Ways to meditate & resources
There are basically two main types of meditation. Let’s label these “Concentration” (when the mind wanders, returning your focus to your breath, counting, a mantra, etc.) and “Awareness” (allowing everything to be as it is, no attachment). For many years I practiced a concentration style, mostly using passage meditation from Eknath Easwaran. I am grateful to this loving teacher and his legacy continues here. Now, my daily practice is generally an awareness approach. With inspired leadership clients we experiment and find what works well for them and let that evolve over time. There’s room for “cross training” and blended combinations. Having said that there are two fundamental approaches to meditation, there are probably countless interpretations and ways of doing what people may call “meditation.” Especially these days, the word meditation is about as precise as the word food. :-) Here are some thoughtfully chosen resource links to help you explore and find the right practice that works for you. Beyond this, I feel like singing the Cheryl Crow song “If it makes you happy...”!
“Beginner” Meditation Helpers/APPs:
Online research reveals “There are over 2,000 meditations apps out there.” Whoa. Let’s play “Take Five.” You might start with five minutes of meditation to begin a new habit, and I’ll start with selecting five resources. My corporate clients and Mindful Workplace Alliance partners seem to like HeadSpace for general employee programs. (I have not been a HeadSpace user, but I respect these people and the sensibility for many workplace cultures, and I look forward to discovering more). I’m a fan of Dan Harris and his zeal for finding pragmatic tools and talks for “fidgety skeptics.” I admire Sounds True (and Tami Simon) for being in the field for a long time, and a quick preview of their program gets a thumbs up for now. I’m not personally familiar with Insight Timer (or Calm, etc.) but include them here in case being “top rated apps” is valid. I met someone from Unplug at Wisdom 2.0, and the book and site look very suitable for simplified, shorter practices. I have not road tested these apps. I leave that to your perusal pleasure.
10% Happier [Dan Harris, meditation for fidgety skeptics]
Sounds True, Mindfulness Daily [40-day program,Tara Brach & Jack Kornfield]
Here’s someone else’s top five meditation apps list (I can’t vouch for the author personally).
Finally, feel free to use the free recordings (below) Hit the Pause Button Mind Training. Many are suitable for beginners. Most of my clients over 20+ years have been busy professionals new to meditation. (Today I also have executives who had a meditation practice before we started working together, and we build on that.) We continue to experiment in the inspired leadership lab for what really works for each client/group/organization.
Meditation Practices; Audio/Video Resources:
A) HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON WITH MARIAN, wake up inspired leadership lab
Client meetings often begin with me asking what would be the best way for them to start— breathing, celebrating, checking in, or…? Once they get a taste of it, 90% of the time, they pick “breathing” which basically serves as our opening meditation, then helps increase the ROI of the whole experience, because we’re consciously pausing and choosing an intention/purpose/ agenda coming from a deeper source of wisdom and potential. Depending on what each client wants and will serve them best, we cultivate smart pause button practices and design a new Morning Launch habit that may evolve and upgrade over time. Clients have appreciated having custom-created recordings to take home. For the Pause Pub, I’ve recorded some basic attention training tools and other practices for you to try on. I look forward to hosting gatherings, inviting guests and such to add to our free public audio menu at the Pub. :-)
Simple mind-training starters; breath & awareness, “Where is your attention?”
The above practices are primarily concentration technique based, bringing your attention back to a focus on breath, counting, word or phrase. The practices below are open awareness oriented, e.g. practicing “watching” your thoughts or “letting everything be.” I encourage you to taste, test drive and discover what works best for you for now. Let yourself evolve over time and return to basics, embracing beginner’s mind over and over :-)
This one, “Between Breaths,” is different; it comes from this “scribe” practice/ inner artist awakening that happened a few years ago. It’s only a minute 13 seconds, so try closing your eyes and let this inspire you to remember the quiet magic space between breaths in you, and just sit for a while. :-)
B) Two Tibetans and a Tolle; What do we do with all that thinking?
1. “Going Beyond Mindfulness - A Secular Perspective” (video)
I just discovered this (filmed at the London School of Economics) in my zeal for curating the Pause Pub. I appreciate this teacher’s humor and pragmatic overview of meditation practices that are about allowing everything to be, thus cultivating resilience to things like strong emotions (his motivation for wanting to learn meditation as a child was panic). It’s long, and even sitting still enough to absorb the video is a practice. (I cringed and laughed at my impatience and inner voices telling me I should be accomplishing something else, even on a day when I had a sore throat and it was wise to rest. I also found the other voices encouraging this as the absolute best use of time for my own practice and paying it forward here.) I was inspired to deepen my practice of welcoming and befriending all thoughts, sensations, emotions, etc., being able to “watch the river” rather than be swept away by falling into it’s currents. Try it and see for yourself what you can gain from this delightful Yoda-like teaching. This could serve as a mini retreat on a weekend morning or replace tv watching one evening.
Consider this summary to inspire your own “why”: True happiness & “inner wealth”
Joy is not the absence of suffering, the absence of challenges, or the absence of anything else. Living with joy means that we develop a sense of inner well-being that allows us to embrace whatever the present moment offers.- Mingyur Rinpoche
With candor and humor, Pema reveals how when she first tried to meditate, she thought her busy mind was her unique failure. And how decades later she “should” be really good at it, which is true on one hand, and yet there’s always fresh distraction and a “hopelessly unworkable non-meditative mind” that she’s devoted here whole life to, and talked to millions of people about…accepting and not letting this bother us anymore. This is simple and extraordinarily difficult, like not scratching an itch. So, we need infinite self-compassion, which is part of the practice of being willing to sit with everything in us, rather than numb out, or entertain ourselves, etc. She also speaks honestly about how meditation retreats are not all blissful relaxation, but opportunities to discover triggers and ways we try to avoid facing our true selves, and practice “staying” even more.
3. Eckhart Tolle on practicing being in the present moment (video).
I’m not often a Tolle follower (nor a devote of these other Buddhist teachers per se) but they are popular voices bringing ancient eastern wisdom to a modern western sensibility. Tolle gives his answers to a very common question and I appreciate his example of looking around, being in the direct experience of sense perception to illuminate the point that closed-eye sitting meditation is not the only way to practice being present.
This Tolle video on “neediness” is an example of capturing our different dimensions of self. In the Inspired Leadership Lab we are fascinated with what is running us and which part of our inner board of directors is trying to get needs met, etc. Tolle talks about the surface I that comes from an ongoing sense of unease, and thus tries to get home with I need this or that to feel safe and OK, and a deeper I that is naturally at ease, already home in and as itself. Realizing these distinctions is game-changing. It also takes practice over time to really experience the essence of this deeper I and true home base.
More “Advanced” Meditation Resources:
It may not make sense to categorize all of these as “advanced,” as these are teachers that I find accessible and down to earth. Once upon a time, some instructors might say that you start by teaching Concentration technique (like training wheels for a beginner) and then move into more Open Awareness style meditation. However, modern teachers also say that we can start right away with the “let everything be” approach. As one example, because Kyle Cease (see below) has a stand up comedy background, one of his simple metaphors for open awareness meditation is to just sit and “watch the show.” I love anything that de-mystifies potentially overly serious obstacles and lets this be as simple as it can be. So, relax and enjoy perusing this menu here at the Inspired Leadership Pause Pub. You can even have a side of chips while you’re at it and experiment with mindfully savoring as yet another way to practice being aware of awareness. :-)
C) Audios with Adyashanti
“There’s nothing miserable about the day other than the way we are talking to ourselves about it.”
Adyashanti has been a breath of Truth and a gateway to remembering joy in my life many times over. Explore as you wish and decide for yourself.
2) Just Sitting
5) Heart’s Will
A taste of ADya TALKS:
4) The present is not created by the past (how we can empower ourselves to choose our experience)
5) EMpowering Yourself Beyond YOUR Conditioned Mind AUTOPILOT
"This inner revolution is the awakening of an intelligence not born of the mind but of an inner silence of mind, which alone has the ability to uproot all of the old structures of one’s consciousness. Unless there is an inner revolution, nothing new and fresh can flower." ~Adyashanti
”Our minds have a hard time dealing with the paradox that life is whole and complete while also being a mess.
It is a great virtue and a tremendous step in our evolution to be able to be in a room by our self and be happy. The you who is okay even when you’re not okay is an important discovery. That is no small accomplishment, nor should it be diminished. It is an amazing thing – to be at peace with yourself.” - Adyashanti
D) Meditation Journey with Jeff Carreira
Jeff’s meditation teaching is an interesting cocktail of extreme simplicity with paradigm-shifting philosophy. He’s like a connoisseur of seeing how clever the mind is at concocting problems while continually reminding us of the truth that nothing is actually wrong. I laugh as I write this, sensing into how whack it is and yet, absolutely sensible and grounding all at once. Pull up a stool here in the Pub and try a shot of this with us. It might be a bit hard to swallow at first, but you might want to come back for more. :-)
“A profound turning point occurs in our meditation practice when we realize that having a problem is something that we are adding to reality. The practice of [no problem] meditation is a practice of Love; loving the way things are right now. Just letting everything be as it is… nothing can stop you…there is no limitation.” - Jeff Carreira
E) Evolving Out Loud with Kyle Cease; Comic relief while realizing who you are.
I met Kyle back in 2015 (at a small gathering in Santa Barbara), and have watched him to continue to evolve and his mission scale with delight. He shares the ahaa about our inner state of being being the root cause of suffering or wellspring of abundance and keeps us laughing along the way. Kyle is a passionate advocate of meditation being the most important thing you could do. You could also use his videos as a way to pause, contemplate, and challenge yourself to evolve a bit more.
Your true spark of creativity. What allows effortless work?
“I’m triggered” now what?
“When we’re in our head, the only thing we want is distractions that give us permission to stay in our head. When we’re in our heart, we naturally move toward things that support our calling and internal evolution. If you think you need something for you to be happy, you make that thing your god. When you realize that the belief that you need any circumstance to be a certain way for you to be happy is a lie, you are totally free.” - Kyle Cease