Meditate much? Be calm


#1

The be calm in the title is merely because it has to have 15 characters apparently (I have no idea why, I may meditate on this matter).

I “found” meditation after having an inner ear issue a few years back, that lead to some rather trippy experiences that often ended in panic attacks. Boy that was fun. I signed up for a trial on Headspace and never looked back, though with a new baby I find my seven days a week 115 minute session reduced to weekdays as I can get into work a bit early and do it then.

I also dabble in the Meditation Studio for some one-off hits, and listen to the Audio Dharma podcasts (I learn some stuff but also the voice of Gil Fronsdal is super calming).

After listening to Dan Rykart over at GB I got his book, and also the Dan Harris one (which I really enjoyed but could’t get on with his podcast or the app stuff for some reason). I have also read some books on the art of Zen but I can’t for a minute pretend to practice half of what I have read.

My wife tried it, didn’t get on with it generally but did use it in a way during childbirth.

Enough about me, what about you?


#2

For the Catholics out there that are curious about contemplative prayer, I strongly recommend the Cloud of Unknowing and Merton’s Ascent to Truth.


#3

I’ve really been meaning to start doing it again! I used to meditate right before bed, and I found it a really nice mental palette cleanser. I use this app called Headspace, which has some guided meditation sessions with this v soothing British guy’s voice


#4

Yep Headspace is pretty good. One day I might go on one of those Retreats, just to see what they are like.


#6

Point two is really important. Had a few friends give up as they “were not doing it right”. Heck if you think you are not doing it right, you are acknowledging the fact you are present, which is half the point.

I think :grinning:


#7

I try to meditate for 10-15 minutes a day, either during my lunch hour or right after I exercise. I’m not … I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call myself Buddhist, but I consider Zen to be my chief “spiritual” practice.

I started Zen following a flirtation with trauma three years ago (almost to the day, now that I think about it). Since then I’ve noticed that there is an inverse relationship between the care and attention I pay to the practice and my capacity to be a massive asshole.

That’s not to say that focused meditation makes me perfect or that ignoring meditation makes insufferable. But I have noticed that when I don’t meditate regularly and make space for it, I spend more time trying to protect my interests and less time being attentive to the needs of people around me.

Meditation is good. I will say though, from my experience, there are not necessarily wrong ways to practice mindfulness and meditation but there are some habits that can be harmful to certain people in certain situations. Like anything, I suppose.


#8

I’m curious. I have tried meditation occasionally, and while I find it very relaxing I feel like I’m missing something. What exactly do you get out of it (please pardon the crude choice of words), and where would you recommend someone to start if they are interested?


#9

The good and bad thing about this area is that there an awful lot of places/sites etc that can provide “help” on this. There may well be a local group in your area that practice together, for instance. But as a “solo” meditator, I have used the Headspace App as a guide (it has a beginners course and then various courses you can do, and you select the time for each session, 10, 20 or 30 minutes I think? The time difference being the silent gaps inbetween instruction). There are a fair few out there though and they are all either free or have a free trial from what I have seen.

Off the top of my head the other ones I have tried have been Meditation Studio (that I still use from time to time), 10% Happier, Mindfulness App, 7 Cups. I like to try a few different things before deciding what works for me!

I could list books etc if you want, as I am sure others could, but not sure if you just want to dip your toe into an App first?


#10

Whoah, I also have awful ear issues (titanium implants in both ears) that can lead to awfulness and panic attacks, so… high five?

Anyway, I do a lot of mindfulness which is like baby’s first meditation. Doing basic things like body scans and breathing exercises are super useful for me.


#11

I think that’s a fair question!

I said in my previous comment here that I began meditating in earnest after an unexpected trauma. Long story short, fear had begun to grip my life in a way I didn’t like and I had read somewhere an article about Zen as a way to let go of fear. I listened to a couple podcasts about Zen and meditation and began to practice meditation. The effects weren’t immediate, but after a month or so the fear that had plagued me to the point of sleeplessness was greatly diminished and manageable.

That’s one thing I get out of meditation. It’s a space for me to face my fears and anxieties and begin to let go of them.

I also mentioned in my previous comment that meditation makes me less of an asshole. Now, I definitely began meditating as a mediation against fear but I continued to meditate because of a line from a Zen podcast. This is a paraphrase, but basically it was “Meditating to practice being present for every moment gives us opportunities to help others we might not see if we are not present to notice.”

In my own life I find this to be so, so true. When I practice being in the moment through regularly scheduled meditation I listen more, I take longer to speak, and I look more carefully at the world around me. Of course it doesn’t mean I’m perfect or even close. But perfection isn’t the goal.

So I’d actually answer that question with another question: why were you drawn to try meditation before? And, why are you interested in trying again now?

I ask because, Like HermanBloom said, there’s a ton of places to start and it would be much easier to give a helpful answer if I knew a little more about where you were coming from (if you’re comfortable answering, of course).


#12

I really like the app Insight Timer. It’s free and it has a pretty wide selection of guided meditations (also free) so you can try a few different styles and see what works. It can also push your data to the iOS health app if you’re into that.


#13

A variety of reasons really, but I think the root of it is that my mind feels really busy a lot of the time, sometimes like it is beyond my control. Sometimes this just means I have trouble focusing, sometimes it means my mind goes placed I don’t want it to go. So really, I think I want to explore meditation as a way to collect myself.


#14

From my experience, meditation isn’t so much about collecting yourself as it is letting your thoughts happen and pass by without trying to judge or change them. I think there’s a popular notion of mindfulness/meditation as an exercise in mental restraint, but really it’s about actively unrestraining, if that makes sense.


#15

I’m coming back to meditation after a few years of absence. This time I’m trying to tie it to another habit I do to keep disciplined. I’ll be doing it after brushing teeth - because of brain science. I definitely suck right now but that’s why they call it a “practice.”

My favorite book on Zen practice is Brad Warner’s “Hardcore Zen.” Brad lays down the basic practice clearly using personal stories and is a kaiju nerd, so that’s cool.

An issue I ran into the past was getting stuck and losing discipline. I’m planning on trying to address that by practicing with other people once a week.


#17

The Hardcore Zen podcast (that’s basically a ten-ish episode miniseries) is also really good.


#18

Will check that podcast out, thank you.


#19

I downloaded Insight yesterday and have tried a couple of the Guided ones. Pretty good for me, I will continue to use alongside Headspace. Thanks


#20

Listening to this now and it’s really good. A down to earth look at the practice. I will see if he has any other talks online when I have finished this run.


#21

IIRC he has a couple guest appearances on the Houston Zen Center podcast


#23

Sorry to bump this thread, but I found this a couple of weeks ago and decided to try headspace. I’ve tried meditating alone several times over the years, but I have a lot of trouble sticking to it.
I just finished the 10th session of the free ‘basics’ course, and found it fairly helpful. I’m still having a lot of trouble balancing my level of focus on things: I feel like when I’m told to focus on the body, my mind wanders elsewhere, and then when I’m told to let my mind wander I end up focussing on my body instead. It’s an interesting exercise for sure.

Also, I think the concept of not evaluating the quality of each session is an interesting one. It’s really hard not to try to reflect on whether or not this is useful.

Anyway, I think I’m going to try out a couple of other free options and see how I go. I think this is helping me cope with anxiety somewhat, so that’s positive. Thanks for the kick in the ass, thread.