Monday, February 4, 2019



So you think you are ready to go? Let's take a minute to review and touch on a few other things we haven't mentioned. In exact order I suggest you do the following:

Study or read a bit on Meditation. "Mindfulness In Plain English" is a good starting point. You can read the Dalai Lama but it is a bit dry and convoluted. Taking a class on meditation is never a bad thing. Just remember the sooner you do this the less bad habits you create that need fixed. I starting to golf years ago. Bought a set of clubs, some balls and away I went (sound familiar). After a few years of hitting my balls everywhere but where I was supposed to I decided to take lessons. Needless to say most of my lessons were spend unlearning my bad habits so we could replace them with good. Beginning meditation is something like that. Take some time to learn about what you are about to do and how to properly do it.

Pick your practice. Again, read about the different styles, talk to folks and see what they do. Watch videos. Anything that helps. Try it. If you don't like it, change to another. Remember, this is not a race. Perfect takes practice.

Understand that what you are about to do is a beautiful, marvelous experience and something that you look forward to doing. If it is complicated, stressful or unwelcoming you need to revisit something. Meditation is our friend and an event we should be excited about doing. Sometimes my sessions are so glorious that I hate to bring my mind back to the so called real world. But I've learned that the state of mind during meditation is what helps me get through this thing called life and that the mind on meditation is the real world. If that makes no sense, keep meditating, you will understand someday.

Everyday, everyday, everyday. Practice, practice, practice. Patience, patience, patience. You are about to walk the same path that Buddha walked. An indolent individual cannot accomplish this task. It takes serious dedication and years of practice but it can and should be done.

Stay open to the whole concept of meditation and continue to learn. Even an enlightened one continues to meditate and learn. Don't put any expectations on your practice. If you are meditating to get an answer for something you will probably be disappointed. Meditation is about the Middle Path, no right, no wrong, no judgement no expectation, simply being in the moment. So relax, breathe and enjoy the journey.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019



Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. Awareness and meditation proudly present to you...MEDITATION.

As a meditation instructor people periodically ask, "Can you teach me to meditate"? Total transparency, I can show you what I have learned and experienced and meditation can be studied in books or classrooms but like anything else we learn, the concept and process is explained then away you go. I may be the bow but you are the arrow. Once I provide you with all that is needed and release the bow string you, the arrow, must then hit the target. In all reality every letter, word, sentence and paragraph presented in these posts are simply that, words, letters, sentences and paragraphs. Meditation must be experienced. Meditation must be practiced. Daily and diligently. Half measures will avail you nothing. I can't get into your head and act as concentration or awareness. You teach yourself how to meditate.

If you read and understand all the posts, you have enough information to begin meditating. Will you become distracted? Yes. Will you experience periods where you just don't want to do it? Yes. When I was a child my father suggested I open a bank account and put money in every week. The amount didn't matter as much as the discipline to just do it. Some weeks it was loose change others dollar bills. In the beginning I thought "What's to gain by putting $ .25 in the bank"? But I continued to do it. Then one day I received my bank statement and was shocked as to how much I had actually accumulated. That moment was the tipping point to make me want to save more. Meditation is something like that. A moment will arrive, through daily practice, that you will have a breakthrough. That breakthrough will allow you to seek another and another. As the saying goes, "Don't leave before the miracle happens".

Meditation is a lifelong journey. Even if we are fortunate enough to achieve NIRVANA (total enlightenment) we continue to meditate, study and learn. I am currently reading 4 books that pertain to meditation and I've got a pretty certificate on the wall that labels me as a "CERTIFIED MEDITATION INSTRUCTOR". Granted much time and effort went into achieving this honor but we are never done learning.

The beauty of meditation is that however many times we do it we have never done it before. HUH?Remember meditation is about living in the/this exact moment. If we truly apply the principle of everything has a beginning, middle and end then we must acknowledge that moments do too. So this moment right now is gone, as is this one and this one. With each end a new beginning comes, even with moments. So whatever you are doing right now, although you may have experienced it before, in this exact moment it is new.

Each meditation session will be different and new. While the premise of time, place, relax, breathe and focus will never change our style or form or posture or place may.  I move from spot to spot daily when I go to meditate. Sometimes it is in the back yard, others on the deck, or the bedroom or the basement. Sometimes I sit, kneel, stand or walk. Sometimes Metta others Zen Buddhist. But I never stop concentrating on my breathe and moving distractions along. That is why I meditate, to experience the exact moment where there is no love or hate or pain or pleasure, just the middle path...THE MOMENT.


Monday, January 7, 2019



So we have spent the last few posts talking about concentration and awareness and the roles they play in meditation. We showed how to use each to play off of the other to get our mind's where they need to be. But what if, no matter how hard we try, we cannot stop the thought distraction. No problemo.

Periodically I allow thoughts into my session. Sort of a self-help meditation. I look at them to see if there is a life lesson in there somewhere. Maybe I'm getting a message that I need to be more loving or compassionate. That I need to let go of something. Sometimes I get the message fast, other times it comes to me long after the session. While meditation is about staying in the here and now, the moment, using the conscious mind, we can periodically get insight from the subconscious. After all, that's where all our memories are stored and every now and then those memories trigger a thought that can lead to positive change. I know, I know, make up your mind. Don't allow distractions in, allow them in. Don't run off of the subconscious, look at the subconscious. All I'm saying is that once in a little while we can use meditation to look at ourselves in real time while we meditate. I would much rather use this technique then to get up from a session because I'm struggling to calm the mind.

Remember there are many different styles and forms of meditation and just as Metta is used to force good thoughts and vibes into and out of our mind you can use this "self-exploration" periodically without negative effects. Keep in mind that this is not a suggested everyday practice but a fail safe if we struggle. As time goes by we become better at meditation, it becomes easier to calm and discipline the mind and thoughts seem less and less. Meditation is about seeing what we see and experiencing what we experience without judgement so don't be afraid to take a peek every now and then.

Next post - LET'S GET IT ON

Wednesday, January 2, 2019



So we've covered sound and thought but what about a feeling? An itch, a fly landing on us or some sort of uncomfortability or outright pain. Let's work backwards on this one.

If you are experiencing pain, real pain, STOP MEDITATION. Awareness and concentration are good but not that good. You will not overcome extreme pain. Having a tightness in your chest and tingling down your left arm will not go away through meditation. You may be experiencing a heart attack and you must stop and possibly seek medical attention.

Next up, uncomfortability. Let's say that the position you choose is not comfortable. Two choices. Change position or meditate through the feeling. Sometimes we can simply get through the feeling the same way we get through sound and thought, identify it as a feeling and move it along. But let's say it is a cramp or something that is not just going to move along fast. Concentrate on the pain. Redirect your concentration from your breathe onto the pain and use it as your focal point, Continue to breathe but lock onto the pain. Remember we said that a focal point can be your breath, a candle, a spot on the wall, so why not a tight muscle. Relax, breathe and focus on the pain. Again, if it is extreme pain that overwhelms you, stop. But before you do that, try concentrating on it. Try to meditate through it. If you are successful, which I believe you will be, the pain will move on and you can shift the concentration back to the breath. Plus you've learned a valuable meditation lesson, dealing with the distraction feeling associated with pain. To a lesser degree we can use the same technique for a fly or an itch. If simply identifying it as a feeling and moving along doesn't work go to the distraction and focus.

A quick story. Some years ago I underwent a routine dental procedure, the placement of a new crown. In and out, no biggie. I then proceeded to travel to Erie. By the time I got there, there was a tennis ball size lump on my face and I was hurting. Unfortunately I had no pain medication sufficient to relieve the pain I was experiencing and had no way to secure any. I put ice on it but not sufficient relief. So I tried meditation. I concentrated on the throbbing in my jaw and locked on. Even a throb has a beginning a middle and an end. Much to my surprise, I was able to focus on it, stay with it and the pain got less and less. It was still pain but during my meditation is was manageable pain.

You will be amazed as to how fast we can move these things along WITH PRACTICE. As we continue to apply what we learn and experience we become better at what we do. Meditation is no different than learning the piano or cooking. In the beginning we will probably burn more meals than are edible but over time the finished product will become delicious.

Awareness and concentration,ah, what a beautiful thing.


Sunday, December 9, 2018



Since awareness works so hard to help us stay concentrated let's give it it's just rewards. Sounds turn into thoughts. Got it. Barking dog, sound, back to concentration. It can't be that simple. Well it is but not necessarily easy, especially for the novice meditator.

A life lesson. Everything has a beginning a middle and an end. From a single breathe to a life, this is the process. You inhale (beginning), your lungs fill (middle), you exhale (end). You are born (beginning), you age (middle), you die (end). EVERYTHING in existence must follow this process. Even a distraction. We talk of a barking dog as a distraction that is disturbing, takes us out of the zone and ruins our session. BAD SOUND. But what if we hear the laughter of a young child. "How sweet". "Sounds so nice to hear a baby laugh". "One of my most favorite sounds in the whole wide world". GOOD SOUND. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! A sound is a distraction whether it's a bad sound or a good sound. They are all just sounds. We cannot push the bad sound out and welcome the good sound in. They all must go. So get to work, awareness.

A distraction occurs long before it becomes a distraction. We may be talking milliseconds here but time none the less. When the dog barks or the baby laughs awareness is hard at work identifying it and moving it along. Remember, everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. Look at it as a passing cloud. The sky is clear, along come some clouds, then they pass. Same with distractions. Awareness helps move the distraction along. In the beginning phase of meditation the distractions may be moving along at a snails pace. They meander along slowly, methodically. The job of awareness through practice is to move the distraction along as fast as possible. Remember, I said through practice. The more we meditate  the better we become. Trust me and millions of others who will attest that the more you practice the better it gets, the longer you stay concentrated and in bliss. Eventually the passing clouds are moving like Nascar, you barely see them. The distraction is labeled and it disappears. The same with a thought. Out of nowhere you realize you need gas and it stops your concentration. Not for long. It is labeled as a thought and it disappears.

Three phrases to remember that must become a part of your practice. Identify, label, move along. Beginning, middle, end. Bark, sound, concentration. Gas, thought, concentration. Faster and faster and faster until it happens so quickly you don't even know it happened and your concentration remains intact. We can't out think the mind but we can trick it into thinking it's in charge when it really isn't. But what about a feeling?


Saturday, December 1, 2018



So as we meditate and concentrate on our object a sound, feeling or thought pulls us away.  The object of meditation, as said many times before is to stay in the moment, so the longer we dwell on the distraction the longer we are out of the moment. But meditation has an ally called awareness (mindfulness), the watchdog of concentration. As we sit locked in concentration stuff is happening all around. Stuff that will break our concentration, take us out of the moment and frustrate the crap out of us. This is where awareness comes into play.

Let's examine a distraction, the barking dog. A dog barks. Our hearing picks it up and transports the sound to our mind where it analyzes, categorizes and stores it. Unfortunately the mind does not work silently in the background. In the split second the mind is analyzing, categorizing and storing it is also screaming, "It's a dog". "Sounds like a big dog". Sounds like a big dog that is close". Sounds like a big dog that is close and hurt". "Why doesn't someone do something about that injured, big, close dog that is barking"? This process could take 10 seconds or more depending on how much we engage it, which is 10 seconds or more away from the bliss of meditation. So where does awareness come into play?

Remember the job of concentration is to find a target, lock on and hold on for dear life. But in the concentration vs mind war, the mind wins. It is virtually impossible to out think the mind. Left alone to battle the mind, concentration comes up with the short end of the stick. Luckily concentration brings backup in the form of awareness. So as concentration is locked onto the target awareness is patrolling the area looking for potential distractions. Again, the dog. Awareness will hear the dog bark but can't physically block the sound from the mind which passes it along to disturb our concentration. We cannot stop this from happening. So what's the use?

Remember distractions come in the form of feelings or sounds. Once more, the dog. When a dog barks it is not a dog barking but a sound. An airplane flying overhead is a sound. Music is sound. So the fastest and easiest way to turn a distraction back to concentration is to label it as fast as possible. SOUND, FEELING OR THOUGHT. It's that simple. No need to complicate it or over analyze it. Awareness can label it and move it along. The more we practice meditation, concentration and awareness, the easier it becomes and the faster we move through the process. Awareness takes it's job seriously so let it do it's work.

Next post - A CLOSER LOOK