Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

That’s My Brain Making Toast

August 6, 2009

So how is your meditation practice going?  If you have ever tried to meditate, then you know that your mind likes to stay busy with lots of thoughts.  I know that I might be trying to focus in on a single mantra, but my mind will wander.  Whether you are a beginner or an expert, that’s just part of the meditation – you focus on the one thing you are trying to stay focused on, then your mind drifts to something else, then you catch yourself, and then you bring yourself back to what you are focusing on.  That’s just part of meditation.

You may notice that you are thinking about an upcoming meeting at work, or a disagreement you are having with a friend, or a conversation about the dishes you wish you could have with your spouse, or that the lawn needs to be mowed, etc.  At first, you start out thinking there must be a million things that occupy your mind and you’ll never be able to meditate.  Over time, you can sit, even for just a few minutes at a time, but you may recognize that there are some categories of thoughts that seem to appear, or categories of emotions that seem to pop up.

Giving our attention to the actual content of each distraction – the actual thoughts and feelings we are thinking about –is really not important after awhile.  Just noticing that we are distracted is what is key.  These thoughts may seem important, but really, they are all just distractions.  For the purposes of meditating, there is our mantra, and there are thoughts about things that are not our mantra.  That’s it.
So lately, while noticing these thoughts and feelings that are all simply not my mantra, I am also seeing that my mind is constantly looking for a problem to solve.  In fact, all of the examples I just listed about the kinds of mental distractions we have are really all the same – they are problems that my mind wants to resolve.  That’s what my mind wants to be doing.  Either there is something that might be coming up in the future that I want to work out, or something that happened in the past that I want to resolve differently.   All of these distractions are the same – mental problems where I want something to be different than what actually is right now.

That’s my brain at work.  Just doing what it does, like a toaster makes toast.  And that got me curious…is this just my brain at work, or do other people have similar experiences?

When I have questions like this, I like to see see if any of my teachers or favorite spiritual leaders had anything to say on this.  As it turns out, Jiddu Krishamurti, an amazing philosopher in the 20th century, has an interesting perspective on this.  Here’s what Krishmurti observed…

…From childhood we are trained to have problems. When we are sent to school, we have to learn how to write, how to read, and all the rest of it. How to write becomes a problem to the child. Please follow this carefully. Mathematics becomes a problem, history becomes a problem, as does chemistry. So the child is educated, from childhood, to live with problems—the problem of God, problem of a dozen things. So our brains are conditioned, trained, educated to live with problems. From childhood we have done this. What happens when a brain is educated in problems? It can never solve problems; it can only create more problems. When a brain that is trained to have problems, and to live with problems, solves one problem, in the very solution of that problem, it creates more problems. From childhood we are trained, educated to live with problems and, therefore, being centred in problems, we can never solve any problem completely. It is only the free brain that is not conditioned to problems that can solve problems. It is one of our constant burdens to have problems all the time. Therefore our brains are never quiet, free to observe, to look. So we are asking: Is it possible not to have a single problem but to face problems? But to understand those problems, and to totally resolve them, the brain must be free.
That Benediction is Where You Are

Krishnamurti even had some advice for all of us for tackling these ‘problems’ so I wanted to share that as well…

…The answer is in the problem, not away from the problem. I go through the searching, analyzing, dissecting process, in order to escape from the problem. But, if I do not escape from the problem and try to look at the problem without any fear or anxiety, if I merely look at the problem—mathematical, political, religious, or any other—and  not look to an answer, then the problem will begin to tell me. Surely, this is what happens. We go through this process and eventually throw it aside because there is no way out of it. So, why can’t we start right from the beginning, that is, not seek an answer to a problem?—which is extremely arduous, isn’t it? Because, the more I understand the problem, the more significance there is in it. To understand, I must approach it quietly, not impose on the problem my ideas, my feelings of like and dislike. Then the problem will reveal its significance.    Why is it not possible to have tranquility of the mind right from the beginning?  The Collected Works Volume V

Kind of reminds me about something Einstein once said… “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
So how about you?  What have you noticed about your distractions and thoughts that pop into your brain when you are meditating?


Joy, Peace, and Bliss Through Meditation

May 29, 2009

By feature blog writer Doug Kalish.

What if we could slow down from our normal hectic pace, and live more peacefully?  What if we could have far less stress and fewer worries?  What if we could turn off the constant chatter of our mind?

Well, we can do it, through our yoga practice.

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, then you are already familiar with hatha yoga – the physical poses we move in and out of, simultaneously with our breath.  There are other aspects to yoga that you may not know, such as meditation (sometimes called mantra yoga). This is where we focus our mind on a single thought or phrase, helping us unite with the universe around us, through quieting our mind and body.

So many people have trouble sitting still for more than five minutes, and haven’t had any luck with meditation.  There are actually many ways to meditate, and different meditation techniques work better for different people.

Have you ever made the trip into Washington DC to visit one of the amazing Smithsonian museums?  If you’ve ever made the trip from the suburbs, then you know that are there so many ways to get downtown.
There’s a fantastic Metro system, with the various Red, Yellow, Green, Orange, and Blue lines.
You can take any of the bridges, like the Key Bridge, the Roosevelt Bridge, the 14th Street Bridge, the Sousa Bridge, the New York Avenue Bridge…
And there are so many roads you can drive on, like New Hampshire Avenue, Georgia Avenue, 16th Street, Connecticut Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue – the choices are endless!

Discovering a meditation practice that helps you find peace and quiet your mind is a bit like making a few visits into DC.  Maybe the trip over the Key Bridge through Georgetown is too confusing, or the taking the Red Line is really inconvenient…you have to try a few different ways, maybe get lost a few times, and then settle in on the best way to go.

Whether this is your first trip, or you are ready to find a new way to go, I’m ready to make the trip with you as you (re)start your meditation practice!

So if you are interested and ready to create a more peaceful life through a meditation practice, then tell us either in the comments below, or send an e-mail to doug(AT)doubledogyoga(DOT)com .  If enough people want to get started, then I’ll post regularly over the next 30 days, giving you practical tips and hopefully lots of inspiration to start and stick with a great meditation practice.

Let’s do this together!

Double Dog Yoga specializes in Absolute Beginner vinyasa (flow) style yoga classes. We offer small group and one-on-one instruction that ideal for people who have always wanted to try yoga but not sure where to begin. Vinyasa yoga is a practice in which a series of postures (asanas) are linked via your breath. The result is a flowing practice that may improve your cardiovascular system, enhance your flexibility, and build strength. Learn more about Double Dog Yoga by visiting our site at