Focus in a Chaotic World

Focus in a Chaotic World

Focus in a Chaotic World

What you want to do vs. what you can do

When you pick up any new habit, be it meditation or something that you’re interested in like reading or a new hobby, you will quickly realize that there is an inherent conflict that is built into the nature of how things are. The conflict is between what you want to do and what you can do.

If we had all the time in the world, if we had all the resources or even the basic structure that allowed us to be ourselves even for a few hours every day, then practicing meditation would not be that difficult. Sooner or later, you will discover that there are only a handful of things that you can do that can help you, and there are a million ways to get distracted. It’s so easy to get lost in things that you don’t want to be doing. You simply get sucked into it only to realize later that that is not at all what you wanted to do. There are too many things like that; especially today, especially now.

Avoid Distractions

We are living in an age of information overload. The problem is not finding something and sticking with it. The problem is how do you stay away from distractions? There will always be a conflict between what you want to do and what you can do. Sometimes, it’s just the circumstances: The number of hours you have to work, and the time that is left after you take care of yourself and people around you. Unless you’re willing to make some fundamental changes in your lifestyle it is difficult to accommodate any new habit and stick with it. Focus is as much about in-the-moment concentration as it is about consistency.

It’s not that difficult to pick up a habit and say, “All right, for the next half an hour I’m going to focus. I’m going to dedicate this time for my meditation.” It’s actually not that difficult. You can simply decide and choose to focus. The problem is, how will you continue that over a period time? You can focus for one day, two days, or three days, but things like meditation – or whatever it is – that can truly transform you, have to be consistently practiced over a period of time. You cannot just do it for a few days and say, “Okay, I’m done with it.” Consistency comes by bringing in couple of factors: One is clearing out that space that is necessary for your growth. This means saying, “No” to people, “No” to certain activities, and distancing yourself from excessive indulgence in social media or watching television, or whatever it might be. First, you’ve got to create that space.

When we grow up, we grow up like a small seedling amidst lots of weeds. We begin to grow, and then we realize that we don’t have enough space for ourselves; there’s too much happening around us, too many people around us, and too many ideas. We don’t have that breathing space. The first thing you need to do is figure out a way to clear out a patch of fertile ground. The hardest part, the most difficult part, is to say, “No” to things that you have indulged in, that entertain you, or that you have involved yourself in. It’s not like somebody has forced things upon you. In your unconsciousness, in your own awareness, you have picked up a lot of things. Distancing yourself from those things is the first step. Clear out that fertile ground. Once you have that fertile space, the next thing you need is how to consistently keep in touch with your practice?

Supply Knowledge to Support your Meditation

Meditation is as much about intellectual inquiry as it is about practice. You cannot continue your practice beyond a certain point if you’re not consistently supplying it with knowledge. You have to surround yourself with meditative knowledge. You have to either be reading books, meeting people who are interested in meditation, watching videos, or things like that. You have to keep one part of yourself involved in the knowledge of meditation; otherwise, you will lose interest.

How to Make Time for Meditation

Make a simple list of three or four things that you want to say no to. It could be saying no to sleeping eight hours a day. If you’re able to take down your sleep from eight hours to six hours, you will have two more hours for your meditation. Say no to watching television every day for maybe an hour or a couple of hours. These are just a couple of examples. In your life, in your circumstances, it might be completely different, but you can always see that there will be a few things that you can cut down on to find that time. Initially, it will seem difficult and it will seem rude to a few people, but eventually you’ll realize that it was necessary. If you want to keep everyone happy, everyone comfortable, then you will be uncomfortable; that’s the law of nature. At some point in time you have to put things in perspective and say, “Okay, I want to keep people around me happy, but how will I be able to do that if I’m not happy? Meditation is for my happiness, my peace of mind, and for my Realization, and I’m in it for the long run. I don’t want to meditate just for a few days and question its benefits. I would rather pick it up as a habit, and keep learning.”

Meditation is a completely different universe; there is no end to the exploration of meditation. You can only begin your meditation. There is no such thing as, “This much meditation is enough” because meditation is self-introspection. It is not just another activity; it is a catalyst to all other activities. Meditation is a way of making sense of everything that is happening in your life. If meditation is a way of understanding life, then the more you meditate, the better it is.

Meditation is Transformation

How much understanding is enough for you to live happy? Nobody can put a boundary on that, and there isn’t a boundary. The more you understand yourself, the more you will feel like understanding yourself. The thirst to know yourself increases, so instead of thinking of meditation as another practice that you want to bring into your life, look at meditation and mindfulness as the platform on which you want to build your life. Don’t think of it as just sitting and closing your eyes and watching your breath or listening to music. Meditating is not an activity. Meditation is a lifestyle. It’s a complete change in the way you look at life. It’s a complete transformation in the way you look at your life every moment. A meditative way of living is a different way of living. It is to be in the present moment, it is to enjoy the simple things. It is to appreciate the simple joys of life. It is to constantly be aware of your life getting complicated and drawing yourself back to the simplicity of life. That is what meditation is.

With all the things that are happening, I can see how difficult it is for people to step away from everything that is happening around and just focus on themselves and meditation. That is a challenge because we have created a very guilty society where an individual’s happiness and peace of mind is sort of looked at as selfishness. It isn’t. I’ve spoken about this several times. Selfishness is good if it is for self transformation. You have to be selfish internally to be able to find the time for yourself, to be able to focus on something that can transform you.

Eventually, the knowledge that you gain for yourself will help others, but if you’re not willing to take that selfish time for yourself and practice your meditation, you will be just stuck with this idea of selflessness. You’ll be talking about problems, you’ll be talking about all the things that are happening in the world; you will be a part of the problem, but you will not be a part of the solution. The solution comes from a completely different space of our mind. Problems and solutions are not together; they are two different trees on two different soils producing two different fruits. If you have climbed the tree of problems, you can be on that tree for the rest of your life. You will not find the solution. You will find all kinds of problems, different kinds of problems, but you will never find a solution. Finding a solution means to recognize that you’re on the wrong tree. You’ve got to climb down from that tree and search for the tree of solution. Meditation is the tree of solution. Silence is the solution. Internal peace is the solution. Relaxation is the solution.

Chaos, confusion, comparison, competition, struggle, and ambition – all these are part of our conflicts in the mind.  Yes, we are drawn into it, it’s a part of life, it’s at work, it’s in the family, it’s everywhere. You can see that you’re being sucked into all these things. That’s where your choices become important. You have to make some firm decisions and stick with them. You have to become a man or woman of your word when you say, “I want to practice meditation every day for one hour.” You have to practice it. There is no compromising. There is no question of explaining things to yourself in a way that is convenient for you. You can’t say things like, “I don’t want to meditate today because this is happening, or I don’t want to meditate today because it’s Friday” – it’s the excuses that we give ourselves that make us fail.

Watching the Movie of Your Life

Meditation is a little uncomfortable. It’s not like watching a movie; you can watch an engaging two-hour movie easily, but to sit and watch your thoughts for two hours is extraordinarily difficult, because it’s reality. You’re watching the movie of your life and there are things that you don’t like. There are things that you don’t want to see. You cannot completely detach yourself from what’s happening in your mind, so it’s painful, it’s difficult and it’s exhausting. That is why sitting quiet for 15 or 20 minutes or even an hour is an extraordinarily difficult thing. You have to confront your mind and your pain, and you have to confront your challenges. That is what growth is.

If you ask me, “What is the best way to understand life? What is the best way to make sense of my life and live the best possible life? The answer is very simple: The way to understand life is to forget about “the” life that is happening outside and simply focus on your life. The problem is there too much of “the” life happening. We are told “Life should be this, life should be that.” There is no such thing. There’s only one life that matters, and that is your own life – the way you look at things. If someone were to capture all your thoughts, project them onto a screen like a movie, and show it to you every day for about an hour, at the end of two or three years you would know everything about your life. You don’t need any other knowledge. You don’t need to read another book. You don’t need a teacher. You don’t need anything. If your own life is projected onto the screen and you’re just sitting and watching it, you would learn from your experiences.

All that you’re searching for, all that you have gone through, is within you. Your entire experience of life is within you. Imagine that you’re watching this movie, whether you want to or not, and at the end of one hour you’re learning something: These are the mistakes that I made, and this is how I’m treating people. This is how I’m treating myself and this is where I can make some adjustments.

The problem now is that we don’t give ourselves that time to watch our life. We are too busy trying to create a life. We are too busy trying to become something else, and we are not giving enough time to reflect on the life that we have already lived. Just think about all the experiences that you have been through, and whatever you are searching for is already there. All you need is for someone to take all your thoughts and project them onto a screen and show it to you. That is what meditation is. Meditation is not about the breath; it is not about listening to music. Those are just props. The real process of meditation is watching your thoughts. When you close your eyes and watch your thoughts, you are learning. Your life is being illuminated in front of you. Whether you want it or not, you are becoming richer in your experience and you’re learning so much.

Learn through Everything!

So, supplement your meditation with knowledge, with reasoning, with logic, and with science. Keep inquiring about it. Find different teachers. Learn from different people. Just let go of your ego a little bit and learn from all kinds of people – from people you don’t even like. Learn from people from completely different religions, completely different communities. Open up your imagination and try to see what meditation can do for you. The more you learn about meditation, the more you’ll become interested in it. That I can absolutely assure you, because there’s so much to it. As I said, meditation is not another activity. Meditation is the foundation of life. Meditation is nothing but you, your consciousness, and the present moment; that’s all.

Nothing can go wrong in meditation. What can go wrong? You’re not jumping off a building, you’re not bicycling. All you’re doing is sitting quiet and watching your thoughts. What can go wrong? If something can go wrong in the world of your thoughts, it’s better that it goes wrong and you watch it. That’s why meditation works. It’s pure. It’s just you, your consciousness and your awareness. How do you stay focused with it? Clear out unwanted distractions, be firm with your practice, keep supplementing your meditation with knowledge and with more understanding, and slowly, over a period of time, your focus will improve. Focus is also like exercise; you have to keep focusing to become more focused. You cannot simply snap your finger and say, “Starting today I want to become more focused.” It’s not possible. You have to build it over a period of time and you have to be willing to face the failures of not being able to focus. When you begin to focus you will realize how little you have exercised your focus. You will feel disappointed: “I’m not even able to focus on such a simple thing.” But that’s the learning. Over a period of time your focus will develop, and once you have enough focus, it’s just a matter of choosing: This is my meditation, this is my practice, this is my life, and I want to stick with it.

“The Silent Path” – An awesome book review!

“The Silent Path” – An awesome book review!

“The Silent Path” – An awesome book review!

We recently received a professional book review from Midwest Book ReviewThe review will be published in the May issue of their publication, Midwest Book Review. 

The review is a great summary of the key points of Avi’s book, pointing out what a reader can expect to learn. 

Check out the review. The book is available on Amazon at the provided link.

The Silent Path: Awaken to Your Highest Possibility

Avi

Meditation Farm

978-0-578-63706-8                $16.95

Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/Silent-Path-Awaken-Highest-Possibility/dp/0578637065

Website: www.meditationfarm.com

The Silent Path: Awaken to Your Highest Possibility provides the perfect introduction to meditation for newcomers to the practice. It speaks about cultivating individuality and purpose in life against the onslaught of collective thinking pressures.

Avi points out that few modern systems “are working for the liberation of the individual.” Most are juggernauts of collective melding that work for themselves. This is why meditation can provide answers that society cannot. It’s individual-centric, and just as society cares little about inner pursuits, so the foundation question “Who am I” cannot be addressed by society, but marks a path of self-inquiry that meditation supports.

Those who embark on this journey will realize new possibilities, from renewed purpose and identity to revised approaches to life itself. And that’s what The Silent Path is all about.

Readers already contemplating a personal journey towards enlightenment will find The Silent Path intriguing in many ways. For one, it points out that a spiritual path and a religious path are different: “Spirituality has nothing to do with religion. If spirituality is a living garden where beautiful flowers are growing, religion is a museum where all those once-beautiful flowers are now wilting…While religion emerges out of the mind of man mostly for his selfish desires, spirituality takes birth in the longing heart of an individual. Spirituality is an existential longing to know who you are; it is the desire of the universe to know itself through you.”

Later discussions synthesize and further illustrate this concept: “Spirituality is always a leap of faith. It’s like walking to the edge of the mountain and jumping off without worrying whether you are wearing a parachute, or if someone is down there to catch your fall. That moment of trust when you reach deep within and take the leap, is the moment of your spiritual liberation. The rest of the journey is simply to realize the fact that you have already found what you are looking for.”

Readers unfamiliar with these processes may initially believe this discussion will revolve around philosophical or ethereal concepts of higher purpose, but there’s a grounded benefit to many of these approaches that translates to improved everyday life. One example lies in pain sufferers: “When you watch the pain intensely, the energy of watching completely transforms the way you experience pain. Although the source of pain is in the body, it is the mind that makes it real. Mind controls everything, including the sensations of physical pain. When you gain control over your mind, you gain control over physical pain as well.”

As Avi applies the concepts and approaches of spiritual enlightenment and meditation to every facet of daily living, readers come to understand that the benefits of following this silent path go beyond enlightenment on the spiritual realm to permeate every facet of life.

As an anecdote to the Culture of Doubt, The Silent Path: Awaken to Your Highest Possibility is more than just uplifting. It’s simple, achievable, and easy for anybody to digest. It offers a course of action and a set of admonitions that should resonate with a wide audience, lies within no single religious realm, and can be understood and applied to all lives, across the board.

Those with an interest in self-help and spiritual growth will find The Silent Path an excellent beginning to embarking on a different life journey grounded in the pursuit of happiness and renewed purpose.

Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

When I meet people here and there and the conversation always turns to meditation (usually prompted by “what have you been doing lately?”), I’m often asked questions like “What is meditation? What do you do while you’re sitting? What do you think about while you’re meditating?” 

It’s kind of hard to explain meditation, because we’ve not been exposed to such inward spiritual things in our society, and most of the time “being quiet” is imposed as a sort of punishment.

The best way I can think of to explain it is by using the term “Self Control”. We’ve heard that term all our lives. What does it mean? Well, it means to resist temptations of the body, like eating too many chocolate cookies, drinking too much alcohol, or mental self-control, by not doing things we know aren’t right such as spreading malicious gossip or perpetuating negative thought processes when they arise.

So, there IS something other than our minds and our bodies–it’s our SELF. It’s the force that is directing our minds and bodies when we have “self” control. The only way we can have self-control is to be in the present moment. There’s no way to control your sugar cravings tomorrow or yesterday–it’s only good for right now. Think about it, and it really makes a lot of sense.

Meditation is simply a diet for your mind. You sit still for a while and don’t think about anything. Yep, nothing-nada-zilch. If (when) your mind starts off on a thought spree, reel it back it, just like you’d slam the fridge door shut right before you grab the ice cream.

As in dieting, it takes time to see the effects of meditation. You don’t lose weight right after eating a healthy meal, but if you keep eating healthy over a period of time, you’ll definitely see the results in the mirror. You won’t feel results after one meditation, but if you persist, just like in dieting, you will experience results like less stress, more creativity, and just an overall happier outlook on life. Come on people, it’s time to put our minds on a diet! – Theresa

Has the Older Generation Screwed up the World?

Has the Older Generation Screwed up the World?

Has the Older Generation Screwed up the World?

(Full transcription of video)

There is a popular wave among young people that seems to have taken hold of their minds and imaginations, and it’s shaping the way they are looking at the past and the future of being a part of the human community, as well as being a part of nature. That idea is that, “The adults have screwed up, not just certain things, but everything, and we young people are going to set it right.”

“We are going to bring back a synergy between human beings and nature. We are going to stop killing animals for food. We will be sensitive toward the people of other religions, color, and sexual orientation. The older generation has done none of these things. The older generation has been destructive, they have destroyed the planet, and they’re continuing to do it. Somebody has to stop them!”

It’s a very popular idea. Environmentalists talk about it, and millennials are totally obsessed with this idea. It’s obvious that this idea is real and it’s there in their mind, because they don’t listen to the older generation. Beyond a certain age, they are not interested in the wisdom of the older generation. That’s a serious problem for a culture, and for human beings, because information and knowledge can be passed between people of same the age groups, but wisdom, more often than not, comes from experience. It comes from the richness of the experiences of life.

Whether you want to believe it or not, wisdom can only be passed from the past, to the present, to the future. It can only be passed by those people who have already been through the experience of life, and who know certain things the younger generation doesn’t. I truly believe the younger generation has misunderstood technological innovation to be intelligence. Intelligence is a completely different phenomenon, and gadgets and gizmos are a completely different phenomenon.

Just because a certain generation did not have iPhones doesn’t mean that they were idiotic; they simply had no need for it. I mean language is a double-edged sword – you can argue either way. You can say the older generation was smarter because they didn’t even need an iPhone. Today’s generation needs all these things to be able to make sense of life, to connect with people.

Simplicity of life is what they had embraced and it worked for them. For the sake of argument, let’s take the example of the coronavirus. It is not man-made, it is not a product of modernization, and it is not a product of modern habits. If anybody says that the coronavirus is the result of what we have been doing over the last few years or few centuries, they simply don’t know anything about human history. Viruses have always been there, they have always wiped out populations, and it has nothing to do with human activities. Viruses and bacteria are the cleansing mechanism of the earth. Without them, a dead body (plants and animals) would not decay. It’s the process, right? It’s the way in which the balance between organisms and nature is maintained.

When a certain population, let’s say sheep, or cows, or a population of some species begins to explode and dominate and smother other species, something like this happens. The precise reason for these things is unknown, but it’s a way in which nature balances itself. As far as nature is concerned, there is no good or bad. If there was, then such a thing as virus would not exist. It is bad for us because it affects us, it hurts us, and it kills us. We are a tiny part of this vast landscape of life, we have to protect ourselves from nature, and viruses are a part of nature.

The tree-hugging generation has totally forgotten that it is our modern amenities that are keeping us alive today. Just imagine if you let go of all the modern accomplishments of the human race over the past hundred years – take away the communication channels, the advancements in medicine, transportation systems, internet, architecture, house construction – take away all that, you would have probably one in five chances of surviving. That’s why this virus would have wiped you out. The reason why you are alive is because you are finding shelter in the very same things that you are blaming the older generation for. They created this. They didn’t destroy the planet, they have given an opportunity for the younger generation to live in peace for the first time.

Today, a young person can let go of the basic fears of life that human beings lived in for a very long time: Protecting themselves from the environment, from diseases, from wild animals, from other people, from wars, and communal violence. For the first time, this very same older generation that’s being blamed for everything has given today’s young people an opportunity to pursue a life of imagination and creativity. Because they have taken care of the basic necessities, you are standing on the shoulders of their work.

That is why you are even able to see so far ahead and contemplate your position amidst nature and life, and plants and animals. They have worked to give you the platform. If you are not given the platform, you would be at exactly the same level as the rest of the animals. Forget about compassion and contemplation, you’d be struggling to survive.

This argument between the old and the young, modern and ancient, or traditional and modern, is totally superficial. In reality, human beings have intelligently explored their environment and they have reshaped it according to their needs. The problem that we are facing is not our modern lifestyle or destruction of the environment. That is not the problem. The problem is meaning and purpose, which has always been missing.

A human being has always been subjected to asking this most important question, “What is the purpose of my life?” We try to find meaning in different things. In fact, our love for the environment, love for animals – this feeling that the generation before us completely disregarded the environment, comes from our need to connect with everything. That very same need is what pushed generations of people before us to accomplish what they’ve accomplished.

Try to understand this: Modernization/civilization is not one man’s idea. It is not one individual’s dream or desire. We’re not slaves to modernization. We are all a part of it, we are in it, and we are enjoying the benefits of it. Now, one thing this particular virus has done is given us an opportunity to step back and look at the relationship between man and nature. We have always been thinking that a perfect correlation between man and nature can exist; man can live amidst nature in perfect harmony.

What this virus has shown us is, if you want to live in perfect balance with nature, you should also accept the laws of nature. The law of nature is impartial death, meaning that nature doesn’t care who you are – whether you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate – when nature chooses to kill you, you have to die. Will you accept that? You cannot, right? So, by the very nature of how things are, we have to fight against nature to survive. Where did we forget this? If we don’t fight with nature, nature will consume us. We are just a tiny part.

Now, are you so selfless that you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for the sake of nature? Of course not! You can talk about environment, and you can talk about absolute synergy, you can talk about all kinds of things, but you are talking about it, you are at the center of everything. When your life is in danger, when your survival is in question, then the relationship between you and nature changes. If the very same tiger that you’re conserving, that you want to be protected, is chasing you, and if you were given an opportunity to kill the tiger or die, what would you do? Would you say, “The tiger is more precious than me, so consume my life?”

It is an undeniable fact: “I” stands above everything. It is not an idea – Self is not an idea. Self is your reality – and that’s the only thing you have, and that’s the only thing that you’re fighting to protect. As long as you possess that self you can talk about environment, and you can talk about synergy with nature, and all that. But when your survival is in question, nothing else matters.

So, what has the previous generation destroyed? They have destroyed the absolute possibility of your destruction. They have created civilization. They have created a system under which you can stay alive – basic, plain, and simple. Because you can stay alive, then comes other contemplations, other desires.

Having compassion toward animals is actually a higher form of thinking. I’m not degrading it. What has it taken for us to get to that level where we can contemplate on higher things, apart from just worrying about our survival?

I think this “social distancing” time is a wonderful opportunity to step back, take a break, relax, and see life for what it is. On one hand it is a struggle for survival, and that’s what the older generation had to deal with. The generations that have come before us had to fight for everything. They had to create things. The very amenities that we are enjoying, they had to put in their blood, sweat, and energy to create. That is one part of it: Survival.

Then comes appreciation, involvement, and celebration of life! This is a great opportunity. Since the older generation has given us a basic platform without having to worry about some animal attacking or even somebody attacking you, I would say it’s one of the most wonderful opportunities to step back and relax – be in silence, be in solitude. Just meditate for a while. Settle into the experience of life. When you don’t have to worry about running around, you can look at things more closely. You can play with your children, you can be amidst nature. Isolation doesn’t mean that you lock yourself in a room, it means stay to away from people, stay by yourself. This doesn’t mean that you cannot walk into nature. It doesn’t mean that you cannot go hiking. It doesn’t mean that you can’t go outside (in America anyway). Isolation is really just to not become an agent of spreading the disease. Whether you get personally ill or not, you can become a carrier. So, just stay away from people.

What a wonderful thing! In fact, even without this virus, I have been saying, “Step away, get away from everything. Take a break. That’s what meditation is all about.” In fact, silence, solitude, stillness, I’ve been talking about it like a prescription for coronavirus. I don’t even know what that virus is, but I’ve been talking to you about it like a prescription, because that’s what heals. That’s what I mean. Rest is how healing takes place.

We need to look at this as an opportunity to relook at certain aspects of life; that we look at our relationship with the environment. You can love nature, but you should also accept that nature is a dangerous place. It’s pretty from the outside. The forest looks beautiful, nice and green, with flowers blooming, and birds chirping. When you have to live in it, that is when you will know that everything will be trying to eat you.

All the modern accomplishments have just been a way to keep ourselves safe. This poses another challenge: Because we have developed this understanding that we can protect ourselves, we’ve got to understand that a virus is nature’s way to eliminate the sick, the old, and the dying. It affects everybody, but it kills those who have some problems health issues. Right now, this is where our confrontation is, this is where our intelligence is.

We cannot allow nature to do that to our elderly people, or people who have issues, because we have intelligence and we can take care of them.  There itself is your confrontation with nature. Love for nature, respect for nature, and a true understanding of nature is something you can look at in these times – not just blind, mad, tree-hugging stuff.

There is a reason why humanity is the way it is: If you look at a lot of our amenities and facilities, it’s basically an extension of nature. It’s an extension of the very same things nature provides. If an alien were to drop on this planet and go in search of intelligence, it would find intelligence in the city, not in the forest. It would move around in the forest and realize that there are animals there but there’s not much intelligence.

Animals are a part of nature. This is just the process. This animal cannot survive on its own but here is a species that has fought this system, and that’s where I see intelligence. Now, tell me if you can postpone your death, even by a single day – isn’t that a part of intelligence? Wouldn’t you call that intelligence? There was a time when the mortality rate was so high that people usually died around the age of 30-40. If somebody could live until 50, that was an achievement. Anything and everything could kill you; a fracture could kill, a bacterial infection could kill you. 

Our continuous fight against all these things is our fight against nature, because nature is raw, impartial, and not interested in human beings. That is where the whole problem is. Human beings are interested in human beings, but nature is not interested in human beings. Nature is interested in the balance. So, in nature there is no difference between a mosquito and a human being. Can you develop that level of compassion? Can you look at a mosquito and a human being with the same indifference and the same compassion? The day you’re able to do it, you’ve become a true environmentalist.

Until then, accept the fact that you are human-centric. Nature is a part of us. First, importance has to be given to human beings and the way we think, the way we are progressing. It is easy to love dolphins, dogs, cats, and other animals, but it’s a lot more difficult to love human beings. That’s what is happening. We’re falling in love with everything, and we are hating our own kind. To say, with such arrogance, that the previous generation has messed up! That itself is a testimony of how grossly we have misunderstood the contributions of people who came before us.

All these things that are happening show us that life is still very simple; it’s not about buildings, it’s not about advancement. Those things are necessities, but that’s not the fulfillment of life. What the current situation shows us is, a single virus – that is invisible – has shaken everybody from presidents to prime ministers to poets to writers and religious thinkers. Everybody shut up and stay at home! A thing that you cannot even see – a thing that you cannot fight with a sword, is knocking you down. Humility. There is so much more to life. There’s so much that we don’t see or understand.

We cannot just be blindly arrogant about our place in the environment. Yes, we can alter our environment to help our survival, to keep our children safe, that is who we are. That fear to stay alive helps us to keep creating things. We are naturally creative beings. Innovation is not just about survival; it’s also about enhancing our capabilities, and our desire to touch lives. If I have the capability to touch 10 people or 100 people, I will choose 100 people. That’s where technology and industrialization comes in.

When you put all these things in perspective, you can see that there is a balance, but that balance comes from our understanding. If we are just one-sided – all for environment or all for modernization, we miss certain things. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to see the balance: Somebody’s pushing and somebody has to resist. We love nature, but at the same time nature can destroy us. There cannot be a 100% synergistic way of living amidst nature. We need a wall, we need a boundary that can keep us safe. That’s what we call our homes, and the moment there is a home, there is a requirement to take care of it. Then comes all kinds of other amenities.

The entire modern world is built on a very simple premise: The moment you say you’re not living in the forest, you’re living in an artificially created environment, you need a lot of things. If you’re just living in the forest you don’t need things like air conditioning, heat, and running water. It’s just nature. Animals don’t worry about all that.

Where do all our necessities come from? It’s because we want to stay away from raw nature, we want to protect ourselves. Then comes all the requirements and necessities. If you say this is a destruction of the planet, then you are missing the point. How can it be destruction of the planet if it is to keep you alive? You might say, “Well, I’m not questioning individuals and homes, and things like that, I’m talking about industries. I’m talking about big corporations. I’m talking about organizations or industries that create lots of pollution.”

They are the machinery that is allowing us to live this way. It’s a mechanism. Of course, an industry, just by being the way it is, operates at a certain scale. Since it operates for multiple people, it appears like a big problem. Well, if you take away all these industries – you take away paper mills, you take away crude oil industries and such as that, what kind of world are you envisioning? My request for the younger generation is: There’s enormous wisdom that you can learn from people who have been through the experience of life. Life is not all about what’s happening right now. If you have lived 50, 60, or 70 years you would have seen these cyclical things. You would have seen financial cycles. You would have seen cycles of diseases, natural destruction, and you would have understood the balance. This is how nature functions, and you would be prepared for it.

But when you’re young, you might look at all these things as a problem. For all you know, this virus is a cyclical thing – it just happened. Because of the position that we are in, having the internet, technology, and all our available resources, we are made aware of the number of people who are dying. Every single individual who is being affected, you are able to look at them like statistics: By country, by region. This was not possible before.

What we need to do now is to stay away from people. We need to protect ourselves and others. Most importantly, we need to re-evaluate our relationship with the environment.

Why Meditate?

Why Meditate?

Why Meditate?

I keep sharing snippets of Avi’s upcoming book, but it just can’t be helped! Avi’s talks are so interesting that I know the information will help everyone, so here it is: A piece from “The Mind” chapter of the nameless book. 

“As of now, the mind has become so dominant that it has completely hijacked all of your other senses. Your mind has become your only reality, which means what you think is what you are. That is what your whole life has become. Thinking never allows you to settle into your being, and will never allow you to relax. Thinking is always about either what happened or what’s going to happen. Thinking is not at all concerned about the present moment. 

What you’re seeking in meditation is the present moment. Thinking wants to constantly oscillate between today and tomorrow. It wants to constantly oscillate between the past and the future. In the oscillation, it gathers momentum. The farther the mind goes into the past, it flings itself just as far into the future. The more energy that pulls the mind into the future, the same amount of energy is pulling it back into the past. You’re constantly moving between the past and the future, and that’s the nature of the mind.

A meditator has to observe this process; observe this oscillation of the mind, and not interfere with it, just observe. Slowly the swinging reduces, the momentum reduces, the intensity reduces. Still, the mind keeps swinging between the past and the future, but now it is not going too far. 

Maybe the first day when you sat in meditation your mind was going all over the place. It was going to your childhood, then it was projecting your life twenty years down the lane. It was thinking about the world, everything that is happening, and slowly it started swinging closer and closer to your body and mind, where you are, because you are not giving it thoughts.

You are not fueling the mind with more thoughts. You are allowing it to settle down. In that settling down, there is no more swinging: That’s the whole objective of meditation.”

Is there a wrong way to meditate?

Is there a wrong way to meditate?

Is there a wrong way to meditate?

If someone was meditating incorrectly could it be harmful to them?

There is no incorrect meditation; either you are meditating or you are not. It’s black and white. There’s no gray area because if you’re incorrectly meditating – it’s wonderful! You’re still meditating. There’s no problem. In fact, this whole idea of “Am I meditating correctly or incorrectly?” itself is incorrect.

This confusion happens when we become a little too obsessed with the technique, finding the perfect method, or the exact right way of doing something. Have you noticed that the more sure you are about your meditation, the more certain you are about your meditation, that you can turn anything into meditation? Anything and everything can become today’s meditation. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about bringing yourself to the act of meditation and to understand very clearly what is meditation and what is not.

This idea of “meditating incorrectly” happens because if you do certain things incorrectly, you could get hurt. For example, if you don’t know how to drive properly, you may not only hurt yourself, you could hurt someone else as well. The very nature of meditation is such that you know you’re sitting quietly, and you’re closing your eyes. What could you be doing incorrectly, because there is so little to do? Only when there is something to do is there the idea of correct and incorrect.

Meditation is not doing. Meditation is being. If you’re not being, if you’re doing something, then you’re not meditating at all – you’re just doing something. So the questions should be, “What do I do about this doing – the doing of the mind, the doing of the body, the doing of my thoughts? How do I simply get into a meditative state?” Those are more relevant questions. When you’re not able to be in that meditative state, what exactly is happening? Where are you drifting, and how do you bring yourself back? If you come to the right understanding of meditation, then there’s no harm, but if you don’t – if you confuse meditation to be something else, then, of course, there could be harm.

When you’re able to come to meditation, when you’re able to sit quietly, and when you’re able to come to the understanding – that basic understanding that meditation is about being it’s about conscious watchfulness, conscious wakefulness, conscious rest – the moment you come to this clear understanding, then you should not keep on trying to find the right method.

If you just become too obsessed with finding the right method, you will miss the beauty of meditation. You are the method. There is no external method. The most important thing in meditation is you – your state of mind. Meditation is extremely simple. There’s not much difference between watching in between your eyebrows and watching your breath or watching the tip of your toes, so don’t keep shifting. 

When you think, “I’m enjoying this meditation, I’m connecting with it, I’m progressing, that’s enough” – perfection in meditation is an illusion. Don’t seek perfection, don’t seek a perfect method, and don’t seek right and wrong in meditation. Put yourself in a meditative state and experience whatever that is happening there. If you can observe the breath, observe the breath. If your observation moves to your legs, move there. If that observation moves to listening, then move – that’s okay. Be a little more flexible; you need not be stone-like in meditation.

You have to be flowing like a river. Your awareness should be so accommodating that it should not be struggling with a method. Your meditation should be so accommodating that you have the ability to change even a disturbing thought into your object of meditation.

Conflict is a part of your mind: “Is this the right method? Is this the right approach? Is this the right number of hours? Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less? Should I be listening to somebody else as well just to ensure that I’m not being misled?” All these are thoughts. You are your teacher. You are your method. You are your path. You are your destination. You are everything. Every time you are available to the process know that “Yes, I’m in meditation.”

Your meditation will always be wrong and you will always be making mistakes. Embrace these mistakes and don’t criticize yourself. Just say, “Okay, I’m making mistakes. It’s perfectly fine. I’m drifting away a little bit, but it’s perfectly fine.” Everybody who has meditated has gone through the same process, and everybody has fallen multiple times. It takes falling and getting up – that’s the process of meditation.

Meditation is not taking you on the same established pathways of another meditator; it is creating new channels in your mind, new channels in your heart, new ways of looking at life, and new ways of looking at yourself. It is not a repetition. It is a bit of a challenge, because we are more used to doing things in the same way, following others, copying others. Meditation is probably the only thing that you cannot copy from someone. You can pick up a technique, but you have to do it one hundred percent in your own way. You have to bring your own attitude, your own behavior, your own courage, your own intelligence, and your own understanding.

Frequently asked Questions

Frequently asked Questions

Frequently asked Questions

We get lots of questions from our program participants, blog readers, and website chat visitors, and we welcome them! Getting questions helps us fine-tune the topics for our blogs and online content toward what you are interested in hearing and learning about–keep those questions coming.

We’ve put together a list of the most asked questions, along with a brief answer, and links to articles and videos that we’ve posted about the subject. Hope you find it useful!!

Why should I meditate?

Everyone suffers from stress, anxiety, jealousy, and all those other feelings and emotions–every day. When you sit and meditate, you are separating yourself from the constant chatter of the mind, the fuel for those emotions/feelings. This gives you the opportunity to either ignore the emotion or decide how you want to react to it. The longer you practice meditation, the more control you have over your wandering mind.

Why is it so hard to sit still and quiet?

We’ve never been taught to just sit still and be quiet. As a matter of fact, sitting still and being quiet is used as punishment for children! What kind of message is that sending to our youth? When you sit still, your mind gets confused and goes to work: “Why are you sitting still? You’re supposed to be doing something. You’re just wasting  time, you know.” The first few times you sit quietly and practice meditation will be difficult, and your mind will be absolutely annoying. You’ve got to stick with it though, it’s just like anything you do for the first time. It’s difficult because you’ve not done it before, and you really don’t know what you’re doing.  Once you get the hang of it and start seeing results from your efforts, it gets much easier.

How do I get started meditating?

Find a quiet place, sit comfortably (you don’t have to sit on the floor, a chair or couch will do just fine) and close your eyes. Begin by watching your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Your mind will immediately start wandering, but don’t let it take you with it; just keep watching your breath. Fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at night for the first few days is plenty of time to get acquainted with sitting quietly and watching the breath. After a few days, extend your time to 30 minutes in each sitting. 

Meditation is not complicated. The whole experience of meditation is watching the breath and not allowing the mind to carry you away with random thoughts.

What do you mean by “mindfulness”?

The majority of the time, you’re lost in thought. So much lost in thought, that the next time you come back from a thinking tangent, ask yourself “Where was my body during that process?” You won’t even remember noticing your body throughout your thinking process! It’s sort of like when you’re dreaming at night, except your body is awake. So technically, you could say that you’re dreaming most of the time! Mindfulness is simply being aware of your body and what’s going on in the present moment, and I guarantee you that being mindful is the hardest thing you will ever attempt!

Mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with meditation, and it requires diligent practice as well. If you’re able to be mindful throughout the day, your meditation time is sooo much easier.

What are the benefits of meditation?

Once you have been meditating on a regular, daily basis, you should notice improved sleep, increased awareness of your surroundings, the ability to say, “No” to being angry or frustrated, and a more tolerant attitude toward others. Continued mindfulness and meditation will result in Self-Realization, or finally figuring out who “You” are.

The Five “P’s” that will Help you Master Meditation

The Five “P’s” that will Help you Master Meditation

The Five “P’s” that will Help you Master Meditation

Most people today are afraid to try meditation because they think they don’t know how to do it. They believe they aren’t good at it, or they don’t think they are doing it “perfectly.” Well, here’s some refreshing news: You can meditate. Meditation practice is not meant to be perfect. Day by day, you can reap the benefits of meditation to a point where you will WANT to meditate. You will look forward to the joy, happiness, and peace. The connection with Self on a daily basis allows your life to flow easily, effortlessly, and enjoyably.

Purpose–Before starting, it is important to decide why you want to develop a daily practice of meditation. What is your motivation? It might be to foster peace on Earth, manage anxiety or reduce stress, live a more peaceful life, improve your overall health, or even boost success. Whatever your personal reasoning, it is crucial to be aware of your purpose. Assign a time of day and decide on how long you will practice. I recommend in the morning, right after you wake up, for 30 minutes daily. If 30 minutes is too much, do what you can; 5-10 minutes is a great place to start.

Place – Where you choose to meditate is more important than many think. The more sacred and calming you can make your chosen space, the more successful your meditative experience will be. Consider using incense and candles during your sessions. Is it possible to dim the lights? You could create an altar for yourself. Be sure that wherever you choose, it is a quiet place where you feel at ease and won’t be disrupted.

Positivity – Keep a positive mental attitude. Many people sit down for two minutes then quit, not giving the practice a chance. When you are learning, it takes far longer than two minutes to shift your mind’s awareness from the happenings around you and in the mind to fully focus on your inner self. If you give up too soon, you are doing yourself a disservice. The practice of meditation will empower you. The practice strengthens your ability to be at peace with your thoughts and emotions, meaning that you become a better person in your work, spiritual aspirations, relationships, hobbies…the list goes on. Subtle irritants won’t bother you anymore. Disappointments won’t be so disheartening. That person who is in a hurry and just cut you off on the highway won’t get you riled up (…as much). Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Posture – The best position to be in when meditating is sitting upright with a straight spine. If you are not accustomed to the traditional cross-legged position, you can sit on a chair, with both feet flat on the ground and your hands resting on your thighs. Wear loose clothing to allow for easy breathing. The key element here is to be comfortable and sitting up. This position encourages the fullest flow of energy within your spine and body.

People – People, wonderful people! Find a like-minded community that can coach you, support you, and keep you on track. Learning meditation is similar to implementing and maintaining a consistent exercise regime. In order to expand and deepen the beneficial effects of meditation, you really need to establish a regular daily meditation practice. Like exercise, it is always easier and more effective to have a trainer, a partner, or a group for support to help you to reach your goals. Meditation is the golden key to all the mysteries of life. Remember these 5 P’s and you’ll be well on your way to meditation success

David Sandercott has been helping people for over ten years as a coach in business, meditation, mindset, healing, weight loss and more. David is the expert in helping people find the peace and happiness they seek, while improving their overall health and well being.

www.davidsandercott.com

David Sandercott

Arcata Ca

The Magic of Meditation

The Magic of Meditation

The Magic of Meditation

There are many ways to end up at the doorway to meditation. You might be questioning the religion in which you were brought up, looking to find your own answers. You might be curious about who you are, what you are, and why you are. You could be looking to quiet the disturbance in your mind, or you may be wanting to meet the third part of your entity, your Self.

No matter how you arrived at the doorstep, there are a couple of basic things you need to understand. Meditation is not something outside of yourself; you’ve got the tools required for meditation with you 24/7. You just need to figure out how to use them!

The absolute beginning point of meditation is to recognize that You are made up of three entities: Your body, your mind, and your spirit or Self. We’re all familiar with the body because it’s the physical part of us that we can feel and see. The body is what we use to experience this world. We’re also familiar with the mind since it’s the background noise that’s going constantly. Mind is the seat of emotions, thoughts, feelings, and dreams; all the stuff you can’t see, taste, hear, touch or smell. Then there’s the Self, and that’s what we’re searching for. When you say, “This is my hand, this is my leg, this is my imagination” –  Who is my? Everyone should want to meet their Self, but why is it so difficult to see the real you that’s driving the body and mind?

We have become so attached to our bodies and minds that we think that’s all there is. The Self has become hidden behind all our thoughts and desires so much that we can’t even recognize that there is actually another part of us that’s keeping us alive–it’s that spark of life that we want to meet! Meditation is the means for introducing us to that spark, and when you do finally realize what the spark is, it’s actually a real experience and a life-changing one at that!

Now that we know what we’re searching for, how does one get there? You can’t just walk up to your Self, tap it on the shoulder and say, “Hi.” It takes a lot of undoing to be able to experience that. The good news is that the body is the perfect vehicle for getting there, and the mind can be trained to keep quiet. I’ll explain:

The Self has no form, no emotions, no thoughts, and no desires. The Self is simply aliveness; it’s what makes your body move, and is the same aliveness found in plants and animals. Since it has no form, the closest you can get to it in your body is to be as still as possible–to the point where you don’t notice your body anymore. At the same time you’re sitting still, you need to corral the barrage of thoughts going on in your mind. If you’ll notice, most of the thoughts that pass through your mind are just sheer nonsense. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to quiet the mind and just be absolutely still in both body and mind? That’s the purpose of meditation: To get to that quiet space so you can truly relax and live!

You don’t need to put it off any longer. You don’t need to dress up, you don’t need any special tools, or a special place to go to. Just sit comfortably, close your eyes, and observe what’s going on in your mind. Don’t get involved with any of the thoughts, and never lose touch with your body. Observing the breath is a great way to keep your mind from carrying you away. It will be difficult at first since you’ve not watched your thoughts before. Keep after it though, you’ve got to be tough; it’s taken you a lifetime to get that many thoughts packed into your mind, so it’s not going to clear out overnight–or even in a week. 

The good news is that after meditating for a month or so, for at least 30 minutes twice a day, you will feel the results! Thoughts will not be as strong, and you will be able to get to a quieter and quieter space in your mind. The longer you meditate the better it gets, and if you keep at it long enough, you will get to experience that magical moment when you meet that part of you that’s making this life on earth a possibility.

Virtue of Silence

Virtue of Silence

Virtue of Silence

Waking up to our true nature is simply to realize that we are dreaming all the time. Dream is not some isolated phenomenon of life; dream is life. Everything we dearly call life is a part of our dream. The reason why it is so difficult to see this is that we are deeply invested in this dream.

Since we have lived for such a long time in this dream state, it has become our reality. We have fully accepted this feeling of being in a dream as our physical and only reality, although we are constantly reminded that we cannot be here forever.

We are afraid to face the real questions of our existence, and our easiest escape from facing those all-important questions of life is to get busy. We are a lot more contented in constantly running around, trying to accomplish as many things as possible by being busy, as opposed to taking some time off to reflect in silence and aloneness about the nature of life and our place in it.

This is why one of the most difficult things to do is to simply sit quiet. This is also why meditation is such a difficult proposition for many of us. Not because meditation is inherently difficult, it’s because we have become too accustomed to losing ourselves in various activities of life. This is why watching a movie, meeting friends, going on a vacation, or planning for the future is infinitely easier when compared to sitting quietly in meditation.

The very fact that sitting quietly is difficult tells us that there is a lot of pain within us that we don’t want to see. We prefer to be distracted by some external activity because we are afraid to face the reality of our inner nature. We are always afraid of discovering something about ourselves that we don’t already know. It is almost like we are afraid of ourselves. Why else should sitting quietly in silence be such a big problem?

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