As Long As You Want

I am going to clarify about how long to meditate; in my opinion, meditate as long as you want. If you only have ten minutes, I still say, that’s better than nothing. If you prefer an hour, do it. The main thing is to be concentrative, focused, intentional, non-distracted and non-multi-tasking as possible. Don’t use the time to ruminate about all the things you didn’t do or should be doing instead of meditating. Don’t use meditation as a beat up time, punishing “time out,” or great escape (like, not showing up for work on time). If ideas and inspirations come, welcome them. If you are afraid you will forget them, jot them down on paper or a pad. Meditate with a sense of purpose and common sense. Lighten up about it!

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The Age of Ex-communication

We are living in an age of excommunication (I mean, ex-). Like, you’d think people are communicating all the time. Right? No problem. They do, on their devices. This isn’t real, deep conversation. It’s more like this:

We should make a plan sometime.

Ok, when?

Not now, I’m tired.

To plan?

Yeah, talk later.


This is not communication. It’s not even planning. Perhaps it’s post-communication. Because really good communication is face to face or second best, face-time to face-time. Planning is a poor cousin or unrelated to deep communication. In my family, it may involve a long chain of emails to discuss a gathering at some future time and place when everyone can congratulate themselves that the plan actually happened or didn’t happen. Deep communication free of the intrusion of planning is elusive, in which case talking on the phone can be a delightful surprise.

Ah, the seduction of electronics. Take a day (or a few hours) to excommunicate your devices. Observe this day as a sabbatical, Shabbat, or the Sabbath. And after a good talk, observe the satisfaction of silence and the appreciation of being heard.

Can we reduce our electronic footprint by just plain talking? What can be gained? Try it for once and get hooked.

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When to Stop Meditating

I used to meditate an hour or more a day. Then for long stretches of time I stopped meditating at all. If I couldn’t really have an expanse of time, what was the use of meditating for ten minutes?

Stopping can be viewed many ways, a biochemical defect, a bad habit of quitting that got triggered in childhood. For me, stopping was always hard, stopping reading a good book, stopping in the middle of writing once I’d gotten over the incredible hump of starting, stopping some project. But really, it wasn’t the stopping that was hard, it was the starting. So stopping meditation was really more the result of not finding conditions suitable enough for starting.

But in the last few years, I’ve shifted, eased up on the whole notion of perfection. A good five or ten minutes is way better than no minutes at all. Same with writing or making art. I have a new relationship to meditation and taken it out of its mystical hiding place and holy aura. I give it importance, though perhaps no more so than making a cup of tea, which is a contemplative way to start the day. I know this may sound terribly mundane and not spiritual at all.

So now I sit, breathe deeply and meditate, moved by the pure desire just to do so. More often than not, my inner timer knows when to stop. I feel refreshed and get up. Meditation still frames my day. Knowing when to stop is a learned habit and it takes practice. Transcend time’s tyranny and try this:

Find a moment in the day that feels suitable for sitting in meditation without interruption. It doesn’t have to be to get over something (fatigue, dread, stress) or go somewhere else (anywhere but here). Allow your inner clock to start and stop your practice. How does it feel? How much time feels right? Apply this principle to another activity not rigidly bound by time, like writing, running, or making music. Do not apply it to a job interview, catching a train or theatre performance.

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Synchronicity in words, Sept.1, 2015

See the previous post. Sometimes I wonder why I get up at 3am and write the things I do. After writing sleepy, semi-legible notes for this blog, I learned that two great men had died—Dr. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author, and Wayne Dyer, self-help and Consciousness guru and author. Synchronicity strikes in unexpected ways. May their souls rest and contributions be remembered.

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Way Cool Big Words: From Neuroscience to Consciousness

Way Cool Big Words: From Neuroscience to Consciousness

What is a way cool big word? It’s a word that delights, intrigues, jolts the mind or satisfies its curiosity. Such a word leads to an explosion of ideas with the same pre-fix or root, as in “neuro” words, neuroscience, neurotransmitters, neuropsychology, neuroplasticity, neurolinguistics, etc. “Neuroscience” sounds grander than “brain science,” because it implies something beyond the physical self. I won’t attempt to define it further here. Way cool big words like these lead us inward to explore, lighting our linguistic neurons. But they also radiate out, connecting us to larger worlds of thought.

For example, the word “neuroscience” encompasses the studies of psychology, behavior, biology, the mind-body connection and Consciousness itself, which is Infinite. When we contemplate Consciousness and connect to Universal Mind, we surpass our limited identification with “my mind” or “my thoughts.” This may occur just for a moment, in meditation or as we lose ourselves in some artistic or athletic pursuit. It may happen unintentionally, without our permission. But the intentional practice of meditation—with proper guidance and instruction—assures that it will happen safely, in our own best interest, with our willing, if not always fearless, and full participation. To expand your connection to higher Consciousness, practice Sky Meditation:

1.Set a five or ten minute timer. (You can go for longer, next time).

2.Breathe in deeply, allowing the space in back of the throat to expand, before breathing out. Follow the rhythm of the breath for several rounds. You may want to count as you breathe—inhale 4, pause 7, exhale 8.

3.Come to a place of stillness, quietly aware of any sensations or thoughts. Let them come and go, without judging or engaging them.

4.Picture a vast sky. Direct your awareness up and above your head; see and fly as far as the sky will take you. Let yourself go.

  1. After 5-10 minutes, open your eyes, coming back to an expanded sense of self.  Try for longer before going to sleep at night.

When I look at the sky, what do I see? How can I go beyond my limitations?

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Emptiness: the Full Story

How do you know when you have too much on your mind and have to empty it out? This is not quite the right question. Meditation isn’t about emptying the mind—that’s about as impossible to do as emptying out the ocean with a thimble. Rather, make willing allies with the mind and its myriad thoughts. Delete some, clear out the inbox, or redirect sticky thoughts down a more productive path. Ask the most tricky, sticky, icky thoughts if they’d like to sit on a shelf for a while (maybe forever). Sing them into a song or tape, or cook with them as company.

If you want to lead a full life, a life of fulfillment, fill the mind with the good calories of positive thoughts. Start to do this in meditation. Then, throughout the day, notice when negative thoughts come up, and how you can more easily handle them. Put another way, what better way to catch thoughts “coming up,” then in the quiet, non-distracting place of meditation? And if your mind (in or out of meditation) is clear of unwelcome thoughts, then skip to the end of this post.

Thoughts can be deeply entrenched and hard to uproot, but in the practice of meditation, we get to choose which thoughts we “want,” and which we want to let go of (or redirect). A mantra, or sacred sound vibration, is an example of a “wanted thought.” So are prayers and blessings. Make yourself a deal. For every negative thought, mentally repeat two positives. For every complaint, two complements. You may not be emptying your mind of thoughts, but you will be cultivating fulfillment and filling your mind with greatness.

What great thought can I fill my mind with right now?

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Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon.

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