« Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

#28: Oren J. Sofer

Oren J. Sofer, a former child actor turned longtime meditation teacher, was a 19-year-old college student in New York City when he said he felt things in his life were falling apart. "And I had heard about people going to India for study abroad and I had found out about a program where you wake up, 5am every morning, stay at a monastery, meditate twice a day, no drugs, no sex, no alcohol, and I just said, 'Sign me up,'" Sofer said. Fast forward to present day and now one of Sofer's specialties as a meditation teacher is showing people how to use Mindfulness to be better communicators.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see this is a ten percent. Have your podcast designer I like a joke, sometimes that might yesterday foreign server could engineer Mideast peace. One of his specialities is teaching people how to use marvellous to be better communicators, he's so good at this that I've actually used impersonally. Before tough conversation I needed to have long time, meditation teacher he's got a lot of other areas of expertise as well and a really interesting personal story, all of which were gonna dive into hey, aren't aliens So I'll ask you the question. I ask everybody, which is how, when why? Where did you start meditating? I still it meditating. When I was nineteen, I was here in New York going to College Colombia. Yes and things were to start falling apart and my life just a bunch of different circumstances, all coming together at this
time, and I had heard about people going to India to study abroad, and I found another program wary wake up. Five a m every morning, state a monastery meditate twice a day: no drugs, no sex, no alcohol and, I just said, signed me up really at nineteen. That was appealing. That was very applying to me? I was, I was doing a lot of drugs. I was, I was an actor in New York running all over the city. dating a lot and it was too much stimulation, and so I wanted a kind of clear the slate and start over so how young used or were you like, a child actor? I was a child actor. I started at about twelve. Were you in movies TV commercials TV show tv commercials, my first gig was laughing in. Was it in a skittles commercial or some kind of candy Roca? Giggling
candy commercial, remember which candy I don't. Oddly enough, I am sure my mom does get ahold of evidence that the videos it it's probably out there somewhere either that you don't know if I contacted your mother is probably in in a box in her attic along with other vhf. Take a mad would uri it. If I were to unilaterally. I would be delighted I would enjoy hearing that again care free days of skills and star burst into you. Did you do to me? I can't tell you what I mean in movies and I did actually other first. The first real sort of thing I did was and why you student, film arms, had role in that, and then I did some other commercials. I did some other students
arms educational videos. I did a couple. Things are Nickelodeon the sort of top at the highest I got in the desert of acting career was on law and order night. I was actually the murderer on your murder, because, yes, think episode is called passions. I still get random emails, sometimes from people saying are you the same Orange J sulphur from, are you afraid of the dark or over people who know me saying I was up late last night I couldn't sleep. I saw this episode of law and order was that you know that I would love to see the night you're older eighteen year old or in the killer. Is anybody- and I know you now- a you are really not homicidal in any way. So it's I would love to see that sobered, but just taken back that nineteen year old heads base for a second, because how bad could things really have been?
that that celibacy and irritation and five m wake up really was appealing. You know is one of those times that we all go through. At times in our life, where it is felt like everything came crashing Unifil, disoriented and lost and overwhelmed You know a close group of friends of mine, all sort of cut me off and stop talking to me, the woman. I dating broke up with me: so was end and then certain sort of emotional things from my family in past were starting to come up, and so I felt like I had lost touch with myself, who I was and ye I needed like a fresh start, and I just wanted to get as far away as I could from everything I knew and really just start over, she dropped out of school.
I did not. Actually. I was fortunate enough that I got into the programme this study abroad, programme and eyes. add a buddhist monastery. And so I went- and I did this programme, which changed my life forever. And then I took a semester often state over there. It's a meditation retreats traveled around. So how do you change your life? What what about it spoke to you? I felt like the first time. I heard the teachers talking about meditation in the practice in the philosophy behind it. I felt as if things that had it made sense to meet intuitively, but no one had ever talked about, or finally acknowledged in other life's difficult and stressful, that We can't control what happens to us the more we have expectations and fight against. What's happening, the harder we make things for ourselves
that well being comes from within us not from the world around us are getting things we want and I met people who who exuded a kind of happiness stability and joyfulness that I haven't quite seen her experienced before the monks they weren't. Actually monks, both of the both of my first to teachers, were layman. Who were there. on a car common energy. Oh yes, and another man from Sri Lanka, by the name of God, when some Ararat, nay so much energy is but a familiar, never major, because he was the teacher of my teacher and your teacher, Joe S, Holstein. That's right so kind of like anybody who learned Sir Joseph years than the name and Indra lot yeah I've heard of
I've got a bunch of different ways, but did but often I've heard that he was abused caravan. I think you might have used the term me oddball, you have a bit of an audible it was a Corky man, definitely yeah, but so full of love and energy, and a child, like wonder, enjoy irony we're sitting round a table once with some of the other students on the programme, and we just ok and he was asking each person you know who they were where they were from and each person to say their name and where therefrom and then and then he Conic came around to him. he sort of looked into, and I am manoeuvre and these are laughing. It is kind of those sort of this, the humour of like I'm having a name and who he was so even the most obvious things he was able to find some novelty in yeah yeah enjoy
and so did the three months and was it was but for you a minute a nineteen year old kid, my guide, it was, it was impossible I was I mean my friends, you know me from then my high school friends, I was a nut case. and I was you know, I'm just stir really high energy nonstop go, go, go really anxious and are you I couldn't sit. Still my mind is going. You know a mile a minute's, ah so yeah it was definitely challenging. I feel funny to hear You talk about yourself that way because known you now, I shall just in the name of full disclosure. Is it we spent a reasonable amount of time together? Give you ve, taught a couple of courses on ten percent happier your abso. We spent a bunch days together, really talking about practice and and I have a really hard time. Imagining you being Reggie unable to sit still love. Womanizer. Does
a drugs like that of the orchard actor, never mind a murderer. All of this seems so out of the trajectory of will what I know yeah. Why I mean, I think, that's one of the things that so amazing about awareness and the cultivation of of awareness is at its transformative, You know it's not like it's not like. I set out with some go like I am going to become calmer and more focused or more patient and kind united have some idea. I just knew that I was unhappy and confused and lost didn't enjoy. Being with myself a lot of time, because everything was going on and I just started following instructions and looking
Does the older and ever come out me we're you keep looking in the other room as we take this cause your ear yeah and when you said ordinary, so I ran his ear when you said I can imagine and or in whose you know chess and high energy she he'll rolled her eyes and laughed so. Yes, it does yeah. You know I mean that's the also the process. I went through so. I went to India. I was nineteen. I had this very, very powerful experiences, meditating any really Dover and deep and ass. I was saying to other day when I came back. People recognize me literally and it was like a complete one. Eighty and it took it, took years for those the powerful experiences to be integrated and so that the kind of aspects of my personality.
from when I was nineteen, that's gots sort of out of balance and slightly off kilter for those two, I'm back into alignment with everything else that I had started. Learning and cultivating And so you for me, this is one of the interesting things about meditation practice and people start practicing. They get really inspired. New ideas come on line there can be a lot of confusion about our relationship with our former self four aspects of our life and there can often be this sort of swing from one extreme to another or rejecting parts of ourselves and what I ve, myself and other people I know, is that there is a trajectory over a longer period of
Time towards more integration and balance, but it's not it's not something that happens in a week or a month, or even a year, often times it's it's the the set the process in the cycle can be years. For all the different aspects of our self to really come into balance and work together. So I should feel badly if, if I've been meditating for seven years and I'm still a complete moron, frequently I dont experience as a complete, more or maybe haven't spent much enough time to my wife was the other authority laughing and Roger I? So it's out. That's always the test in other personal lives with you. Yes, so well. What point did you know that you're gonna make this into your career? It was signals an interesting question because from one from one angle I could say I never knew that and wasn't ever my intention to sort of make a career out of meditation its that's a very kind
even just sort of a new concept, the fact that there is even the possibility of making a livelihood through seon meditation practice. So in that regard. It was not something that I ever said. Ok, I'm gonna, make me a livelihood out of this. This is gonna, be my life in fact, for many years in my twenties, I experienced a sort of usual angst of that period of not knowing what am I going to do in your your late. There is now that's right, Joey inured. What did you explore other more traditional career passenger Tony's? I did. I did look I'll get away for that in just one second, when I first got back from India, when I was that point. Twenty years old, I was very clear, that. I wanted to share this with other people. There is a very, very clear sense that I had
this has been discussed so meaningful and so valuable. I want to learn this well enough to be able to teach it and share it with others, so that was very clear from earth John, but there wasn't that sense of this is going to be my career, or this is how I'm going to support myself and my family, so that piece actually just came on more on its own sort of naturally from my own practice and spending time. Teachers and so forth other careers. I didn't Reggie work in alternative education, outdoor education, summer camps, working with inner city, youth, doing job developments
I worked in nonprofit, finance and administration for a few years connected with meditation the organizations I was working with. The Buddhist peace fellowship mind, body awareness project which teaches meditation to incarcerated youth, but I was more on the administrative side of those organizations, and so it was sort of a slow transition to tee more to the point where now it's in various forms, what I do full time ice. I work for another organization called mindful schools, which trains caterers in mindfulness and help to develop their curriculum and right for their website, and things like that. So you one of Europe S, as I said at the top of the show that one of your areas of expertise is, is mindful communication
so. Why did you become interested in this hour? I think are listeners we're gonna this? This is on the people to be really interested and have used. Mindfulness too. You know not pop often say that dumb thing in or add or actually listened to, the person with whom your dear essentially talking senator. How did this become an area of interest for you? Why are you not think about it and robust manner. It again it just kind of came about naturally, but I was, I was living in working out the insight, meditation society and we had, which is that meditation centre and very Massachusetts, and we had in service professional training. On communication, and I was about twenty five I've. I've never heard of communication training and ever knew. There was such a thing as getting better at. communication, and so it kind of blue my mind, because I was, I was meditating lots and really sort of trying to cultivate these values
awareness and compassion and kindness and patience and my meditation and then working in the kitchen. There would be some kind of a disagreement with the co worker or some difficulty, and I was finding it very difficult to actually come from. Those values when things got tense with another human being. So oh I got really interested as soon as I heard that there is a saying called even communication training and everyone knew such thing exists answer. Then slowly I started taking classes and just learning, because it was just such an interest of mind to actually be able to try It's late, the values and the principles of meditation into action into my life and communication seemed like a really useful way to do that after a quick break cannot get weird. If you say that I feel the need to serve russian
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I have some relationships, our email or texting not actually making conscious choices, bouts What we say, or even the fact that were speaking, that were communicating half the time when someone Speaking to us, we're not actually even listening right were planning the next we're going to say or we're writing our grocery list or whatever, in a million other things move through her mind. So you know the first main area of training is just trying to bring awareness to our interactions in our communication and just know Oh I'm speaking cracking now. What am I saying? Why am I saying it? Whereas this coming from two I wanna be speaking right now, when speaking to me, ok, can I just listen. I can actually does not do or say anything, and that in and of itself is huge just being able to slow down enough to remember when
open. My mouth, I'm making a conscious choice to speak and to put something in someone else's mind and that's a really powerful action. That's the power of our words is that were actually creating something that's goes into someone else's mind, but so there are two parts. It is the biggest listening which most of us don't do were only half heartedly is one thing, but then- and I can it's- I can more readily imagine how what were you can use meditation which helps you just be here to listen, but when you're speaking, that's that's it. It seems like a slightly trickier endeavour yeah, it's different for different people. Interesting enough, I find it. Many
The boy listening is easier to bring presents to us for some people, it's the speaking part, that's easier. It just takes practice. It just takes practice, it's it's difficult or challenging because its unfamiliar and we have actually done it. So yeah, bringing awareness to listening to speaking is is the first basic training slow down, some being able to take a pause to have more choice and particular noticing that at any given moment, we actually have a choice. whether to speak, listen or just stay silent and that's kind of one of the most basic fundamental communication Tools that soften the least practice is actually to say something or not, say something into choose consciously about that. Can it get weird? If you don't say anything, I feel the need to serve russian fill every silence.
Now I think it's one great ills of our society that people don't appreciate. Silence it doesn't have to be some meaner, awkward, deep. Soul, searching stare. You know that that's, but there's something quite lovely about being able to just b with another human being and not need to fill that space? other different people in our lives basin, our relationships with whom we can share that to varying degrees. Right arms are not suggesting that everyone be silent all the time or anything like that. I'm just saying that, recognising that we don't, We need to say something. You know. Somebody says something it's enough. Just gotten, you know it's instead of kind of
adding to the verbal diarrhea, that's just kind of everyone's just popping off all the time, without any sense of awareness of what we're even saying or doing. How do you apply to stuff in a cute situations when somebody's you know that work in a high stress environment said something that's triggered you or your in a relationship in somebody's nose it is only want to do or or you realize they haven't done. The thing you ask asked them to do. How do you mean those moments when you're when you're Danvers up yeah it tat? I think it takes training, one of the most useful things that I could share. I think for people out there listening that you don't need to do weeks, and we of training for is to come up with a few lines.
and memorize them that you can use in a pinch. Things like, I think I'll have to get back to you on that in our I'm. Not sure I'd like to think that over could we talk about that's more tomorrow, or I vow you just said a lot. I'm not sure how to respond to these kinds of canned phrases that create more, base in a conversation in relationship for us to actually put like it's like a fire break in that gives us some space to keep from saying things that are gonna complicate the situation later. We're gonna regret not in order to be able to do that. Not only do we have to come up, a few lines that feel authentic for us that we can work in the hut ships, battle. Not only do we need to do that, but
but we need to actually train ourselves in the awareness to recognise when we're getting triggered. When I, when we're getting, debated by someone else, because that energy is so strong that we we go into automatic, to defend ourselves or to attack or to respond or to disagree right away. So and that's that's where the meditation peace in the mindfulness peace comes in, is that in our meditation practice, were sensitized being our nervous system to actually recognised difference between being presents clear. And attuned, even for a moment what we have that that micro moment of just feeling a breath being right there knowing what's happening and something inside registers like oh, this is what it's like to not be a basket case right and and now half a breath later the minds back, doing it's normal thing, but now we actually have something to compare to. We actually have a reference point
and men are nervous system starts to learn and remember the difference between being driven unconscious over activated and even being a little bit more grounded and self connected want. The one of you said repeatedly that, as comforting is that this is a practice we should expect. Oh, we start my tail, then, that we're not whenever to put our foot and mouth it's more that over time, once you make a decision when I try to not pop off as much in, and also to listen to people when their speaking as a bit of a radical act. You just it's just like meditation, were you just try and then get lost. and start again right yeah and what you're? What you're talking about Dan is. The second thing I wanted to say before when you're asking: if you will, what can people actually do without doing so? The first thing was bringing more power.
Thence to our conversations just trying to be more aware of the speaking of the listening of the space between those the sex. Thing is what you have just mentioned, which is our intention and actually being conscious of our intentions in communication Where am I try where my coming from here? Where am I. trying to nudge things are? Why am I engaging right now, my trying to make myself look good and my trying to win trying to dominate the other person my trying to make them feel bad. I am I generally interested and I try to understand something in my trying to connect. Am I try to make this person feel good about themselves, others this whole range and spectrum of intention
that are constantly operating behind the scenes and for most of us most of the time, its mixed. It's a mixed bag of intentions, but when we actually start to recognise that those intentions are driving our conversations and our If we start to be aware of them, and we can begin to have a little bit more choice about where we would direction were aiming in with our life and so for communication, in particular, one of the most powerful intentions that I've found. And which I emphasise in my teaching is the intention to understand and to connect see. That's one intention, because the really two sides of the same coin, when we try to understand each other, that's leading to more connection or if we just if I'm just trying to connect
in that sense of being here with you as another human being, that's gonna bring up more understanding, and so all of the other default motivations at come up in our Patients option conversations sometimes when it's just too complicated, there's so much going on. If we, if we train ourselves to just come back to that core intention of curiosity and care, that can be a guide and that's it We re transformative yeah, though that in most of us you know when we think you know are our intention and communication is just care point across. Now and make sure enable do were asked to do or right or understand why were doing what we're doing, etc, etc that what you're talking about Greece wholesome motivation. I don't know the to the extent that any of us really examiner motivations Monday in communication, and it seems like a pretty big leap to get there. For that. Being my motivation from all of migrating
Well, I don't think it needs to be. The motivation for all of our communication is not about becoming a saint malo, hey if that happens great, it's more It's more by having choice about our intent, hence in recognising what's act. and our best interest and training people to do what we wants. I think ass, a lick it well, not only what I want someone to do, but what I the reasons to be for doing it and we focus on what we want. Someone to do will use some now. Use any means possible, manipulation, coercion, threats, blame them. he actually look at the difference. Ok well owns one. I want that person do, but why don't you Why would I want their reasons to be for doing it? Then we to recognise our GINO. I want them to do this because they value this.
Where they see how it's gonna help the situation or they care about me or they care about this particular project, and I want them to do it, for the right reasons and then, when we see that's, then our angle will be very different and how we approach the conversation and united Thank you mentioned most the time I'm just trying to get my point across hiding a super. We also motivation. That's about- we're standing it's about trying to. Feel, heard and understood in ourselves so I see nothing wrong with that. The quit quick question then becomes Ike, skills. Are we at helping? Others understand us really being able to communicate clearly so that we can get that understanding and when that's not happening. When there's when there's some blockage in the way, are we able to kind of say, like ok, maybe any to put my peace down for a few minutes and find out what's going on for them so that they feel under
stood and that block can kind of saddle and now all of a sudden other space for them to hear me, because I'm sort of showed up and listen to their side of things. People Emmy I found just as one of the four meditation is getting older and less stupid. It, especially in in interpersonal relationships, is really important for people to feel hurt and value. Did you know, even if I disagree with my wife and something about if I say ice, I understand what you are saying and I understand I feel that way. You don't get that actually can just defuse the situation not magically and not a hundred per cent of the I'm or hundred per cent of the way, but it is, it goes a long way it does and- and I like that word used magically cause. It is it's like. Sometimes it's like magic sometimes hear that there's this there's this thing that happens when we actually see one another
your stand, one another that the conflict transforms instead of instead of us fighting about something budding heads. all of a sudden were actually looking at the situation together. Mercer of we can be on the same side problem solving rather than having this blockage between us that were fighting over yeah- and Think one of the common desire to silence their yea devout. And I really appreciate that I did could see in Irish. There is another thing that came through my mind that felt important. I wanted to share. I think one of that one of the barriers to doing this. That a lot of people find is that there is a misunderstanding that often we we believe that.
Understanding where someone's coming, where someone's coming from understand, What matters to them and their side of things mean. that we agree with it and that's actually not true. There's a difference between empathy and agreeing you know so I can. I can understand where's. Somebody has drastically different views than Do I can understand where they're coming from or what's behind their views, what they're trying to accomplish right, but still completely disagree with how they're going about it and the Is they have about? You know? What's gonna make that possible, but I can still understand where they're coming from or what matters to them.
Now, if I, if we called Evan in here your girlfriend, who has as we said it in the control room watching us it, would she say that you you're you practice what you preach most of the time, all the time she's she's, she's, nodding and shrugging in saying ass and when you said all the time she shook her head, but but most of the time got it. Gotta got an honest yes, so some J P M for you. It's a practice o completely yeah completely I've. I've been training in this long enough, that's for, most situations, it's where I go as my default. it's not a could be annoying, though sometimes you just one you know I just want to see somebody feel something I feel things I can upset, but it's just just how I choose to express that
it's you know using his tools doesn't mean that we don't feel anything or that were some house. You know sweet nice all the time I was teaching of course recently- and you know at the beginning- I asked people here. What's your intention, why? Why are you here? Would you opening get this in some one said you know I just I just want to be a nicer person and I so the part when I said I don't think I can help you with that. Interested in people being nice- I'm interested in them being more real, the more genuine and honest, if that's, ok interests you. I can help you with that. I'll think be. Nice generally serves anyone. What I there stood underneath that I was playing with her a little but obviously, but what understood underneath that was you saying, and I want to go from a place of care and be respectful of other people. and engage in a way that doesn't cause harm, that's something I can also help someone with but being nice has that sense of of putting on an air and pretend
and so using these using these tools doesn't mean that we somehow all of a sudden dont, feel Emotions are done, express them quite the opposite. I think. Actually, we have more access our emotions and are able to express them more fully and authentic Lee, but the way that we do that is constructive. Yet I think of you will want- or at least to speak myself is, is just not too to mess up so much. You know that, because this is an area where we just we just screw up all the time yeah, and you know the am I think a tragic part is, is that those mess ups are there just invalid expressions of of things that Don't need to be so confrontational and divisive. Yes, yes,
But we, but we don't know how to say it comes across the wrong way and in the other person reacts and get defence, it gets defensive and then we don't know how to back. as you know, no wait. That's not what I mean you know that we end up kind of embroiled in this there's an expression that the Buddha used have now made jokes about this become a kind of personal quotes, the Buddha which is weird but but there is an express there's, an ex conversation between the Buddha and his son ruler, were the Buddha says is correct me if I'm wrong about this crap from our worse than being a virtue quota, but I'm probably have personal misquotes the book but he, the Buddhist said, as a rule of thumb, try to say that which is true and that which is useful and that's a pretty good rule of thumb. I did I'd, stick that I don't usually don't succeed, but that it is a really good fallback it is its great actually and at some it's there actually for things that
You said that one should check in with before you speak to Saint and at whether its true is one of them in his actually correct this information. When I'm about to say, is it useful, as is gonna, is gonna, be helpful, but then there to more. The third is, is coming from a place of goodwill is kind, You know some of you have to say things that are uneasy to hear that might be deceived, able to to some one else. You from something assembles, as I got some spinach in your tooth, but it's coming from a place of kindness. Is this even if it's something that's hard to here? Is it coming from a good place inside? That's the third and fourth, is: is the right time we can have something to say. That's true, it's helpful its useful,
coming from a good place. That's just not the right time right. So one wants to look at off all four of those factors and Dino try to balance them. Maybe he was murdered. the last usages general practice questions yeah. So what is your daily practice? Look like aye aye sets, don't dont, don't do some, I dont movement every day, but a few times, You can't do even if it's just a few minutes of yoga some she gone just to try to relax the body opened the body up, how much sitting you do it varies? Usually, I aim for at least twenty minutes if, if it's a busy day are things are happening, but sometimes up to an hour? one morning. What is your word? What are the nuts and bolts of your practice? Won't you, sure sure.
it so the beginning of my practice generally don't do anything. I find that my life of theirs I'm using my mind to do things all day. Long. Whether its talking when someone new figuring out how to get from B or in a working writing planning so often the first part of the sitting in a light, be five minutes. Ten minutes. I'm I'm consciously strain allowing my mind and my body to shift into a space of of being of not of non doing. When you do that, don't you find a you're getting seaward it whenever I try to like justly not do something. I end up. You know having an argument, somebody in my head or planning something or whatever
we have really good basis of concentration after all these years, how to. You know a concentration, isn't one of my strains in practice. Actually, so I'm not I wouldn't say that I am, I am an easily concentrated practitioner. have a good basic, embodied awareness, so Oh, it define that just being able to feel my body just very simple, rudimentary it's a fancy expression, but it just me that I can sit here and feel my body without too much effort urine and can stay connected to that experience. And that sounds pretty like will. So what? But it's actually sexy huge because the body doesn't go into the past. The body doesn't go to the future. The body doesn't lie, it's just here, very directly, and simply so in those first five to ten minutes. I am often just
having the mind space to do whatever it needs to do on wind, even kind of wander off a little bit, but there's there's a frame of feeling the body sitting, and so there are also often in that space. Just come back to the sense of the weight heaviness of the body feeling it sitting and using that contact a sense of gravity as a ground, ass, sort of like a base line and then allowing the rest of the body and the mind, and the emotions too just sort of knock around
on their own and it's like letting it come into alignment or letting it come into balance so like. If you imagine, you had like a big gun, a big sort of soft bed with some various marbles around and you put something really heavy in the middle and just held that point down and other things which is naturally start to roll down into that middle. So that sort First period of my practice, and then you know the actual bulk of meditation, depending on what am focusing on my practice might very so at different times,
I've done more made to practice more loving kindness, so using the phrases cultivating just for people who don't know the phrases are a matter which we have talked about the pie get before about people like this. Maybe your first timeless Emmy TT a mega matter practices were you systematically envision people or animals and send them good vibes through phrases which usually our baby. you may be safe, may be healthy. May you live with ease, so that's anyway. That's just explaining what you're Talkin area thanks yeah it, sir. You know, sir, fluffy as it sounds care was at once, and I described it as a Valentine's day with the machete to her, but she she probably laughed. She laughed the ep at it s a little bit of there. You go again and then in the laugh, but be yes, I agree, as sounds were fluffy, but it actually is as a lot of value yards,
this is just a sense of recognising that we have the capacity for good will and for basic warmth and then its accessing and touching that capacity again and again and through that process strengthening it so, I've done, that for periods of my practice, ah oftentimes just using the breath as a way of cultivating com and concentration other time well, if there's for a period of the sitting at there's something going on that, I'm wanting to look at or something on difficult or challenging, and then I might call a situation to mind and use kind of a reflective investigation? who examined what's happening there in my life and using using both the clarity of the meditation
And the skills of attention to uncover what's driving something in my life, you know some difficulties and problem or if I have a decision to make that I feel conflicted about I'll set, you know let the man get quiet, do some practice. and then I'll bring that situation up and not like analyzing it or thinking about it. It's it's more sense of listening for you know how's, it feel how's. It feel to me. If I think about going, you know and direction a and then just kind of feeling it out. You know kind of feels a little unsteady or. something titans inside you know I feel a little bit anxious. Don't really know why, but that's what's goin on there and then
that saddle and then take option, peering how's. That feel who feel everything can relax. I feel like a relief, HANS interesting. I realize that You know, and so there's just a different way of getting information. And then later on. I might actually, I might actually think about it intentionally and say like well. You know what my ex throughout their. Why just feel like such a relief you know, so I use the tools of meditation in different ways space on what's needed. I know how much of what, but you said, concentration, isn't euro, your strong suitor, Maybe this is still an issue for you, but you wrote a really good blog post recently about the moment where you wake up from Detroit and that is a huge problem for you know especially beginning meditated, madam, I would venture to say almost every meditate or just a big part of
practice you should you get we're. Gonna get lost a million times. You have to start again and again and again and your argument- is this really try to rephrase it as a win, that's not even I mean you could call to refrain by. I think it's actually has an accurate understanding of what's happening. It is a win right. It's practicing awareness any time awareness returns. That's a good thing if it is in a bad thing that awareness has gone away, Don't x, I don't I don't. I don't think of it that way. Thus, just is it a bad thing that the wind blows is a bad thing that you hear sounds it's just is just natural, but is a goal being devil and plaintive. As advocate here, but when. The goal of meditation is to be no stay focused on what you're trying to focus on, and so it hard not to see getting lost as and just as in their very phrase, getting lost
see it as a sort of you no word derivation from the goal. The goal of meditation, as I understand it, is not to get focused or stay focused on an object. That's a tool that we use to strengthen the ability of the mind is clear: and the goal of meditation is to understand, what's happening in her mind. And that comes through observing it one of the It's happening in her mind is that its wandering We understand that process, that's the goal of meditation so much Yet how, when you say- and I think this is your temper but you, your argument is that we are to look at that moment of waking up with some delight. But if it This keeps happening over and over over and over in rapid succession can get pretty you if you can get. You can become wearisome here just to have
wake up again and again and again in one one does not you know it seems for real these I often start you, if, even if I can make those first, two or three moments of waking up a little involve a little less for self regulation. After while it get old Do you mean this is a really important point and exploration and though the though the big picture level is that feeling discouraged feeling weary feeling, disappointed feeling, frustrated All of those experiences and responses are feedback and their indyk, eating that something is off in our practice. So that's that's. The first point is to actually
start to recognise when those emotions and an emotional responses and tones are coming up. What it means is that some things off it's a kind of its kind of friction, and that means that the parts aren't perfectly align. Look could be off so so, what's ah is. There is a certain expectation and an idea, but we try to work. We want something. That's another part so trying too hard wanting something and the ideas that we have about the meditation, so once idea that you have that's very embedded, it seems from the conversations we ve had. Is this idea that
being focused on on one thing is the goal, and if I'm not doing that, then I'm somehow failing in the medication isn't working. I understand that I get that completely. I have suffered a lot over that and I remember one meditation retreat. I was going to one of the teachers and tears and saying, like you know, I do understand. You know if you know to renew really make progress and have insight, I'm supposed to be concentrated in oh, but you know every time I mind kind of goes bankers and his like getting sort of on this emotional or coaster. You know, I'm not and concentrated, and therefore I am not doing well and I'm not getting to the place that I'm supposed to write an just being so tied up in knots around this idea of what supposed to be happening and how it supposed to look and why I need to do it.
To this imagined results that I'm looking for and its take You know years for me to actually initially just first to understand, intellectually like while you not actually that's actually not quite right that the pre Assess is going to involve getting lost and that's not a detour. That's actually part of is allowing yourself to get lost and an understanding that process an end understanding the mechanisms that that triggers the self judgments what's going on there to get interested and now look at that, and I just really really put myself down what's Goin there, you know or the frustration you know like. Ok where's, that
like oh well. That's interesting frustration to include that in the to include all of it to not make any part of it. Something gone wrong, though, if you wake up on the cushion realize you spent seventeen minutes. Thinking about you know that Various plot was, in the godfather part three you there Isn t a huge s, disappointment or a failure, no not anymore. I had one meditation teacher who said to me and to take this with a green saw, cause it's it's, it can be missed, used. But she said you know, after decades of attention practice the lower my expectations, Let us not to say that we don't try not to say that we don't make effort, but we adjust our effort.
We learn how to make efforts in a different way and that the effort we make isn't for a certain result. That's like that's that counter intuitive pair? stocks of meditation and why it's so different than everything else in our life, because everything else in our life works Following a very simple formula, I am at point a I wanna get to point b I make effort. I move towards point B. I get there done. That Programme of Goal AIM account energy accomplish. That programme doesn't work in the room. of spiritual practice, meditation mental, motivation. Whenever you want to call it works to a certain degree, but. The effort that we make isn't too
produce a certain result. For that we make is just to be here and understand just under, and it's the same effort, we're time the communication practice and that's. Why can you creation and meditation from your so similar, because it's this aim fundamental rights at the root. It's the same fundamental intention, that's guiding it is this shift from our habit Dual programmed default intentions, to get what I want and make things go the way I want them to two. Oh, why is this what's going on here? What's about, as I feel, what would it be like to just check this out You dont this very different. It till it takes a certain kind of letting go and it
makes a willingness to be humble to not know to make space to allow to be patient rights Those are very different energies and intentions. Then we rely on in our day to day life, but what a hat? What happens? Is Is is, is two things so one the very process of tat. Of turning towards and experience and being willing to understand it, at movements of the mind strengthens a whole host of qualities. It strengthens energy patients, com, interest, honesty, integrity care, kindness. All of those holidays come along in the process and then, as
quality strengthen. We actually start to see. Clearly, oh my god, I never realised that in an insight arises Oh, that's: why that moments of the mind, wandering and then aware coming back in that moment, the return of awareness is something we do so too. fact that one is getting tired, isn't about awareness returning is actually energizing? The tiredness comes from the you know we slap ourselves afterwards and then struggle and fight. So you know we get curious about ok, what's extra, what am I adding after that moment of awareness returns and then, as we get curious about that, all of those other qualities and factors in the mind strengthen so when practicing and I wake up and it's the eighteenth time of, had to wake up, and
in thirty seconds, the move is just to get curious what the reaction That's happening in my mind. Naturally, challenges notice, also self regulation judgment yeah yeah notice it, and I actually feel it the noticing it take some of the d fangs at a little bit. It's like in others that sense of being able to notice it it's like unplugging it It stops having juice to keep going. That's that's the first. That's the first step is to be able to step back from it. In some way, so that is not still being fed. Then there's often there still gonna be this kind of residual flavour rights in the heart or tightness in the body or even kind of the echo of the thought in the mind so there
It's too noticing it curious about that. While I feel like you know, This feels offer and the more we see and really really taste how awful it feels, to judge ourselves for trying? meditate. You know something gets learned so quietly wanna keep doing drop the hot cold xo. So last little avenue of discussion is not a little evidence. They want, but Curious you, you talk a lot about goal in whom, mostly in the sense that you don't has, we wear goal oriented in the wrong way. But do you have a goal for your meditation trying to get in lightened and would you eat? What is your how'd? You even defined Enlighten progressed in yet Pickwick.
I do think that there is a goal and I do have goals for my meditation practice. So it's not it's not. You know one of the Sort of two extremes are two dangers in meditation practice on the one. On the one hand, we have what you know took him temper, Crochet called spiritual materialism that we just transpose our culture, the emphasis on success and achievement, otter, meditation practice and we get overly oh oriented and we strive and we're trying to produce a certain results? That's one end of the extreme, the other end of the extra Mr have no go well, Enlightenment is here now and there's no goal, and so it's all just about being present and relaxing and not doing anything in that's actually not really treated from one.
understand there is. There is no real work to be done, but it takes. It takes a balance of those two and being in the middle. so you know for me. I I understand and articulate the goal to myself in different ways. And in the most kind of practical immediate way. The goal is to be more aware and kind and to live with integrity, which means I'm I'm connected to what I value and I'm acting in the world based on those values and for me I did that success. None of that is particularly mystical. However, no
But what about you know experiencing the unconditioned or you know becoming at an hour haunt who doesn't it experience, greed, hatred or delusion this new, This these are the terms of these a buddhist talk about a lot that view to eat in maintaining that yeah I'll bring it on. assign reappear so, that that is a way that I articulate the goal for myself. Also, as I said there different ways that I conceive of it or think about it. And- and you know, I think that their different dirt through different sides of the same coin. So what? If? What? If you? If you ask yourself more, what would it take to live a life fully connected to awareness? and compassion, not driven by
I own self centered whims and you really deeply connected with a sense of integrity, and aware of my values and sinewy making choices based on those values. without shame or fear what what? What would it take to do that without would take a pretty radical transformation inside? That would take a pretty profound I didn't go, it would take a letting go of anxiety would take a letting go of, my ideas of who I am and money be seen and perceived in a certain way. It would letting go of my distaste and aversion to things I don't particularly enjoy it. Would you know so the
you know when one looks it in that way aside. While that would be a huge right, So for me the result of deep awakening is being able to live in this way and actually they can work in both directions. Yes, completely yeah. So I find well If I'm making efforts to live with awareness, to be kind to be clear, to make choices based on my values. Then every moment that enabled to do that. a brooding all of the things that prevent me from doing that, and you know, depending on what metaphor you want to use, you could say I'm moving closer to enlightenment or awakening, or one could say that I'm actually beginning to embody that more and more I'm allowing my mind to inhabit that space. More and more because one of the things that men said to me early on in my practice, I was asking him about enlightenment and how to get there
you know. I said: enlightenment is not over there, it's not over there. If you trying to get to enlightenment you're going in the wrong direction, it's here, so it's something I find that very frustrating. If it's right here that I'm completely the exact same, That's hard I myself have a work on them being made. You ever tried it s, not just you, Marta myself, to sometimes still like it's like seeing something. That's all
we ve been here that we keep forgetting and the problem isn't that it so, as so terek were MR call, it said it so subtle that we keep overlooking it. We keep overshooting it. We keep moving past it. So the very effort of the mind to look for something is a movement away from it. So what is it it's not in it it it can't be conceived of or under good by the mine by the by the conscious thinking, mind it's it's a different in others, all kinds of analogies one can use it's a different order of experience.
Like, if you ve, never eaten mango, and someone says what is a mango tastes like as a kind of like a banana as a colleague ice cream. You know like wow sweet and its smooth and it's a little bit tangier. What kind of like a lemon loan unknown? Really, you know you, you have to taste it I mean I live in a copper, but yeah, that's very beautiful, I think unites Buddha said it son, its peace at Sir Peace beyond understanding Because understanding something is still in the realm of duality is still in the realm of some thing to be
there stood by some one and doesn't it doesn't operate in those terms in on any also setting? Oh there is this. There is the unconditioned, the unborn, the unformed. If there were not this, there would be no escape from the conditions the born the formed, but because there is this, the unconditioned, the unborn, the unformed. There is a release from this realm. love in substantiality and change. I mean either it's all really cool uninspiring. I just do what I mean. I guess you can understand intuitive tasted it and and then I don't know that I can believe anything to which I dont have curly of access.
so it's like in the beautiful thing is about it is that one doesn't need to. I dont think one needs to believe in any anything any of it. Just keep racks. Just keep practicing all kinds of all kinds of all kinds of experiences can unfold and the the processes just is just keep showing up king, honest and looking at ones experience and as the mine gets quiet and still at different times. It sees and understands things differently, and in the beauty again the beauty of it is that one doesn't need to be MR call, and have a belief in that to practice to look inside ones, mind and at the very process of practicing and is being curious and open, brings about benefits and as those benefits strengthen as the mine gets more clear, other possibilities open up, and so you know if I were to say anything, it would just
who knows and just to keep an open mind to just say. Well, maybe maybe not I don't know, but why not look I mean for me so going back to the time in my in my early twentieth, when I first started the testing and practising, I had been studying religion, Colombia and reading all these different texts from different traditions, whether it's you know Veda you punish odds or sue fee, poetry or jewish mysticism, or the dowdy gene and other later DOW Dallas poets, or even the transcendentalists in american literature or the Buddhist literature just reading and just hearing from some different people through the ages. These accounts of experience, is beyond what we can
tea and no ordinarily through our senses,. And to me when you know it's not just like one quack out their writing about something. Is people from across all different traditions all through time writing. About other ways of experiencing being alive and a sense of deep peace and knowing and connection it's got to be something there. It's got to be something that people are actually touching into
Are you call it what you know and whether it see no, what this person wrote about is the same thing or different than what this person experience? Who knows but there's something there is something you know it seems like. It would be impossible that all in all, through the ages, people would be experiencing and writing about us some deep level of reality without there being some actual basis to it, and so that that and then meeting people who actually spoke directly meeting people face to face saying like now this possible as not be asked us of real, and not only is it real, but you can notice for yourself. You know really inspire miss wow gosh, you now and not just you know: men injured year, Godwin, who are you know these older asian men who wore White south asian menacing, while you know like many people like Joseph or Sharon or Steve Armstrong COM.
a masters or Michel no meeting. You know the senior teachers and the insight tradition here in the last to speak of speak of their own experiences Joseph near chewing, unlike his dislike, if he can do it, why can't I and that's that's? That's the energy, that's the sense of like hey this is this is here, for me, too, is not, just for some Nino amazing being somewhere far off on a mountain? It's like this is something that anyone can experience if they they receive the right instructions and they have the willingness to put forth the energy that was also well said. I could go just leave it at that. That was great where can people learn more about you if they want more information? The best play Stan is my website, which is orange: a sofa dot com, o r e n J, a Y s o F, dr dot com. And where can we get that skilled at again.
my mom's, adding any gas tat are at a moment also. We should say that if you, your communication courses on empty and have your address to shut, it course on emotions go up soon, lifesavers life's aunt was lifesaver, lifesavers, not skittles, that's correct well you're a lifesaver. My friend. Thank you very much for doing this. It's a pleasure than our there's another edition of the ten percent happier podcast. If you like it, I'm gonna get you a favor Liese, subscribe to it, review it and read it. I want to also think people who produces podcast Josh, go hand, Laurent, Efron, Sarah, AMOS and ahead of ABC New Digital Dan Silver and hit me up a twitter Danby Harris next time.
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