#300 SAYS YES Jan 20th 20

Saying YES


When you notice the impulse to disagree, to object or to judge negatively, consider whether it is really necessary. In this mind practice we learn to say yes to everyone and for everything that happens within the limits of feasibility.

Could we just nod, or even remain silent and pleasant? Whenever it is appropriate and not dangerous to you or to others, try to agree with others and with what is happening in your life.

This mind practice helps us to see how often we take a stance that is meaningless, negative or oppositional.

If we are able to watch our mind when someone is talking to us, particularly if they are asking us to do something, we can see our thoughts moving back and forth from agreement or counterarguments.

Can you resist the desire to disagree verbally when the issue is, in fact, not a big deal?

Not expressing opposition will help us to learn to let go our powerful and predominant self-centered views.

In fact, you will realize that our personal opinion is usually not so important after all, meaningless or is just wrong or upsetting.

It is surprising how often our disagreement with another person is actually totally unimportant to that person especially when your opinion is not requested. Beside, the subject of the argument can be totally meaningless. Don’t bother.

This behavior is ego-driven and only serves to increase our stress, upsetting or even suffering of those around us.

Saying YES or simply nodding can be energizing, since habitual resistance is a persistent drain on our life energy.

A point of caution:

The point of this talk is not to become hypocritical, aloof , antisocial or to be a  “yes man/woman”.

The point is simply not to waste too much energy arguing too often with whoever about whatever.

If you feel the urge to argue, just say something like : “I will think about it” or ”Yes, maybe”.

Neither the person or your ego will be hurt.

Just weight the pros and cons before reacting.

In Zen we say:” Swallow your words before spiting them out”. How many disasters did you ignite by doing the opposite?

Like anything in Zen practice, finding the Middle way can be tricky even when talking.

#299: Being on autopilot mode Jan. 12th 2020

         Being on auto pilot all the time

Airplanes have an autopilot mode allowing pilots to consciously not control the plane. Plane flies by itself. Wonderful for the pilots since they can do other things more exiting.

We, humans, have also an autopilot mode. In fact, we are, most of the day, on autopilot mode as soon as we wake up and til we fall asleep.

Being on autopilot means to do things automatically, without thinking too much about what we are doing.

The problem is that when our mind is not focusing on what we do, he is free to do whatever he wants a a different space-time.

Because what we are doing during the day is mostly routine stuff and therefore been perceived as boring, being on autopilot mode is an escape from being focused on these dull and tedious stuff. This is the only good news about being on autopilot. Imagine to be forced to be conscious, to pay attention all the time to everything you are doing every minute or to your incessant moving body or ongoing thoughts.

Zen has another view regarding being on autopilot and it is not a positive one.

It is called  “Sleeping zombie” or “Day sleep walking”.

The word “sleep” has 2 meanings:  

    Not paying attention to the current space-time, present moment, its environment and what we are doing.

    Having our mind in a different space-time (past or mostly future) and doing something else.

Therefore, not paying too much attention to what we are doing NOW means being totally under the control of our wandering mind. The problem of being on autopilot is to be trapped into 2 ways:

  1-  We spend most of our life in “doing mode” rather than “being mode”, missing what the current moment

         may bring to us such as the present, concrete reality and its content.

  2- We are prisoner all day long in our unstoppable 100,000 thoughts and feelings created by our  restless mind and most of the time useless.

 In fact, we become schizophrenic with a double personality: one being is what our body is currently doing and  the other being is where our mind is and what he is doing.

Thoughts, especially negative ones, have tremendous impacts on our emotions, especially when we believe that our thoughts are true and we do. All you notice is that suddenly, you become angry, upset, anxious, fearful, etc.

A subconscious thought gave birth to an emotion.

When we are on autopilot  — not too much conscious of what we are doing–, the mind has free will to do and go whatever he wants. We are trapped in this inner movie theater. This is our usual day-by-day scenario.

On the opposite, when we are not in autopilot— being mindful / paying attention to the current moment and what we are doing —the mind has no choice but to follow your body. We are not trapped anymore inside our self-generated movie.

This is the basic behind these weird and spooky Zen sayings:

 “ When you eat,  just eat”, “ When you walk,  just walk”

By bringing our mind in the current space-time, present moment and environment and on what our body is doing,  we become authentic “beings” rather than “automatic doers’.

Always pull your monkey mind out from his dream world to the present reality the current moment.

This is what “awakening” or “enlightenment” mean.

Is it fun to pay attention to your teeth being brushed?

No it is not, but that’s not the point. Your mind is telling you it is not fun because he does not want to be told what to do and prefers to fly away in different more exiting space-times.

#298 Why doing nothing is the one of the best thing to do Dec. 22 -19

                   Why Doing Nothing is one of the Best Things You Can Do

In a world filled with stressors and to-do lists, it is difficult finding time to just do absolutely nothing. When was the last time you did nothing?  

By nothing, I mean absolutely nothing — no meditation, no scrolling social media, no reading books or articles, no listening to podcasts, no watching movies, TV, or YouTube videos, no cell phone, , etc…

Stop your current rat race, doing x,y,z . Then just seat or lie down and look around like babies do. No thinking, no focusing. Just contemplate the surrounding and become a mirror with the feeling of having a pause

Even when we’re not working, many of us feel obliged to do something productive: going to the gym, running errands, going to a yoga class, or taking care of bills and other duties. We feel obliged to produce out of every nanosecond from our daily lives, feeling how important we are.

 And if we’re not busy running around like a hamster in its wheel, we feel stuck with guilt of being lazy, useless and selfish.  It’s sad.

Our Western equates busyness with being important, smart, useful and indispensable.

Without talking on the phone, texting, checking emails, or consuming books, podcasts, or articles, signals to the world that you are not important.

But buying into these myths can eat away at our sense of self and our overall quality of life.

And it certainly can destroy our health, both mental and physical.

It’s not surprising that rates of depression, anxiety, and stress are increasing, as the addiction to doingness in life seems to have no counterbalance,

Science shows the value of spending time in silence, in nature, and in not engaging in constant external stimulation. We need time doing ‘nothing’ to be our best selves and creative human beings.

The ‘doingness’ side of our nature needs a ‘doing less’ side to be in balance.

One of the reasons meditation in all forms, including mindfulness, has become so hot is because we are so stressed out and are under so much pressure.  So if you’re someone overwhelmed with doing things non-stop, the last thing you need is to add “doing nothing” to your to-do list, thereby piling on more pressure.  When you’re forcing yourself to do nothing, what I like to call ‘forced resting’, you put pressure on it and you miss the whole point.

Example: if I’m trying to get myself to fall asleep, it’s much harder to fall asleep. It’s the same thing if you force yourself in doing nothing.

Don’t try too hard at doing nothing because it is very difficult for our ego to accept. So go easy on yourself

That it’s not wrong to turn off your to-do list for a day, or even 2. You’re not a horrible person if you do it, even if it means putting all your obligations on hold whatever they areas long as they’re not urgent matters. If you cool down for a bit, the whole world won’t come crumbling down.

Remember this : we always have things we could be doing so and if you wait to turn-off your to-do list, you’ll never find a moment to do nothing.

People feel guilty of doing nothing or not being productive, they might think it’s selfish, but taking care of ourselves gives us the capacity to take care of other people.

To summarize here is recent discovery from neuro imaging:

It has been shown that when the brain is not focusing on something it switches to Default Neuronal Network (DNN)

All areas are active but in slow mode using less energy. It looks like, in some way, the brain is “rebooting” itself when there is no specific task to do.

Doing nothing is simply click on pause for 1 or 2 min., stay still, be in the moment and contemplate. 

#296 Testimony of Angeline

Embracing Distractions with Oakville Zen

In September, after Cathy spoke about her time with this Zen meditation group, Arnaud asked that more members consider submitting a talk about their experience with meditation.  When I first attended this group in March, I thought it was a silent group except for Arnaud’s insightful talks because we arrived and left quietly.  The group was comfortable but is even more so since others have talked about their experience. 

I began meditating in 2003, at the beginning and end of yoga classes.  Yoga itself is a moving meditation.  I was taught that yoga prepared the mind and body for the healing stillness of seated meditation, and that a compassionate mindset would make for a healthier, more beneficial practice.  Many teachers and writers in different mind/body practices seem to teach this common theme – Accepting what is now, with reverence.  

Mindfulness distractions vary.  Mental, physical or energetic.  Sometimes my mind whips along the surface of whirlpools thought.  A physical pain and an overwhelming emotion may erupt at the same time.  A noise may jump into my awareness accompanied by thoughts of who or what caused the sound and why.  A dog barking outside makes me wonder if there is a coyote nearby.  A father arguing in the hallway with a toddler makes me imagine what they feel and what family history is motivating their behaviours.  My mind spins off into stories.  If I try to silence or control all these messages from my mind, they multiply.

Like the baby Jack Jack from The Incredibles movie, duplicating himself every time he is caught.

The word control can be positive, implying discipline and organization.  For me, “control” has a restrictive, abusive association.

When I instead gently observe, name, and accept each distraction, it’s like diving deep into the calm below the current.  Patience, appreciation and care swing me back into gentle awareness of this breath.

Arnaud has talked before about self-love and embracing all aspects of self.

Through mindful study, I’ve learned to recognize the true nature of my mind. 

My vivid imagination and strong empathy used to create more frequent stories and emotions when I sat to meditate.  Every sound and sensation meant something symbolic and begged for attention.  Rather than fight to control or silence these instincts, I befriended them, and now see them as cooperative aspects of my ego. They help me round up and tame all other distractions through close inspection.  For example, when my back hurts I listen actively.

I use my natural tendencies to feel deeply and think creatively.

I imagine the pain is an impermanent object like a sandcastle, and each breath gently softens it like a wave would.  I don’t try to change what I feel.  I just use imagery to feel more deeply and breathe more consciously.  By three cycles of breath, most distractions fall quite in love with just breathing. 

When our group breaks to walk or stretch, the second meditation is often deeper and easier.  Tension falls away when I move.  My body is more comfortable. My mind is even more at rest than if I sat alone the whole time. 

Shared meditation seems to magnify the peaceful effect. 

Side by side and breath by breath, we’re working in unique ways to be fully present.

I dive deeper every time we meditate together. 

Thank you for welcoming me into this group and sharing this practice. 

Now I’m curious to hear from you.  What distraction did you find difficult at first, but has since helped you to be more mindful?

#295 3M Multi mini mindfulness exercises

                                    3M  Multi mini mindfulness exercises

This week talk is practical. How to practice mindfulness at any moment, any time, anywhere, on anything

Remember that the beneficial impacts of mindfulness are cumulative with practice even if it is not formal sitting meditation.

Focusing actively on anything is mindfulness practice in its spiritual sense as long as you stay away from any analytic process, judgment or decision. Otherwise, we are just thinking for the purpose of achieving a goal. Spiritual mindfulness has no practical objective but to observe.

When we pay attention for few sec. or min. on x, y, z and as described, we are creating a short in our bioelectrical circuits of our brain/mind. The torrential flow of thoughts (~100,000/day) is stopped because the mind/brain cannot deal with 2 thoughts at the same time and must focus on x, or y or z.

Mind and brain are one unit observing reality.

All 100 billions of neurons and trillions of connections are all focusing on a single object whatever it is.

After the theory, the practice.

Using one of our 5 senses is an excellent practical tool to practice mindfulness during the day because our mind/brain is extremely sensitive to its sensorial inputs, which will take priority if you decide touse one of them.

You may pick seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or smelling for few seconds, one or two minutes several times during the day, anywhere.

These sensorial focus points are infinite. Here are few examples for the fun of it:

 Paying attention in a mindfulness way to:

      Feeling the ground or counting the steps while walking in the house or outside.

     Listening to any sound at home such as the water in the shower,  in your cars or even noises  at work.

      Eating in a mindful way by moving or arms slowly, smelling, tasting, chewing and swallowing. 

      Watching something around you such as color, sky, moving clouds, trees, etc.

      Feeling the wind, the temperature.

     Touching something such as your skin by joining your hands your hands, touching your desk,the wheel of your car, your presto card, what you are wearing, etc.

      Smelling the air, the food, the grass, the train, your car,

      Tasting your coffee or any drinks.

     Using your non-dominant hand for short and easy tasks. You are rewiring your brain by enhancing your prefrontal concentration circuits.

      Feeling the fresh air entering through your nose.

No point to list more examples.

When practicing, remember this key factor. You are bringing your usual wandering and restless mind where your body and what he is doing.

Mind and body become one unit experiencing the concrete reality of the moment, the only existing one. No more dissociation between what you are doing automatically and what your mind is thinking in  its continuous and various  fictional space-times.

This is called awakening. You are making the miracle of just being, that is pure consciousness.


                         Awakening: The most important attributes & attitudes P2

The nickname “Buddha” means “the awakened” one.  Awakening or Enlightenment is simply the ability to understand and experience genuine and concrete reality of the present moment including all its components. Put in different words:  it is the ability to differentiate what we are and are not, what is reality vs. what is mind-made illusions are such as thoughts, past and future.

It is not a fantasy to fulfill, a destination to reach or a miracle to happen. No special skills, no divine intervention from a third party, no dogma and no miracle are required because we are all already “awakened”.

We call it our True Nature or pure consciousness, which will be never observed and explained scientifically

Because totally immaterial,

Because we need consciousness to explain consciousness meaning that the object cannot be the subject and the same time, i.e. w/o a mirror, we cannot see our own eyes.

In other words: we experience consciousness but we cannot calculate it.

The experience comes by practicing formal mindfulness-based meditation but also from mindfulness on the go.

To be mindful is to actively pay attention to something w/o any analytic nor decisional purpose.

Just being a mirror reflecting yourself, people, things and events as they are. It is like to focus mindlessly.

Here are few examples of mindfulness practice in non-specific order.

The goal is to minimize frequency and intensity of our emotions.

  • Do not think that you are indispensable. Our ego loves it but it creates anxiety.
  • Practicing mental equanimity that is a composed and evenness emotional mind, avoiding the YO-YO

       up and down such as happiness/sadness/happiness/sadness and so on.

  • To realize & be mindful to the fact that we do not control too much regarding our mind, people and events.
  • Realizing that all living beings are interconnected and defendant to each other’s.
  • We are not a permanent, unique, isolated, independent, separate, self-sufficient entity despite what our ego and self- image are telling us. The opposite.
  • Accepting things / events/people as they are and not as you want them to be unless you have some leverage.
  • Accepting self as we are and expressing self-forgiveness and self-compassion in order to do the same to others. Without this acceptance, proper interaction with others is impossible.
  • Being mindful to our emotions such as anger, grief, worries, craving, negative judgments, etc. in order to accept and surrender to them. Never resist or fight them!. This counter-intuitive “miracle” of accepting suffering promotes inner peace.

Without this initial mindfulness step, it is impossible to deal with our emotions in a rational way.

#293 AWAKENING attributes & attitudes Part 1

                     Awakening: The most important attributes & attitudes P1

The nickname “Buddha” means “the awakened” one.  Awakening or Enlightenment is simply to understand and experience genuine and concrete reality of the present moment including all its components. Put in different words:  it is the ability to differentiate what we are and are not,

what reality vs. mind-made illusions are. Awakening brings serenity.

It is not a fantasy to fulfill, a destination to reach or a miracle to happen. No special skills, no divine intervention from a third party, no dogma and no miracle are required because we are all already “awakened”. Being awakened is a personal experience impossible to share with others.

We call this awakened state our True Nature or pure consciousness, which will be never observed explained scientifically or even shared with others because:  

 Totally immaterial,

And because we need consciousness to explain consciousness meaning that the object cannot be    the subject at the same time or, w/o a mirror, we cannot see our own eyes.

As we will see experiencing awakening comes from many ways in our daily life and all of them are linked not only to the practice of formal sitting mindfulness meditation but also  “on the go”.

To be mindful is to actively pay attention to something w/o any analytic nor decisional purpose.

Just being a mirror reflecting yourself, people, things and events as they are. It is like to focus mindlessly.

Here are few examples of mindfulness practice in non-specific order. Few more will follow next week.

  • Practicing formal meditation. It requires effort, discipline, patience, determination and, above all, a non-judgmental assessment of your meditation’s quality. Just bring your mind to your breathing.
  • Learning to be mindful on routine, automatic behavior such as eating, walking, driving,
  • taking a shower, cleaning, dressing, etc.  In other words, bringing together your wandering mind where your body is and does in a single space-time. This is “on-the-go mindfulness”
  • Trying to live in the moment as often as possible, avoiding been carried out in past & future by your restless mind. NOW is the only existing time. The others time-spaces are virtual, despite our pictures / souvenirs of the past and our expectations/calendar of the future. They exist only on paper and in our mind. Our mind loves being a time machine to put us in a fictional daydream state.
  • Being conscious that all living beings, current moment and any events surrounding us are transient and usually out of our control.
  • Realizing that thoughts are just that…thoughts. They exist but they are, by definition, not real.

      We are creating thoughts but it does not mean that we have to trust them.

  • Having an open mind and not a mind-set made of ideas and judgments, which freeze our thinking.

       Such open-mind is called “don’t know mind” and this mental state enhances our curiosity  intelligence, wisdom and serenity.

  • Avoiding multi-tasking.


                Effect of mindfulness on anxiety and how

General Anxiety Disorder ( G.A.D.) It is a cluster of several diseases including PTSDD

Definition: Worries or even fears of possible negative outcomes affecting people or events in the present moment or in the future. Usually anxiety is continuous during lifetime at various degrees. Can be debilitating if chronic.

It is the most common “mental” disease affecting around 15% of the population and growing rapidly especially among youths. Its causes are genetic and environmental.

Beside worry and fear, its manifestations are numerous affecting sleep, concentration, appetite, relationship, blood pressure, work performance, depression and even suicide.

Treatments include psychotherapy, CBT, medication and, over the last few years, mindfulness meditation.

The beneficial effect of mindfulness has been proven scientifically only in the last few years and confirmed by the

N.I.H. Reference enclosed.

In this reference, a randomized, controlled study involving one group of patient treated once a week with MBSR during 10 months vs. one controlled group treated with conventional psychotherapy during 10 months.

Anxiety level was assessed by 3 standardized psychometric anxiety inventory tests before and after treatment.

Statistical analysis showed that the frequency, duration and severity of symptoms of anxiety were statistically

 less in the MBSR vs. psychotherapy.

How it works?

Neuro imaging shows that the activity of our emotional brain is less reactive whereas the activity of our rational analytic brain is more active in patients practicing mindfulness meditation daily and weekly in group. There is an obvious neuroplasticity or brain remodeling in action due to the practice of active awareness which is the job of our analytic frontal brain.

Hypothesis: The key seems to switch from “ I am anxious” to “ I have anxiety”. What does that means?

Being mindful to anxiety is to pay attention, to be actively aware of this negative emotion rather than being carried by. As soon as you force your mind to become aware of your anxiety, he is experiencing two mental conflicting states1) background anxiety itself and 2) active awareness of it. Facing this conflict that we create, our mind is unable to carry 2 thoughts at the same time and has now no choice but to let go one of them. The emotional mind will back off against the awareness mind.

As your awareness mind becomes more and more pervasive, your emotional  anxious mind is losing ground, its intensity and its grip and your awareness mind is growing. In other words, what you do is to put your mind in competition with itself.  It is like a mental tug of war, one area of the mind against another one.

In fact, this is exactly what we are doing while meditating by focusing on one state of mind called breathing in order to compete with another state of  of mind one called wandering thoughts.

This mindfulness-based meditation method of making two states of mind in competition should be used with all afflictive thoughts popping out all the time.

If you get the habit of looking at thoughts and emotions when they arise, that is to be aware of the, they will dissipate before they take you hostage.

With practice, it will become easier and easier to retain mastery of our mind and to deal with negative emotions that pollute our daily life and also affect our body, which is a great “red flag” of what, is going at the upper level.

The effect of moderate “de-sensitization” of anxiety using mindfulness is proven but, by no means, it is the holly grail. 


This is an edited quote from Allan Watts:

“The frequency, duration and intensity of your anxiety will never change the outcome of what/whom you are worried about. “


#291 RELEASING BODY TENSION: the mind-body connection Oct.27th 19

                       Releasing body tension: the mind-body connection

The following talk assumes that no medical condition exists.

Mindfulness meditation is a great exercise to quieter and relax our restless mind.

Mindfulness can also be used in reverse to relax our body.

Why? Because in Zen Buddhist philosophy body and mind is one entity tightly connected.

This is why our body is a great proxy of our mind and vice versa. We should learn to apply this connection.

   When our body is under tension our mind is restless. Relaxing your body will calm your mind.

   In reverse, a restless mind will induce tension in your body. Calming the mind will relax our body.

When you practice awareness of your body in a mindful way, you will notice, quite often, there is some tension, pain or other symptoms somewhere. The most frequent locations of tension are headache, neck, shoulder, chest, back pain. Also you may notice rapid heart rate, superficial breathing.

Our gastro-intestinal tract is frequently affected such as poor digestion, stomach butterflies, bloating, increased appetite especially sweets, abnormal transit, etc.

These symptoms are the physical consequences of a non-physical restless mind struggling with anxiety or many other negative feelings at its preconscious level …….again, .as long as no medical conditions exist.

Therefore it is important to learn to relax the body during any circumstances and in any positions.

It will help to quieter your restless mind at the same time.

We don’t enjoy driving in the traffic because you want to arrive quicker and you may notice tension in your body. When the light is red you are eager for the green one. Waiting on line, being in stressful situations, doing things we don’t like or not doing things you want to do, a negative feeling, all of them may or will increase mind-body tension at 2 levels.

The practice:

Learning to be sensitive to your body  in a mindful way, will also help you to read your mind since our body is just the tip of the iceberg .

Relaxing the body can be done anytime at home, at work, lying down, sitting or standing up.

For example: if you feel tension in your neck w/o obvious reason, try to dig in your emotional brain to see what is going on.

First you have to localize the tension using body scanning.

This is total body scanning which will be described shortly.

Then, relaxing this tension can be achieve simply by few and slow deep breathing during 1 to 2min.

The exhale should be a bit longer than the inhale. This is in-and-out in full concentration.

It has been show that this simple exercise drops the blood pressure somewhat, reduce the heart rate respiratory rate, and lower cortisol our main stress hormone. At the same time the mind is also relaxing.

Body scanning is an excellent practice in helping us to assess both body and mental tension.

It should be done in a systematic way, from toes to head and from the superficial to the inside.

The best way is lying down and takes few deep breaths before starting the step-by-step scanning.

A complete body scanning may takes several min. for novices

With experience, 2 to 3 min. will do the trick.

Finally, if these symptoms persist, consulting may be considered.

Thank you

#290 DETACHMENT: A ZEN PERSPECTIVE by Kris Oct 20th 19


Buddha soon after Enlightenment stated three noble truths. Among them are:

  • Everything in this world is transient and changing;
  • Attachment to worldly things brings only suffering.

Why the suffering? Because we all get attached to things we love and when we lose them, that causes suffering. Hence over 2000 years ago, it was stated, “be in this world but not of this world.”

Thus we need to develop detachment. But does detachment not mean we will be cold and heartless?

On the contrary, as inner peace develops, one develops more compassion,  focus and awareness of what is important and shed what is not. This is the greatest difficulty we all have to discern what is really important in life.

So how do we develop this detachment?

We have all done it. When we were kids, we were all very attached to our favorite toys. But as we grew up, we dropped these toys. If these toys were offered today,  as an adult we would have no interest.

Similarly, as we develop wisdom on the nature of this changing impermanent world, we slowly shed these worldly toys as we grow spiritually. However this needs regular practice.

Several paths are suggested by great spiritual Masters. To summarize their message it is:

  • Practice
  •  From practice comes detachment

What is this practice?  It is a combination of things.

First is the removal of Ignorance. Because we are all ignorant of our true nature, we all run after worldly things for our happiness. However, our true nature according these Masters, is that we are peaceful, balanced and the vicissitudes of life do not impact us.

So to remove the first stage of ignorance, we need to read and hear spiritual messages. However, you may hear this message many times but it may not stay or take root in you. This is because our mind is already filled with selfish worldly things.  This is akin to filling a bottle with fine wine when it is already full of brine. So to “empty” our nature of this negative tendency/brine, volunteering and doing selfless work is suggested.

In parallel, we are to regularly practice meditation. Why? Because our mind is scattered with worldly things and meditation brings focus and balance to our emotions.

As we regularly practice our meditation and our spiritual knowledge, we evolve upwards and give up our worldly toys. This is akin to walking up the stairs where we give up the lower rungs.

Thus to summarize, it is regular practice of meditation, doing selfless actions and studying/hearing spiritual subjects that brings spiritual detachment and inner peace ensues.