/19: 11am-Noon

Fountain City Meditation: Meditation on the Nelson Lawn

Nelson Atkins Museum – South Lawn

4525 Oak Street

Kansas City, MO

This is a public event. We’re meditating on the lawn of the Nelson Museum, just south of “The Thinker” statue. I’m going to give a short talk and a bit of guidance, then we will sit together. Tell all your friends.

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