Friday, March 6, 2020

Ten minutes a day or less

The Buddha looked inside himself.  The Quakers thought they could do the same.  The Transcendental Meditatives felt they benefited from their practice and brought it to the US.  Early in my college teaching, I noticed classes in the physical ed department in "relaxation". I laughed to myself. "What do they do: sit around and relax?"  

As I was about to retire, meditation for mindfulness was getting more publicity and more scientific and popular endorsement.  Articulate people, well-written books, useful magazines, videos, classes, organizations grew in number. I started this blog with the intention of advocating for meditation but it became clear that a) the subject is basically simple and can be covered in a single page and b) many, many experienced writers and producers were getting into the area.  I wasn't needed.  

I have given talks about meditation

It is an ancient and personal practice that needs no equipment.  I am focused on being aware of my mind. Minds are odd in that thoughts come into them, quickly and abruptly.  A great deal happens out of sight of the mind, including the production of thoughts, words and feelings. With practice, benefits of self-acceptance and even honest self admiration can settle in from meditative practice.  The link above leads to a strippped down set of instructions. The practice is ancient and therefore works without apps, or equipment, although it might be convenient to use them.

Two authors, among many, that seem accessible for beginning the practice are Chade-Meng Tan and Dan Harris.  Tan is a Google employee who teaches the practice to Google employees and is the author of "Search Inside Yourself" and "Joy on Demand".  Harris is an ABC News correspondent and is the author of "10% Happier" and "Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics."  

A funny thing about sitting still and quiet for a short time is that the practice spreads to the point where at odd moments, the body relaxes and one is aware of one's breathing briefly.  It can lead to an almost continuous state of awareness. The physician Charles F. Stroebel wrote about the Quieting Reflex in 1982 and urged using 6 seconds. Chade-Meng said all you need to meditate is a mind and that an appropriate length of time is "one breath."

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