A meditation on meditation. (practical exercise included)

A meditation on meditation. (practical exercise included)


Hey, you guys, it’s Irene Lyon, and I had this grand plan today to come for a walk, which I
did in this beautiful park, which is just in the
city limits of Vancouver. I brought my tripod, you know, kept it with me, and then I got
here, and I realized that my camera doesn’t have
the attachment that puts onto the tripod, so it can stay steady, and this camera is way too heavy for me to hold like this and it will be shaky. So, I’m gonna head home,
and then I wanna talk about meditation today, and it
is becoming a hot, hot topic. People are projecting that it’s
going to explode like yoga, and I think this is very
important, and I think we need to understand a few
elements about why we need to meditate currently
in our western world, and what some of the things
are that we need to be very aware of when we
go into this practice, and then, at the very
end of this, I’m gonna do something that I’ve never done before. I’m gonna attach a audio exercise that I have called Basic Orientation. Many of my students have said that they prefer this
to classic meditation. I’m not saying that I’m
better than anyone else, but it’s just experience,
it’s what I’ve been told from people who have tried to meditate in the more classic ways that are taught. So, I’m gonna head home and I will see you there in a second. So, meditation. This has become a hot, hot topic, and it is popping up everywhere. I listen to a lot of podcasts,
and I was just listening to one where they were talking about it. It was Lewis Howes, his podcast,
The School of Greatness, and he was talking to
the founder of Headspace, which is a app that has blown up. Apparently, they have six
million subscribers or users, and I loved the interview,
it was really good, and I am picky when it comes to meditation and how people teach
it, and Andy is great. I’d love to meet him, so I’m gonna try to get this video in front of him, and maybe in front of Lewis, but the reason I am really
passionate about this topic is because many of my clients that come and see me, they have trouble meditating. They tried and tried, and they can’t. And then, we work with
that, because of usually chronic stress, trauma,
all sorts of things that have gone on in their
world, and it’s really hard for them to go into their
body and feel even their mind. It isn’t even about the
fact that there are thoughts in there and crazy thinking,
it’s that their bodies have not been a safe place to be. Just the other day, I
had a client of mine who was a yoga practitioner, was
in a yoga teacher training, and when they started to do
the meditation component, she said “I hated it,
it was like being locked “in a dark room, with an
angry man at me screaming “and screaming.”, and she
said it was just horrible. Here’s the interesting thing. Because we have so much chaos,
not only just in our world, but internally, as a result
of chronic stress and living in a complex world, our
insides are kinda like this. (dramatic music) But what happens is when we
go into a meditation space, we’re sort of forcing
ourselves to be like this. (relaxing music) So, we end up with this sort of paradox, and then, as Andy actually
talks about in his podcast, we think that something is
wrong with us, that we’re not good at it, that this must be stupid. But here’s the thing. If we think about this, 10,000 years ago we did not live in these
houses, we did not have computers, cameras,
tripods, food did not come from a grocery store, we
did not get into planes and travel thousands and
thousands of feet above the Earth. We were on the ground, on the dirt, with our family, we were nomads. And then, we started to
domesticate our plants and our animals, and we
started to live in huts, and in structures where we
couldn’t roam in the same way, and so started the shift
of the human condition into what then became,
eventually, an industrialized society, and then, that just,
for lack of a better word, screwed it all up for
our internal biology. I actually love technology,
I think that what’s happening is wonderful, but we
need to also move ahead with this technology in
our body space, in our mind space, in our head space in a way that is much more
skillful and intelligent. So, this is why I think meditation and mindfulness is really good that it’s exploding, cause
it’s tuning people in. We’re getting into this
frequency of knowing we need to do something to change this, because, as we’re seeing, with
the complexity of the world and the chronic stressers,
we are getting sick, and I won’t go through all
the lists of what it is that’s happening to us,
but I’m going to assume that you understand there’s
a lot of chronic illness, mental illness, physiological illnesses, mysterious illnesses that
people can’t figure out. People are stuck, people are in fear, all that kind of thing. So, if I go back to this
topic of meditation, and I’m gonna parallel it to something. I came from a fitness background. I was a personal trainer,
exercise rehab specialist. My degrees were in exercise science. I had to rehab my body after
numerous knee surgeries from ski racing and skiing, and what happens sometimes when people… Not sometimes, a lot of
the time when people go into fitness, and this has happened, fitness has become hot, it’s become a good explosion, people understand
that they need to be active, but people go into
fitness and they’re like “I’m gonna do my exercise
routine three days a week “for 30 minutes, or five
days a week for 60 minutes.”, but then they don’t
take the stairs, right? They take the escalator things that are flat when they’re at the airport. They don’t walk to the grocery store, they don’t ride their bike to the markets. I’m generalizing. So, we’ve compartmentalized
our lifestyle behaviors into exercise, and meditation,
and all these things, and I think that we needed to do that as an initial outburst
to get people moving. Same with meditation and mindfulness. We need to have things
like the Headspace app, which I actually tried out, by the way, and I’m a picky person
when it comes to mind-body exercises, and I really
appreciated the realness and the connection that
Andy makes with not just the head, but the body
and the environment. He brings all the senses
in, so I do recommend you check it out, but the
practices are just the first step. We need to start with the
practices first, but then, we have to bring it into our life. It isn’t enough to just
sit still for 10 minutes and feel, and then go off into our world and not bring that awareness onboard. I was watching a interview
with Anderson Cooper and Jon Kabat-Zinn,
this was years ago, and he said to Anderson in the interview: “If a person thinks they have
to sit still to meditate, “they’re missing the whole point.” So, I agree with him
wholeheartedly, completely, but I do think that we have
to start with the practice first, and then we have
to do the practicing of bringing it into
our lives all the time. Next piece, trauma. Because of our industrial
world, many of us just have low-level trauma,
because we have shut down our internal body because
of the chaos outside. We have down this
collectively as a culture, and we need to come out of that shutdown, out of that freeze response. Many of us are in fight-flight response. All you have to do is look
at the political situation in the United States right now. People are angry and for good reason, but we need to have this
awareness that we are in these biological threat responses, and they’re killing
us, they’re hurting us. It’s not enabling us to engage with our higher brains. We are coming at things
from a reactive mode, rather than a compassionate, active mode. And then, we have just
the way we’ve educated our children, the way we discipline them, with praise and punishment. That is traumatic, and then these kids grow up to be adults who cannot feel and then they have trouble meditating. So, it’s this big, big cycle. I can give many, many
examples, but we have to also understand how the world, the environment has
affected our physiology. We’re not that caveman anymore that is just there with his
family and living life, we’re much more complex now,
and we need to move forward, I believe, with the
complexity and match it with the intricacies in
which we learn mindfulness, and meditation, and mind-body practices. It isn’t just enough to go to the class, be there for 30 minutes, and then leave. I think it’s important,
I know it’s important, but we need to become more
skillful in our daily lives. For example, I’m standing
here right now, I’m feeling my feet, I can feel that my
breath is a little short, cause I’m seeing that
my battery is flashing, and this is gonna cut out really soon. I’m aware of these things, right? Many people don’t engage and
keep awareness on their body. That’s my desire for you, is
to take it one step further. So, what I’ve done, after
this I’m going to add in one of my kind of favorite
exercises, neurosensory exercises that my clients and students do. It’s called Basic Orientation. It’s very similar to what
Andy taught when he took Lewis through a few minute meditation in that podcast I just mentioned. So, what I would love is for you to try out this Basic
Orientation that I’m gonna attach to the end of
this Vlog, give it a try, give yourself 10 minutes to feel yourself and connect with your environment,
connect with yourself, and then see if you can maintain
that level of awareness, self-awareness as you go on into your day. And then, what I would love
is for you to come back and comment, whether you’re
watching this on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter, if
you’re getting this in email from my list, I wanna hear from you. I would love to hear:
have you tried to meditate and has it been difficult,
are you guilty of having a practice, going to that
practice, but then, when you go into your normal life,
you lose all those skills? I think… I wanna know, let me know. I think it’s important that
we start these conversations, because we’ve finally
planted the seed, we’re in the embryonic phase of waking up to the stressers, the complexities. We are complex and we
have so much potential to take it so much further,
but we have to understand how our trauma affects
this process, and how we are just not living
hunter-gatherer anymore. As much as we try to be
Paleo, and go to crossfit, and do all these swings, all great, I do them myself, but we
need to just acknowledge “Yup, this world is pretty
complex.”, and we need to do a lot of skillful, masterful work to get ourselves into our bodies, into our minds, and
connecting to our environment. Okay, I’m gonna leave it at that. Thank you so much for being here and, like I said, comment and let me know what you think of this
Basic Orientation exercise. (cheerful music) Alright, so take a minute now or a moment, I should say and simply let yourself see what is around you, so take your eyes off of the computer screen, if that’s what you’re looking at right now, and just start to draw your attention to something else that
is in your environment, in the room you’re in or,
if you’re outside, outside, and, as you do that, actually focus on something that you see,
an object that you might see. Maybe it’s a book, or a
plant, or a mirror, or some flowers, or a chair, or maybe your own body, maybe you see your feet or your hands. So, you’re bringing your attention into the external environment, and, as you do that,
notice your breathing, and find out if the moment I mentioned your breathing you change it. You may not have done
that, but if you did, just be aware that you did that and see if you can keep drawing your attention to that which is around you, and notice your breath without changing it, and as you orient, and as you look, actually find the movements
of your head and neck. So, by find I mean pay attention to them. Feel as you look. So, you might see one thing, you might see one object, and then actually consciously make the decision to then slowly, gently,
this isn’t back and forth, back and forth, quickly looking. It’s not that terrified kind of scanning for danger kind of orienting. It’s a very soft quality
of moving the head, moving your eyes and feeling the eyes search for the next thing, and then to see that thing and to
see it for what it is. Now, as you’re doing this, noticing your breath,
tracking you’re breath, again, not changing it, just noticing it, start to begin to notice how your body touches that which it is resting on. So, for example, right now I’m
sitting on a chair, kind of the edge of a chair, with my
pelvis, with my sit bones. I’ve got my feet on the floor, my right foot is a little more
further ahead than my left, my hands are on my thighs, but
they are moving as I speak. So, feel into you right now. What is it that you
touch, what is it that you are in contact with. Feel the pressures and see if there is a desire
to shift anything, to move how you are resting. Are you on a chair that
has a supported back, are you on a sofa, are you standing up? So, depending on your
different body positions, you’re gonna have different
points of contact. So, just sense, feel that pressure, feel the contact, and continue to be curious and interested in your surrounding environment. If we think about those
animals in the wild that I’ve talked about, they may look up when they
are startled with something, to ensure that there is no danger anymore. Think of this kind of in that way, in that you are seeing around you, what is around you, and that in actuality there isn’t anything, I’m going to assume, coming at you right now,
that you’re not at risk for something flying towards you. Of course, if you’re outside in a park and there is birds, then that
might be a different story, but I’m gonna assume
you’re inside somewhere where there is relative
safety in your environment. And, as you look around, see again a few pieces of objects. See where your eyes get drawn
to, what you notice about it, and then, when you’ve finished
looking at that one thing, to then go to the next thing, and also pay attention, as you do this, simultaneously to your breath, the contact of your body against the ground, your chair, the environment, and how your body might move
with this as you do this. How do you move? So, this little, very short exercise, it’s a little taster into this element, this
concept of the body-mind environment connection. So, by bringing in an
awareness, an attentiveness to the eyes seeing things,
the head moving and scanning. You’re moving high up in the spine. I’m asking you to have an
attention on your breathing without changing it, but to notice it. So, that’s the second element
that we’re layering in, and then this quality of
feeling the ground under you, the chair under you, whatever
it is that you are up against, leaning against, standing on, sitting on. So, there is this body awareness
of where you are in space, while orienting to that
which is around you, noticing your breath, very simple, but can be a very powerful piece to have in your back pocket when
you just need to draw away from that which you are
doing, whether it’s working at your computer, I’ll
use that as an example. This has been about eight
minutes, because I explained a little bit more, but if you were to take a quarter of this, or an eighth of this to draw yourself away from
that which you are working on throughout the day, little
mini-breaks, so many, to just do that quick orienting, noticing of the breath, bring yourself
into your environment, into your body contact
with that which you are in connection with. It is a wonderful way to
sort of pause and reset and drop the system, your
system, your nervous system into a slightly different state of rest.

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Comments

  1. That was lovely. I initially found that, possibly because I am tired, my eyes wanted to close, so I let them. When you mentioned the breathing, I changed from shallow breathing to diaphragm breathing, which I was glad to do as I haven't done any deep breathing today and it made a aware of that. I then noticed the amount of tension in my face, which is immense. At the end of the exercise, I massaged my face to break up the tension. In writing this, the back of my neck is tingling. I hope that this helps.

  2. I love this exercise. I have been practising this for a couple of months now. As well as bring me back to the here and now, it really helps me cope with my chronic pain and stress levels associated with CFS/Fibromyalgia.I have been stuck in freeze state for so long.
    I have struggled with the meditation practises I have tried in the past, I'm certain due to trauma, but this makes me feel safe and relaxed. I also find that during the day I am automatically much more aware of my breathing, so much calmer overall. I highly recommend it as a daily practise.

  3. I love this orienting exercise! So soothing and calming, unlike traditional meditation, which I usually find increases my anxiety! Orienting outward, while still noticing the breath, rather than solely inward, where all the trauma is held, makes such a difference!

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