Week Two – Becoming Familiar

Week 2 went live on April 8th, 2020. You can watch the entire YouTube recording here: https://youtu.be/5xQFllEGckE

Below we have broken it down into seven separate chunks.  The format for this (and every week) is that there are a bunch of meditations broken up by some commentary about the nature, purpose and benefits of meditation.

The real point of all this is for you to discover what meditation has to offer you by doing it and finding out for yourself. There is very little value in ‘learning’ lots of stuff about meditation. The stuff we share here is simply intended as guides to inspire you to do the practice. You will only get the benefits of meditation by meditating, not by knowing lots of information about meditation. So please, if you’re going to skip anything – skip the commentary between the meditations and just do the meditations themselves.

Part One – The Introduction

Welcome. Giving a quick recap of what we covered last week and setting the context of tonight’s class.

Part Two – First Meditation – The Breath (10 minutes)

We start as quickly as possible with some meditation. This is the classic awareness meditation, resting our attention on our breathing. When we notice we’ve been distracted and our attention has gone elsewhere we gently return it back to the breath and start again. Rinse and repeat. We do this over and over.

Part Three – Your mind is amazing, but …

Your mind is amazing. Truly incredible. But it is also flawed and does a few very unhelpful things. In meditation we get to see these flaws, to become more familiar with the mind, and each time we notice the distraction during meditation we build a bit more awareness of our own thoughts. Then we can use that during our day, in our real life, to see in any given moment what the mind is doing and then decide if that’s what we want our mind to be doing, or not.

Part Four – Second Meditation – The Body Scan

This is the second meditation of the class. Sometimes known as a body scan we are using the sensations of the body as the anchor for our focus. We notice that in any given moment there are hundreds or even thousands of little sensations we can become aware of if we choose to. Each of these sensations may not be terribly important or urgent but they are there nonetheless. By tuning into these sensations we are placing our attention into the present moment and building our real time awareness of our own body.

Part Five – Be Present? What does that even mean?

Some of the phrases often associated with meditation and mindfulness include things like “be present”, or “be here now”, or emphasize “the power of now”. Sounds great, but what does it mean? On the one hand it seems kind of obvious – it’s about paying attention to what’s going on, but in this talk we suggest there’s more to this than there might seem, and potentially a lot more.

Part Six – Final Meditation – Open Field Awareness (10 minutes)

For the final meditation of the evening we introduce another variation of awareness – opening up our attention to see if we can be aware of all the sensations going on in each moment. That can start with the sensation of the breath, but then expand to notice all the physical sensations of the body, as well as what we can hear, see, and feel. Sometimes known as open monitoring awareness, or open field awareness meditation.

Part Seven – Wrap-up and homework

To wrap up there is a suggestion about the process espoused by BJ Fogg of Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab to help build new habits in our lives. Meditation itself is not hard, but even people that believe in it, enjoy it, and want to do it everyday often find it difficult to actually build this into their lives. Learning about the science of habits and behavior change can help.