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3 - Sit Down and Shut Up ep 3

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mé-tsal Wangmo and Ja'gyür Dorje discuss the effects of different types of meditation and introduce the practice of shi-nè, silent sitting meditation from Dzogchen sem-dé.

So good morning and welcome to sit down and shut up. Week three. We're going to start with a short sit this morning where we suggest that you use the cant of the Shechina with form practice of counting to twenty one. I'm back. Can I just out at the door open? Yeah, wanted to remind you, or maybe it's just tell you actually number what we've said before. But a couple of things to useful in terms of how we're sitting. There's a short video that we put up yesterday with Jagger demonstrating some of the different postures that you can sit in. So that goes through being on the floor or sitting in a chair. What we want is to be comfortable enough that we're not just going to distract ourselves with any discomfort in the body. We don't want to be continually fidgeting. I'll say more about fidgeting later though this morning, because sometimes fidgetting the mind fidgeting, not the body fidgeting, as always the mind actually. So the posture needs to be wrong where we are comfortable so that we don't get pain that distracts us, but not so comfortable that we fall asleep. And this is really going to be the main topic for this morning is we're going to be looking at these two problems that we encounter when we're sitting, of distraction and drowsiness. It's also worth saying that you need to have some the attitude when we're sitting it's always one of being not too tight but not to loose. If we have any really hard to either maintain a physical posture or to concentrate on not thinking. If there's that physical tension orsin there and we're likely to give ourselves a headache. This is if we're trying too hard. So we have to let go of that tension. We don't want to try so hard that we're making ourselves tense either mentally or physically, but we do want to be awake and alert and to help with that, remember that we can use particular position for our eyes, or eyelids in particular, really so we want the eyes to be a little open so that some light comes in, so that we don't get tempted to drift off into either lots of internalized thinking or sleepiness. But we don't want the wise I. The eye is wide open, to be in with unless we used to that as a meditation practice in which case it's fine. But if we have the eyes open for she now, they should just be looking down at the ground in front of us. The head of the inclined down. You won't have your head in your lap, as I say in the posture video. I want to how many people spot it at your hands are in your lap. Your head is on the top of your spine, where it's meant to be. So if we just let our eyelids droop like they do when we are really relaxed, then a little bit of light will still come in along the bottom of them. Aweso of that eyelids. So that's the recommended eye position for she nay. But if you find that uncomfortable or you just can't hold the eyes like that, then either just let the...

...eyes close gently but without any tention, or have them open and stare and down. So we'll just start with a few a few minutes of sitting, letting go, letting go of whatever arises in mind, letting go of whatever thoughts are there, noticing the outbreath, keeping just a light attention on that exhalation, on the out breath, perhaps having a sense of anything that is bear in mind. Leaving as the outbreath leaves study. So whatever's there where either letting it go or if it won't go, then we just remain uninvolved with it. And with each outbreath we can count, so you can use the counts. So we're going to talk today a little bit about some of...

...the things we might be experiencing when we sit and particularly perhaps if we're new to sitting or relatively new to sitting meditation, and then also what we can do about some of those things that we might be experiencing that may seem less than helpful. Science issy meditation is, of course, decepy simple. It she really quite straightforward. We should be able to just see an instruction to be here and remain uninvolved with whatever arises in mind and let go of thought. That should be quite as straightforward instruction and an easy one to follow. But it isn't. It isn't because, although that is quite simple, we are quite complicated, even very complicated, and conceptual mind is complex and co CASD. So that is the first thing that we really need to be aware of, is that we're going to hit against the frustration of it not being a straightforward as we'd like it to be. We think it ought to be. So what might happen? We might lose the count. We Find We can't count twenty one at all. We're either losing it on the way up on the way down. Can't remember, we just forget to count. We Go, we past twenty one. All of these things are entirely normal. This is what everybody, almost everybody will experience. So the first thing is to say that that is it. Persistence is the answer. It is quite simply keeping at it. If we keep at it, we will get better at that. We will get more able to stay with the count. There are lots of analogies of course used, but the fact is that rain will eventually wear of a amountain. Even hard rock will succumb over time. So we just need time. So we have to be kind to ourselves. So keeping at it and kindness to ourselves are probably the first things we need to remember. It's very easy to be self critical, unless we are psychopathic, sociopathic or have a out of control nurs assistic personalities order. That's good chance. We are fairly selfical. That is what most of US seem to be. We have lots of shoots and aughts in our head. So we will have lots of ideas that we ought to do better, that we ought to be better aptation. They will be ideas there that I'm rubbish at it and I'll never be able to do it and other people will. This is all, again, completely normal and the practice here is the same as the practice we are engaging in terms of she nay, letting go of whatever arises in mind. We have to let go of this too. So we need to let go of this self critical mind chatter that we might have going on and...

...recognize that it's normal. It's normal and we can let it go and that if we keep at a that at it with kindness to ourselves, then we will make progress. We also need to rerumer that meditation is not it's not a competition and there's actually no such thing as a bad meditation session, because there isn't anything that you're trying to achieve and there's nothing you can't fail at it. You can't get a fail in a meditation session. We can learn from ever attempt at meditating, however distracted we are, what ever happens, even if we never get past number three in a whole meditation session, we're still learning about our mind and this is the process that we engaged in, this process of discovery of how mind functions and how our mind functions. So it's not possible to fail at it. Let go of any ideas of being a failure around it. But losing the count, as we will, everyone will do it, and some of US might be doing it a lot, shows us that it's basically difficult to maintain attention, to maintain concentration on something. Here that's actually really quite easy. We're just talking about sit and counting. So then we have to ask, we start to maybe be interested in the fact how much do we lose attention and lose concentration like this generally? How often does the mind wander off from where we are and from what we're doing? The fact is that it does it all the time, but we don't notice it. We don't notice how much we're drifting off in thought. They might be thought SAGAS. Sometimes they can really go on, but during our daily ordinary activities, as we go about our day, we just don't notice that. But that is definitely what is happening. So this is one of the first questions that comes up for many people when they're sitting is am I starting to think because I'm sitting. So I see it, I attempt to let go of thought and it makes me think more. It makes me think more thoughts fast, more content, and this is just this is not true. So as we get more experience with sitting, we would discover this. We don't wonder off more and get more distracted than usual when we sit. Meditation simply shows us how the mind is and what it's doing anyhow, and we can start to check that out. You don't have to take my word for that. You can start to check it out by checking in with your mind throughout the day so as whenever you remember, notice what your mind is doing, what is your thought doing at that particular moment, and you will start to build a picture of just how full of thought stories and how distracted we are all the time. I will see this gives us a Monday benefit quite quickly actually, as we train ourselves pay attention to the count, it to develops our ability to stay with whatever we're doing, to focus our...

...attention without drifting off or, when we drift off, to bring it back again, and this is really useful. This is useful in our daily activities, not just in terms of developing meditation practice. It's particularly useful when we're doing something we're being able to sustain concentration without having moments of drifting off is critical. If you're if your job was control at Heathrow, you would not be able to drift off for a few moments into a thought about your TESTCO shopping, or if you did, it could be very pop problematic. Now we're not all air traffic controllers, but we are all engaged in activities where certainly some of that is it's critical life and death, critical that we're paying attention, driving cars being the obvious one of there. So whenever we notice or when we discover the degree of a drifting, we might also become aware of the content of the thought. What is it that we are thinking about and we want to notice that. If we're off the meditation cushion, off the chair and going about daily business, then we want to notice content and pay a bit of attention to it. If we're attempting to sit and we're engaged in a meditation session, then we can notice the content and then let it go. We don't want to involve ourselves with the content because the practice in China is to remain uninvolved with whatever arises. But as we go about our day we might want to notice what, what kind of thoughts are taking us away from being present. And one thing we will discover quite quickly when we pay attention to our thought process, either in meditation or out of Meditation, is that the mind. We will discover that the mind would rather think about anything the nothing at all. Will be going on to talk more about this. It might be that and you know, the mine, My bay, dreaming or planning. That might be nice fantasizing or not so nice catastrophizing. It might be nostalgic reminiscing or miserable mulley in. But often it's just, you know, that very interesting things. But often it would just be banal, trivial, kind of idiot level entertainment that the mind will keep itself busy, busy with. It would rather conceptual. One would rather do anything than not think. We used to say, you know, go and look at people when they're somewhere where they haven't got anything to distract them and they've got nothing to entertain them. People waiting train station platform used to be a good one. Of course, these days, if you look at anybody waiting anywhere. They've got a mobile phone and they're distracting themselves with that. If you ever find yourself without your phone or your phone's died, the batter is gone, and you'll notice what your mind does. It'll look for something else to entertain Sir. You'll find yourself. You know we can. I caught myself once reading the the back of the packet of crisps when I was sat on a train platform. That's what still sticks in my mind. We'll read the chocolate wrappers. You'll beat sat on the toilet and find out reading the on on the bottle of toilet lead. The mind will find anything, and that's there is something really quite humorous about that, which brings us to the...

...other important point that we need that to keep that sense of humor. If we don't, we're going to get a bit despondent. So we have to find it a little bit amusing the lengths that the mind will go to to keep itself thinking. Mind will employ various tactics actually to avoid think, not thinking, finding things to read, to look at, think about and sometimes, if all else fails, it will for sleep. So there are two main problems and these are the two main problems that we hit on immediately when we start sitting. The the two types of problem up that we are either very distracted with a very busy mind that's distructing itself and latching onto things and following thought stories, or we have a very drowsy mind that is not very present. Of course, I need to say that sometimes we are just tired, physically tired. So that's the case, then there's no point putting yourself then you're trying to sit. You should just stop and go and get some rest. But if you know that you're not really that tired and actually, if you went to watch some Netflix, you wouldn't be falling asleep, then that is not being tired, that is the mind. So sometimes it's mind. So we have a technique, and it's the technique we want to give you today, if you to practice over the next week, which is a technique to address these two states. As many of the methods that will have a support, methods of meditation, they'll be addressing either one or both of these two states. So we can check in when we're sitting, we can check in when we're going about our day to notice, am I distracted, losing the count because I'm caught up in thinking, caught up in stories, or am I a bit drowsy, sleepy, drifty, dreamy? And whichever one of those it is, we can use this technique of the head jerks. There's a little warning that comes with these. You'R I'll have to imagine, all sign some kind of virtual wave of form. If you hurt yourself doing this, please don't see us. We don't want to take responsibility for that. If you've got bad shoulders and, particular in a bad neck, then you should attempt this technique. And even if your neck is fine, then, although they need to be sharp jerks, please don't do it so violently that you give yourself whiplash and feel responsible for that. So use your common sense and your own knowledge of your body and how you use these jerks. So they the two states we need to either work with being very distracted, so we want to calm the mind down a little bit or bring it back, and if we fall asleep, we want to wake up a little bit. So that's the way to remember, because the jerks either a jerks upwards or downwards. So if we find ourselves drowsy, sleepy, falling asleep. We want to wake up. We want to bring the energy up here. So to do that, as we're sitting, we allow the heads to drop slightly further down, so the chin slightly more towards the jest, or the Chin's in my case. And as it after it's done that you made, you'll still have your eyes closed here or eyelids drooping end of jerk your...

...head backwards and as you do so, up up and back, and as you do so, you could open your eyes and then you bring it back down again and then you repeat to you want to do it three times. So Jack you and I would do that together now, just to show you, and then you just carry on sitting and hopefully that will have brought a little bit of slightly more alert energy there. So you can check it out see if that works for you. And then, if we are finding ourselves to be very distracted with thoughts all over the place, scattered discursive thought that's taking us off, you could feel that your energy is dissipating there, so we want to bring it in. So here we're going to do the jerks down on wards. So to do that, as you're sitting, you then let your head drop backwards and then you slap it down and okay, learn to do it three times and then carry on sitting. So that's the the practice of the head jerks. So remember you need to become aware of when you're drowsy or dispersively distructed and employ one of those techniques. And the homework this way is to continue to maintain some sort of daily sitting. So whether that's two little bits of five minutes or a ten minutes it keep losing the account, keep noticing the exhalation, keep your sense of humor. If you lose the count, let go of any expectation and any self admonishment for not achieving those expectations. So we're letting go, keeping kind, keeping at it and keeping a sense of humor, and will see you next week about the queen. That's got to remember that. Keep kind, keep at it, keep a sense of humor. That's my new catchphrase.

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