#268 The A,B,C…of Mindfulness meditation Sat. 27 Ap. 19

                        The A,B,C,………. of  mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a challenging  physical and mental skill to grasp.

Here are  the key attributes, in alphabetic order, to consider. This list is not exhaustive.

ATTITUDE:   Attitude is a mental trait. Having an open mind is important to understand, consider and practice meditation. Meditation is still an alien activity for most Westerners.

APTITUDES:   Aptitudes are both mental and physical skills. In respect to meditation, the aptitude to stay still during several minutes is essential as well as trust and patience.

AWARENESS: This is a state of high consciousness.  Without it, meditation is impossible.

ACCEPTANCE: Accepting that the practice of meditation is very challenging and its quality can vary greatly from one session to the next. This is why, being non-judgmental about the quality of your practice is so important.      Many quit, like I did, because of negative judgment on the quality of their meditation. Practice does not affect the quality of meditation but will do on the quality of life.

BREATHING:  Breathing is the usual focus point that is the anchor we use to slow-down if not to control our wandering mind. With experience, the focus point can be anything

BACK: In Zen we say: “ Straight back, straight mind; still back, still mind

You will focus far better when the back is straight and still, even on a chair away  from the back of it.

CONFIDENCE:  Trusting your practice is challenging especially when its lousy and when we have no time because “no time” is always the first excuse

COMPASSION: Don’t judge  yourself if you miss your session or if, one day, you cannot meditate the way you want. Happens all the time. Just let it go.

CUMULATIVE: The practice of meditation is cumulative regardless its quality. You will discover that controlling emotions and vision of life will improve greatly with time.

DAILY: The optimal way (see cumulative) to practice. Few min. will do.

DETERMINATION: Not easy to keep. Up to 90% of new comers quit meditation within 3 months.

DISCIPLINE: Like determination, discipline is a state of mind. W/o it , no meditation is possible.

EFFICIENCY:    See “Cumulative”. Meditation is efficient and effective physically, mentally and emotionally. But it is not a quick fix. Scientific proofs are numerous.

EMPTY MIND:  Does not exist literally & figuratively. Quieter mind is a better expression.

EYES: To stay fully awake, it is advised to keep eyes semi open and looking down 3 to 4 feet away w/o staring or analyzing.

FOCUSING:  …..in a mindful way i.e. No analysis, no judgment, no decision. We call this: Thinking thoughtlessly.

FINDING TIME:  We always find time for priorities, never for what we perceive are not. Finding no time to meditate is a bad sign. Quitting is coming.

GROUNDING:   The closer to the ground, the better. This is why a mat & meditation cushion are recommended. I will advise you where to get them.

GROUP: Group practice is more powerful than the solo one. Weekly is the rule. Retreats are excellent.

NON JUDGEMENTAL: Very important. Just do it bad or good, good or bad, excited or down.

ONCE A WHILE: Meditating when we feel like it is a waste of time. Quite.

ON-THE-GO: Being mindful few min. on something ,several times a day is an excellent exercise.

OBJECTIVES:    Its physical, mental and emotional impacts are achieved via

     1) Experiencing current reality, the only time where you are alive 

     2) Taming the mind.

3) And, eventually, serenity.

PATIENCE: Not a problem if you have the determination.

SILENCE: Silence is a wonderful and powerful anchor to quiet the mind.

SOLO:  Daily solo practice demands organization, dedication and discipline.

WANDERING MIND: The mind will always wander while meditating. Just let go the thought and go back to the anchor.

WALKING:  An excellent way to tame the mind by focusing on each step at slow pace.

#267 LETTING GO Ap. 20 19

                       Letting go

With different wording this is the forth talk over the last 5 years about letting go because it is a difficult but important skill to learn and master.

The most efficient trap to get a monkey is the box with a small round hole in front and a large banana inside.  The monkey grabs the banana but cannot get out while holding the banana.

He cannot let go because he wants, at all cost, keep and eat the banana.

Most monkeys learn quickly and don’t get trapped because they are too smart.

They realize that, releasing the banana will be painful for their ego and hunger but it will make them free.  We, humans, are very close to the trapped monkeys because, we too, don’t want and don’t know how to let go a thought, an emotion or an action x, y, z because of the feeling of backing up, failure or weakness and cowardice.

This is weird because we all know that, in order to find some peace of mind and happiness we just have to let go many things glued in our minds especially if we are right.

Like all simple advises, letting go is very challenging because, as said before, it is part of our identity and self-defense mechanism.

One of the reasons that it is so difficult to let go is that we have to release of something with is perceived to be part of us it is like a lost, even if we realize that this “something” can be detrimental.

If you think about yourself, you will realize that we are holding zillion of things that we don’t want to let go.

     Most of them are stored in our subconscious like a safe in our mind. Often…….

     We have to let go of some of our ego reactions, our neuroses, or mistakes.

     We have to let go of some of our habits, addiction, mind-set and useless judgments.

     We have to let go of our unrealistic desires, anger, anxiety, fear, grief, failures, nostalgia, and on and on .It can be difficult or even impossible to erase these things out of our mind.

So: What to do?

What we need to do, first, is let go of our understanding about letting go. As I said earlier, letting go is not a sign of failure, weakness or cowardice. In fact, it is a sign of being a smart monkey.

To find peace and happiness, we don’t have to actively fight, release or mentally erase things from our mind. This is active elimination and this is not letting go. The effort is too demanding.

Trying to erase a strong attachment will never work because the emotional bond is too powerful.

The closer we are with this attachment, habit, thought or emotion the stronger it becomes.

Compare this with 2 magnets getting closer. The attraction gets stronger when the magnets are closer to each other’s. 

Letting go is allowing the banana trap to leave your mind and not you to leave the trap.

Like for any negative emotions, we have to realize that we are strongly attached, then that we have to accept the fact w/o trying to fight with.

Only after acceptance, things will go on their own and the magnets are moving away from each other. To let go is like acting like a mirror. A mirror reflects everything without passing judgement or getting stuck with the images that appear on its surface. It lets things come and go.

Although we should be mirrors reflecting things as they go, we are also participants interacting with things, people and environment.

Letting things go does not mean that we should withdrawn and not interact with the surrounding world. Our attachments to anger, desire, behavior and ego tricks come all the time and they will go

if we just reflect to them as they are.

There are even situations where we are 100% right and giving up your action, thoughts, position or goal will be inappropriate if not wrong. Letting go them become very hard if not impossible.

Again, when we talk about letting go we are talking about dealing with our emotional reactions in order to act is a more appropriate and constructive way.

Accepting  them w/o trying to fight or be attached is letting go. At this point you will release the banana and become a happy monkey.

Thank you

#266 MATRIX movies & ZEN philosophy Apr. 14th 19

Matrix movies: an allegory to Zen Buddhism philosophy

It took 4 years for the brothers Wachoskis to find a studio and cast to produce this very ambitious Trilogy made of theology, religions, philosophy and cyber science. Hollywood found it too intellectual.

Here are 6 allegories related to Zen philosophy

     The name NEO is an anagram.

Neo is an anagram of the word “ONE. “or the Savior is other religions. In fact, Neo is referred to as The One throughout many parts of the film. How does this relate to Zen Buddhism? Eastern philosophy reflects the notion that all living beings are one entity forming the world. It’s true that Neo doesn’t exactly show his most peaceful side throughout the film, but, being the chosen one to deliver humans from the bondage of their  minds does elevate him to a sort of messianic status and to become the
teacher for a better free world with less suffering.
This is similar to Buddha’s teaching.
Awakening in the real world.
As the founder of Buddhism in 520BC, Siddhartha Gautama known as
the Buddha meaning “the awakened one.” His mean teaching was
“to wake up by escaping our mind-made illusions”. Morpheus also is asking his people to wake up that is to escape the AI-made Matrix virtual reality.
Much of The Matrix involves Neo/Mr. Anderson coming to terms with the fact that the world he lives in is a mind-made illusion created by this super AI and that he must wake up and escape so he can experience the true world or genuine reality as opposed to the computerized cyber virtual reality called the Matrix. This true world does not mean bliss as Agent Smith said.
Our modern world is more and more computer-based virtual reality controlling our behaviors, thinking and emotions. One of the main teachings that Morpheus tells Neo is that the world in which his alter  ego Mr. Anderson – and us-  live in the Matrix, sort of Super AI  cyber-world made of virtual reality supposed to be perfect but it is the  opposite. The Matrix gets its energy from humans body encapsulated  in pods. He tells him that this AI cyber world is an illusion, a pseudo  reality generated by powerful programs affecting or minds. The minds of human trapped in the Matrix simply absorbs external signals generated by the AI thru sight, heating, touch, smell, taste. These minds then computerizes and interpret these external data to finally creates an artificial world on their own as a sort of virtual reality in which they believe.
This is exactly what Zen is Teaching. We are leaving, most of the day, in a mind-made virtual and imaginary world made of desires, hatred, emotions, past and future. Zen calls this state “ Day sleep walking” or “Zombie behavior” . We behave, most of the time, on auto-pilot whereas our mind is elsewhere doing something else. Neo was freed to protect the world, release others from their mind prisons and prevent further suffering (what Buddhism refers to as “Samsara”).
Impermanence: The idea of someone is dying or will in a material sense is common to our beliefs. Biological death is final for most f us. But are we dying in an imaginary world? Is our physical death final? Does our incarnated consciousness comes at birth and leaves at death? During Neo’s training, he is taken to the top of a skyscraper. Failing the first time and plunging to the ground, he is extracted from the matrix world and re-emerges in the real world. Noticing his mouth is bleeding (despite the training occurring in a virtual realm), he questions Morpheus. I thought it wasn’t real,” he states.
 “Your mind makes it real,” replied Morpheus. This, again brings to light the Buddhist ideas of how important the mind is. By training it, resting it and controlling it
 (via mindfulness meditation) we can escape  our self-made matrix and its deceptive illusions.
Rebirth One of the most recognizable beliefs about Zen Buddhism is the belief that a person will reborn after their physical body expires, cycles after cycles.
Indeed, The Matrix features the rebirth of Neo twice.

Final words
Do our 5 senses and brain bio-electrical interpretation is telling us the true i.e. the genuine reality of the moment? Maybe, maybe  not.
Go back to the scene where the little boy is bending a spoon and tells Neo there is no spoon.
 In my opinion, Agent Smith ( a program) is right, saying the same thing than the Buddha: we, humans do create a mind-made world of suffering for ourselves.
But Morpheus is also right: we can exit this world of suffering by controlling it .
Maybe what our brain /mind perceives as reality is only an illusion but we cannot
prove it.       .