84: After Praying, Zen We Meditate (Sort Of)

We take another look at meditating. We have on Dave (Ryūmon), a novice Zen priest to talk all about meditation. We talk about all the intricacies of meditation and ask the questions about what really matters when it comes to meditating. Is posture important? Do you have to sit, or can you stand or be laying? Is it only about not moving, or are there movement meditations? What are we supposed to think about or concentrate on while meditating? Is there a certain amount of time we have to spend in meditation in order to benefit from it? What’s the rule about farting in Zen meditation? Dave (Ryūmon) helps us explore all these questions and more. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

Empty Circle Meditation website – http://emptycirclemeditation.com/

Soji Zen Center website – https://sojizencenter.com/

Our first meditation episode

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

so welcome to recovery sort of my name is billy i’m a person in long-term recovery i’m jason i’m still trying to recover and today we’re here with dave uh dave is a zen is it monk or priest uh zen priest priest uh he is also a person in recovery he’s going to tell us a little bit about his uh journey how he found meditation how it’s benefited him in his recovery and i’m going to introduce dave dave we’d like to give you a couple minutes to introduce yourself probably five to eight minutes jason likes the eight minute limit sure yeah everybody listens but i try no cut me off please it’s always funny because it’s like i always take like five to ten and then he’s like five to eight which eight sounds really specific i just feel like if any of us talks for more than eight minutes then somebody’s getting bored people zone out i do so i’m probably rambling on for eight minutes now so i better shut time’s up uh but no dave please introduce yourself tell us a little about yourself and what you’re doing these days great so my is dave and i have been in recovery for 11 years um just celebrated 11 years and uh meditation is a big part of my experience um so yeah i where do i start i don’t i’m not trying to do the whole thing right like we don’t need to do the whole thing that’s for meetings um right so you know i had a childhood and a lot of it was great some of it was not right and it had profound effect on me you know when i went to the marines um you know and and there’s there’s kind of some shifts that happen to you mentally in the marines as well that are really positive and then some maybe not right some are very difficult especially when you’re coming back to the world right and you know trying to function the coping mechanisms you develop in the marines are very different and very unacceptable in the world right you know like uh you know like it one way to deal with things stress there is you know fight your friends um you know just going to a pit in the ground you fight your friends and headbutt them in the nose and you hug and you know then you go surfing together and everything’s good i’m glad i’ve got that out right so um it’s my new parenting technique exactly it’s fight club exactly yeah i never connected that but of course um so yeah so you know coming out of that and you know getting into college and everything like that you know it’s just um had some adjustment you know challenges that that made life pretty hard and um and you know using became a big part of that coping mechanism you know because it kind of works for a little bit or at least it seems like it does until it doesn’t then when it doesn’t it really doesn’t and you know it does never does again so uh you know just long dark dark story there um which will kind of just say that much about it and um you know i got help a couple times and uh back up a little bit i always had interest in meditation right since i was i don’t know since i was becoming an adolescent um i had a lot of interest in breaking out of you know my kind of cultural family tradition um you know i just i just had questions i had too many questions right not too many i had a lot of good questions you know um and so you know i was always looking for other things and so when i got help you know i’d already been meditating on my own a little bit and i met a psychotherapist who you know had a meditation every morning and i started doing that every morning and then when i left treatment i just continued doing that with him i’d go back and just sit with him and the other guys and um you know reached a point after practicing on my own a little bit of that for a couple years was like you know i need a teacher this isn’t going to go any further by itself and that’s a very common experience so i found a teacher in lansdowne pa at uh soji sen center s-o-j-i and definitely seemed like the right teacher for me it is a way more formal zen center than my understanding of many others i haven’t been to a lot of others um but this is my understanding that we’re we’re very much on the formal side like we have priests there and not no way is better or worse or anything like that it’s just a you know different approach so um gosh i think i joined there and probably 2013 and i believe i was ordained in 2015. i should know these dates a little better um you know but uh boy time just goes you’ve got a family and you’re trying to do this and you’re trying to do that and you’ve got a full-time job and i’m in grad school right now too um my brain is just so hopefully i can make a little bit of sense in this podcast today i just came out of finals on wednesday so um so what that’s about i’m in graduate school right now to get my master of social work so i want to kind of take the work i’ve been doing for education which is all social emotional learning and um like restorative discipline for you know students that are often labeled at risk and just kind of get more abilities to serve in a different capacity um as well so i want to go serve you know probably veterans for a while um yeah so i don’t know what mark i’m at but i uh so i was ordained i’m a novice priest um it takes things in zen kind of move slowly in a sense um it my teacher is he’s he’s rigorous right he wants to he doesn’t just give you stuff right he he wants you to really become clear right before you know you kind of move on to the next level and when i say next level i kind of mean it next capacity to serve right so i am not a teacher i have a meditation group that is local we are just restarting it again kovid kind of really shut us down for a little bit um it’s called empty circle meditation and we’ve got a website emptycirclemeditation.com.org and a little facebook page and stuff um so we’re hoping to be back in action in person um hopefully by the end of this month i’m still speaking with the place that we use the space to make sure we’re working all that stuff out because it’s a it’s a place where they teach karate and stuff and so we’ve got to really respect regulations and covet yeah so a novice priest means that um i am learning to be a full priest and that takes some time maybe can stop there i feel like i’m gonna say something offensive at some point i just already feel it and i don’t mean to but i just can’t help myself sometimes say it uh do you get to marry people when you’re a zen priest is that like part of the that’s the only thing i know priests do they give out communion and and marry people so what what does that include yeah yes so okay what is a priest how about that and we’re getting that so to me in my mind um okay so go to the zen center practice you show like a level of commitment and you know then the teacher may ask you if you want to be take the next level of commitment and that’s something called jukai and that’s when you know you you take these precepts which are valves right and they’re they’re great valves you know like like don’t kill and um that’s nice yeah you know um and you know uh one of the ones i like a lot is to not not engage in um talk that lowers other people to elevate yourself that’s like that’s like a sin tough yeah it’s very very tough um especially being a manager at work i’m like an assistant principal where i work so it’s like part of my job is literally to do that at certain times but you know that that is the practice um so and then um a couple of years after that um my teacher i had started a meditation group he wanted me to do that and i did that and so uh becoming a priest was a another way to be able to serve so i kind of look at it as a demotion just what i say is the way i look at it um because what we do is we kind of keep the space for people to meditate and um oftentimes we’re putting that job before our own practice that becomes our practice so we’ll be running around behind the scenes a little bit getting everything you know getting everything ready and holding these traditions that have been passed down for thousands of years um and we’re kind of the keeper of that and serving the meditators first and then we get to meditate so that’s my take on it so do i get to marry people um not quite yet if if somebody asked me to marry them i’d have to ask my teacher and he could give me a little more training on that and decide whether he wants to allow me to do that yet sign off on that but once i receive deng kai which is full priest um i should be able to do all those things funerals weddings um things like that so i haven’t decided if i’m gonna make his voice high pitched when in the post edit or if i’m gonna make ours lower something’s got to happen just to get off topic here for a second uh we we did a meditation podcast that was our first one and we probably i have not listened to it in a long time but it’s probably pretty rough at this point uh and another thing i did need to mention is that um sarah gave us a donation so this episode is brought by sarah and julie they’re like sponsors right julie and for anybody wondering we do not make a million dollars billy and i are not going to buy a yacht anytime soon um we have decided though that you know yeah there’s some money involved in podcasting and equipment upkeep and you know whatever else that might be but we’re not going to get rich off of this and so the donations that come in if they don’t need to be used for any podcasting things we’re going to invest them back into the community we’re not here to make a billion dollars so anybody that wanted to donate or thought about donating uh just wanted to let you know that that’s our goal and mission uh to continue using this as a vehicle for help and now we can get back to the meditation topic so yeah i think interestingly for me and i think jason as well was raised catholic so our understanding of what a priest is comes solely from you know catholic priest that’s what we knew do zen priests like little boys too i’m sorry i’m not aware of that being much of a problem but i mean but in zen there is controversy as well really you know yeah um you know sometimes you know student teacher relationships you know have become unhealthy um so yeah zen is not it’s not immune to controversy that’s for sure the human failings yes human shortcomings sorry everybody they even get this damn it yeah being human right um but yeah so like for myself similarly as i was growing up i never felt like the christian religion philosophy fit me very well i i just same i had a lot of questions and i looked into a lot of i guess you’d call it uh asian you know believes in and i didn’t know that yeah eastern uh i never get the politically correct terms right i don’t know if it’s politically correct yeah it might be wrong nowadays i think is a place yeah but i found that them interesting uh and sort of got introduced to some of those practices early when i first was introduced to recovery because part of the steps you know one of the steps the 11th step talks about prayer and meditation and so i explored some of that i think in treatment we did like some guided meditations where you laid on the ground and they played some happy music and you did different things like that um right what the hell is that you don’t remember what is happy music oh like i think of like nursery rhymes or something nursing i guess relaxing music like spa music i call it happy music put you in a happy place but like spa music or or you know that usually instrumental with no words this is not what i thought of as happy music i don’t know waves in the background yeah yeah that kind of stuff and then it would be some sort of guided meditation that’s what that was my introduction to meditation and i never really understood or explored much of the different practices you know that there are many different meditation practices later on in my recovery i’ve gotten into some of that i had a sponsor who was into shambhala meditation and then i explored some vipassana meditation and i guess now a big uh mindfulness is a big thing everybody pushes although i don’t know if that is actually a practice or just something that people say because it sounds good i practice mindfulness like it’s a thing yeah it’s yeah it can almost be kind of a bad word yeah right that’s what i’m starting to feel like too yeah it can be flung around a little too literally become this catch-all for people that want to do whatever they’re doing and call it meditation it can be dangerous too yeah great so now you’re mindful of your problem right what do you mean now what like my teacher has a book that he put out called zen beyond mindfulness um and it’s you know the way i see it is kind of like hey mindfulness is great and it’s not enough right because you know we’ve got these coping mechanisms and everything like that and they’re there for a reason and now you’re just mindful of this problem of this pain and people have had a really hard time with that if they don’t know what to do with that so i feel like every problem we come to on this podcast involves what america or western society has screwed up like i feel like mindfulness is our our selling of meditation to people in our society it’s like oh no it’s mindful it’s not woo-woo or buddhism or none of that it’s mine right that’s what like we just missed the point so i think christians used to meditate and like then somehow when it came over to us now they don’t anymore so now we’re like oh meditation it must be buddhism or something or an eastern philosophy but i think all religions meditated at some point i just think we’ve moved away from it in in america i think it kind of depends on you know definition of meditation you know so right um well i mean i know a couple catholic nuns that are zen teachers like they’ve been doing zen for over 20 years and they’ve got recognition they’ve got a seal of approval you are a zen teacher you know like it’s a master you know they’ve been nuns for like 60 years right and so we’ve got um muslims come practice with us um a lot of jewish folk um i don’t know why it’s just uh it’s a it’s interesting and um christians and buddhists and atheists um right so you know folks that are really not interested in anything that they consider dogmatic or anything like that you know so i think it’s one of the interesting things about mindfulness and i think it’s great that it’s here in this country um you know it’s just it’s it’s really great that we’ve adopted this practice in this country to whatever degree it is um you know there’s going to be these times where the pendulum is going to swing back and forth you know it’s going to be a cool thing it’s going to lose some of its real impact and it can get straight in different directions but the fact that it’s here is is really positive so i gotta ask dumb questions zen is a form of buddhism in some sort yeah yeah so it’s uh it’s a kind of um practice in mahayana buddhism so there are um there’s kind of these major schools of buddhism so zen so there’s like the the terra vadans and you’ll see more in like india and like sri lanka and things like that and they usually ones wearing the orange i believe yeah they’re wearing the orange robes and um you know so in mahayana is when you get uh you know into tibet tibetan buddhism the form of that and zen and some other types and um it’s just uh there’s just some different approaches to it right and um zen is is an interesting one because so on one level it’s supposed to be the simplest in a way well as we shouldn’t compare but it’s supposed to be extremely simple right and then on the other hand wow is it complex full of paradoxes and and it’s a really interesting thing because you know there’s this whole dualistic mindset right where you know if i have an idea it’s got to have an opposite right or you know there’s a yes there’s a no there’s you know there’s all those things and um you know how do we kind of step out of that for a minute so from my understanding like buddhism kind of flows in one very simplistic view of in one of two directions there’s the buddhist religion but then there’s a lot of people or things that practice buddhist philosophy without the religion is zen more of the religion side of that or no um well it depends on what you’re considering a religion so i mean there they’ll be zen masters like you know very well known one day they’ll say it’s a religion when they’re asked in an interview the next day they they’ll say it’s not um i think it depends on who’s asking right and what they’re bringing forward when they mention religion so you know to go back to your experience with catholicism and things like that so with zen one of the things that connected me to it the most is is you know there’s uh is great doubt it’s you’re encouraged to doubt everything the buddha who supposedly have said you know don’t believe anything i say and i’m like okay i can get into this like like because you know i’m i’m challenging all this stuff and um you know there’s this kind of three things that are really important in buddhist practice that’s great doubt great faith and great determination you know and um just to doubt everything to the fullest question it all and have determination that you’ll find out and then then you get some faith in this process i don’t know if i believe in that philosophy of doubting everything

you don’t have to so you can doubt that philosophy yes i say i doubt that works you know so but you know there’s a lot of people in recovery who and i they come to me a lot um you know who struggle with the idea of god uh uppercase g god right and there’s there’s people that really want to compare themselves out of the program because of that um and i understand that you know and i’ve been to meetings this is a a you know where um not all aaa meetings uh but i’ve been to a couple in early recovery where they were doing the lord’s prayer at the end right and okay that’s great for people that that’s great for but that can feel very exclusionary to some right and so buddhism especially zen i feel like it kind of helps it’s helped me resolve that and find a definition of that that i can’t think my way out of and that fits me and step two really helped me do that so i i’m interested in in the meditation aspect right i think for my life i believe in meditation i think it’s a huge portion of my recovery and my well-being and my you know what we like to call self-care or whatever it is i think it’s crucial for the fact that my brain does not shut the [ __ ] up by itself and so i need to find ways of like combating or coping with that um my struggle has been since the very first time i was introduced to any proper proper with the quotes of course uh meditation i’m a guy who grew up with some stuff that makes me want to do things the rightest right way possible and it’s a struggle for me because the rightest right way possible honestly doesn’t always fit my life very well so i read a book i have no idea what form of meditation or what branch it was but i read a book and i was like oh this posture it describes must be the right way right it’s in a book um and so it was like you know uh sitting cross-legged straight back most of the staples of meditation this particular book was like tongue on the roof of the mouth uh mouth lips slightly uh you know open uh eyes almost fully closed but not fully slightly downcast view four to six feet in front of you it was it was right and i tried to follow it to the best of my ability um and i did all right i do find i run into a lot of back pain trying to sit in that posture right and it’s been a struggle for me and so that has actually been one of the things that has held me up from meditating at different times lately i’ve tried to be more lenient because what i did was i was like oh well i’ll just find a way or you know that my back doesn’t hurt but then it’s like oh well i’m not doing this i’m not doing this right right i’m not doing it well enough anymore and then i just start downing myself and all that so anyway that’s a lot to say i’m i’m running in my eight minutes now right oh that’s all good stuff those are all the legitimate concerns that i think most of us have had right well and but then i talked to people about it and i’m like i and we’ve had a conversation online at some point and you were like oh if you’re not doing 20 minutes it’s it’s nothing or that probably wasn’t the exact word but i was like i was so offended god david because i was only doing 12 at the time or something and it’s just all these particulars and i’m like what matters what’s the real important thing and so every time i run into people who know more about meditation than me i talked to jenny a lot um you know i was interested in asking you right now i happen to be lucky enough to have a another meditation teacher that i see once a week that’s pretty awesome and so i just always want to ask these questions like let’s let’s delve into the meditation sure truths like what really matters to get the benefits truths that’s before yeah before you answer that i just want to say my introduction to meditation was the couldn’t have been more opposite of that as any i had a sponsor who was big into meditation into this shambhala and he would go on retreats for like weekends and and he would say look if you want to start just go outside at night when the moon’s out stare at a tree for 10 minutes just do that let’s go sit outside so he said start there if you can get there then we’ll start working on other stuff later that’s a good place to start i wish i could be easier yeah so i didn’t go into meditation with any of those preconceived i’d be thinking too hard about where’s my tongue is it on the roof of my i need a protractor to figure out my eye angle yeah definitely you need

yeah so anyway dave tell us the right way to meditate since we don’t know the right way not sure there’s a right way uh first of all um so i’m hoping whenever i said the thing about the 20 minutes i’m hoping i said that it is uh i hope i didn’t say that you’re wrong if you’re not doing it i’d be so really surprised if i said that um i’ve had to look back now but no look back and if i did then i will make a public apology um what i hope i said and what i usually say i know this for a fact is that you know the my teacher teaches this too i mean any amount is good right um to start to kind of receive the full benefits i suppose um you know a lot of that stuff starts after 20 minutes so it i think it is a healthy goal to work up to um and it doesn’t mean that two minutes is not like can totally change your day right you know if if stuff’s getting heavy like i mean i work in a very dynamic place i work we started a boarding school for nhc kids from baltimore and they all you know they bring a lot i put it that way and we got a lot of passionate staff so what i’m saying is this is that you can imagine that environment and the passion involved in that and where that passion can take us so if i just stop and take two minutes sometimes i mean that can that can mean the difference between me getting myself fired or like saying something that’s really helpful and helping the situation so you know there’s no like strict time guidelines now i will say through my experience um at around 22 minutes i don’t want to say a bunch of stuff that’s gonna make people like seek out this exact moment but for me i’ve been doing this a while now and i go on retreats um you know where we meditate from 5 30 in the morning to you know like nine at night there’s some breaks in there for sure um but you know and you do that for a bunch of days in a row you kind of start to see your patterns and at about 22 minutes is when you know at least when i’m start first starting in a retreat around or sitting at home around 22 minutes maybe 18 minutes is when things kind of open up so um so to kind of get back to your question a little bit more uh the the tongue thing and your mouth slightly open your eyes so you know i mean those can kind of be more like suggestions so like something like the tongue um as i understand it that the reason for that is because when you’re sitting for a while and all of a sudden you’re like salivating and you’re like swallowing and and you start thinking about salivating is my swallowing loud because i’m in a like the quietest place in the world right now and this amazing stillness happens when you meditate long enough and it’s just like it’s almost like a light yet thick lit yet airy yeah it’s all these things in this stillness and then like you know you talk about hearing a pin drop and having not just be so you’re sitting there swallowing you know like like choking on you on your you know so things like putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth may help it doesn’t help me i actually yeah i guess exact problem because i swallow way too much i actually asked the other meditation guy this i was like how the [ __ ] do you stop swallowing yeah i got so much spit in my mouth and it’s i feel like it interrupts my meditation and i’m like what the hell you know you can you can eat a cracker i don’t know if that make it worse that make it worse but one of the things is to not obsess over that and that that can help relieve that you know because when you’re thinking about it you’re going to make it happen and that that it’s not just that it’s like an itch too so i believe it’s important to not scratch an itch right lean into it kind of just be with it right um and and to not worry so much about like the swallowing and the itchiness and some of the pain right because taking that it’s important to be able to take this practice off the cushion you know so you’re on the cushion you’re practicing but if it’s not if you’re not able to take some of those skills like into your life then kind of what’s the point right so something like the itch and all those other things that you want to react to think about all the things the little things big things that you want to react to you know in your life and it’s amazing when i get a real bad itch you know i got kind of dry skin it’s winter time i get a real bad itch and i just like take a breath and i just notice it and i just put all my focus kind of on it not to change it right not to change it just to be with it you know often it just like gives up just goes away but when i’m like uh it’s getting worse it’s getting worse and that that can translate to so many things in your life right just that person that just irked you right or that thing that somebody said you know and like i want to react right that need to react to yeah a thought yeah you sit there and stare at the floor for 30 minutes with like the worst itch in the world and don’t react you cannot react to a lot of things right you get you build up a tolerance right um so so the eyes um it is kind of suggested that they’re half open and you look somewhere on the floor you know and one of the reasons half open is because if we close our eyes it’s really easy to go off into la la land you know next thing you know i’m on outer space flying around whatever it is whatever your thing is um you know so if your eyes are wide open it’s really easy to be looking around right and so just kind of a half gaze looking down at a spot on the floor so you kind of just somewhere in the middle right and breathing is real important um for many reasons like living but also you know i’m addicted to breathing yeah yeah i just can’t quit um so you know you want to breathe through your stomach um as much as possible what that means is when i take a breath in my stomach goes out when i take a breath out my stomach goes in and if you really pay attention that throughout your day many people most people that i talk about this with they’ll notice and including myself that i’m doing the opposite right i’m breathing in my stomach’s going in reading out something’s going out right and that’s like a lot more work for like i feel like less air right and that sends a lot of signals to like the back of your brain right they could cause it that’s like the fight flight the survival stuff you know and it starts kind of stressing out and panicking and sending these other signals to the front of your brain are you trying to make sense of it and next thing you know like that thing that that person said i mean it was messed up and they shouldn’t have done that it’s having this like huge physical effect on me you know it’s not getting any better and like if then i’m like wait watch my breathing i’m like oh my gosh like i’m barely breathing and my stomach is all tight just kind of take that breath and you know it it kind of like calms down i believe it kind of calms down that kind of primitive brain part there which really calm everything down and get that kind of executive functioning on board um so breathing is real important so we you know focusing on the breath is a really great practice because you’re pretty much always breathing it’s always there and help get you more present

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so you don’t want to talk about posture at all or anything yeah yeah yeah so you’re you are allowed to sit in a chair if you want like uh please if you need to sit in a chair sit in a chair you know about laying down i think jason wants to lay down right well so the the meditation guy that i’m working with now he uh learned in the yoga nidra practice which is laying down flat on your back um and he said you know it’s not the only form of meditation he does and he kind of feels like he gets slightly different benefits out of the different forms he says in a seated posture he feels like it’s more for focus for him and the laying down yoga nidra posture is more for like body scanning and sensations and relaxation and that kind of stuff but that’s his formal training is there okay um so i i do like the laying down the [ _ ] is [ _ ] great i don’t ever going into that meditation it’s always cool um but i’ve found that i can sit on a couch in meditation posture as long as i have like that cushion at my back it’s not like i’m like pressed into it but as long as it’s there it doesn’t hurt at all and i’m like well [ __ ] it i’ll do it on the couch then because that works yeah you know and that’s fine um so for zen meditation which is called zazen um being alert is super important i mean we are we we we want to be focused awake and alert we do not want to drift off right and um and i don’t want to say that in like a conviction way like you know like trying to push that away like drifting off um because that doesn’t work because then then it makes it worse right right but um it’s it’s about attention and the clarity that comes with that attention and how much things just kind of open up when you have that attention for a period of time and you keep doing it so um laying on the ground in those practices i’m not i don’t really know much about those i mean i understand body scans and i i use them i use them you know with i teach them the kids you know that i’m working with who are really stressed out and there’s definitely a use um with zen like we’re supposed to keep it simple but then like you got all these instructions it sounds like you read a book about zazen that’s like instruction so it’s very simple but yet your tongue’s on the roof of your mouth and all this stuff you know so um these are more like suggestions so the seated posture sitting up it’s just been kind of determined that for many people most people that that’s the best way to stay alert right and so if you’re sitting in a chair that’s fine it’s suggested that your feet are flat and that you are not sitting back in the chair that your back is you know straight but you know it’s easy to go too straight just slouch now there’s also the thing about pain and that’s a big deal right um slouching feels good at first but boy you’re in for it you’re gonna hurt over correcting you know that might make you feel proud and like a good meditator at first but you’re gonna hurt you know once you fatigue those muscles like and you got four more days to go um you’re just gonna have to sit with some pain so you know it’s a middle middle road and that’s actually goes to buddhist teaching yeah the buddha you know the middle path yeah the middle path for real right because i’m one that has to i have to test the extreme paths first to find my middle path i’ve always been like that that’s what got me here for better or worse and the middle path is is the best way you know the buddha is said to have you know what eaten one grain of rice you know a day for two years and stuff and did these extreme aesthetic practices you know like clenching his teeth and like just squeezing you know for however long and all these like extreme things until you know he kind of uh had his awakening moment where he got let go of that stuff and he just sat right so counting the breath is a good practice especially in the beginning um and you know when you count your breath you know you you can count on the in and out or you can just count on the out um i’ll kind of do that when i first sit for the day for just a f just like a couple minutes it kind of gets me you know to focus definitely read a zen book yeah it was about counting i wonder what what what book was it do you remember i don’t know but he was talking about counting to either 7 or 21 for some reason like those were the specific numbers and then he was talking about leading the horse along the edge of the cliff and stuff this sounds very much like what you’re saying cliffs and like stuff like that sounds like zen there’s a lot of like like fall off i always count the ten and then i what i found what and i’ve heard count on the in or out but then i’ve also heard that you count on the break in between the breaths because that tends to be most of the time when your mind wants to wander is on that break in between the breaths like i’m breathing in i’m breathing out one breathing in breathing out two two that’s that works for me like counting in that break between breaths because that’s when my head wants to go somewhere else interesting yeah i’m kind of the opposite that’s where i’m most at rest um so i’m kind of like in my mind don’t do this out loud if you’re in a meditation hall but in my mind i’m like on the out breath breathe in two and a practice is it’s a very it’s a great intro practice a very good like beginner practice is to do that and every time you have a thought that creeps in you start over at one and if you make it to ten without any thoughts or distractions then you start over at one and um you know you find a lot of times it’s one one one two maybe not one you know so here is the heart of this practice um not saying all of zen practice but of this particular kind of beginner form is it’s i like to say it’s like a workout right so it’s about reps and um your mind is gonna wander if you fight that you’re gonna make it worse you know it’s kind of like the disease of addiction right um if you if you’re going to fight it you know you’re going to lose only in complete surrender yeah you got to surrender and so what surrendering looks like on the cushion um is his mind wanders just kind of acknowledge it you know just kind of almost like okay i see yeah i give it just a little attention and then i return to the breath wanders i see that return to the breath or counting the breath right wanders you do that over and over again and like a workout right and some days it may be very frustrating it will be um but what will happen over time is you’ll get stronger in a sense um and it’s not really about strength but it’s just kind of my analogy to working out and um you can’t just go into the gym and you know go in the gym and you work work out and stand in the mirror like you know swole i’m shred right so it’s like that with this what will happen over over time in practice is you’ll have these larger and larger times of clarity where there’s really no like words in your mind there’s no kind of thinking i don’t want to say zero thinking at all because that’s a whole other thing but there’s it seems like there’s no thinking and you’re just very aware i could lead you guys in a real quick tool that i like to use i don’t know it’s kind of eye-opening i’ll put it that way to a lot of people i do this with i didn’t make this up i learned this from somebody else but uh you guys want to do this yeah yeah sure okay cool if you’re driving don’t participate yeah you stopped yeah don’t so um and this is not a formal zen thing or anything like this um but i i find that it’s a really kind of nice way to experience immediate immediately like observing you know your thoughts and observing things um so here’s what we do so you kind of take a deep breath from your stomach stomach goes out breathe out stomach goes in and just do that a few times okay and there’s a podcast so i don’t want to get too lost in silence right um so what you do is you can pick something that’s far away something that’s really far away from me i can kind of see out the window there’s some trees over there whatever is the farthest away for you and just focus yourself on that you just focus on it while you’re breathing from your belly and ask yourself is that me just in your mind is that me now of course on one level yeah it is me because we are all things and we are boundless that’s not really what we’re going for in this one all right so that is not me because i’m observing that okay so who is observing that well let’s kind of back up into this so i’m looking at the tree for this exercise i’m not that all right so now i’m going to move to something a little closer maybe halfway in between i’m going to move to the wall in front of us i’m going to ask myself is that me okay right i’m it’s not me for this exercise because i’m the one observing that all right you can move to your body now maybe your legs your knees take a couple breaths same thing ask yourself is that me you may be tempted to say yes but what happens if you re-amputated he didn’t have legs down there would you still be you you can move something a little closer your arm so your kind of your chest area your abdomen what does that mean well maybe what happens if we close our eyes and this time we just observe our thoughts and when we first sit down to observe our thoughts often they stop but they’ll be back okay so as the thoughts come back just observe them and ask yourself is that me let them come in and let them go now if those thoughts are you then who’s observing them that’s it you’re just left with that question i had to swallow you what i had to swallow that’s okay i didn’t notice if i swallowed it so my struggle and it almost gets back to what jason was talking about with the needing to be right about stuff thing especially with a lot of these like i’ll call it like eastern philosophical like these questions about is it me and is it not me i i honestly get paralyzed in this plate of like in the place of like i don’t know you tell me if it’s me or not like i don’t know what the right answer is because i can intellectualize either of those as being right in any given you know way and it i that’s where i get lost with some of that i overthink it you know what i mean i overthink it and over complicate some of that who’s watching the thinking so you know a big question is then is who am i and i’m not qualified to answer that question

you weren’t going to tell us now we don’t know no you know and i mean you could sit for 20 years trying to and that’s one of the the things that we’re looking at is really who am i and you know during a meditation retreat at times you can have these i’ve had these great clear experiences right where um where it’s perceived that i’m more than just this right like much bigger much larger um and i don’t want to describe these experiences too much because you know that’s not fair to others because people may seek them um but it’s not like these like going out or space or anything like that it’s like this clarity right where you’re thinking like the words stop right i remember my first meditation retreat and it was like raining the whole time outside right and our teacher was sick unfortunately and so during and zen one of the great things about zen is that we’ve got this thing called dokusan or interview where um you go into a room just you and the teacher and talk and they you know a skilled teacher will kind of like push you around a little bit not physically but like you know push your mind around a little bit and not give you any place to settle right if you think you know who you are and you go there saying that guess what rug pulling out under you you’re gonna fall you know and that’s kind of their job to keep pulling the rug out of under you um and what that does is helps free you from attachments into thinking you know who you are right because we build this idea of ourselves and you know when that idea of ourselves um when we feel like it’s been violated right that’s a lot of anger comes from that you know it’s our ego our ego gets bruised right and so how do we you know we have to live with an ego but how do we kind of have a space where there’s a bigger mind involved that you know we can we don’t we’re not owned by the ego right because when that thing owns you and look at the disease of addiction i mean when that thing owns you right and the steps kind of help us look at it and that’s like the first step is we’re literally looking at it right you know we’re taking a look at this thing and then it’s like by looking at it we realize that we’re not just that right because before step one many of us are just consumed by our disease we are our disease right that was my experience um and the steps give us more and more distance from that and it’s always there okay we can cash that check in at any time i could leave here and just dive right back in the disease if i wanted to right so there’s some similarities with that in my mind with recovery and so yeah so how i obviously seem to practice pretty regularly um how does that work into your recovery now you know in today’s time like is it an active part of your recovery to consider that two different things or do they work together they they definitely work together so um you know my sponsor talks about how we you know during active addiction you know we can our character can drop really really low right um you know but once we start doing the steps and you know we start getting all the benefits of this and you know we don’t like stop we don’t need to stop at average whatever average may be for you like an average middle place in fact i think for many people in recovery um just kind of like floating in the in the in the middle ground right it’s just not growing is really dangerous for many of us right because if we’re if i’m not growing i’m going backwards right so um where does it fit in really recovery is like the roots and you’ll hear me share this frequently for me it’s like the roots of like this giant beautiful tree and which he can blossom and all these wonderful things you know blossom out of this my family and life and zen and all these great things um but it’s the roots recovery is the roots because if i don’t if i ignore my recovery and there’s times where i’ve kind of not been very involved right and um then it’s hard for me to make it to the cushion right then everything else starts to get darker and more distant and so um it’s an extension in a sense of my recovery uh in a way um and it’s kind of to me it is for me personally i’m not selling it as this this is for me is like i because i don’t i’m not i don’t want to like get into this dualistic talk about ones better than the other or anything like that because it’s not about that at all um for me recovery being the roots this foundation um you know zen is looking deeper into the matter for me um you know it’s it’s related it’s part of the same kind of question right um it’s just taking it further um for me that’s my spiritual practice and that’s what what is working for me in that way but you know i won’t survive if i ignore recovery you know if i faded away from zen for a little while i could probably come back and still be alive right but recovery is the roots if i don’t take care of those roots everything else suffers and for myself my practice of meditation is i’m going to say the way i look at it and i’ve never had formal teaching but in my addiction i realized like that idea of like first thought wrong like most of the time my impulsive my first thought you know to to react to my feelings you know is is going to get me in trouble and through meditation and i i learned this idea through an app it was called uh headspace which i don’t know specifically which for andy pudico is the guy’s name i don’t know what specific practice he teaches if any in that app but it was this picture of like all this traffic out on a highway and you know you walking out into the middle of that traffic and that sort of traffic is my thoughts that are flying around in my head i got all these thoughts going around you know all the time and i’m standing in the middle of it you know all caught up in it and what i need to do is kind of step back out of that traffic get out of the middle of it you know and and sort of just observe it i can just observe it i don’t have to be reacting to it all the time i thought you were gonna say froger is meditation

later on now in my life what i’ve recognized is that you know and to keep up with that metaphor is that like not all my thoughts deserve equal value or attention for example some of my thoughts are just bad thoughts you know what i mean when i start thinking like oh you’re dumb and you’re a piece of [ _ ] and you shouldn’t try and you’re gonna fail and that stuff like now i recognize like oh that’s like the piece of [ _ ] old rust bucket car that’s barely making it down the road whereas more positive thoughts like hey you know you should really try to be you know do a loving act of kindness towards your kid today that’s like the ferrari you know what i mean and by stepping back and recognizing which thoughts have or should have more weight in my life i can put my attention more to those thoughts and meditations kind of help me to recognize that and to kind of get out of the middle of like just reacting to all my thoughts i’m gonna doubt that yeah well at times though right i mean you’re gonna get swept away by thoughts for sure there’s times where your your practice is going to come in and help you not do that and and thoughts are not the enemy right that’s one thing that um people can get really hung up on is i should have no thinking and meditation you know and now you got two problems you got the thinking and i should have no thinking you know um and it’s all those shoulds too back the psychologist said you know then and you gotta be careful because you’re gonna you’re gonna should all over yourself right should in your pants show them the floor right so um yeah that sounds really good you know and you’ll hear it like clouds coming through in your mind and comes in one side and just let it go out the other um and not being owned by this thinking so in zen we often talk about small mind and big mind um and i’m not qualified to teach about big mind um i have an idea about small mind though and that’s that’s you know kind of being a slave to our rationalizations and our in our our logic um and you know there’s more to us than that right because we can rationalize especially as people in recovery we can rationalize ourselves in and out of anything right um at least most people i know because look at the things that we did right look at the life we lived at one point back there in active addiction what like wow what a power of rationalization you must have to think yourself into that right um there’s way more to us than just simple logic that can be used for good or bad and you know meditation can really help see that you know i’ve heard women complain about small mind

so that’s why you gotta practice right right practice it sounds like you kind of uh i don’t say stumbled upon but fell into came upon zen meditation practice and felt like that was the the one for you did you explore first did you check out a bunch of different ones or i had um you know i when i lived in baltimore i was going to a shambhala center and it seemed great it seemed nice it was just you know and then i i sat with that one psychologist and then um what dr what drew me to zen is that you know my teacher will say it’s a warrior’s practice right um and he he has decades of martial arts experience with the sword he went to japan to study sword as well and ended up um kind of getting that’s where he got into zen um and so being a marine and some of my first experiences kind of entering that space where um i’m not controlled by my thoughts and it’s this big kind of stillness is was shooting in the marines um and you know you get to i got we get to this point where i you know i i would just i wouldn’t even hear the round go off i would hear the inner workings of the rifle right in such a zone you know everything just opens up no you could have come and kicked me in the side and that it would have been okay right because i’m gonna take the shot with perfect clarity right um and uh and i just i love that space i love that space and i had a tool to do it right and so um the same guided meditation we don’t really do that in zen we actually we don’t i’m not aware of anybody doing that um and that’s fine it’s great i’m not criticizing it um for our practice it becomes something to hold on to and we don’t want to hold on to anything as best we can right i’m gonna kind of let go of all of it um and so you know getting into zen i don’t have the rifle to do that anymore right and um you know i i mean i was in extreme sports like i took all the extreme sports and extremes i could to the brink of death you know like parachute like skydiving and it wasn’t enough anymore so i remember i packed my chute like i packed it half right and the rest of it i shoved it in there which is a very specific way you fold a parachute so it’ll open up when you’re going 100 miles an hour towards the earth right and i was like you know what this is getting boring and you would jump out just just to like get that clarity right just to get that you know it it almost didn’t open it was like stuck in the back and then it did open um there is a reserve but anyway so how do i get that kind of clarity just staring at the floor just sit down and stare at the floor you know um and that’s that’s different and so zen also my teacher so there’s zen places where they they might be wearing shorts and t-shirts and stuff and that’s cool um our place is uh holds a lot of the practices very in a very similar way as the monastery there’s a monastery in new york called zen mountain monastery and um you know they’re kind of professional they’re monks you’re right they’re monastics and um and so we we’re connected with them you know as far as like a lot of our practices and things like that um so it’s also kind of like the military right because this is this is casual wear right so this is literally the casual wear uh when i go to a normal sunday there i mean i’ve got like four layers of stuff a big robe and um you know everything you do you’ve got to like just walking into the zendo to the space i’ve got to walk in with my left foot bow towards the the altar and when i leave the space i gotta left step out with my right foot i mean everything has a thing right um and it’s that attention that that brings to every movement everything that you do that is uncomfortable and weird and nerve-wracking at first but once you get into that flow um and so you know for zen i you know i i kind of like that um that order that it has because i’m a pretty chaotic person and so something about the order in the warriors practice and sitting strong um you know and you hit with a stick too you know i walk around with a stick and wow whap you you know um to wake you up you know it’s the stick of compassion or the encouragement the encouragement stick and you know i’m a marine i’m always going to have a fee i’m always yeah well in america you got to ask for it yeah i think i i believe in japan sometimes i’ll just walk around wacky with it but you know americans get sued and stuff oh um you know as he be sitting there quiet for like a half a day or something it was his stillness and all of a sudden whap over the other side of the room and if you were in la la land even if you didn’t get hit you’re not in la la land anymore just hearing that you know attention right attention attention attention um and the old club of compassion no but you well i yeah i don’t focus too much on this stick but it is a thing in zen that we are going to talk about people are going to ask about so you ask for it you got to ask for it and you bow and there’s these pressure points here um that you hit and it kind of just sends a jolt of energy to your brain and when you’re when you’ve been sitting there all day day two day three like you’re ready really just wake me up please you know so if someone wanted to get uh i guess introduced or find information about zen and the zen practice what would you recommend where they start or would you just show up someplace or yeah definitely so i mean i’m making it right now sound all hard and scary and stuff like that but it’s really like like the nicest people ever it’s everybody like on their best like at almost all times right um and it’s very welcoming um you know it’s just when we sit we sit still and we sit in silence and um sometimes there’s a stick but you don’t have to predict that right but um yeah so i my group is local um and empty circle meditation and our website’s empty circlemeditation.com or dot org and facebook page still right we do we do and i think that’s a that’s a really good place because you know i’m you know i’m not a sensei i’m not a roshi i’m not a a high level teacher i’m not a teacher at all but i can teach you basic you know zazen you know basically what we’re talking about right and um very welcoming very open and you’ll see that or you can just go to the zen center that i’m a part of soji sen center in lansdowne pa website also sojizencenter.com and everybody they’re so welcoming so like nice and smiling at you and everything like that um but when it’s game on everybody’s sitting quiet and they’re focusing as hard as they can right um so yeah you could just show up it’s if you were gonna go to soji it so you know you can always look me up and i’ll plug you in um sometimes it’s what i called before i went so there’s a number on the website you can call and somebody will call you back and talk to you and just kind of give you a low down because when you walk in it it can especially soji not my place i don’t think but soji i mean it can kind of look a little intimidating right because you’ve got these people in robes and stuff like that there’s people that aren’t too there’s lots of people that aren’t um but once you kind of like say hi to somebody and everybody’s like oh you’re new here how can i help you out they’re smiling and like oh you do this it’s like this don’t worry don’t be scared if you make a mistake it’s all right you know everybody will kind of give a little chuckle inside you know and correct you and it’s all good it just looks serious yeah right then you get hit with a stick yeah if they don’t meditate and force contact me instead of calling me i don’t want it that’s all i’m saying but it’s it’s all safe to show up um and you’ll get lots of good advice on body and the pain you know how to navigate the pain and you’re allowed to move you know um right if you go to the monastery for a retreat you know they’ll have somebody that says don’t move you know um but you’re allowed to move where we are you know so people get worried about what if i’m in pain you know am i going to feel bad about moving no the goal with the pain is to if it’s like a dull pain it’s just to notice it and be with it for a little while right instead of like pain move pain move pain and then like everything is movement right um if you’re feeling sharp pain please move move your body we don’t want you to get hurt i had knee surgery because of this like i literally all the things i’ve done marine rock climbing guide snowboarder whatever all that stuff like i’ve taken as far as i felt like i could i never hurt my body i mean besides a broken fingers or something but i i tore my meniscus meditation i i feel this as an aging thing i get it like

when i was about to be ordained and i was leaning forward while sitting in that and i was pushing it too hard and like sweating through it and being a marine about it and now i got like a little bit of a trick knee and like there’s my lesson middle ground middle road right middle road i didn’t have to do that you know so so what form of meditation is horseshit platform uh walking meditation dishes washing meditation like what form of meditation is just not real and dishwashing meditation might be better than all of them i mean i’ve done walking meditation i don’t know if it’s real i used to try it in the morning it definitely is so we do walking meditation every every day so so in zen um here’s what it looks like so you’ll basically you’ll sit 30 minutes walk for about eight um and then at the ten minute mark we should already be seated and we’ll do another 30 minutes sit um in my group we’ll do just two 30-minute sits with walking meditation at soji’s end center you’ll do three but the walking meditation is super important because you’re meditating while you’re walking what you’re doing is you’re practicing taking your practice off of the cushion you know it’s one thing to sit there in stillness in this beautiful environment of minimalism and like you know like what you know but now how do i walk around and do that and that’s practice to take it out into the world not only that it helps us stay focused because we are about attention in ours we’re not about la la land or going off on these trips which they might be effective for some people i don’t really understand it that much um we’re about attention so we’ll get up and walk for eight minutes in silence sit back down attention you know so would you what i got out of that was maybe the the trips to outer space version of meditation is the one you find the least useful or helpful you know i don’t know i don’t know enough about it i suppose i mean you know there’s a whole like psychedelics thing coming on right now and stuff like that where people are real into like using it to like connect to this part of them the space or whatever you know not outer space but like still you know whatever it is and to shift their consciousness and things like that and you know maybe that’s for some people um the way many of us and zen i think i read this in the sam harris book we don’t we don’t need to to change the lighting we don’t want to have to change the lighting in the way things look to be able to have that clarity and that kind of open boundlessness right um stare at the floor and do it with clarity and being in recovery i could see both right and for me personally kind of experiencing that and clearing out my mind with clarity is is better for me um because man when you do that with clarity it’s it’s beyond words and that’s the thing about this practice is and this is why i’m not a teacher yet someday probably hopefully but um it’s because to be able to put that stuff into words it’s without words and so it’s a very special skill to kind of be able to kind of point to it with words right and i don’t have that skill um yet i am i don’t have the stamp of approval yet and rightfully so right when you talk to somebody who’s a teacher and you’re like wow okay like i don’t know i can’t do that yet what’s the zen rule about farting and meditation because mind is kind of like don’t force it out but if it’s there be with it and let it go yeah well i think farting’s probably good it’s all good practice right so like um yeah i mean maybe you don’t want to like maybe you want to hold it if you’re sitting next to people but we got headsets so every once in a while i wonder if the incense is always there because it’s full or like the cover you know the sweating because we i’ll be in four layers of stuff four thick layers of clothing in the summer and no amount of air conditioning is gonna cure that on like a human summer day and you’re sweating i’m like i wonder if way back in the day they started that because the bo might start again maybe um you know but like to go to that and to go to like washing dishes meditation that’s really good practice like that i’m not qualified to say better or worse i mean i mean but that’s really good practice really good doing the dishes and being present with that like that’s where the rubber meets the road for real if you want to be present brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand this is [ _ ] up okay i think that’s a good little practice i’ll try it’s interesting it’ll make you think hurt yourself i definitely think i’m at a point in my life where i could use some more formal meditation practice or education i i’ve been meditating for gosh probably three or four years on a regular basis now it’s now i’m only doing 10 minutes every morning because it fits my skin i know i’m not even doing it right i’ve been doing it ever since dave well so here’s was my experience which is why i’ve just stuck with 10 most recently i was doing 10 and then i got to 15 and then i got to 20. and to make a commitment i do it in the morning when i wake up as part of like a morning routine and like 20 minutes is now pretty close to like a half an hour and that’s adding a whole half an hour which means getting up earlier and doing you know it it’s a bigger commitment and so when it got to that 20-minute mark i found it harder to do and i stopped and got out of it and then you know it was tried to get back in tried to get back in try to do 20 minutes and couldn’t do it so then i was able to work back in so i was like all right we’ll just start over we’ll start back at 10 minutes and just do 10 minutes and that’s worked really well so i’ve been doing that for like a year probably a year year and a half now probably at least five or six days a week and i feel like uh i could i i know i not that i should it would be really beneficial to add in either a second meditation later in the day when i had 20 minutes or you know to try to find more time but you know i’m same as most people i’m raising kids i try to exercise every day i’m already getting up at five to try to add in another 10 or 15 minutes of meditation means getting up at like 4 30 which [ _ ] that five o’clock is already hard enough you know and i just feel like trying to add another 10 minutes of something is difficult and i haven’t committed to it well uh i mean i would just advise don’t don’t beat yourself up over not doing more 10 is great and 10 is certainly way better than none yeah it’s better than none way better way you know because you’re doing it um now the thing with doing 30 minutes every morning um or 20 or 25 um is it’s amazing you you may find like many of us have that you have more time in your day it’s better managed yeah that’s what my previous sponsor used to tell me all the time it’s almost like miraculous yeah you can’t even i can’t even logically put it in like why am i getting like 10 times the amount of things done with relative ease before i would have been scrambled all over the place right it’s amazing and so i mean sometimes the question becomes you know is the extra half an hour of sleep more important to me today than that some days it might be you know i’m doing finals i’m in grad school and i work full-time plus right sometimes that is but um you know the suggestion um is you know to is a good place is like 20 minutes twice a day but certainly 10 minutes once a day is infinitely better than no minutes but yeah i’m at a wandering spot now so i need to find because i went i’ve tried different apps and i’ve messed around with different stuff and sam harris has the app it does a zog chin practice yeah uh he’s real into zog chin and that i don’t know it’s too smart for me it’s too heady my understanding of that and and zen has from my limited understanding there’s a lot of there’s some similarities i don’t know about in practice itself but in this aspect of it that um a teacher is really great i believe a vast majority of us can only go so far without a teacher right um and here’s the thing because you might get to this point where you might have these experiences of clarity and everything like that and not know what to do with it and then it’s just gone and um or maybe you think you do when you’re not having these experiences of clarity and then you’re kind of really like all over the place because you’re heading down a path that you know so a teacher there’s there comes a time where i believe the teacher is very important um and maybe you’re there i think i am because it’s like i know meditation is beneficial i know it’s good for me when i do it but i don’t know why i’m doing it or what i’m actually doing

they told me to do it in the steps and nobody talks about it much in meetings so i’m gonna do this and sam harris talks about that practice and one thing he said about it is in and just the way he put it i’ve heard this before all over you know meditating communities but he’s kind of put it really directly and like straight up is like you know somebody that hasn’t done all the practice before getting to the kind of like higher level stuff if they just jump to the higher level stuff and maybe they do even have like these moments or whatever and they’ll be like they don’t know just like so what right what do you mean so what like i’ve been working eight years you know for that kind of clarity this is like this is so important and the thing about it is this stuff is so subtle buddhism known at least from what i know about there’s a lot of these subtle shifts and these shifts can be so subtle but so changing you know um they’re so subtle they’re easy to miss so i actually looked up this conversation and i and i partially forgive dave already uh because my question that led to this answer only partially was a kind of dumb ass question um so i was thinking about meditation and i was thinking we go into the gym and you don’t just like put 300 pounds on the bench and do it once like we do sets right and repetitions in these sets and so i was like i had this epiphany that i should meditate in repetitions and sets and it would be somehow better i think i remember yeah yeah so yeah and i reached out i was like i asked him because i heard he knew some [ _ ] about meditation i was like hey what if i meditated in like these three minute sets with like a minute space in between would that make me stronger meditating or whatever and uh so that’s where his answer came from so i i that was already a terrible question but he didn’t even say this was from him he said my teacher always told me that you don’t really get the total benefit of meditation until at least 20 minutes oh so now you got to be mad at his teacher his next sentence was i mean a few minutes is better than no minutes is so that’s where people start you know and that’s where people start and and act getting access to the desire to do this is huge right um it’s like a white key tag or something right right getting the access to get to get there is gosh without that none of it exists so if you liked the short meditation sample that david did and you think you are everything read conversations with god and if you think you are not you are the observer of everything read the untethered soul both excellent books and both very interesting in their direction they take it but there’s gonna be a big aspect of this that you you know that we kind of are everything right but um it’s it’s it’s helpful at times to just to to realize that we can silently observe you know like our thinking and that’s what that exercise was about because i i find with a lot of people that’s a it’s a quick little shift mm-hmm and be like oh crap like there’s a whole me in there that is not like this chatter right like and that’s what that was about like and so like i do this that with kids at work and like they come to me they’re like can we do that again you know like they’re all stressed out and now they realize that they can sit through and you know if you can’t if you can’t sit through some thinking and not get carried away with it every single time then you’re going to have a harder time doing it i could find a meditation that worked for my kids they think it’s punishment if i make them meditate they’re like oh god really i’m like yeah come on just like three minutes like oh god this is so terrible i think it was eckhart tolle that that opened me to the idea that when we think we’re two people we’re the talker and the listener at the same time and like one of the ways to try to help not get caught up in thinking is to try to actively only be the listener right because then the talker shuts up yeah meditations definitely made me a better listener that’s for sure yeah yeah in any conversation just try focusing on your breath during the conversation you know those advices given to me and it’s like when i do that especially when i’m getting ready to respond i’m just waiting for them to finish so i can say some stuff that i think is smart you know just focus on my breath and really listen what i got out of today was that i’ve spent somewhere between eight and ten years thinking that there was some magical thing about multiples of seven and counting your breath in seven or twenty one and apparently it doesn’t [ _ ] matter it was an arbitrary number that i was getting i think that’s 21 and i could be a little off on this but there’s um like mala beads and i think they can come in a and they might like roll the beads in there and so i don’t know i could be off on the number but it might be connected to that it sounds like i don’t know catholicism of

you know one string of beads like this and this is not lots of zen practitioners will even though it’s really kind of as i understand more of a tibetan thing but the reason i do is because these dangling things hit me and they can be a little annoying and it’s a little reminder you know and if i’m like really in like an intense situation sometimes where i got to keep my mouth shut and it’s really hard you know i can kind of just take them and just kind of like hold them in my lap and just kind of some little mindfulness thing but for it’s not really doesn’t really symbolize much as i understand it for us but it is kind of i just kind of like you know grounding right is the goal to be grounded in groundlessness is that the goal um or ungrounded anyway like so i always wanted to qualify to answer that question i want that answer i keep asking everybody and nobody really knows that well because i hear like a lot of times uh in in a different arena we go for grounding and helping people be grounded right right and i i know there’s like some benefits to that and that’s a great practice for that but then you know the whole my concept of the little bit i know of the buddhist philosophy is like to be okay exploring the ungrounded because that’s truly where we’re at like we don’t really have any [ _ ] ground at any point in time this building could blow up we all die other people die we love die like don’t be grounded but i’m like is that being grounded in groundlessness see this is where words are the problem i like that this is where words become a problem and um this is where i’m limited in in my use of words because i don’t have a deep enough understanding or clarity yet as somebody like my teacher or some of the most senior people that are at our meditation place so yeah that that’s starting to sound just hearing you that’s starting to sound more like a problem of words um i’m gonna go seek out a tick not han listen to some of his [ _ ] he’s probably got something on it he’s he probably does his thoughts are nice they’re very relaxing they’re very long he talks very slowly like that which is nice sometimes but um at our zen center um our talks are typically around 20 minutes um something like maybe a little bit longer at times but they’re they tend to be very direct um like boom here’s some the stuff and like you put the stick into it of compassion uh so uh final thoughts what’s sell people on the fact that meditation would improve the [ _ ] out of their lives if they just started it um what easy convincing scheduling like how do you fit it in what is it that people need to hear to start them on this journey because i think all three of us would definitely agree meditation is hugely beneficial for our personal lives yeah okay so tell about it you know it’s back to working out it can be like this if you are going to the gym every day and looking in the mirror half the time just waiting for waiting for that stuff to grow you’re like maybe i’m a little bit bigger right um you’re going to be disappointed a lot right but when you go to the gym and every day and you don’t look in the mirror really that much and but you’re working out diligently and you’re taking good nutrition and you’re doing it the right way and then all of a sudden you might catch yourself in the mirror after three months you’re like oh look at that i’m a little trimmer a little development going on here they can be like that with meditation all of a sudden like there’ll be a situation where i realized that i would have reacted most likely poorly and all of a sudden you know with some level of ease i didn’t and it was actually a beneficial exchange rather than one that i’m gonna end up apologizing for um or maybe it is all of a sudden for the ability for me to take time and put myself in somebody else’s shoes right and and see that they are a suffering person just like me right and to be able to really experience that with like deep empathy you know it takes a certain amount of like quieting of the mind and ability to kind of like step away from the ego just a little bit you know or maybe a lot bit right um and there’s also some immediate gratification in my for me is i can’t think of any time where i have sat or i’ve meditated and come out of it worse i i always come out of it a little bit better or maybe a lot better depending on what’s going on right but i have yet to come out sit and be like now i’m worse you know that has not happened that meditation [ _ ] me all right i actually and i want to take what david said and and full force into parents if you find that you know from your own parents you have a reactive parenting style or you walk away from disciplining your kids or questioning your children in ways that don’t make you feel good about yourself [ _ ] meditation has done worlds for me in that arena to be able to just react with much just much slower right just so where afterwards i can say man i thought through that before i said that to them and thank the [ _ ] lord i did because it was about to get ugly when they did that and have a little bit of tolerance for mistakes and you know things and and things that would normally get me so upset because or a mess not cleaned up and the blowing up over that stuff to be like just be able to sit down and go hey dude i mean i get it that you spilled something on the floor you can’t just leave it there you got to clean it up how do i how do i install those kind of shifts for them a little bit right like shifting in the way we’re doing things a little paradigm shift right because i kind of work on that with myself right stepping outside of my habits because our hub our habits really are other things that can cause a lot of separation between us and others and even with our kids like my kids won’t i mean i’ve invited them to actively meditate and stuff like that they don’t seem too interested but also they are fully aware that it’s a practice that my wife and i both do you know what i mean that it’s something that we do to take care of ourselves just like watching what we eat and exercising every day we don’t make them do those things but they are aware that that is those are worthwhile endeavors you know to to undertake i hope i hope they observe those things for when they get a little bit older they don’t do it because you don’t have the stick of compassion to hit about yeah that’s i mean that’s what i need is think of compassion they’re like and they hit daddy with it and uh they clip my ear and i’m like oh it’s just good practice um but my my kids relax and wayne with it you know um one good way i bait my kids with it you can stay up a little later tonight if you sit with daddy it’s bedtime now but you want to come sit for 20 minutes you can um they usually fall asleep but then i carry them to their bed and it’s all cute and sweet and you know i love it i love those moments yeah you got teenagers so i’m in bed by like 10 o’clock they’re up later than me most every night they need to be yeah they’re circadian rhythms later yeah yeah anything else no that’s it for me thank you so much for coming on yes thank you very much for your experience and your wisdom about meditation uh final thought just can’t say enough about meditating and what it’s done for my life when i practice it daily right and that’s the i think the key words to all this recovery stuff when i do it regularly and daily it has a huge impact on my life usually in very positive ways so go out there and meditate did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoveryswordof.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on facebook twitter instagram reddit youtube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us