8 Minute Meditation by Gyan GuruDocument Transcript
Neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. Meditation should only be done in a safe, comfortable environment, and should not be done while operating a vehicle, device or equipment of any nature. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible tor any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this book. A Perigee Book Published by The Berkley Publishing Group A division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 Copyright 2004 by Victor Davich Author photo by R. Bonham Cover design and art by Lisa Mays Text design by Julie Rogers All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. The scanning. uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the authors rights is appreciated. Perigee trade paperback edition: July 2004 First electronic edition: November 2005 Visit our website at www.penguin.com MSR ISBN 0 7865 6489 X AEB ISBN 0 786564903Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability. www.penguin.com
CONTENTSPreface viiBeginnings 1PART I. MEDITATION 101 17PART I I . THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 61 WEEK ONE: Just One Breath 65 WEEK TWO: Naked Sound 77 WEEK THREE: Noting Body Sensations 89 WEEK FOUR: This Magic Moment 101 WEEK FIVE: Gracious Declining 109 WEEK SIX: Private Screening 117 WEEK SEVEN: Lovingkindness Meditation 127 WEEK EIGHT: Combination Plate 135PART III. THE UPGRADE 149 Beyond 8 Minutes 154 The Meditation in Action Template 159 Lovingkindness: Going Further 166Resources: My Personal A-List 175In Closing 187Thank You 189About the Author 193
PREFACEIF Y O U ARE reading these words, theres something drawing youto meditation. Maybe youve heard that meditation can help you becomemore peaceful and feel safer in a complex, uncertain, and oftenharsh w o r l d . Perhaps theres another reason. Maybe you donteven k n o w why. But you do k n o w youd like to learn to meditate. Onlyproblem is, meditation sounds really complicated and ex-tremely time-consuming. If only you could find a simple way tomeditate that w o u l d suit your lifestyle yet provide the benefitsyou long for . . . Well, heres good news:Youve found it! And all it takes is 8 min-utes a day.
VIII PREFACE 8 Minute Meditation is the revolutionary new program thatwill change your life as easily as it fits into it. In just 8 minutes aday—the space between t w o television commercials—you canbuild a lifetime meditation practice. Time magazine calls it " t h emost American f o r m of meditation yet."
BEGINNINGSIF Y O U HAVE ever thought, Id love to meditate, but its too hardand takes too long, it might be because the meditation books a n dprograms y o u v e come across a r e overly complicated, confus-ing, a n d time-demanding. Until now. 8 Minute Meditation is a modern approach to meditation,bringing you Eastern tools for Western results. W h e t h e r you havenever tried meditation before or tried it and stopped, 8 MinuteMeditation will w o r k for you. Its designed for who you are and theway you live today N o t only does the 8 Minute Meditation program w o r k , itdoes something most other meditation books dont: It makesmeditation practice enjoyable, pleasant—even f u n — t o learn. N o t
2 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONonly will this meditation program t u r n you into a real medita-tor, but youll enjoy smiles, chuckles, and maybe a few o u t r i g h tbelly laughs along the way. This is entirely in keeping w i t h thespirit of meditation. Its also the best way to help you learn tomeditate. And dont worry, I never sacrifice substance for laughs. Ivegot more than twenty-five years of meditation experience andhave already w r i t t e n a Book of the Month Club selection on thesubject. As such, I am a grateful example of how the practice ofmeditation can transform your life. Every w o r d in this book is in-tended to help you do the same. So, please, join me on a journey that will quiet your mind,change your life—and just plain make you happier. Ill be w i t h youevery step of the way. And youll be glad you came along. We live in an age in which we have less free time than ever.Any activity we undertake, f r o m refinishing a floor to learningmeditation, must be: • Simple to understand • Easy to do • Offer benefits w o r t h the time investment Its no w o n d e r that when it comes to meditation, we havelittle time ( o r patience) for confusing and complicated explana-tions of meditation or inscrutable instructions such as "Just donothing." A n d we certainly dont have up to an hour a day tomeditate.
BEGINNINGS 3 8 Minute Meditation changes all this. Meditation may be a3,000-year-old tradition, but 8 Minute Meditation is a completelynew and current approach to it—an 8-week program thats sim-ple, easy, clear, and incredibly time-effective. W i t h 8 Minute Meditation, youll be meditating quickly andeasily, starting f r o m Day One. At the same time, youll be buildinga steady meditation habit that can last you a lifetime. All this injust 8 minutes—the space between two TV commercial breaks. Whats more, you will begin to address—and resolve—themain issues and challenges that brought you to meditation in thefirst place, such as: "I feel really stressed out." "My thoughts are o u t of control." "I feel as if Im drifting through life." "I keep flying off the handle at my co-workers and family." "I need some peace in my life!" "I cant concentrate." "Somethings missing, but I dont know what." "Everything seems O K , but still, I wish . . . " 8 Minute Meditation is simple, easy meditation for everyone,regardless of age, schooling, or income—even if you think youcant sit still for one minute, much less eight. W h e t h e r youre anew parent, a single mom, a high school student prepping for theSAT, or a young executive about to start your dream job, rest as-
4 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONsured—8 Minute Meditation will w o r k for you. In a matter of min-utes from right now, youll be able to begin your first meditationperiod. N o confusion. N o wasted time. N o kidding. Heres how easy its going to be for you to become a meditator: 1. Youll begin w i t h a short " t o u r " of meditation that will give you the essentials w i t h o u t confusing or boring you. Youll learn what the w o r d meditation means and see how easy it is to meditate. Youll be briefed on how this once-daily 8 Minute Meditation program works—and why it works. 2. Next, youll prepare and set up for your first meditation period. Youll learn a simple, effective meditation posture that requires nothing more than sitting on an ordinary chair. Youll also receive a unique set of Meditation Operating Instruc- tions that will assist you throughout the next 8 weeks—and hopefully beyond. 3. Then, youll begin your first meditation period, guided by simple, jargon-free, failure-proof meditation instructions. Youll meditate for just 8 minutes a day—no more and no less. Part II of this book contains 8 sections—one for each week of the program. Youll spend a week w i t h each tech- nique and then move on. Each section also includes material that will help you transition f r o m one week to the next, as well as in-depth answers to frequently asked questions. 4. After you complete your 8 week meditation program, youll have the opportunity to "upgrade" and deepen y o u r meditation practice. Part III contains everything youll need to
BEGINNINGS 5 do this, including a "training schedule" and a special Medita- tion in Action Template that will enable you to bring medita- tion into every aspect of your daily life. Part III concludes with a cream-of-the-crop selection of meditation books, tapes, and retreat centers. W i t h 8 Minute Meditation, getting the hang of meditation issimpler—much simpler—than you think. Of course, you mightfind the first few days, maybe even the first weeks, somewhat chal-lenging. But hang in there with me. After t w o weeks, you will bemeditating w i t h familiarity. By the end of W e e k 8, you will be a full-fledged meditator—ready to go even deeper into meditationpractice. But what is much more important, youll reap benefits ofmeditation f r o m the very beginning. Benefits such as: • A greater sense of peace and well-being • Simple, drug-free stress reduction • Improved concentration and focus Quite simply, meditation can change your life. Im not talkingabout going to Permanent Blissland. W h a t I am talking about ismuch, much better—the real deal: a way to live in this complexw o r l d w i t h clarity, well-being, calm, and happiness. W i t h all these great things going for it, its a wonder every-one on the planet isnt meditating. So why arent you? For the an-swer—and solution—read on.
6 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONWHY YOU CANT START TO MEDITATE.WHY YOU STARTED AND STOPPED.WHY 8 MINUTE MEDITATION CHANGES THAT.Whenever people learn that Im a meditator or have w r i t t e n ameditation book, they invariably feel compelled to tell me one oft w o things: "I would love to learn to meditate. But I just cant," or"I tried to meditate but stopped." My response to these statements is always and exactly thesame: " W h a t do you think is in the way?" Here are some of theirresponses. Do any strike you as familiar? W H Y I C A N T LEARN TO MEDITATE Its t o o complicated. It takes t o o much time. Im n o t smart enough. Im t o o old. Im t o o young. Im not patient. Im not spiritual. Im not special enough. I dont have the time.
BEGINNINGS 7 WHY I STARTED MEDITATION A N D STOPPED I couldnt stop thinking. It t o o k t o o long. I w e n t on vacation and couldnt start when I returned. It wasnt what I expected. I didnt get enlightened. I wasnt spiritual enough. I wasnt special enough. I must have bad karma. Although these lists look long, the truth is that all these ra-tionales for not meditating come down to t w o basic misbeliefs: * Meditation is obscure, confusing, and hard. • Meditation takes t o o much time to learn and actually do. Lets see how the 8 Minute Meditation program addresses—and eradicates—both these issues.Meditation Is Too Nebulous, Confusing, and HardW i t h m o r e than 4,500+ meditation books on the market, itseasy to see why meditation has an undeserved reputation forbeing a mysterious, arcane system reserved for a brilliant selectfew.
8 8 MINUTE MEDITATION But the truth is exactly the opposite: Anyone can easily learnto practice meditation, no matter what those convoluted booksfilled w i t h Sanskrit say. This is the primary goal of 8 Minute Medi-tation: to demystify meditation and make it effortless for you toboth learn and do. The 8 week program is divided into three sections: • Part I provides you with the foundations of meditation and prepares you to immediately start your first meditation period. • Part II is the heart of the matter: the specially designed, step-by-step, 8-minute-a-day, 8-week meditation program. • Part III is the "upgrade" section, offering you ways to make your meditation practice deeper and apply it to everyday life. Sound simple? Sure it does. Because it is.Meditation Takes Too Much Time—to Learn and PracticeBe honest when you answer this question: Is your life so super-busy that you dont have 8 minutes a day,when you get up, or just before bed, that you can call your own? Sure, everyones life is jam-packed and hectic. But to say thatyou dont have 8 minutes a day to do something you want to dosounds a tad flimsy, doesnt it? Do you have time to watch 8 min-utes of TV, up to the first commercial break of The Simpsons?. Well,okay, then. Youve got time to meditate the 8 Minute Meditation way. But, you say, Im a single mom. Im a traveling dad. I just had a
BEGINNINGS 9baby! Im busy, busy, busy. H o w in the w o r l d can I find time tomeditate? ! The answer is: The time is there. Just relax and allowyourself to see where it is. Single mom? H o w about meditating after the kids go tosleep? Or before they wake up? Traveling dad? N e x t time youreon that t w o - h o u r flight to San Antonio, close your golf magazineand spend 8 pleasant minutes in airborne meditation. N e w par-ent? Give baby her 5 A.M. feeding, then meditate for 8 minuteswhile she dozes off. And by the way, if you think those short, 8 minute periods wontamount to anything, think again: No lesser light than Albert Einsteinsaid that the most amazing phenomenon in the universe is com-pound interest Each 8 minute meditation period is a deposit intoyour account at The First National Bank of Meditation, where itearns a hefty interest rate. In time, those small deposits aggregate andcompound into a huge payoff: the ability to live life in peace and calm. W h e r e else can you get a greater return on so small an in-vestment?THE BIRTH OF THIS B O O K : W H Y 8 M I N U T E S ,A N D W H Y IT WORKS.Now, youre probably asking t w o things at this point: • " W h y 8 minutes?" • " W h o are you, anyway, to tell me this will w o r k ? "
10 8 MINUTE MEDITATION Thats the spirit! Like the Great American Bumper Stickersays,"Question Authority." So allow me to introduce myself w i t h -out, as authors love to do, recounting my personal and fascinating(to the author) spiritual journey. I tell you my story because I want you to see that my life issimilar to yours. People like us dont sit on mountaintops, buthave challenging stress-filled lives that demand we get down inthe trenches of real life, every day. A n d if you can take medita-tion along for the ride, it makes a huge difference. First off, Id like you to know that I am the author of The BestGuide to Meditation, a very popular guidebook to meditation anda Book of the Month Club selection. I began to practice medita-tion in 1975, and over those decades, I have meditated for t h o u -sands of hours, attended dozens of meditation retreats, andstudied w i t h (and count as friends) some of the foremost medi-tation teachers in America. I began meditating in N e w York City while attending lawschool. My reason for starting was practical, not spiritual: Analumni told me he had started meditating the year before andfound that his memory had improved—as well as his grades. At the time, among other reams of case law, I had to commita six-inch-thick copy of the IRS Tax Regulations to memory. So Ifigured,"What have I got to lose?" I attended a couple of nightsof basic meditation instruction and was told by the instructor tomeditate twice a day. The first time I meditated, I experienced something I hadntfelt much of in my life, and never, ever in law school. / felt peace.And when something feels good, you usually keep on doing it. SoI did
BEGINNINGS 11 I continued to meditate on a twice-daily basis. After severalmonths, I found myself more relaxed yet, paradoxically, morealert, both in and o u t of class. I also experienced better concen-tration and focus. This naturally led to better comprehension ofeven the most complex materials—such as those inscrutable taxregulations. W h a t was more astounding, I found myself actuallylooking forward to my daily sparring practice w i t h them. Then came the final tax exam, and to my (and my professors)utter surprise, I got an A. Whether meditation had anything to dowith it or not, it didnt matter. I knew by then that meditation wassomething I was going to continue to practice. W h i c h I did,throughout twelve years of legal practice in N e w York, as a busi-ness affairs attorney for t w o Fortune 500 advertising agenciesand Paramount Pictures. In 1975, I moved to Los Angeles to become more involved inthe entertainment business. I became a producer, screenwriter,novelist, and nonfiction writer. In LA, I continued to deepen mymeditation practice, moving first to Zen and then on to Vipassana,or Insight Meditation. During this period, I was fortunate enough to discover sev-eral extraordinary meditation teachers w h o enabled me to godeeper in my practice. They included Sharon Salzberg, JosephGoldstein, and Shinzen Young, w h o became my primary teacherand meditation " g o - t o " guy. The teachings, benefits, and insights Ireceived from these and other teachers were, and remain today,of inestimable value. Theyre also what I hope to convey to you inthis book. The impetus to w r i t e 8 Minute Meditation came to me aftersomeone told me for the umpteenth time that theyd "really love
12 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nto meditate, but . . . " Frankly, I was tired of hearing whatever ex-cuse they had come up with. So I set o u t to create a failure-proofmeditation program that would eliminate any and all "buts," andthat w o u l d : • Fit into anybodys lifestyle, no matter how busy they were. * Start people meditating immediately—and make sure they wouldnt stop. • Provide simple, reliable meditation instruction that anyone could do the first time they tried. • Anticipate and clearly answer common questions, doubts, and concerns. * Enable anyone w h o wanted to go deeper into meditation to be able to do so. * Be supportive, encouraging, and give people the feeling that I was w i t h them every step of the way. 8 Minute Meditation is the program I created to meet thesegoals. And, more importantly, help you achieve yours.Why 8 Minutes?As far as I know, there is no Geneva Convention governing med-itation time periods. Some teachers require students to meditatefor up to one hour a day. If you attend a Zen retreat, that can riseto ten hours! On the o t h e r end of the spectrum, several medita-
BEGINNINGS 13tion books say three or even one minute is sufficient daily medi-tation time. Heres why I think 8 minutes a day is just right: • Its n o t a long time and will not compromise, intrude on, or throw off your lifestyle. Its the time it takes to take a shower or prepare a tuna salad sandwich. Its also the time between the first t w o commercial breaks of your favorite sitcom. * Everyone, and yes that includes you, can fit 8 minutes into his or her day. Can you wake up 8 minutes earlier? Go to bed 8 minutes later? If youre traveling, do you have 8 minutes while waiting for your boarding call or on the plane? A f t e r you check in at the hotel? Of course you do. • A steady, daily, 8 minute practice is cumulative and builds what I call "Mindfulness Muscle." More about this later. For now, just know that its all good.BEGIN TO MEDITATE. RIGHT NOW.Meditation has never been simpler than the 8 Minute Meditationway. You wont find a single w o r d in this book that requires a spir-itual or Websters dictionary, an instruction you cant understand,or a meditation technique you cannot do simply, easily, and thefirst time you attempt it—like right now. As they say in Hollywood, its time for a "Preview of ComingAttractions." Over the next 8 weeks, we will be getting into
14 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nthings in a lot more depth. But for right now, I want you to get anidea of how simple and easy its going to be for you to learn tomeditate. For the moment, dont w o r r y about doing anything but sit-ting right where you are. All I want you to do is read the follow-ing simple instructions and do the best you can. Remember, this is n o t a pop quiz. Grades will not be issued.As youll soon learn, theres no wrong way to meditate. TASTE MEDITATION • Sit erect, engaged yet relaxed, as if youre listening to y o u r favorite friend. • Allow your eyes to close. • Take a long, deep inhale. Hold it a moment. And just let it • Allow your breath to settle into its o w n natural flow. D o n t force anything. • Bring your attention to where you feel your breath the most. It could be your diaphragm, chest, or maybe under y o u r nostrils. Theres no wrong place. • Watch your breath f r o m this place for the next five breaths. • Open your eyes.
BEGINNINGS 15CONGRATULATIONS! YOURE A MEDITATOR!Well, you did it! Its easy, right? N o t some big deal or somethingyou arent capable of doing. Actually, meditation is just the oppo-site: the most natural thing in the world. So are you ready to do something this pleasant and simplefor 8 minutes a day? Of course you are. Just follow the 8 Minute Meditation pro-gram game plan. In 8 weeks, you can have a meditation practicethat can last you a lifetime. Ive already said that if youre reading these words, somethinghas attracted you to meditation. Youre about to find out whatthat is. Just turn the page.
PART ONE • • •MEDITATION 101
IN A SHORT amount of time, youre going to begin Week O n eof your 8 Minute Meditation program. But first, its important thatyou get the lay of the land. Just like your home, your meditationpractice should rest on as solid a foundation as possible. Thatswhat Part I is about. Its going t o : • Define and demystify what meditation really is • Tell you what the 8 Minute Meditation program can—and cant—do for you • Address and resolve some c o m m o n misconceptions about meditation and resistances to meditation • Answer beginning meditators most frequently asked questions
20 8 MINUTE MEDITATION • Provide you w i t h a set of simple, powerful "Operating In- structions" that you will use in the next 8 minutes,8 w e e k s — and perhaps for the rest of your life It may be natural for you to want to skip over this part and"cut to the chase," that is, begin to meditate. But fight off that de-sire. This stuff is important. Youll have a much better chance atsuccess if you read it with full attention.WHAT IS MEDITATION?Meditation is not a static "thing." Its a "doing." This is why its sohard to put a finger on and define. Many definitions of meditation are given by the use ofmetaphors. Here are t w o examples, one ancient and one modern: • " I t is exactly like muddy water left to stand in a glass. Little by little, the sediment sinks to the b o t t o m and the water be- comes pure." (Taisen Deshimaru) • " . . . like great scuba gear. You can see, hear, touch, and taste your thoughts w i t h o u t drowning in them." (Laurie Fisher Huck) But these are verbal attempts to describe what is beyondwords. Meditation is an active process that is a confluence of thequalities of concentration, insight, and wisdom. Heres how I de-scribe it:
MEDITATION 101 21 * Meditation is not a noun, but a verb. Meditation is a dy- namic process, like the liquid flowing state of water as o p - posed to frozen ice. This is what I mean when I say that meditation is a "doing," what your seventh-grade English teacher called an "active verb." * Meditation is not the goal; its the journey. In just the act of sitting d o w n to meditate, youve already achieved your goal. Pretty great, huh? Talk about a win-win situation! * Meditation is not the menu; its the meal. Alfred Korzybski, a famous Polish mathematician,once said,"The map is not the territory." The best way to understand the " t e r r i t o r y " of meditation is to actually meditate. Otherwise, its like de- scribing Chunky Monkey Ice Cream to a Martian;you can talk from dawn to dusk, but that p o o r little alien wont know what youre talking about—until she dips into the Ben & Jerrys container. Still, I want you to have a definition of meditation you can hangyour hat on for the next 8 weeks, something that will keep youfrom wasting time trying to figure o u t if youre meditating everytime you sit down to meditate—instead of actually meditating. So lets keep it simple. For the next 8 weeks, the following isdeclared to be the 8 Minute Meditation definition of meditation: M e d i t a t i o n is allowing w h a t is. Right now, please close your eyes, relax, and, for the nextminute or so, just feel your body. Your hands in your lap, your feet
22 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONon the floor. The noise in the street. Now, as alertly as possible,pausing after each w o r d , repeat the definition three times. M e d i t a t i o n is allowing w h a t is. M e d i t a t i o n is allowing w h a t is. M e d i t a t i o n is allowing w h a t is. Did you get a little taste of meditation? I bet you did. And speaking of meditation, did you know that . . .M E D I T A T I O N TASTES GREAT.A N D ITS G O O D FOR Y O U , T O O .Back in prehistoric times (before MTV), there were those chil-drens television shows where the host would hold up a loaf ofbread and proclaim, "Kids, W o n d e r Bread tastes great! A n d itsgood for you, t o o ! " W e l l , thats how I feel about meditation. W h y does meditation taste great? The taste of meditation is,quite simply, the taste of peace. A n d what does peace taste like?Something beyond w o r d s — b u t that you know better than youro w n name. One of the things your 8 Minute Meditation practiceis about is giving you that taste of peace—8 minutes w o r t h —every day. W h y is meditation "good for you," too? Its common sense.W h e n you are in a relaxed and allowing state, you are less men-tally agitated. And when you are less mentally agitated, your brain
MEDITATION 101 23sends fewer stressful messages to your body, allowing it to be-come more relaxed and healthy. Medical researchers have, for the past several decades, stud-ied the effects and benefits of meditation. Some of the results in-dicate that meditation can, alone or in conjunction w i t h othermodalities: • Lower blood pressure • Reduce acute and chronic pain • Improve muscle response time • Relax diaphragm and internal organs • Increase breathing efficiency and lung capacity • Reduce anxiety and stress • Increase recognition of compulsive behavior patterns The latest research on meditation has been focused in thearea called neuroplasticity. Recent research at the University ofWisconsin has shown that a steady practice of meditation overmany years can actually encourage the brain to physically rewireitself to be happier (Time 8/4/03; The New York Times Magazine,9/14/03)! But please, before you go rushing off to rewire y o u r cau-date nucleus, remember these results relate to brains of peo-ple w h o might have been meditating for at least a few years.D o n t be disappointed if, after you finish y o u r first 8 minute pe-riod, you dont feel that things have radically changed for you.
24 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONRegard this exciting new research as something to shoot f o r —yet another reason why "Meditation tastes great! A n d its goodfor you, t o o ! "ROVING MIND: WHAT GETS IN THE WAY OFMEDITATIONThis would be a good time to briefly introduce a character youregoing to see a lot of in your meditation practice over the next 8weeks: your Roving Mind. Ironically, it will be your biggest hin-drance to meditating—as well as your path to success. W h e t h e r youre a first-time or seasoned meditator, chancesare high—about 100%—that when you start to meditate, you willbe subject to what appears to be an incessant and absolutely un-controllable stream of thought. In the Zen meditation tradition,this is called "watching the waterfall"—that perpetual Niagaragushing o u t of your mind. Its what my pal John N e w t o n calls "cog-nitive spam." Invariably, almost all beginning meditators believe that theprocess of meditation is somehow creating this cascade of think-ing. But the fact is otherwise. Your personal Niagara Falls is and al-ways has been there. Youve just been t o o busy drowning under itto notice it! Meditation practice affords you, perhaps for the firsttime in your life,an amazing opportunity: a way to keep w a r m anddry despite the deluge. Heres an example of how meditation helps you accomplish this: Lets say you are halfway into your 8 Minute Meditation pe¬riod.Your mind is tranquil and peaceful. Suddenly, o u t of nowhere,
MEDITATION 101 25the following thought appears: Gee, my mind seems pretty quietThis is the seed of what I call a "thought-story." And heres w h e r eit can lead next: Peace. Yeah! This is whats supposed to happen? ... How can I staylike this? .. . Uh-oh, Im starting to lose i t . . . Dammit! Ive lost it! ForGods sake, I cant do anything right... Like today when I deleted thate-mail from Sarah ... Boy, was Reed mad . . .Yeah, well hes a cold fishanyway! ,. . Speaking of which, theyre having a special on poachedsalmon at the market. Better get some on the way home . . . And on and on and on. Get the picture? You start o u t in tran-quility and peace and wind up shopping for dinner! All in thespace of a second. Say hello to Roving Mind. N o w dont start feeling bad that you have a Roving Mind. Itsnot only you. Its every one of us, 24/7. The mind is a perpetualthought machine whose sole job is to think. Its a loyal, indefati-gable w o r k e r w h o will never let you d o w n . Well then, if you cant stop or suppress your thinking, how doyou deal w i t h it so you can live in peace and calm? This is w h e r emeditation comes to the rescue w i t h a simple, elegant, and pow-erful solution: D o n t suppress thinking. Surpass it. H o w in the w o r l d can you do this? Well, you can start by re-membering your new definition of meditation and "allow what is."And how do you do that? By doing what I call The MeditationThree-Step: 1. Recognize that you are thinking. 2. Gently return to meditation. 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 as needed. (This will be a lot!)
26 8 MINUTE MEDITATION Meditation is the art of gently returning—over and overagain. And again. This is why we call it meditation practice. Now, one important note: W h e n I refer to Roving Mind, Imtalking about those pesky, roving, rambling thoughts that continu-ously drain your energy and just plain drive you crazy. RovingMind is not the same as and should not be confused w i t h thoughtper se. You constantly need to do things, get here and there, holddown your job, and pick up your kids after school. Its a blessingthat your mind is working all the time, making sure you watchwhere youre going, avoid trouble, and remember your car keys.Theres a difference between a roving "thinking" mind and whatwe might call " w o r k i n g " mind. As you continue to meditate, youllbe able to distinguish between these different mind-sets w i t h in-creasing clarity. Well get into much more detail about Roving Mind through-o u t the next 8 weeks. But for now, know that its not meditationthat gives rise to it. Youve been doing this your entire life. Isnt itgood to finally see it and know that youre about to do somethingabout it?WHY MEDITATE?The Roman philosopher Seneca once asked, " W h a t good is awind w i t h o u t a compass?"This section is going to help you defineyour personal meditation goal. Most people come to meditation for myriad reasons, but theyusually fall into one or more of these categories:
M E D I T A T I O N 101 27 * Physical health, such as lowering blood pressure * Mental health, such as lowering stress levels * Spiritual growth, such as seeking a closer connection to life W h y do you want to learn to meditate? This is a very im-portant question, and you shouldnt feel shy or embarrassed toask it. There is this misconception that meditation should not begoal-oriented. However, we live in a goal-oriented society. W h e nwe do something, we expect—maybe even demand—a result.A f t e r all, why put time and effort into something if it doesnt re-t u r n a concrete benefit? I w o u l d n t do it, and neither should you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a goal in mind thatyoud like meditation to help you achieve. In fact, I think its a goodthing. And to help you define your o w n meditation goal, take alook at some popular ones: * You suffer from acute or chronic physical pain. Youve heard or read that meditation might help w i t h pain reduction. * You take medication for stress, anxiety, or hypertension. Your doctor also recommends that you take up meditation. * You feel anxious and confused. You need a way to "chill o u t " w i t h o u t resorting to martinis and tranquilizers. * Life is just dandy. However, youve got "the blahs." You feel something is missing. You dont know quite what that is, but youve heard that some people find their answer in meditation.
28 8 MINUTE MEDITATION • You find yourself angry, irritable, and sometimes acting in- appropriately Youve heard meditation can help you get a bet- ter handle on your anger. N o w that youve seen some other peoples reasons, lets de-termine your personal reason for wanting to meditate. Your re-sponse is very important. It will make you aware of the " f u e l " thatwill propel you through these next 8 weeks. So right now, take a few moments and relax. Close your eyes.See what pops up in your mind to fill in the following blank: " M e d -itation is a process that can help me " Okay, great! Whatever you came up w i t h was the perfect an-swer. You say you want to meditate because you want to be hap-pier? Fine, you want to be happier. Then "Meditation is a processthat can help me become happier." You thought about h o w afraidyou were of your o w n road rage? Okay, your goal is "Meditationis a process that can help me be less angry behind the wheel." N o w youve created the reason to meditate thats mean-ingful to you—not someone else. Copy d o w n this sentence andplace it w h e r e you can read it before y o u r daily 8 minute med-itation period. N o w that youve gotten close and personal w i t h why youwant to meditate, lets do the same w i t h the 8 Minute Meditationprogram and see how simple, yet effective, it can be for you.
MEDITATION 101 29H O W THE 8 M I N U T E M E D I T A T I O N P R O G R A M W O R K SThe 8 Minute Meditation program is designed to be user-friendly,easy, and effective. Heres all you need to do: * Read P a r t I thoroughly. Dont skim or skip to Parts II o r III. • F a m i l i a r i z e yourself w i t h t h e M e d i t a t i o n O p e r a t i n g Instructions. These are your "ground rules," designed to keep you on track and maximize your meditation period. • M e d i t a t e o n c e a day f o r 8 m i n u t e s . Part II is divided into 8 sections, one for each week of the program. Each week has its o w n specially selected guided meditation technique. In addition, it contains "check-in" sections on your progress at this point of the program, discussion and tips for this weeks meditation technique, a follow up, and a section of frequently asked questions with accompanying answers. • M o v e on a f t e r each w e e k . At the end of each week, sim- ply turn the page and move on to your next meditation week and technique. The techniques have been selected and organ- ized to gradually allow you to deepen your practice. Thats why its good not to skip a r o u n d — o r ahead. • U p g r a d e y o u r p r a c t i c e . At the end of 8 weeks, you have the o p t i o n to stay where you are or move on to Part III and deepen your meditation practice. Part III offers several easy and simple ways to do this. It also introduces the Meditation in Action Template, which will show you h o w you can apply
30 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N meditation to every single one of your daily activities. I highly and heartily recommend the upgrade. And no matter what, please try the Meditation in Action Template.WHAT YOUR 8 MINUTE MEDITATION PROGRAMWILL-AND WONT-DOThe 8 Minute Meditation "Wont" ListThe 8 Minute Meditation program wont: * Confuse you. The meditation techniques in 8 Minute Med- itation are so simple a child can do them (and if youve got one, maybe should). * L e c t u r e y o u . Youve chosen this program because you dont want to spend time on the history or philosophy of meditation. * D e l v e i n t o y o u a n d y o u r past. W h y go into discussions of mood disorders, brain chemistry, or childhood? As we say in Hollywood, "Lets cut to the chase," meaning, in this case, meditation, right now, in this very moment. * G e t i n t o religion. Your 8 minute-a-day meditation pro- gram is nondenominational, nonsectarian, and nonpolitical. There are no hidden agendas, Buddhist or otherwise. * E n l i g h t e n y o u . Enlightenment is a w o r d indiscriminately bandied about by everyone f r o m N e w Age gurus to soft- drink p r o m o t e r s . Your 8 Minute Meditation program is
MEDITATION 101 31 about meditation. D o n t w o r r y about enlightenment. Just relax and meditate. * A s k to be your g u r u . Some teachers say that you cant meditate effectively w i t h o u t a guru or master to teach you. I disagree. Everything you need to begin to meditate is right here, in this book. * G i v e y o u t h e " s e c r e t h a n d s h a k e " or s h o r t c u t . Be- lieve me, if I could, I w o u l d . But there are no secrets or shortcuts in meditation. 8 Minute Meditation is pared down to the essentials. So relax. Meditation doesnt get simpler than this. * Leave y o u in t h e lurch. Over the next 8 weeks of this program, Ill be right beside you every step of the way. Ive been d o w n this road myself and have anticipated the chal- lenges, questions, and doubts that will come up for you. Ive built all kinds of "technical support" into this program. YouII see what I mean when you start Week One.The 8 Minute Meditation "Will" ListThe 8 Minute Meditation program will: * G e t y o u m e d i t a t i n g right now. 8 Minute Meditation is designed to be simple, clear, and user-friendly—to get you up and meditating, right now. Look at your watch. In less than twenty minutes f r o m now, youll be sitting down to your first meditation period.
32 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N * Respect your t i m e and energy. There never seems to be enough time in the day to do what you have to do—much less meditate. Thats why all youre asked for is 8 minutes o u t of your day. N o t ten, twenty, or forty-five. Just 8 minutes. N o t one second more or less. * G i v e y o u clear, s i m p l e , effective instruction. The pro- gram and this book are 100% jargon-free. You w o n t find a w o r d you cant understand, a meditation instruction you cant comprehend, or a discussion that loses you in philosophy or technicalities. * Enable y o u to build a r e a l m e d i t a t i o n p r a c t i c e in a s h o r t t i m e . Many people have the notion that youve got to schlep to Tibet and sit in full lotus posture for months on end to develop a strong meditation practice. Well, thats just n o t true. If you follow the plan—8 minutes a day for 8 w e e k s — you will develop a strong, disciplined meditation habit that you can deepen, and can last your lifetime. * A n s w e r y o u r basic questions. Each section of the book contains its o w n Q & A section. By the way, the answer to every question is always the same."Youre doing great. Follow the program. And keep meditating." * H e l p y o u o v e r t h e r o u g h spots. The unique burning concern, issue, or d o u b t you have has m o r e than likely been posed by thousands of o t h e r meditators. Youll find these questions addressed at many places along the way. D o n t feel embarrassed, dumb, or ignorant. Weve all been there.
MEDITATION 101 33 • S u p p o r t a n d e n c o u r a g e y o u . Im w i t h you every step of the way, not only to answer your questions but also to sup- p o r t your efforts. I promise, I truly want to help you get where you want to go. * Point y o u in t h e right d i r e c t i o n . A f t e r you complete your 8 week meditation program, youll have the opportunity to "upgrade" and deepen your meditation practice. Part III contains everything youll need to do this, including a "train- ing schedule" and the Meditation in Action Template.W H A T HAPPENS D U R I N G THOSE 8 MINUTES?Just about now,youre probably thinking that 8 minutes sounds likea really long time to sit still and do nothing. This is a normalthought and goes to the heart of meditation. So lets clear up t w othings: * 8 minutes is not a long time. • Meditation is not "doing nothing." I want you to get o u t a kitchen timer or even your watch andstart timing while you read this section.8 Minutes Is Not a Long TimeYou dont have to be Steven Hawkings to know that time is relative. We all know what it means when we say " t i m e just flew." Its
34 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONan attempt to describe the experience where we are so involvedin an activity that we lose track of relative time. The engrossingactivity can be as varied as watching an overtime NFL game, par-ticipating in a yoga flow class, or just hanging o u t with a closefriend. Whatever it may be, the experience is one of timelessness. On the other end of the spectrum, we have all experiencedtime as "an eternity." Its the t w o minutes you waited at an inter-section to make a left turn when you were late to w o r k , the tenminutes in a bank line because the A T M was down, or the twelveminutes listening to an insurance agent describe your medical co-payment. This is time that feels more like an endurance contestthan a transient event. As you can see, time can pass in the "blink of an eye" or lasteons. Its all about the attention w i t h which you approach the ac-tivity. 8 Minute Meditation has been created to provide you w i t h aseries of meditation techniques that will fully engage your atten-tion. But as Lauren Bacall once said to Humphrey Bogart whenshe kissed him, "Its a lot better when you help." So meet me halfway. W h e n you get ready to meditate, dontprejudge what its going to be like timewise. Dont look at medi-tation as a horrific burden, boring chore, or—heaven f o r b i d —something that is good for you (a surefire recipe for disaster). Just set your timer for 8 minutes. And meditate.Doing Nothing Is Really SomethingThere is a popular misconception that meditation is "doing n o t h -ing." In point of truth, meditation is more "something" than whatyou think is something!
MEDITATION 101 35 W h a t do I mean by that? Just this: Whenever you meditate,you are engaged in a process, a "something" that demands y o u r100% complete focused awareness and attention. In this atten-tion, you are active, but in a whole new way: a peaceful, calm waythat allows you to cultivate a new relationship with your mind. This is one of the great benefits of meditation, one you aregoing to start experiencing once you get your practice underway.But for now, just remember that meditation isnt about "zoningout." Its about "zoning in"Timing Your Meditation PeriodWhile were on the subject of time, lets discuss an inexpensiveyet extremely important item you must have to meditate prop-erly: a timing device. Clock-watching during a meditation period is counterpro-ductive. It puts you in a kind of limbo, a state of repeatedly open-ing your eyes to check on h o w much time has elapsed andmentally calculating how much time remains. This less-than-optimum situation is easily handled by using a timing device. Youset it for 8 minutes and forget it. To get the most o u t of 8 Minute Meditation, you need to havea kitchen timer. If you dont already have one, theyre available athouseware or electronic stores. This less-than-ten-dollar invest-ment will pay off handsomely in its ability to help you establish themost level playing field possible for meditation. Make sure y o u rtimer is an electronic one that does not produce any distractingticking sound. Another o p t i o n is to use the 8 Minute Meditation Guided
36 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONMeditation CD I created for this program. It is a voice-guided ver-sion of the meditation instructions contained in this book. T h eCD allows you to sit down, find the current weeks meditationtrack, push PLAY, close your eyes, and be led through your 8Minute Meditation. A pleasant gong sound announces when 8minutes are up. No muss, no fuss. The Guided Meditation CD isavailable through my website, www.8minutes.org Okay, look at your watch or timer. H o w many minutes didyou take to read this? Good. Subtract that from 8 minutes, andyouve got an idea of how quickly your 8 Minute Meditation pe-riod will pass."BUT ISNT .. . ?" MEDITATION BUBBA MEINTZES,Ive already discussed the t w o major excuses people have for notmeditating: They havent got time, and its t o o hard. N o w , weregoing to spend a few minutes clearing up some other misconcep-tions about meditation. My nanny, Pauline Spector, called them "bubba meintzes." Y o u rgrandmother might have called them "old wives tales." Buddhistgrandmas would call them "painting a tiger on your wall." They allmean the same thing: You are creating a problem where none ex-ists. Lets take a look at some of the most popular meditationbubba meintzes:
M E D I T A T I O N 101 371. Meditation Is Too Complicated.Meditation is pretty straightforward. It is not t o o hard. N o r is itt o o easy. Try this, right now: • Close your eyes. Relax. • Pay attention to your breath. * Notice one in-and-out cycle of your breath. Were you able to completely pay attention to your breath,without thinking, daydreaming, fidgeting, or wondering what theheck you were doing? Most likely not. Amazing, isnt it, h o w manythoughts you can pack into just one breath, like some infinite, ex-panding suitcase? But despite all t h e mindtalk going o n , did you find it so i n -credibly difficult to watch your breath? Of course not. This iswhat meditation is: paying attention to something, realizing thatyouve strayed away f r o m it, and then gently returning to it. Ex-actly what our 8 Minute Meditation definition says: allowingwhat is. A tourist in Manhattan once stopped and asked w o r l d -renowned violinist Yasha Heifetz h o w to get to Carnegie Hall. Hisresponse: "Practice." Its t h e same w i t h meditation: You just prac-tice and get better at it.2. Meditation Is a Religion.There is a popular misconception, especially in the West, thatequates meditation w i t h Buddhism. But theres a major difference:
38 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONBuddhism, like Judaism and Christianity, is a religion. Meditation isa nonsectarian process of awareness. In fact, you can find a med-itative component not just in Buddhism, but in all the great reli-gious traditions, including Christianity and Judaism. Rest assured, the 8 Minute Meditation program is completelynonsectarian. Its only purpose is to help you develop a meditationpractice you can use for your lifetime. There are no other agen-das, hidden or otherwise.3. When You Meditate, Its Like You Are Hypnotized.It Sounds Scary.It has been shown that brain-wave patterns in meditation statesare different f r o m those generated during sleep or hypnosis. Thiskind of deep relaxation is a naturally occurring phenomenon andshould not be cause for alarm. Even in states of deep meditation,you will be as, and even possibly more, aware and alert than inyour normal state. This is exactly the opposite of being hypno-tized, stupefied or in a trance.4. Meditation Is an Excuse to Escape from Realityand Responsibilities.Some people think that meditation is a sneaky, selfish, narcissisticway to avoid responsibilities and real life. Nothing is farther fromthe truth. The goal of meditation is not to escape from life—butinto it! Heres h o w that works: W h e n your mind is calm, focused, and accepting, you experi-ence all aspects of life in a richer, fuller way. This is because you
MEDITATION 101 39are not judging everything, but allowing it, moment by moment.This new way of seeing can result in the creation of more "life en-ergy" as well as a desire to engage more fully w i t h every aspectof life. So dont worry. Becoming a meditator doesnt mean youllwake up and find that youve abandoned your law practice and areheading for a monastery in Bhutan. But it certainly can mean find-ing more richness in your legal practice, love for your family, andreverence for all forms of life.5. You Have to Have Absolute Silence to Meditate.Meditation is about allowing the world in, not shutting it out. Mostpeople think meditation can only be done properly in absolute si-lence, preferably on a mountaintop, far removed from o u r noisy,crass, everyday w o r l d . But thats just not true. Remember o u r definition of meditation? "Meditation is al-lowing what is." Well, this wild, noisy, seemingly uncaring everydayw o r l d is, whether you like it or n o t , " w h a t is." And it includes caralarms blaring, children laughing (and screaming), and your neigh-bors stereo blasting hip-hop. In meditation, we treat all outside intrusions exactly thesame way: We welcome them, w i t h o u t any judgments or attemptsto mute or muffle them by donning actual or " m e n t a l " sun-glasses, earplugs, or nose clips. You know, we "allow . . . allow . . .allow." This "allowing" concept was expressed beautifully by Shanti-deva, an early Buddhist sage, w h o said, " W h e r e would I possiblyfind enough leather w i t h which to cover the surface of the earth?
40 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONBut wearing leather on the soles of my shoes is equivalent to cov-ering the earth w i t h i t " Meditation opens you to an entirely fresh, peaceful, and re-warding relationship w i t h the w o r l d , one that embraces every-thing and rejects nothing. Each time you meditate, you have theopportunity to cultivate a new way to live more peacefully andjoyfully—in the midst of that wild and wonderful place known asdaily life.6. If I Meditate, Ill Have to Give Up the Things I Like:Reading Vogue, Watching Notre Dame Football,Seinfeld Reruns, Burgers, and Starbucks.Many people think meditation means having to sacrifice the thingsthey love. I call this the "Tofu-Meditation Connection." It comescomplete w i t h veggies, soy products, chamomile tea—and zeroenjoyment (unless of course you happen to like these things). You also may have come across teachers and books that saythat the requirements to be a meditator include vegetarianism,teetotalling, and perhaps even celibacy. If this were the case, 98%of the meditators I know wouldnt be allowed to meditate! In-cluding yours truly. The idea that you have to sacrifice things you love is not onlyerroneous, its counterintuitive to meditation. Your 8 Minute Med-itation program demands no prohibitions on anything—especiallyso-called "vices." This includes everything f r o m double lattes towatching Survivor IX to great sex. The truth is that once you start meditating, youll more than
M E D I T A T I O N 101 41likely enjoy these things—and everything else—even more. Why?Because youll have a richer experience of them. To test this, Iwant you to t r y the following Sweet Mini-Meditation. • Find a bite-size morsel of something sweet, such as a raisin or a Hersheys Chocolate Kiss. • Take the sweet in your hand. Closely examine that beauti- ful morsel, bursting w i t h sweet potential. • Very, very slowly, bring the sweet to your mouth and slowly set it on your tongue. • Close your eyes. Really get in touch w i t h the exquisite taste as it begins to dissolve in your mouth over your tongue. Did you notice how much fuller and richer your experienceof taste is when you are fully present in the moment? Imaginedoing everything this way7. You Cant Learn to Meditate Without thePresence of a Teacher.Learning any skill is always easier when you have a good teacher.So if you can find one, go for it. However, the reality is that thereis a scarcity of good meditation teachers. Finding one is toughenough, and getting to where they are can entail a major invest-ment in time, travel, and money. This is a major reason why I created 8 Minute Meditation. Theprogram is one-stop shopping. Everything you need to begin,
42 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONbuild, and maintain a real meditation practice is here in y o u rhands. A n d although I cant be physically in the r o o m with you, Imas close as the next sentence. Theres an ancient proverb that says, " W h e n the student isready, the teacher will appear." Maybe there is a teacher waitingfor you somewhere down the line. So first, become a meditationstudent. Establish a steady, daily, 8 minute meditation practice.Then see what unfolds for you.8. Theres Only One Right Way to Meditate.There is no one way and no best way to meditate. A n d caveatemptor: Be wary of the person, teacher, or school of meditationthat tells you different. If they say its "my way or the highway,"stick o u t your thumb. Over the next 8 weeks, youll be introduced to 8 simple med-itation techniques. A n d heres the good news: • You can do every one of them the first time and every time. • You wont find a single line of instruction that you cant understand. • Its impossible to fail at meditation. All you have to do is the best you can, which is what you are doing all the time, whether you know it or not. So stick around and meditate. After all, h o w often do you getthe opportunity to engage in a win-win situation?
MEDITATION 101 438 MINUTE MEDITATION OPERATING INSTRUCTIONSThese days, everything from bagels to SUVs comes with its o w nset of operating instructions. These are the instructions you usu-ally dont read, and then do whatever the heck you want. Pleasedont follow this practice w i t h your 8 Minute Meditation OperatingInstructions. They are critical to your meditation practice and asgermane to Day One as they will be to Week Eight—and beyond. Read your operating instructions now. Bookmark this sectionso you can return whenever you need to. In time, they will natu-rally incorporate themselves into your meditation practice andoperate under your personal radar.Sit Down and Be CountedEach time you sit down to meditate, youre standing up for y o u rinnate right to peace of mind, self-worth, and happiness. So when you sit down to meditate, really sit down! And staythere! D o n t get up for anything—short of a 7.2 earthquake,tsunami, or true emergency. And no, having to pee doesnt qualifyas an emergency. Remember, meditation the 8-minute way is this simple:N o w h e r e to go. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Just sitting. For 8minutes. No more. No less.Be Kind to YourselfN o t just for the next 8 weeks of the meditation program, butevery moment of your life, now and forever.
44 8 MINUTE MEDITATION Frustration frequently arises in the beginning stages of medi-tation practice. You might become angry at meditation,feeling thatit should deliver on some promise that its n o t fulfilling. W h e n anger, confusion, frustration, doubt, embarrassment, orother negative feelings or thoughts arise in meditation, dont beupset or t r y to repress them. Simply become aware of what ishappening. Ask yourself, In this moment, am I being kind to myself?And if you are not, do so. In Week Seven of 8 Minute Meditation, you will learn and doa technique called Lovingkindness Meditation. This practice willaid you in accessing your innate, natural, already-present well-spring of kindness—not just for yourself, but others. For now, know this: The fact that you have given yourself ameditation practice is a sure sign that you have made a major de-cision to treat yourself w i t h the kindness and compassion yourichly deserve.8 Minutes. Every Day. No More. No Less.As your parents told you back in high school, "First graduate.Then you can make your o w n decisions." In 8 weeks from now, when you "graduate" f r o m the 8Minute Meditation program, youll have a far greater understand-ing of meditation than you do right now. At that point, youll beready to make adjustments to your practice—and, hopefully, up-ward ones in the number of minutes you meditate. Until thattime, though, please stick to the program and meditate for 8 min-utes. No more and no less. Sticking with the program also means that you meditate just
M E D I T A T I O N 101 45once a day—every day. D o n t skip Monday and Tuesday and thinkyou can "make it up" by meditating for twenty-four minutes onWednesday That might w o r k when cramming for finals, but itwont w o r k in meditation. Consistency is the cornerstone of asuccessful meditation practice. Okay, so now you know exactly h o w many minutes a day youwill meditate for the next eight weeks: 8. There will be plenty oftime for tweaking. After graduation."Leave the Driving to U s "Ive always loved this classic Greyhound Bus slogan. Its such aperfect way to say "Relax." A n d Ive designed 8 Minute Meditationso you can do exactly that. I want you to spend each of your 8 minute meditation peri-ods in meditation, n o t questioning, doubt, and hesitation. Thatswhy every element of 8 Minute Meditation, f r o m the Q & A s tochapter discussions to the meditation techniques—even theseoperating instructions—is designed to yield maximum results. You bought this book because you want to learn to meditate.That is my goal for you. And Ill be there, right alongside you,every step of the way. N o t as your guru, but as a supportivecoach—and bus driver. So for the next 8 weeks, relax and feel comfortable in theknowledge that all your needs have been anticipated and takencare of. Trust me, youre going to enjoy the ride.
46 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONNo Such Thing as a Bad MeditationThe definition of a " g o o d " meditation is "the one you did." Thedefinition of a " b a d " meditation is " t h e one you skipped" So toensure that you have good meditation every time you meditate,you only have to do one thing, right? Right! Just meditate. Remember also, in meditation, failure is impossible! There is nowrong way to meditate. In fact, the very act of sitting down andmeditating, in and of itself, means that youre meditating "correctly." Its that simple.Allow . . . Allow .. . A l l o wJust as the first rule of real estate is "location, location, location,"the first rule of meditation is "allow . . . allow . . . allow." W h e n you meditate, you allow absolutely everything thatarises to arise—and you exclude nothing. This affords you a clear,unobstructed view of the ninety-three-ring circus that is yourthinking mind. Heres h o w wild that circus can be. In a recent 8 minute med-itation session, I dined on a succulent lobster dinner I had inMaine in 1984, heard t h e theme song from the movie The Apart-ment, and remembered my first two-wheel bicycle (a Rudge). Anyconnection between these thoughts? If you find it, please let meknow W h e n you sit d o w n to meditate, your o w n mind chatter isgoing to come pouring out. Some thoughts will be pleasant,funny,and blissful. Others might be horrible, depressing, and frightening.
M E D I T A T I O N 101 47Naturally, you will want to stay w i t h the good stuff and push awaythe bad stuff. Dont. When you meditate, just meditate. Allow every thought, image, andbody sensation to "dance its dance." And you just sit this one o u t Please also remember that meditation is n o t causing yourwild displays of mind. The truth is that Roving Mind is always pres-ent. The major difference is that, for the first time in your life, yourenoticing it and dealing w i t h it in a brand-new, better way.Catch and ReleaseCatch and release goes hand in hand with "allow . . . allow . . .allow." In the w o r l d of fly fishing, "catch and release" means thatafter you catch a fish, you unhook it and release it back into thestream. This is exactly what I want you to do w i t h every thought,image, and body sensation that you " h o o k " during your medita-tion period. Your private stream of consciousness is brimming with a life-time of thoughts, events, and emotions. This means that in everymeditation period, you are going to hook thoughts, images, orbody sensations that youll feel compelled to tangle w i t h . For example, lets say youre meditating, when o u t ofnowhere, the image of the maniac in the huge SUV w h o cut youoff on the highway last evening pops into your mind. Suddenly,youre fantasizing about how youd like to get even w i t h thedriver—devising punishments that would make the Marquis de
48 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONSade cringe! Your body becomes increasingly flushed and feverish.Youre seething w i t h rage and righteousness! Whats going on here? In catch and release terms, youve " h o o k e d " a thought thathas now triggered a cascade of other thoughts, images, and bodysensations. In a split second, your mind has created a drama thatpermeates every aspect of your being. Now, lets run this scenario again, this time using catch andrelease. Same image of the jerk in the SUV. Same angry thoughts.But now you realize whats going on, and you say to yourself, Oh,Ive hooked onto a thought Ill just release it W h i c h you do, insteadof reeling it in, throwing it into your creel, taking it home, scaling,filletting, frying, and eating it. See how much easier—and wonderful—this is? This simpleact of thought releasing is your ticket to freedom—the freedomnot to engage. Keep doing this, and allow it to lead you to deeperstates of awareness, clarity, and peace in everything you do. Anglers tell tales about "the one that got away." In medita-tion, thats not something we regret, but applaud.Dont Get Mystical-ShmysticalThe w o r d enlightenment has been bandied about ad nauseum inconnection with everything f r o m Buddhism to soft drinks.8 Minute Meditation is not interested in ideas and discussions ofenlightenment and prefers the ancient adage: "Those w h o say donot know. Those w h o know do not say." Meditation is n o t about experience-hunting for special statesof consciousness that go by names such as "enlightenment," "self-
M E D I T A T I O N 101 49realization" or "nirvana." W h e n you meditate, just meditate, w i t h -o u t any preconceived notion or agenda about what is going toarise. Stay open to what comes up and then see what happens. Youdont need to name anything."Have Fun with It!"Dont you hate that expression! Still, that has n o t stopped everyteacher in the history of the w o r l d from using it, whether theyare teaching you to tap dance, mountain-climb, or perform open-heart surgery. But wait—theres an element of truth here: We usually try sohard to master new skills that we forget about enjoying ourselvesin the process. A n d I want you to enjoy meditating. Meditation is about gently allowing everything that comes in tocome in and then gently allowing it to pass on its way. Everythingis welcome. Nothing is excluded. And like I said, there is no wayyou can do it wrong. So take a deep breath and relax. Theres no need to do any-thing but be. A n d you can do that, because youve had a l o t ofpractice—your whole life. So, have fun with it!Breath Is Home BaseThe natural rhythm of your breath is the perfect place to returnto whenever you find yourself drawn away f r o m any meditationtechnique. Its also simple:
50 8 MINUTE MEDITATION • Realize that you have drifted away f r o m your meditation technique. • Locate the place in your body where your breath is most dominant. • Direct your attention to that place. • Take a deep breath, and completely let it go. • Allow . . . allow . . . allow. Breath as home base is a great tool to use anytime duringyour 8 Minute Meditation program—as well as those other712 minutes of the day. Try it n e x t time youre in b u m p e r - t o -bumper traffic or about to make that i m p o r t a n t marketingpresentation. In fact, being in touch with your breath is so wonderful andimportant a technique that Ive chosen it for Week One of y o u r8-week program.SETUP FOR M E D I T A T I O NSetting up for 8 Minute Meditation is fast, simple, and easy. Heresall you have to do to create a comfortable environment: • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes that w o n t con- strict your breathing or overheat or chill your body. There are no special meditation robes or garments required.
MEDITATION 101 51 • Find a quiet r o o m , preferably with a d o o r you can shut for privacy. Adjust the temperature. Slightly cool is preferable. * Reduce outside distractions as best you can. D o n t w o r r y about totally eliminating all noise. Its impossible. Remember: Meditating first thing in the morning or just before bed usu- ally ensures the least outside noise. * Reduce inside distractions. Turn off the phone, radio, and TV. If youve got family and kids, make a sign to hang on the door, like "Mommy is Meditating. Back in 8 minutes." • Sit on a comfortable straight-back chair. You dont need any special cushions or mats. The following Q & A section contains simple instructions on posture. • Set your timing device for 8 minutes. As already mentioned, for best results, use a kitchen timer. * Review the current weeks meditation instructions. * Start the timer and gently close your eyes. • Meditate for 8 minutes, until the timer sounds.Q&A: SETTING UP, GETTING STARTEDEach week of the 8 Minute Meditation program contains a ques-tion and answer ( Q & A ) section. The Q&As arent here to test youor to see how far youve come. Rather, they are designed to help
52 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONyou over the predictable speed bumps encountered in meditationby everyone, f r o m beginners to masters. Dont feel embarrassed to go back and consult the Q & A sover again. Doing so doesnt mean youre "meditation challenged."On the contrary, it means youre just plain smart. Lets take a lookat o u r first group.Q: Forget It! I Cant Find 8 Minutes to Meditate-Anywhere or Anytime!Let me ask you this: • A r e you willing to spend 8 minutes a day to change y o u r life for the better? • W o u l d you like to spend 8 minutes a day in a calm, peace- ful state? • W o u l d you like to discover a way of being happier in life that doesnt require acquiring something or somebody? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you can defi-nitely find 8 minutes a day to meditate. Were not talking about a lot of time here. Its about gettingup 8 minutes earlier or going to bed 8 minutes later. A little lessof Good Morning America or The Tonight Show. In exchange for apayoff that could transform your life. Is it w o r t h it? You know it is. Can you do it? Absolutely!
MEDITATION 101 53Q: What Is the Best Time of Day to Meditate?Upon rising or just before bed. As already mentioned, its best to meditate w i t h minimal dis-traction. Most meditators find that the best time for this is firstthing in the morning. Thats when the kids are still asleep, the TVisnt blasting, and the phones not yet ringing. The other best timefor meditation is in the evening, just before retiring. The daysdone, the kids are in bed, and your home and neighborhood aresettled in for the night—unless you live in Brooklyn. If, for some reason, a different time of the day w o r k s betterfor you, thats fine, t o o . But remember, consistency is the hallmarkof a strong meditation practice. No matter what time of the day youchose to meditate, stick with it on a daily basis. Make a standing date with meditation. Show up, and you willnever be let d o w n .Q: Can / Meditate at the Office? A Friends House?You Know, Catch as Catch Can?"Catch as catch can" never caught anything. To say youll meditate " w h e n I get the chance" o r " w h e n I feellike i t " is shortchanging meditation—and yourself. The goal hereis to establish meditation as a daily habit, such as brushing yourteeth. You do that at a certain time and place—in the morning inthe bathroom over the sink. If you meditate in the back of a taxi on the way to the air-p o r t on Monday morning. during your lunch break on Tuesday, andat home Wednesday night, youre not establishing a consistent, daily
54 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONappointment with meditation. Its akin to brushing your teeth in ataxicab—somerhing Ive rarely seen—or done.Q: What About Meditation Posture? Dont You Have toSit Cross-Legged on Some Weird Cushion?Its nor the posture you sir in, bur how you sit in the posture. We have all seen those pictures of robe-clad monks in Zenmonasteries, sirring silently on low, round cushions (called zafus),their legs crossed in full lotus, the traditional sirring posture inthis tradition. W h i l e this may look peaceful, the trurh is that sit--ing in this position, especially for long periods, is exceedingly un-comfortable—and even painful. Just ask a Zen monk! 8 Minute Meditation does nor advocate physical discomfort orpain. When you meditate, youll sir on a straight-back chair. It maynor look as " c o o l " bur it is perfect to get the j o b done. W h y is posture so important? Correct posture sets the stagefor meditation, allowing you to be simultaneously alert yet re-laxed. H o w can you be both at once? Easy. Just follow these in-structions: 8 EASY STEPS FOR CHAIR MEDITATION 1. Place a straight-back chair in a quiet spot with good air- flow and minimal intrusion. 2. Slowly lower yourself onto the chair. Wiggle forward on the seat, until you feel your burrock bones two to four inches from the lip of the chair sear. ( N o t e : If you cannot sir with
MEDITATION 101 55 your back unsupported for 8 minutes, you may lean against the back rest.) 3. Plant your feet directly on the floor and feel the connec- tion. If your feet do not reach completely, place a pillow or blanket underneath them. 4. Gently lower your hands to your lap. You may clasp them or rest one on each thigh. 5. Make sure your head is level. Gaze straight ahead. Keep your spine straight but not jammed. Visualize an imaginary cord attached to the ceiling, extending down and connecting to the top of your head. 6. Relax your jaw. If it feels like its jutting out, adjust it by gently retracting your chin. If your jaw feels retracted, gently release your chin. 7. Take a deep, relaxed inhale. Slowly allow the exhale. A l l o w your eyes to gently close. 8. Begin to meditate. Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg tells the story of thetime she and fellow teacher Joseph Goldstein were seeking a sitefor what would eventually become the Insight Meditation Society. The t w o teachers were in the small t o w n of Barre, Massa-chusetts, checking o u t a former monastery that was for sale. Theplace had great potential but needed a lot of w o r k . As Joseph andSharon headed into t o w n to brainstorm over lunch, they passeda town police car. Sharon looked over at the d o o r of the police
56 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONcan which bore Barres official seal and m o t t o : "Tranquil andAlert." It was at that moment, Sharon says, that she knew she hadfound the perfect place for a meditation center. N e x t time—and every time—you sit down in your medita-tion posture, remember the Barre town m o t t o : Tranquil andAlert. Its the best posture and meditation instruction I know.Q: Must / Meditate on an Empty Stomach?No, but save the pepperoni pizza for later. There are no hard-and-fast rules about how long you need towait after a meal before you meditate. Just use your commonsense. We all know that a rich meal makes us sleepy. So why goand meditate afterward? Youre better off taking a nap or a briskwalk. Give your meal time to digest. Then, when youre feelingmore awake, sit down and meditate.Q: This Technique Isnt Working. Can I Skip It andTry the Next One?N o t a good idea. Remember the "Leave the Driving to U s " operating instruc-tion? Please follow it. Stick with the technique of the week for thefull week before moving on—even if you dont like it. Each weekis designed to lead to the next one, gradually bringing you deeperinto meditation practice. 8 Minute Meditation was created as a kind of WhitmansSampler of meditation techniques. Youll taste a new one each
MEDITATION 101 57week. A f t e r 8 weeks, youll pick y o u r favorite technique—andstay w i t h that one. Youll see w h a t I mean when you reach PartIII. As far as saying that a meditation technique "isnt w o r k -ing," d o n t w o r r y . You might n o t think it is, but it is. There is noneed to let Roving Mind indulge in speculation, judgment, ordoubt. So for the next 8 weeks, please follow the program, exactlyas it is laid out. This means no switching before its time.Q: How Will I Know If Im Making Progress?This is a perfectly legitimate concern. After all, we live in a result-oriented society, and when we invest time and effort into some-thing, we want to see progress. In meditation, we measureprogress much the same way we would if we were starting aweight training program. If your goal is to develop your biceps, would you expect, afteryour first w o r k o u t , to look in the mirror, flex your arms, and seePopeye staring back? Of course not. Because you know thatbuilding physical muscle is a gradual process which requires thatyou be patient and realistic about seeing progress. So you keep up your daily w o r k o u t . For the first severalweeks—nothing. But then, one day, you finish your w o r k o u t , lookin the mirror, a n d — w o w ! — y o u r biceps pop up like website w i n -dows! Aha—progress! Progress in meditation requires this same kind of patience,commitment, and daily w o r k o u t . Here, instead of physical muscle,
58 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONyoure building what I call "Mindfulness Muscle." A n d like buildingphysical muscle, you may not notice it immediately. But one day,youll sit d o w n to meditate and see that somethings changed.Your focus is stronger and steadier, and thoughts slide off you likeTeflon. This might be hard to describe, but one things for sure: Itsprogress, Meditators also notice the appearance of Mindfulness Mus-cle in their daily activities. For example, imagine youre in thesupermarket Checkout-Line-From-Hell that never fails to raiseyour blood pressure. But today, f o r some reason, you find y o u r -self quiet and content, just relaxing and watching y o u r breath. Or perhaps youre waiting in front of a movie theater andyour date is late. Instead of stifling your anger as you usually do,you find yourself just standing comfortably, allowing all your angrythoughts and feelings to just arise and pass away, like clouds in thesky. By the time your date shows up, you find yourself feeling evenbetter than if hed arrived on time! Remember that progress in meditation is both subtle andgradual. Best bet: Dont think about it. W h e n it makes itselfknown, youll be the first to know it—and very pleasantly sur-prised indeed! Well, finally! Weve concluded the preliminaries. Theres onlyone more thing you have to do before you begin your 8 MinuteMeditation program: Take the pledge.
MEDITATION 101 59 THE 8 MINUTE MEDITATION OFFICIAL PLEDGE Date: I hereby agree with myself that, even if I am traveling, an va- cation, under a million family obligations, or have any other "good" excuse not to, I will nevertheless meditate for exactly 8 minutes a day, every day, for the next 8 weeks. [Escape Clause: If, for some reason, my day is so crazy that I honestly cannot find the time and miss a day, I will continue my meditation program immediately the next day. Note: This es- cape clause is valid for two uses only!] (Signed) Congratulations! Youre signed up and ready to go. Just t u r nthe page. Its time for W e e k One of 8 Minute Meditation. Time toquiet your mind—and change your life.
PART II THE 8 WEEKMEDITATION PROGRAM
LETS GET D O W N A N D MEDITATE!Time to get d o w n to the real reason youre here. Time to putd o w n the map and discover the territory of meditation. Youve successfully completed Part I. Youve read the Medita-tion Operating Instructions. You know h o w to correctly sit onyour chair. You know how to create your quiet meditation envi-ronment. Hey—you already know a lot! Part II of this book is the heart of 8 Minute Meditation—thedaily, 8 minute regimen youll be following for the next 8 weeks.Its designed to make meditation simple, easy, pleasant, and part ofyour daily life. Part II is divided into eight segments, one for each week ofthe program. Each segment is broken d o w n into five sections:
64 8 MINUTE MEDITATION • W h e r e y o u a r e . This is your check-in station. It contains a brief discussion about what might be going on for you at this stage of the 8 Minute Meditation program. • W h a t youll be doing. This section introduces you to this weeks meditation technique. • T h i s weeks m e d i t a t i o n instructions. These are y o u r clear, simple, step-by-step meditation instructions for the week. • Hows it going? Heres where we discuss what might be coming up for you in connection w i t h this weeks technique. • Q & A s . This weekly section addresses frequently asked questions that arise for meditators. As you can see, I w o n t just be saying "ciao" and abandoningyou. Nope, Im here w i t h you for the duration, every step of theway. W h o knows, you might even get tired of me! And that isfine—as long as you dont get tired of meditation! Lets begin Week One.
WHERE Y O U AREWelcome to the start of the 8 Minute Meditation program. Anytime you start something new, questions, doubts, andhopes usually arise. Perhaps you hope that when you sit d o w n tomeditate, youll suddenly become "enlightened," whatever thatmight mean to you. On the other hand, you might have alreadydecided that meditation is just one m o r e exercise in futility, likethe diet you tried last month that didnt w o r k . All this is, of course, normal, and completely to be expected.And the best way to deal with both positive and negative expecta-tions is to drop them completely. Instead, decide that you will ap-proach this meditation program one minute of meditation at a time.
66 8 MINUTE MEDITATION Today is Day One. By this time next week, youll have medi-tated 8 times—which adds up to almost an hour. So ask yourself,Can I devote an hour of my life to see if I can change my life? Sure you can.WHAT YOULL BE DOING: WATCHING YOUR BREATHThe 8 Minute Meditation program commences w i t h the simpleyet powerful technique of watching your breath. I once stayed with a Zen master at his mountaintop monasteryin California. His sole teaching instruction was "Just notice breath." W h e n I heard that, I figured meditation was going to besuper-simple, a real no-brainer. So I told him I wanted somethinga little more challenging, more macho. The master smiled know-ingly, patted me on the shoulder, and told me to just follow mybreath for three breaths. I sat still, closed my eyes, and began. By the end of my first breath, I had planned the menu for a din-ner party four months in the future. By the end of the second, I wasfiguring out how to make sure my Honda passed the California smogcheck. And by the end of the third breath—well, you get the picture. Following your breath may sound simple and easy, like childsplay. But, thanks to o u r constantly Roving Mind, were anywherebut here. My friend Josh Baran calls this "living in the elsewhereand elsewhen." But forewarned is forearmed. When (because there is no " i f "about this) you are meditating and suddenly find yourself mixingup a batch of brownies or deciding whether to eat Chinese orItalian tonight, just realize that you have strayed off. Then, w i t h o u t
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 67judging yourself a " b a d " meditator, gently return your awarenessto your breath. This is what breath meditation is about: watching y o u rbreath, straying off, realizing it, and gently returning. O v e r andover again. Like I said, meditation is a practice. And dont worry, Ill be giving you a lot more detailed medi-tation instructions than that Zen master gave me. Lets do it THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS: JUST ONE BREATH PREPARATION Set your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chair, comfortable and alert. Gently allow your eyes to close. Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer. INSTRUCTIONS Notice if you are controlling your breath. If so, release con- trol. Relax.
3 MINUTE MEDITATION Notice that place in your body where you are most aware of the sensation of breathing. It may be your chest, di- aphragm, or nostrils. There is no "right" place. Gently direct your attention to that place. We call it the "anchor point." With your attention on the anchor point, observe the nat- ural rise and fall of the breath. Try to view this as not "your breath" but "the breath." Allow . .. allow .. . allow. Theres no need to become in- volved or figure anything out. Thinking? No problem. Simply notice this. Gently return to your anchor point, your breath. Try to follow just one full in-and-out cycle of breath. If you can, then follow another If you cant, fine. Just start over Frustration? Irritation? Just notice these sensations. And re- turn to your anchor point. Continue in this way. Simply observe the natural cycle of breath at your anchor point. Can you follow just one breath? Do this until your timer sounds. Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one week.
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 69HOWS IT GOING?Most every meditator feels awkward when they begin to medi-tate. In fact, Id be surprised if you didnt feel this way. This canprompt you to think that maybe youre not cut o u t to be a med-itator. But that isnt true at all. Consider this: The 8 minutes you just spent in meditationmay be the first time in your life that youve been still, silent, andawake—simultaneously! Even if you only were like this for t w oseconds, it is a radical new way for you to experience the w o r l d .No w o n d e r you feel a little strange. Learning to meditate is like learning any new skill. At first, youprobably are mentally and physically off-balance. Perhaps you feelstupid, uncoordinated, even angry—like a real klutz. But you stickit o u t because you want to do it. Right now, you may feel weird and awkward. But dont let thatsideline you. Keep up your daily 8 Minute Meditation periods.One day soon, youll sit d o w n to meditate and will have what I callyour "aha moment." W h e n that happens, meditation wont feel strange anymore.And youll be glad you stuck around.Q&A: IN THE BEGINNINGQ: All I Did Was Think! I Couldnt Stop!Of course you couldnt. But dont worry, youre not doing any-thing wrong. Theres a popular misconception that when you meditate
70 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONcorrectly, all thought ceases. Nothing could be farther from thet r u t h . Meditation is not about suppressing thoughts, but surpassingthem. Accept this reality: It is your minds job to think—24/7. A n dits not going to stop just because you sit d o w n for 8 minutes andtell it to "Shut up, already!" But the good news is this: W h e n youstop trying to stop your thoughts, you begin to surpass them. Thiscan lead you to the peace you thought you could only achieve whenyou stopped thinking! N o w would be a good time to go back and reread the "Catchand Release" and "Allow . . . A l l o w . . . A l l o w " Operating Instructions.Theyll remind you how to approach and deal with Roving Mind. Also, t r y my Meditators " A B C " : Always Be Calm. Thats agood mnemonic device, for meditation and everything else inyour life, no matter what arises.Q: Why Do / Feel So Restless Just Sitting Still?Along w i t h a restless mind, a restless body is the most commonchallenge beginning meditators encounter. Its also perfectly n o r -mal and understandable. In breath meditation, we sit still and do nothing but neutrallyobserve the breath. We try not to engage in give-and-take w i t hRoving Mind, which doesnt appreciate this lack of attention. Toget o u r attention back, Roving Mind sends signals to the body,urging it to " D o n t just sit there. Do something!" I encourage you to do exactly the opposite: "Dont just dosomething. Sit there." As you develop your meditation practice,
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 71your mind and body will gradually acclimate to being still. In thebeginning, this might take up almost your entire 8 minute medita-tion period. But even if you experience only seven seconds offocus, it is very significant. One day, you will find that your mind will, of its o w n accord,settle down quickly, perhaps only a minute or so into your med-itation period, or even as you take your preparation breaths. Asfor your body, it will eventually, of its o w n accord, head for peacelike a homing pigeon.Q: Im Not Meditating Correctly. Am I?Every beginning meditator believes he or she is meditating wrong.N o t true. As Ive already said, no matter how you meditate, yourealways doing it correctly. Heres what may be happening to makeyou believe youre not: You sit down to meditate and, of course, your mind begins towander. You believe that you must be doing something wrong orthis wouldnt be happening. Perhaps a part of your body, yourright f o o t for example, suddenly feels uncomfortable. Or you re-alize that you need to use the restroom. So now youve got yourmind straying, your f o o t aching, and your bladder about to burst!And you think Meditation is supposed to make me peaceful And itsnot! This cant be right! But it is right. And you only have to do one thing: Allow exactlywhat is coming up to come up. Its your resistance to "what is" thatis causing you to feel that things are wrong. Once you begin to allow and accept exactly what is going on,
72 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONyou can stop battling w i t h your thoughts and feelings and surren-der to them. W h e n you begin to allow your thoughts, feelings, and emo-tions to just do their thing, something magical happens: Theydont bother you! They become like puffy clouds, scudding acrossa limitless sky. And you are that sky. N e x t time you wonder if youre meditating correctly, stopand answer this question: Did I, for 8 minutes, try my best to dotodays meditation technique? (Notice that this is about trying, n o tbeing perfect.) Of course you did! Congratulations! You just meditated right.Keep it up.Q: What Can I Do If I Feel Scary Thoughts andFeelings When I Meditate?Dont be afraid of being afraid. Feelings of fear and disorientation are common in medita-tion, whether you are a beginner or master. By the way, so arefeelings of bliss, peace, and love. But lets look at the uncomfort-able ones and why they might be arising. The practice of meditation can free y o u r body and mind ina w h o l e new way, propelling thoughts, feelings, and emotions upf r o m deep within to the surface of awareness, just as bubblesrise f r o m the b o t t o m of a glass of club soda. Some of thesethoughts and memories can be unsettling and frightening, espe-cially ones we never knew we had or might have unknowinglysuppressed. Instead of resisting and suppressing these thoughts, deal w i t h
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 73them exactly how you deal with everything in meditation. A l l o wthem to arise, do their thing, and then float off. Go back and review the "Catch and Release" Operating In-struction. Also remember that in meditation, we handle mind,emotional, and body states this way: * If you like it, dont go running after it. • If you dont like it, dont run away f r o m it. This is a good rule of thumb, not just for meditation, but for life.Q: Should I Be Trying Harder To Meditate?Alan Watts, the well-known meditation teacher, w r o t e that it wasimpossible to meditate. W h a t he meant by that statement wasthis: You cant try to meditate and be meditating at the same time.In other words, meditation is something you need to allow tohappen on its o w n . Remember when you first learned how to swim? In the be-ginning you struggled mightily to keep your head above water. Butthen, one day, something amazing happened: You gave up fightingto stay afloat. A n d when you did, you rose to the surface andfloated effortlessly. Meditation is like this. You are immersed in a sea of your o w nthoughts, body sensations, and feelings, struggling against them.Until the moment when you remember to just "allow . . . allow . . .allow" them. And when you do, when you surrender into what is,you find yourself floating effortlessly in serenity.
74 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONQ: Meditation Is Incredibly Boring.Nothings Happening!Actually, a lot is happening when you meditate, but in a differentway than you may be used t o . Theres a great NewYorker cartoon by Gahan W i l s o n in whicha meditation student sits across f r o m his master, who is irritatedwith the question the student has just asked: " W h a t happensnext?" The master roars,"Nothing happens next!" But this "nothing" is really a big"something." W h e n you dropyour expectation of what meditation is and h o w it is supposed tochange y o u — w h e n you let go of everything and just sit quietly andpeaceably for 8 minutes—you create the environment for move-ment to occur. A n d your life starts to change. So, if only for the 8 minutes a day you meditate,allow all no-tions and expectations about what you think is supposed to hap-pen to drop away. In time, you will see that the "nothing happensnext" might just be the biggest "something" that ever happenedt o you!Q: Should My Eyes Be Open or Closed When I Meditate?It varies according to the meditation teacher, technique, and t r a -dition. One meditation technique called Yogic Skygazing has youkeep your eyes as wide open as possible. The Vipassana and In-sight Meditation traditions have you close your eyes. Zen practi-tioners half-close their eyes and gaze d o w n . In the 8 Minute Meditation program, you keep your eyes
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 75closed. A n d although this can be very relaxing, it does not meanthat its time for you to "space o u t " or take a nap. In fact, just theopposite is true. Remember the Stanley Kubrick film title, Eyes Wide Shut? Thisis a good reminder that, in meditation, even though your physicaleyes are shut, your "minds eye" remains wide open and alert.Here are t w o pointers on how to do this: • Dont squeeze your eyes shut. A l l o w them to close gently and naturally. * Keep the eyes "soft." Relax your focus. After Week Four of the meditation program, youre welcometo experiment with Zen eye position: Soften your eyes, and let your gaze d r o p to a forty-five-degree angle with the floor. Gently allow your eyelids to closeuntil they are about one-third open. If this w o r k s better for you than eyes closed, continue thisway. If not, go back to closing your eyes. Either way, remember that closing your eyes in meditationisnt about losing awareness but gaining it. Youre doing great! If this is your seventh day, turn the page and move on to next week.
WEEK TWONAKED SOUNDWHERE YOU ARECongratulations! Youve successfully completed Week One of 8Minute Meditation! Youve made your desire to learn to meditate a reality, maybefor the first time in your life. At this point, youve meditated for al-most an hour. If you have never meditated before, this is a new per-sonal record. And by this time next week, youll have doubled it. Last week we worked with breath meditation. And Im sureyour (and everyones) constant companion—Roving Mind—frequently interrupted your meditation periods. You may have alsohad the experience, if only for a moment, of Roving Mind disap-pearing and your thoughts passing by like clouds across an open sky.
78 8 MINUTE MEDITATION This is a taste of meditation, an insight into h o w meditationallows you to stay peaceful and calm, no matter what thoughtsyour mind churns out. If you dont think you had this experience, dont worry, be-cause at some point you will. Its a natural outgrowth of medita-tion practice. As you prepare for Week Two, this would be a good time toreview several important operating instructions: * A l l o w . . . a l l o w . . . allow. A l l o w whatever comes up. A n d exclude nothing. Emotions, thoughts, images—theyre all treated equally. The more you completely accept them, the more present you are and the more fluid your meditation. • C a t c h and release. W h e n you realize that youve hooked o n t o a thought, gently unhook and release it. Over time, youll become much more skillful at noticing when youve " h o o k e d " something. After a while, releasing will become easier and more automatic. Keep this dynamic duo in mind as you begin Week Two. A n dremember, by this time next week, youll have f o u r t e e n — c o u n tem—fourteen meditation sessions under your belt. So w i t h o u t further ado, onward.WHAT YOULL BE DOINGDont worry. Naked Sound Meditation doesnt mean youll be dis-robing. Its my way of describing a way to meditate that anchors
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 79you in the coming and going of sound, w i t h o u t needing to knowwhat it is, what it means, or where its coming from. Noise pollution has reached epidemic proportions. We live atthe mercy of a constant assault f r o m blaring stereos, shrieking caralarms, droning airplane engines, and ear-splitting emergency ve-hicle sirens. You most likely get your daily earful of noise pollution andhave probably invented your o w n formula to shut it out. This usu-ally involves the creation and application of physical and psycho-logical "earmuffs." For example, construction site next door driving youbonkers? Turn up the stereo. Kids making t o o much noise? Vodkamartini to the rescue. Car alarm that w o n t stop squawking?Stereo and martini! These tactics may w o r k , but only up to a point. A n d theres amuch better way: meditation. Believe it or not, meditation canhelp you handle noise pollution—no earmuffs required. Thatswhat Naked Sound Meditation is all about. Naked Sound Meditation is a technique that treats sound inall its pristine nakedness. For the next week, youll spend 8 min-utes a day just hearing sounds—without defining, filtering, reject-ing, or judging them. Youll be amazed at h o w profoundly relaxingthis can be. Heres an illustration of what I mean: Youre meditating. Sud-denly, in the background, you hear a faint drone that starts to be-come louder. Before youre even aware of it, your mind hasidentified it as a small airplane. And a series of thoughts, images,and body sensations follows close behind like f o o t soldiers. Itmight go something like this:
80 8 MINUTE MEDITATION Damn, I hate that plane! Its interfering with my meditation. Itsounds much too close. The pilot is an idiot! Im an idiot! I never shouldhave moved this close to the airport I wish I had enough money tomove to the country. Get the picture? It starts with a simple, neutral, buzzingsound. N e x t thing you know, youve upset yourself. This is an ex-ample of Roving Mind just doing its job, which is to constantly re-ceive, analyze, and associate all sensory input, not only w i t hhearing, but w i t h all five senses. But there is another less stressful and more skillful option. Imagine yourself once again in meditation. Here comes thatplane. You hear the buzzing drone: louder . . . louder . . . louder . . .louder. But thats all you do. Just hear it. N o t as a plane, but as justsound. A l l o w that sound to just be what it is and do what it does.In a few moments, the sound, of its o w n accord, begins fading . . .fading . . . fading . . . And thats it. Sound came. Sound went. It did its dance andmoved on. You didnt dance with it, latch onto it, push it away, or tella story about it. This is what I call "naked sound": sound unem¬bellished by your concepts, associations, and images. Naked Sound Meditation might appear simple, but dont besurprised when you encounter difficulty w i t h it. Consider thepreceding example and how instantaneously the mind needs toassociate sounds w i t h judgments, thoughts, and beliefs. Expectthis to occur once, if not many times, when you meditate. And dont worry, get upset, or think youre doing thingswrong. Just keep on keeping on. This is why we call meditation apractice. Turn the page, and lets begin.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 81THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS: NAKED SOUND PREPARATION Set your timer for 8 minutes. lake your meditation position on your chain comfortable and alert Gently allow your eyes to close. lake a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment. Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer INSTRUCTIONS Bring your attention to the sounds around you. All sounds. Without filtering or rejecting them. Allow these sounds to rise and fall of their own accord. As they do, just note them by silently saying the words rising or falling. Be with each sound completely. If one sound rises as an- other falls, see if you can give both equal attention, noting their individual "rising" and "falling."
82 8 MINUTE MEDITATION * A sound is just a sound. There is no need to match it to an object. * If a sound does give rise to a thought image or body sen- sation—no problem. Simply notice this. Gently return to y o u r meditation on just allowing sound to rise and fall. * Do this until your timer sounds. * Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one weekH O W S IT G O I N G ?Although you most likely found Naked Sound Meditation chal-lenging, you also hopefully got a taste of how peaceful it can bewhen you just allow things to be the way they are. So why not tryand apply the Naked Sound technique to your other senses, for acomplete experience of sight, taste, smell, and touch. H o w can you do this? Heres an example of h o w to convertNaked Sound to "Naked Sight": Its spring, and you happen upon a beautiful cherry tree burst-ing with blossoms. You stop, become quiet, and simply look at thetree. You dont compare it w i t h the cherry tree you saw last yearin Washington, D.C. or judge it against apple blossoms down theroad. Instead, you "just see" exactly the same way you "just lis-tened" to sounds in Naked Sound—without ideas, thoughts, judg-ments, or comparisons. W h e n you look at a tree this way, its like seeing nature for
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 83the first time. The experience can be joyful, even overwhelming.Imagine going through your day like this, just seeing, just eating,just smelling, just feeling, w i t h o u t filtering, criticism, or judgment. Sound wonderful? It is. A n d meditation can help you be thisway.Q&A: AM I MEDITATING CORRECTLY?Q: My Meditation Session Was Bad. Whats Wrong?Youll never hear anyone complain when theyve had a "good*meditation session. But if its a " b a d " one, oh boy, watch out! Rightaway, you figure something must be terribly wrong! Heres a typ-ical mind scenario: Okay, Im meditating... Following instructions perfectly ...Im sup-posed to be serene, happy, and blissful! ... And I definitely am not!...Ill never get the hang of it!... This is a bad meditation! If this sounds familiar, relax. N o t only is this not a bad medi-tation session, its a perfect one. Why? Because it shows you thatthe problem isnt w i t h your meditation, but w i t h your judgingmind, which in this case has decided that this meditation periodis bad. As you know f r o m the Meditation Operating Instructions,the only criterion as to whether a meditation period was good orbad is this: "A good meditation is the one you did. A bad medita-tion is the one you skipped." Keep that in mind. And keep meditating. Its all good.
84 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONQ: H o w Do / Know This Meditation TechniqueIs Right for Me?There are hundreds of meditation techniques to choose f r o m .Once you complete the 8 week meditation program, youll be ina much better position to seek out and choose techniques thatresonate perfectly with you. But for just this time, allow me tochoose for you. Its important that you follow the program the way its pre-sented and give each meditation technique a full seven-day trialperiod. This will hopefully discourage the growth of the wide-spread affliction I call " C o n t e n t m e n t Shopping"—something thatresults in anything but contentment. Contentment Shopping is the nonstop, acquisitive quest for"something" out there that will make us happy. You know, thatthing that you just have to have, no matter what. Heres h o w itworks: You see an item, anything f r o m a $2.99 bag of Hershey barsto a $89,000 BMW. You think If I can just have that, HI be happy.Then you do whatever you have to do to get it. A n d yourehappy—for a brief moment. W h i c h would be about t w o minutesfor the Hershey bars. And for the BMW, a lot longer—up to t w owhole weeks, or until the first ding in the fender. Your desire to switch to another meditation technique is justanother version of the Hershey bars and the BMW. You believethat if you can get a different meditation technique, your medita-tion problems will be over, and youll be happy. On the otherhand, if you commit to staying with the meditation technique,even for one week, it could be a meaningful step towards freeing
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 85yourself f r o m the belief that happiness is somewhere " o u t there,"in the next thing. It could be the first break in the vicious cycle ofContentment Shopping. Doesnt this sound like a better choice? So stick w i t h this weeks meditation technique until its timefor change. Notice all the questions and doubts that tell youtheres a better meditation technique o u t there. A n d if you couldjust have that one . . .Q: How Will I Know If Meditation Is "Working"?The way meditation works is different f r o m the way o t h e r thingswork. What seems to be happening and what is really happeningwhen you meditate are t w o different things. Lets say youve just sat down to meditate. At this point youfeel, well, like youre just sitting there, like a bump on a log. N e x tthing you know, youre experiencing a nonstop stream ofthoughts, feelings, and body sensations—some of which mighthave to do w i t h meditation, like how youre doing it wrong or thatits a waste of time. But thats not true: A powerful process is atw o r k here,flying below your radar. Ive already discussed how meditation builds "MindfulnessMuscle" and how every 8 minute meditation period you com-plete contributes to building that muscle. This is going on when-ever you meditate whether you are aware of it or not Knowing this frees you. You dont need to keep monitoringyourself for results. All you have to do is simply follow the 8Minute Meditation program. Its working, whether you know it ornot.
86 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONQ: / Fell Asleep While I Was Meditating. Is That Okay?Its fine. N o w its time to meditate. Every meditator, at some point, falls asleep on the job. You gointo a relaxed state and—bye, bye. Theres nothing wrong w i t hfalling asleep, and you need never chastise and berate yourself fordoing so. On the other hand, your snooze doesnt count as your med-itation period. The best thing to do when you wake up is—youguessed it—set your timer for 8 minutes—and begin again tomeditate. Here are a few simple things that can help you stay awake andalert when you meditate: • Maintain correct sitting posture. Its important that you sit straight and upright. Its when you start slouching that you doze off. This simple correction can make a huge difference in wakefulness. Dozing off is always a good reminder to go back and review the posture instructions in Part I. • Keep your room a tad on the cool side. Turn off the heat. Let in some fresh air. Remove sweaters, vests, or scarves. • Splash a little cool water on your face before you sit d o w n to meditate. • Do some short physical exercise to get your circulation going. Just several deep breaths can do wonders. • Never meditate right after a heavy meal, a triple espresso, or a glass of champagne.
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 87* Dont make meditation time nap time. Youve already de-feated your own purpose. Youre doing great! If this is your seventh day, turn the page and move on to next week.
WEEK THREENOTING BODY SENSATIONS 0WHERE Y O U ARECongratulations. Youve got fourteen days of meditation practiceunder your belt! As a famous meditation master once said,"Everythings perfect! A n d theres always room for improvement." At this point in the program, you may find yourself: • Settling d o w n into meditation m o r e easily * More relaxed and less awkward w i t h meditation • Starting to see that meditation isnt t o o hard—nor t o o easy • Impatient that youre not progressing as fast as you might have expected
90 8 MINUTE MEDITATION The first three items arent problematic. In fact, they indicateprogress. But lets take a look at the last one: impatience. Right now, please take a long, deep, slow breath. G o o d . N o wyoure ready to read on. Impatience is a common feeling that comes up in the begin-ning stage of meditation practice and usually arises either because: • You are enjoying meditation. You want to get even better at it—right now! • You arent enjoying meditation. You feel frustrated and irri¬tated. You wan These seemingly opposing viewpoints are actually the flip sideof the same coin, called "expectation." These strong preferencesprovide a good opportunity for observation when they surfaceduring meditation. Notice these thoughts, feelings, and emotionsas they arise, and apply the "Catch and Release" and "Allow . ..Allow . . . A l l o w " Operating Instructions. This week youre going to add something new to your med-itation toolbox. Its a technique called " N o t i n g Body Sensations."Its a fresh, new way to explore terrain that you think you reallyk n o w — y o u r body. I think youll be in for an eye-opener. Lets do it.WHAT YOULL BE DOINGTheres an old movie called Fantastic Voyage that starred RaquelWelch and Stephen Boyd. The t w o of them, clad in tight jumpsuits (I
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 91wonder why?), are miniaturized and then proceed to pilot a micro-scopic space shuttle through the bloodstream of the president, try-ing to find a blood clot in his brain before its t o o late—which, ifcourse, it isnt Week Three of your 8 Minute Meditation program is going totake you on your o w n fantastic voyage of sorts: inside your o w nbody. Jumpsuits are optional. The meditation technique youll do this week is called " N o t -ing." Noting is a simple yet powerful technique that enables youto focus your attention. Heres a brief preview of noting. Try this now: * Take a deep breath and gently close your eyes. * Relax into your body. Really allow yourself to occupy it. * A r e you drawn to a prominent sensation somewhere, in- ternally or externally? * Good. N o t e where it is. You need not label the exact body part or area where the sensation is located. * Observe the sensation w i t h o u t analysis or judgment. Just watch. As you can see, you need not be concerned w i t h the exactlocation of the prominent body sensation. The only thing youneed to do is sense the sensation, note it, and direct your aware-ness to it. A brief w o r d about difficulty: You might find noting morechallenging than the previous techniques youve done w i t h breath
92 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONand sound. Thats because your "anchor point" in noting medita-tion is not centered in one place, but instead is in constant m o -tion throughout your body. D o n t feel frustrated if you find it achallenge. Noting is well w o r t h your exploration and can " t u r b o -charge" your level of awareness. Remember that youre buildingMindfulness Muscle here. Okay, its time to fasten your seatbelt, and take off—on y o u rown fantastic voyage. THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS: NOTING PREPARATION Set your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chair, comfortable and alert Gently allow your eyes to close. Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment. Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer.
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 93 INSTRUCTIONS Allow your body to relax. Notice the different body sensa- tions that arise. Do this for a few moments At some point, you will feel an area in your body sort of "light up." Note this place. It is not necessary to label this body part. Bring your awareness to this dominant area. And rest your attention there. This is your current anchor point. Soon, a new area of sensation will light up. Treat it as you did the first area. Make it your current anchor point. Note this new area and rest your attention here. Allow it Ob- serve it. Do nothing about it or to it. When thoughts arise, just notice them. No need to get in- volved. Gently return to the place where you sense your dominant body sensation. Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one weekH O W S IT G O I N G ? N o w that youve had a chance to experience noting medita-tion, heres a fun way to better understand what this meditationis all about. Lets take a little sojourn back to the heyday of TVand that famous cop show, Dragnet. If you recall, on the show, Jack W e b b played the laconic,
94 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONstone-faced LAPD Sergeant Joe Friday. A n d you could rest as-sured that at some p o i n t in each episode, Sgt. Friday w o u l dwind up interrogating a female witness to a crime. During thatscene, he w o u l d never fail to u t t e r his famous line: "Just t h efacts, maam." W h a t Friday meant by this was that his only concern was w i t hthe bare bones of the event—the pure, unadulterated facts, theexactly-what-happened. He wasnt interested in what the witnessthought, imagined, or wished she saw. All Sarge wanted were thefacts, maam. Period. "Just the facts" is also h o w I want you to approach all y o u rmeditation techniques. Heres what I mean: • W h e n youre noting a body sensation, just note it. • W h e n youre watching your breath, just watch it. • W h e n you hear a sound, just hear it. The operative—and crucial—word is just. As this "just-ness"begins to permeate and saturate your awareness more and more,your meditation practice can take you to a new place of allowingand balance, where youre more relaxed and open, not just tomeditation—but your entire life. A n d thats a fact.
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 95Q&A: THINKING, THINKING, THINKING . . .Q: What Do / Do with Unwanted Thoughts ThatAppear During Meditation?Do exactly the opposite of what you usually do. O u r waking lives overflow w i t h a nonstop litany of humanemotions that run the gamut from pure bliss to unadulteratedhell. The way we normally deal w i t h thoughts is to give them a l o tmore credit than they deserve, thinking that we are obligated tofollow them wherever they lead us. As the cliche says,"One thought leads to another." A n d thatsexactly what happens, over and over again, ad infinitum—and adnauseum. Exhausting, isnt it? W h a t can you possibly do to restyour weary mind and get some peace? Meditate. Meditation is the antidote to Roving Mind. All you have to dois—well, nothing. Heres how: • A thought arises. You watch it, allow it, and release it. • A new thought arises. You watch it, allow it, and release it. • Another thought arises. Guess what? Exactly! You watch it, allow it, and release it. If you think this sounds a lot like the " A l l o w . . . A l l o w .. .A l l o w " and "Catch and Release" Operating Instructions youreexactly right. And thats good news, because you dont have tolearn anything new. Just keep doing what youve been doing. By now, you are starting to realize that thoughts always ariseduring meditation, no matter how calm and relaxed you are or
96 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONhow proficient a meditator you become. But the good news isthat you are also starting to develop an immunity to the lure ofRoving M i n d — n o matter how seductive it seems. Remember your operating instructions and o u r definition ofmeditation. A l l o w what is. Rest your weary mind. Bask in thepeace you deserve.Q: Im Having More Thoughts Than Ever Since /Started Meditating. Why Is Meditation Causing This?As Garcia said, just before he delivered dire battle news to hiscommander, " D o n t kill the messenger!" Theres an enormous difference between noticing thoughtsmore and noticing more thoughts. In meditation, its the former,not the latter, thats happening, even if it doesnt seem that way. Meditation does not produce an increase in thinking, butrather makes you realize, for the first time in your life, how muchthinking you actually do. This is something you probably never no-ticed before. So instead of concluding that meditation is messingup your mind, be grateful for this new realization. N e x t time you meditate and the thought comes up that"Meditation is causing more thoughts," treat it exactly how yourelearning to treat all your thoughts: with allowance and nonen¬gagement. Its another perfect opportunity to deal w i t h RovingMind in an infinitely more skillful—and peaceful—way.
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM 97Q: While Meditating, I Had a Moment Where I Felt IWas Really Here. It Felt Wonderful, Then It Was Gone.H o w Do / Get It Back?W h a t you might have experienced was a natural state that is yourbirthright. It has many names, but for the moment, lets call it"presence." Its life itself, without the overlay of your n o n s t o p " ! "machine that continually obscures it f r o m view. Presence is always right here and available to you, in everymoment. But the only way you can return to presence is, para-doxically, not to t r y to return to it. To help you better understandwhat I mean, t r y this: • Stop whatever youre doing. • Review the thoughts youve had over the past five minutes. Dont w o r r y if you cant remember most of them. • W h a t percentage of your thoughts would you say involved planning your future? Or remembering your past? • Where were " y o u " when you were thinking these thoughts? Even just a few minutes of observation demonstrates h o wmuch of your waking life is spent in either the dead past or thenonexistent future. Its amazing how seldom in the day you are ac-tually present, in this very moment, which is the most wonderfulplace you can ever be. Heres where meditation can help. Even though you cant de-cide to be in presence, meditation can allow you to become what
98 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONCatherine Ingram, teacher and author of the book Passionate Pres-ence, calls "more presence-prone." How? By going, as Catherineputs it,"upstream f r o m thought." As you continue to meditate, you can spend more time up-stream, and this place becomes more pronounced and intimate.You begin to understand, on a nonintellectual level, that presenceis not something that comes from " o u t t h e r e " and has just ran-domly—and temporarily—dropped in for a visit. Instead, youcome to realize presence as your natural inner state—alwayshere and always available, in the silent space accessed throughmeditation.Q: When I Meditated, My Mind Kept Singing "WhiteChristmas" Over and Over Again. Its Maddening.What Do / Do?Dont worry, youre n o t going crazy. The appearance of popularsongs, commercial jingles, and school alma maters during medita-tion is a very common occurrence. Lets say its December, and youre in the midst of your 8Minute Meditation period. Suddenly your mind begins to play afamiliar melody. Its the Irving Berlin classic, " W h i t e Christmas"and the voice of course, is that of Bing Crosby. But once isnt enough! Its as if theres an old phonographrecord grafted into your brain, playing the song over and overagain. You try to banish it f r o m your mind, but as usual, the harderyou try, the more persistently it stays. Your reaction to this intrusion is probably less than skillful,somewhere along the lines of Oh, for crying out loud! Get lost! Cant
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 99you see Im meditating? But do Irving and Bing care? Absolutelynot! W h a t in the w o r l d do you do so that you can keep meditat-ing? Heres what: To adapt a line f r o m Gertrude Stein: "A thought is a thoughtis a thought." Remember your Catch and Release Operating In-struction? Whats happened here is that youve hooked o n t o athought, in the f o r m of a series of words that make up a song. Allyou need to do is treat the song as you would a single thought:Gently unhook it and release it back into the stream. May your days be merry and bright. Youre d o i n g great! If this is your seventh day, turn the p a g e and move on to next week.
WEEK FOURTHIS MAGIC MOMENTWHERE YOU AREYoure about to begin your f o u r t h week of meditation practice.By now, youve meditated for almost three hours! Amazing! Giveyourself a huge pat on the back. Right about now, you may be having one or m o r e of the fol-lowing experiences: • Youre getting cozier w i t h meditation. Its like wrapping yourself in a warm, welcoming comforter, something you want to do every day. • Youre m o r e accepting of your thoughts and body sensa-
!02 8 MINUTE MEDITATION tions, even the unpleasant ones. Terra incognito is becoming more familiar. • Youre beginning to understand the temporary and fleeting nature of your emotions, body sensations, and thinking. They arise by themselves and eventually float off like clouds. • Youre becoming more adept at letting go of whatever arises in meditation, be they thoughts, images, or body sensa- tions. Catch and release is becoming an automatic part of your being. This is splendid progress, and you are to be congratulated foryour dedication and willingness to stay w i t h the program. Letsmove on to W e e k Four.W H A T YOULL BE D O I N GThis weeks meditation technique is, once again, about being pres-ent in this moment. And to enable you to do that, youll be w o r k -ing w i t h the technique I call "This Magic Moment." We discussed "presence" in last weeks Q&As. You mightwant to review it again before reading o n . Presence is simply about being here now, which might seem abit absurd to you. Whats the big deal? you might say, Im alwayshere now. Where else could I possibly be? Fair question. So lets take a moment and find o u t if you reallyare here now. Id like you to stop reading and put down this book.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 103Then, take a deep breath, gently allow your eyes to close, andcompletely relax and allow your next four cycles of breath. Okay, open your eyes and answer this: W e r e you completelypresent for those four breaths? By this, I mean were you righthere7. Or was your mind coming up w i t h thoughts like Why am Isitting here with my eyes closed? or Is this what he means by beingpresent? Take a good look at what happened. This exercise illustrates that although you live under the as-sumption that youre " h e r e " all the time, the truth is quite t h econtrary: You are " h e r e " a lot less than you know. A n d " t h e r e " alot more than you know. This Magic Moment Meditation is all about bringing you intothe elusive present. Lets begin. THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS: THIS MAGIC MOMENT PREPARATION Set your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chair, comfortable and alert Gently allow your eyes to close. Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out
104 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer. INSTRUCTIONS Relax and allow your mind to settle. A thought arises. It is most likely about the past or the future. • Label the thought either "past" or "future." Allow the thought to go its way to do its dance. As the thought moves off, notice the space around it. Silent. Still. Here. Now. Surrender into this silent, vast presence. Another thought arises. Dont resist it. Again, just label it "past" or "future." Is your mind wandering off into thoughts, body sensations, or emotions? No problem. Just notice them and allow them to float away like clouds in a boundless sky Allow thoughts. Allow silence. Allow everything. Do this until your timer sounds. Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one week.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 105HOWS IT GOING?This Magic Moment is designed to help you understand, on a non-intellectual level, the difference between being here, as opposedto elsewhere and "elsewhen." A good illustration of this is to be found in a cartoon that ap-peared in The New Yorker magazine (which seems to have a thingfor monks!). Heres the setup: A Zen monk, smiling beatifically, perches on his meditationcushion in the difficult cross-legged full lotus position. A cartoon"thought balloon" floats above his head. And whats inside thatballoon? A chair! Besides being funny, this cartoon expresses the truth that, nomatter how seasoned the meditator, it doesnt take much to draghim completely out the moment, no matter how he might appearto the world. O u r cartoon monk has most likely been sitting mo-tionless for hours in an uncomfortable posture. His inability to ac-cept his discomfort has sent him into the remembered past (Gee,remember how good sitting in a chair felt?) or the imagined future (Gee,wouldnt a chair be great?). Or both! Each one of us is this cartoon monk, dreaming of sitting in achair that is somewhere else—instead of being right here, w h e r ewe are. One of the great blessings of meditation is that it affordsus, perhaps for the first time, a calm place to observe the mindsincessant search for that elusive something that will make thingsright. This understanding, gained through meditation, can lead to anew sense of personal freedom and peace.
!06 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NQ&A: MUSIC, MANTRAS, NOISE, AND INCENSEQ: Ive Been Told That Listening to Music EnhancesMeditation. Can I Play My Favorite Music When IMeditate?Its best not to. Heres why: W h e n you meditate, you want to create as level a playing fieldas possible—maybe even tilted a bit in your favor. One way toachieve this is to minimize outside distractions. Playing any typeof music while you meditate n o t only creates unnecessary noise,but also triggers associations and memories of what the song ormusic means. These conscious and unconscious thoughts practi-cally guarantee that you will be pulled away from your meditation. W h y make it tougher on yourself? Keep as level a playing fieldas possible. Save the music for later. Youll enjoy it more, too.Q: Can / Burn Incense While I Meditate?No smoking—for the next 8 minutes. The reasoning here is the same as the one for music: T h esmell of incense can distract you f r o m the main event—medita-tion. Its like being a cliff diver, perched on a cliff 300 feet abovethe Pacific, w h o says, "Yknow, this isnt hard enough. So Ill justblindfold myself and spin around like a pinata before I dive." Again, keep your meditation playing field as level as possible. W a i tuntil youve finished your meditation session to light up your josssticks, scented candles, aromatherapy lamps—or anything y o u rheart desires. Youll appreciate those pleasant scents even m o r ebecause youll be more present to smell them.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 107Q: Its Too Noisy to Meditate, No Matter How ManyWindows I Close.Its never " t o o anything" to meditate. Noise pollution is epidemic today. Unless your current mail-ing address is a mountaintop in Nepal, a hearing test booth, or themoon, chances are 100% that unwanted sound and noise sur-round you. But this doesnt mean you cant meditate. In fact, un-wanted noise can lead to a deeper meditative experience becauseit forces you to get m o r e creative. As Ive said, before you sit d o w n to meditate, make your besteffort to minimize noise. Close your windows, shut off the radioor TV, subdue children and spouses, and wait for the gardener tofinish mowing the lawn. Once youve done all you can do, then justsit d o w n and meditate, accepting the fact that unwanted noise willlikely intrude into your space. Its rare to have a completely noise-free meditation session.For instance, you might wait until everyone has gone to bed andthe house is silent. You sit d o w n to meditate. And whaa!... theregoes that car alarm. Or your neighbors cat. Or your baby. W h e n this happens, turn that noise into an opportunity todeepen your meditation practice. Switch to Naked Sound and justhear the noise as noise. Dont label, criticize, analyze, or judge it.Practice with Naked Sound for the remainder of your meditationperiod. You can always return to your current technique t o m o r r o w . Meditation can help you develop a new way of dealing w i t hunwanted noise. A l l o w it to rise,fall, and disappear. The m o r e youlet go of noise, the less it will annoy you.
!08 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NQ: Speaking of Sound, I Saw This PBS Special WhereMonks Were Chanting Something Called a "Mantra."What Is It? And Can I Do That Instead?Simply put, mantra is a meditation practice in the Buddhist andother traditions in which the practitioner focuses on repeating acertain sound, w o r d , phrase, or prayer. Repetition of the w o r d" O m " is one of the most universally popular mantras. 8 Minute Meditation is designed to be unobtrusive, allowingyou to meditate anywhere, without disturbing anyone else.Mantras are usually chanted out loud, often as loudly as possible.This can not only disturb others, but also draw unnecessary at-tention to you. N o t a great idea. After you complete your 8 week meditation program, feelfree to explore mantra or any other meditation tradition youfancy. But for now, and the remainder of this program, please re-call—and f o l l o w — t h e "Leave the Driving to Us" Operating In-struction. Youre d o i n g great! If this is your seventh day, turn the page and move on to next week.
WEEK FIVEGRACIOUS DECLINING 0WHERE Y O U ARECongratulations! Youre halfway through the 8 Minute Meditation pro-gram and into your fifth week as a meditator. At this point, youve gotthirty-two meditation periods under your belt. Thats 192 minutes—more than 3 hours of meditation. You are doing incredibly well. This week well be exploring a meditation technique I call"Gracious Declining." Its a technique that will allow you to fur-ther develop your skill in the art of "meeting and greeting" peskythoughts. Ive already said it, but its definitely w o r t h repeating: There isnothing intrinsically wrong w i t h thinking. You need a sound, w o r k -ing mind to survive, do your job, provide for your family, and re-
110 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONmember which toothbrush in the rack is yours. This is n o t t h ekind of thinking Im talking about. Its the other kind—the useless,negative thinking that clutters and clogs your awareness, keepingyou f r o m living in peace. If youve been paying attention to your incessant mind streamthese past four weeks, youve probably noticed something strik-ing: Useful, vital, and essential thoughts make up only a tiny partof your thinking. Its the useless, unhelpful, and oftentimes painfulthoughts that predominate. Gracious Declining is a technique that can help you developa skillful new way to deal with your mind clutter. All thats re-quired is that you be f i r m and polite.WHAT YOULL BE DOINGThe Gracious Declining meditation technique is designed to helpyou nip rambling thought streams in the bud. Heres an illustra-tion of what I mean: Imagine your thoughts as an endless line of salespeople stand-ing at your front door, peddling everything from vacuum cleanersto cell phones—none of which you are remotely interested inbuying. Every few seconds, a new salesperson knocks on yourdoor and wont stop until you open up. A n d when you do, he im-mediately launches into his pitch and wont take no for an answer. Whats the best way to get rid of this irritating intruder andnot lose your cool or sanity in the process? The best way is to open your door, look him in the eye, andfirmly but politely say " N o thank you." Then quickly close the
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM IIIdoor. By doing this, you remain disengaged and uninvolved with thesituation, as opposed to losing your temper. These pitchsters will never leave you alone, but you can stilldeal with them in a matter-of-fact way that doesnt cause you stressor upset—and can, in fact, be peaceful. This is what I call "GraciousDeclining." Remember this when you meditate this week: Your thoughts arelike a never-ending line of salespeople, incessantly seeking your atten¬tion.You handle each of them in exactly the same way. Open the door,look them in the eye, and graciously decline to let them in. Lets d o i t THIS W E E K S M E D I T A T I O N INSTRUCTIONS: GRACIOUS DECLINING PREPARATION Start your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chair, comfortable and alert. Gently allow your eyes to close. Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer.
112 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N INSTRUCTIONS Allow your attention to rest lightly on your breath. A thought will shortly present itself in your awareness like an uninvited salesperson, knocking on your door Be aware that the thought is here, demanding your attention. Firmly yet graciously, decline to engage the thought Return attention to your breath. Sit quietly until another thought knocks on your door Once more, graciously decline to engage this thought. Return to your breath again. Graciously decline whenever necessary Do this until your timer sounds. Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one week.H O W S IT G O I N G ?If you got a taste of Gracious Declining, you experienced h o wpeaceful you can be when you refrain from engaging unwanted,frivolous, and negative thoughts. Gracious Declining is n o t easy to do all the time. Yourthoughts constantly t r y to convince you that w h a t they areselling is crucial to y o u r survival and you need to listen to
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 113them—right now! This is w h e r e a meditation practice like Gra-cious Declining—even for 8 minutes a day—can make an i m -p o r t a n t difference. It allows you the space n o t to buy i n t o t h esales pitch. You can also apply the Gracious Declining technique to bodysensations. W h e n a demanding body sensation appears in y o u rdoorway, treat it the same way you would an unwanted thought:Graciously decline to become involved w i t h it. Gracious Declining is a useful tool you can use every day. Itsespecially handy when dealing with tantrum-throwing children,telemarketers, and television commercials.Q&A: PHYSICAL AND MENTAL INTRUSIONSQ: Why Cant I Stop My Repetitive Thoughts?I discussed this challenge in Week Threes Q & A in relation to songlyrics. Lets review it again in relation to repetitive thinking. First you should know that you are n o t alone in the repeti-tive thought department. Everyone w h o meditates, from begin-ners to masters, experiences them somewhere along the line. Ivebeen meditating for more than twenty-five years and still get am-bushed by repetitive thoughts, although not nearly as much as Iused to. So what goes on here? W h y does your mind seem to go intoattack mode when you meditate, bombarding you with repetitivereplays of fast-food jingles, old show tunes, and even worse, up-setting life experiences such as the fight you had w i t h your bossthis morning? Its as if theres a diabolical "instant replay" machine
114 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nburied in your mind, and its jammed, dooming you to watch thesame scene over and over and over again. Meditation can help you. You dont have to do anything spe-cial or learn any new technique. This is because the only differ-ence between a random thought and a repetitive one is that thelatter keeps recurring. All you need to do is treat it exactly thesame way as you treat a single thought. This means that when a thought that came and went and popsup again, you deal w i t h it as if its arising for the first time: A l l o w it,then release it. This is exactly in keeping with o u r A l l o w . . . Allow ...Allow and Catch and Release Operating Instructions. H o w many times must you do this? As long as the recurringthought recurs. But dont worry, it w o n t last forever. A repetitivethought, like any o t h e r thought, always moves on. All you need todo is relax, watch—and outlast it.Q: What If I Meditate and Feel Physical Pain?You stop meditation immediately! Its not unusual to feel slight physical discomfort while medi-tating w i t h your back unsupported. This should decrease as youcontinue your daily meditation practice. And remember what Isaid in the posture instructions: If you need to lean back on y o u rchair for support, do so. Chances are slim that sitting on a chair for 8 minutes willcause you to experience pain. But if it ever does, immediately stopmeditating and do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 115Q: / Really Need to Use the Restroom! Should I StopMeditating?The short answer to this question is: Go before you meditate.However, if the urge to go does arise, t r y the "I Have to Pee! RightN o w ! Meditation." Heres how: Allow every thought,feeling, and body sensation surroundingthe belief that you have to pee, right this moment! to arise andpass. This meditation technique can be very useful, allowing you tosee how your mind "amps up" what may only be slight physicaldiscomfort. Also watch h o w your mind creates thoughts aboutyour discomfort, such as feeling guilty for not peeing before yousat d o w n . Or angry with a family member w h o made you t o obusy to pee. Or afraid youll have "an accident." Simply observe all of these thoughts, feelings, and body sen-sations as they arise and pass. Before you k n o w it, your medita-tion timer will sound and youll be done. And also remember, as Ive just said, if you experience realpain, stop meditating immediately. Youre d o i n g great! If this is your seventh day, turn the page and move on to next week.
WEEK SIXPRIVATE SCREENING 0WHERE YOU AREYoure about to begin Week Six of your 8 Minute Meditation p r o -gram. And by this point, youve got thirty-five meditation periodsunder your belt. Way to go! If youve been following the program and meditating on adaily basis, youre probably at a point where: • Meditation has become m o r e effortless and part of your daily life. • Your 8 minute meditation periods are taking you deeper into a place of peace and calm.
118 8 MINUTE MEDITATION W h e n things like this start to happen, it can mean that youreon the verge of experiencing your meditation "aha" moment. Thisis a deep, visceral, nonintellectual understanding—kind of a "cos-mic click." It indicates that your meditation practice has shifted toa new level. " A h a " moments are nothing mystical-shymistical; in fact,youve had plenty of them already in your life. Heres one: Remember when you were a kid and learning to ride a bikefor the first time? M o m or Dad fastened a set of training wheelson either side of your rear tire so you could experience "the feel"of riding a bike w i t h o u t tipping over. Then came the big day: You were going to ride the bike all byyourself. Off came the training wheels. You mounted your bikeand started to pedal. M o m and Dad ran alongside to steady youfor a second. Then, suddenly, they released you! And everything just clicked. There you were, completely unsupported, riding your bikewith complete balance. In that moment, when it all came together,something deep inside you, far beyond your thinking mind, nod-ded and knew. Aha! If youve already had this experience while you were in med-itation, you understand what Im talking about. If you havent, dontw o r r y ; it doesnt mean that youre "meditation challenged." Justcontinue your daily 8 minute meditation periods w i t h o u t w o n -dering if todays the "aha" day At some point, those training wheels will drop off—all bythemselves.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 119WHAT YOULL BE DOINGThis week youll be working with a meditation technique calledPrivate Screening. The anchor point for this meditation will be thevirtual movie screen inside your head. My friend, Josh Baran, entered a Zen monastery at the age ofnineteen. After seven years as a monk, he returned to LA andopened a small public relations agency servicing nonprofit causes.Josh rapidly became one of the most sought-after PR people inthe country, helping business and Hollywood celebrities, as wellas the Dalai Lama. Josh recommends the Private Screening technique to peoplew h o he helps learn to meditate. He likes it because it involvessomething everyone has already mastered—watching a com-puter, TV, or movie screen. Private Screening also lends itself quite nicely to 8 MinuteMeditation: your 8 minute meditation periods are the samelength as the space between t w o commercial breaks of a TVshow. This makes meditation like watching your favorite pro-gram—the one w r i t t e n , directed, and starring you. To get a taste of Private Screening, t r y this mini-meditation: • Take a deep breath and gently allow your eyes to close. • Allow any and all visual images to arise w i t h o u t resisting them. • Notice if there is a place inside your head upon which these images seem to be projected.
120 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N * Do this for about t w o minutes. • O p e n your eyes. W h e n you did this mini-meditation, did you observe thatyour visual images seem to be projected o n t o a kind of "projec-tion screen" located just behind your eyes? In Private Screening,this "mind screen" will serve as your anchor point, the placewhere you gently yet alertly rest awareness during your medita-tion period. From this place, youll observe the visual images pro-jected on your screen. W h e n thoughts arise, youll do what youalways do in meditation: Realize they are there and return atten-tion to your anchor point. Remember, the operative w o r d in Private Screening is ob¬serve. All you needto make sense of this movie. Leave that to those geniuses o u t inHollywood. This would be a good time to remind you of t w o pertinentoperating instructions as they apply to Private Screening: * A l l o w . . . allow . . . allow. In meditation, everything is in- cluded—and nothing is excluded. Theres no need to wonder why an image of beef lo mein just popped up. It just did. Just allow it. • C a t c h and release. As soon as you realize that youve " h o o k e d " a visual image, thats your cue to d r o p it. Regard Private Screening as you would a nonstop slide show. A slide appears, stays on screen for a second or two, and then is re- placed by another. And another.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 121 Private Screening offers you a beautiful opportunity to o b -serve your o w n myriad, nonstop mental images. While your eyesmay be closed, this week will be a real eye-opener. Lets begin. THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS PRIVATE SCREENING PREPARATION Set your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chair, comfortable and alert. Gently allow your eyes to close. Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment. Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer. INSTRUCTIONS Bring your attention to your "inner projection screen" lo- cated just behind your eyes. This will be your anchor point.
122 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N An image will appear on the screen. It can be a picture of anything, projected in many ways: fuzzy distinct, black and white, wildly colorful. Just observe this image without judgment, analysis, or ques- tioning. Let this image do its dance. It may intensify It may suddenly disappear. It could dissolve into a new image. Allow it to do whatever it wants. Just watch this play of images. Allow them to come and go. Do not make up stories about them. You are just the watcher, not the writer, actor; or director of this movie. Caught up in thinking? Good. Notice this Release the thought, without the slightest self-judgment. Return attention to your anchor point, your inner projection screen. Do this until your timer sounds. Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one week.HOWS IT GOING?You probably didnt have to wait very long for a visual image toappear on your projection screen. You closed your eyes a n d —voila!—there it was. A n d your mind probably immediately leapt in,
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 123doing its j o b to concoct some logical, cohesive story about whatyou saw. Private Screening Meditation is designed to help you be-come more aware of this lock-step habit—and help you break it.Heres what I mean: W h e n you neutrally observe what arises on your privateprojection screen, the compulsion to do something about it di-minishes. This lets you settle more deeply into peace and calm, al-lowing you to see h o w few of your thoughts merit the vitalimportance you place on them. Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communica-tions Commission, once referred to television as "the vast waste-land.The same is true of the programming that appears on the TVscreen in your mind. This is one of the great gifts of meditation: Itallows you to eradicate this clutter and create space for what trulyis important.Q&A: DOUBTS AND FEARSQ: / Should Be Farther Along in Meditation by Now.After All, Its Been More Than Five Weeks!Five weeks . . . that long, huh? Its completely understandable to want to see a sign that yourhard w o r k is paying off, that youve gotten somewhere. But as Isaid, wa-a-a-y back in Part I, meditation is an ongoing process, n o ta goal. There is really no place you need to arrive. But this doesnt mean that you cant move forward. You can.Here are a few examples of what I mean by progress:
124 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N • A feeling of being both m o r e alert, yet calmer. This goes hand in hand w i t h a sense of being m o r e present in t h e m o m e n t — h e r e , as opposed to elsewhere or elsewhen. • A sense of being more emotionally stable and less swept away by the highs and lows of lifes roller coaster, even in the face of serious life challenges. • The deepening ability to neutrally observe the rising and passing of thoughts, images, and sensations during meditation. Heres another thing you can do to see how far youve comein the past six weeks. Try my Meditation Progress Check. Take afew minutes, close your eyes, and, w i t h o u t any pressure on your-self, ponder this question: How do I feel today as opposed to how I felt six weeks ago? Okay. W h a t came up for you? Perhaps you zeroed in onsome of the progress markers Ive just described. Maybe differ-ent ones. But one thing I hope you realized is this: You are moreaware and present today than you were six weeks ago. This in and of itself is tremendous progress.Q: / Suddenly Burst into Tears While I Was Meditating.It Upset Me.Dont be upset. Its completely natural for intense feelings andemotions to arise both during and after a meditation period. Meditation allows us to "let off steam"—in the best, mostpositive, and least destructive way possible. Heres an analogy tohelp you understand what I mean:
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 125 Imagine you are a tightly sealed, bubbling cauldron, w i t hsteam rising from your very depths. This "steam" is composed ofyour buried, deep-seated emotional feelings and thoughts. Itmakes no difference what they are or h o w they got there. Now, lets add meditation to this scenario. Imagine meditationas a kind of catalyst, raising the internal temperature of the caul-dron to critical mass, until the lid can no longer withstand thepressure, and as they used to say at sea,"Thar she blows!" As your cauldron lid flies off into space, billows of emotionalsteam instantly escape, releasing those unconscious and sup-pressed feelings and thoughts. H o w do you cope w i t h the emotional volcanoes that ariseduring meditation? In exactly the same way you deal with anythingand everything else that arises in meditation. You allow . . . allow . . .allow. You catch and release. You take a deep breath—and returnto your meditation technique. In sum, you do whatever w o r k s foryou in that moment. The release of deep emotions during meditation offers you asuperb opportunity to put into practice what youve learned overthe past weeks. D o n t take to the hills. Take advantage.Q: Im Afraid Meditation Will Make Me Too "LaidBack" and That Ill Lose My "Edge" at Work, School,and Sports.A simple, daily meditation practice wont dull your competitiveedge. On the contrary, it will hone it. Mention the w o r d meditation, and people envision shaved¬headed monks, lolling about at some remote monastery, doing
126 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nnothing, and—of course—going nowhere. This, by the way, is farfrom accurate. Monks w o r k as hard as the rest of us do. Nevertheless, this connotation of meditation with indolencedoes n o t inspire confidence among those of us w h o may bepulling an all-nighter to get that appeal brief filed, going the extramile to train for the Boston Marathon, or preparing for the SAT. In fact, the truth is just the opposite: The practice of medita-tion doesnt dull your edge—it sharpens it. As you know, I beganto meditate in my second year of law school, which is n o t exactlyan environment known for encouraging laziness and sloth. I fol-lowed that up w i t h more than ten years as a lawyer, producer, andw r i t e r in the entertainment business, where getting a "greenlight" on a project is the equivalent of turning a Carnival cruiseship around w i t h a sailboat. Throughout all of this, meditation played a vital role in mysuccess. It worked for me and it can w o r k for you. Why? Becausethe consistent, daily practice of meditation sets the stage for theunerring and natural intelligence within you to effortlesslyemerge. This is the intuitive wisdom that knows exactly what youneed to do and the best and most effective way to do it. Thatmeans that you find yourself effortlessly acting in a more appro-priate, efficient, and productive way. So dont be afraid. Meditation w o n t hold you back. It will helpyou move ahead. Youre d o i n g great! If this is your seventh day, turn the p a g e and move on to next week.
WEEK SEVENLOVINGKINDNESSMEDITATIONWHERE Y O U ARECongratulations! Youve reached Week Seven. Youre rounding thefar t u r n and heading d o w n the home stretch of your 8 MinuteMeditation program. At this point you have incorporated meditation practice intoyour life. Its become part of your daily routine, like taking yourmorning shower or brushing your teeth. This is a sure sign of yourgrowing understanding that meditation is not some big mystical-shmystical deal. Its more like a walk in the park than a visit toSwami Watchamacallits Kingdom of Bliss. At this point, youre a real meditator w i t h a deepening m e d -itation practice. Youve reached the point where you regard
128 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONmeditation not as something you have to do, but something youwant and need to do. You know its changing y o u r life—for thebetter. Youve made great strides w i t h meditation the past sixweeks, and you deserve a major hug and pat on the back. A n dthats exactly what youre going to get: This week Im introducingyou to a different, special kind of meditation. Its called Lov-ingkindness Meditation. A n d this one especially "tastes good. A n dis good for you, t o o ! " Lets carry on.WHAT YOULL BE DOINGUp until this week, 8 Minute Meditation has focussed on devel-oping Mindfulness Muscle using concentration and awarenesstechniques. During this period, youve hopefully established a new,more accepting relationship w i t h your thoughts, feelings, andemotions. This week, youre going to learn a technique that can nurturea richer and more accepting relationship between you and yourheart. It is called Lovingkindness Meditation and, quite simply, it isabout sending your best wishes to the entire world—starting withyou. Just like charity, Lovingkindness Meditation begins at home. Let me ask you a question: W h e n was the last time youwished yourself love and kindness, for no reason other than thatyoure completely entitled to it? Probably not t o o recently, right? All of us, to varying degrees, have difficulty being kind to o u r -
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 129selves. Its one of lifes ironies that we can always find the heartand compassion to forgive someone whos wronged us. But justyou do the same thing, and brother!—you never hear the end ofit from your severest critic—you! Its clear that each of us can use some help in the self-kind-ness department. Lovingkindness Meditation can be a powerfulally in this regard. The practice of lovingkindness complementsthe practice of concentration, helping to integrate both aspectsinto a m o r e complete meditation practice. Heres one way tolook at it: We all know that a bird needs t w o strong wings to fly straightand true. So does your meditation practice. By now, youve de-veloped the wing of awareness and concentration. N o w its timeto build the other wing: lovingkindness. W h e n you can flap boththese wings strongly, your meditation practice can really soar. The 8 Minute Meditation version of Lovingkindness Medita-tion is easy, straightforward, simple, and pleasant to do. But beforewe begin, heres a w o r d on sitting posture for LovingkindnessMeditation. There is only one requirement and that is that you becomfortable. You can even lie d o w n if you like—without ofcourse, taking a "meditation snooze." A n d if that should happen,for goodness sake, dont berate yourself. Just sit up and start Lov-ingkindness Meditation again. Theres nothing forced, mystical-shmystical, or phony aboutdoing Lovingkindness Meditation. Its an expression of your truenature. As the Buddha once said, you can search the entire w o r l dfor someone w h o is w o r t h i e r of kindness than yourself—and youwill never find him or her. W i t h this truth in mind, turn the page and lets begin.
130 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS; LOVINGKINDNESS PREPARATION • Set your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chain comfortable and alert. Gently allow your eyes to close. Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment. Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. • Start your timer INSTRUCTIONS Recall any act of kindness you ever did. This can be some- thing very major or very minor even holding a door open for someone. Allow yourself to feel how you felt when you performed that act. Notice sensations of warmth and flow, particularly in your chest and heart areas. Relax and really allow your- self to feel this.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 131With your body steeping in this feeling, silently say the fol-lowing phrases:May I be happy.May I have ease of being.Relax. Allow each phrase to rise from deep down in yourheart. Let it mingle with your felt sense of kindness. Let gointo this.Repeat the phrases again: May I be happy. May I haveease of being. Allow your entire being to express them.Now, repeat the two phrases, substituting "all beings" for"I":May all beings be happy.May all beings have ease of being.Relax. Allow the phrases to resonate and melt into yourfelt sense of kindness.Repeat again: May I be happy. May I have ease ofbeing.Alternate these two sets of phrases until your timersounds.Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one week.
132 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONHOWS IT GOING?You may be surprised that you experienced difficulty and resist-ance w i t h Lovingkindness Meditation. D o n t feel bad; youre notalone. On an intellectual level, the idea of sending yourself yourkindest wishes and thoughts sounds easy. But the actual act ofsending yourself the same best wishes you would send to some-one else can be quite challenging. Its amazing how something sosimple can be so complicated by personal beliefs about sincerity,selfishness, and ego. If you encountered a challenge w i t h lovingkindness, heres mysuggestion: Practice it lightly w i t h self-forgiveness and take thelong view. Heres what I mean: Imagine its a beautiful O c t o b e r afternoon, and youre o u tplanting tulip bulbs in your garden. Whats your expectation ofthem? That they will mature and pop up as fully grown flowers bythis time tomorrow? Of course not; you realize that the growthand blossoming of a flower requires time, a nourishing and nur-turing environment, and patience. W h e n you engage in Lovingkindness Meditation, you alsoplant seeds—of lovingkindness. It may take some time before theyblossom. But just as a tulip bulb knows exactly how to grow andwhen to open, so does your heart. All you need to do is tendyour garden, relax—and trust. You might n o t see the fruits of Lovingkindness Meditationtoday, but I promise you have already sown seeds that willblossom.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 133Q&A:LOVINGKINDNESSQ: / Love Lovingkindness Meditation! Can I Do It forMore Than 8 Minutes? Or After My Regular Meditation?Absolutely. If you enjoy Lovingkindness Meditation, I encourage you toexpand and deepen your practice. You can, whenever you like, goto Part III of this book, where youll find more material on lov-ingkindness, including a set of expanded Lovingkindness Medita-tion instructions and more Q&As. There are also several books on the market whose subject isthe practice of Lovingkindness Meditation. I recommend these: • Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg (Shambala). This is the " p r i m e r " for anyone inter- ested in Lovingkindness Meditation, w r i t t e n by one of o u r foremost teachers and practitioners. Sharons talks and guided meditation tapes are also available through the Dharma Seed Tape Library. • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach (Bantam). Tara is both a therapist and meditation teacher. Her book offers excellent insights into Lovingkindness Meditation, particularly the obstacles one en- counters due to what Tara calls "the trance of unworthiness." You can buy it as a book or on tape f r o m Sounds True under the title Radical Self-Acceptance. • The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield (Bantam). Jack is one of Americas distinguished In-
134 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N sight Meditation teachers as well as a founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. His message is clear and compassionate: No matter where you are, peace and kindness are only a breath away. Youll find information on how to order the tape versions ofSharons and Taras books in Part III. One thing though—before you start adding more Lov-ingkindness Meditation to your meditation practice, its importantthat you examine your motivation for doing so. Should you dis-cover that your zeal lies in the belief that "If I just do this longenough, Ill really feel lovingkindness toward others and myself"—thats not a good reason to increase lovingkindness practice.Heres why: By now, you know that trying to attain any kind of state is an-tithetical to what 8 Minute Meditation is all about. In fact, its prac-tically a guarantee that you will never experience what youretrying so hard to experience. So please, conduct your o w n inter-nal inquiry and see what comes up. If Lovingkindness Meditation makes you even a little happier,Im happy. Its a great daily meditation practice to do, not just forothers but for yourself. Now, lets do something amazing, something you thought impossible just seven short weeks a g o . .. move on to the last and (tada!) final week of your 8 Minute Meditation program.
WEEK EIGHTCOMBINATION PLATEWHERE Y O U ARECongratulations! You have reached the eighth and final week ofthe 8 Minute Meditation program. Do the math, and youll find that youve now meditated for392 minutes! Thats more than six and a half hours! This is equiv-alent to watching The Matrix Trilogy or six episodes of Law andOrder. A n d trust me, youve spent your time much more wisely. In this, your last week of the 8 Minute Meditation program,dont be surprised if you still feel that: • You dont understand what meditation is. * You should be farther along in meditation.
136 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N * Meditation should be easier at this point and it isnt. * You should be a "better meditator." • You are a failure and meditation is not for you. On the other end of the spectrum you might believe that, in justseven weeks, youve totally mastered meditation. Been there, donethat, got the T-shirt, and now you dont have to meditate ever again. As you know by now, and as I said at the beginning of the pro-gram, meditation is not too easy—and not t o o hard. Theres no wayyou can be a failure—or a master But what is true is this: Over thepast seven weeks, you have laid the foundation for a strong medita-tion practice that will continue to grow—and can last your lifetime. Lets conduct a quick reality check on where you are rightnow w i t h your meditation practice: • Gently close your eyes. * Take a deep breath and settle down. • Allow your mind to review the events of the past few days. • Find one incident, event, or experience that you found yourself reacting to differently than you normally would. This does not have to be a big thing. It can be as small as how you took a sip of t e a • In that moment, how did you feel? More peaceful, relaxed, less tense? More aware, alert, accepting? More present in the moment, more alive? * Open your eyes.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 137 If you have been meditating on a daily basis for the past sevenweeks, you probably recalled at least one such moment. Maybe itwas on Tuesday, when you were stuck in that endless line at thebank, yet found yourself calmer than usual, perhaps noticing howyou had naturally dropped into watching your breath. Perhaps themoment occurred last night, when you washed the dinner dishesand found yourself really feeling how pleasant the w a r m , sudsywater felt on your wrists. Although these might seem like minor things, the truth is thatthey are significant. Whats happening is the transformation of theordinary into the extraordinary: Youre waking up and seeing thew o r l d fresh and new. This is the power of meditation. A n d now that youve got it,lets move on to Week Eight.WHAT YOULL BE DOINGCombination Plate technique is the most subtle and advancedtechnique in the 8 Minute Meditation program. Its a tad morecomplicated than choosing one item f r o m column A and onefrom column B, but dont w o r r y or feel intimidated; CombinationPlate is merely an amalgam of several of the 8 minute meditationtechniques youve already spent weeks practicing. In Week Two of the program, you worked with Naked SoundMeditation, where you listened to sounds w i t h o u t interpretingthem. Then, in Week Three, Noting Body Sensations, you observedthe physical arisings in your body. More recently, in Week Six, Pri-vate Screening, you observed the visual images that appeared on
138 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nthe projection screen behind your eyes. N o w , youre going to usethese three techniques in concert. Combination Plate is a little like learning to juggle. Heres theoverview: • A thought, body sensation, or visual image arises. • You allow it, observe it, and label it as one of the following three things: • Talk • Body sensation • Image • Another phenomenon arises. You do the same thing. • If a new event arises while one is already in your aware- ness, make r o o m for it and label it as well. For example, you might be observing your breath when a visual image of driv- ing your car arises. Your labeling would thus be: "body . . . body . . . image . . . image and body . . . image and body." Heres a sample of what a few seconds of labeling might belike: Image ... image ... body ... body and image . . . image ... talk ...talk .. . talk and image . . . talk and image and body . .. image . . .talk . . . image. Dont become upset when you find yourself left behind in thedust of fast-moving phenomena. It happens to everyone. And itsnot important. W h a t is important is the quality of attention youbring to observing whatever does come up. When you find your-
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 139self left behind, treat it as though youve just missed a bus. A n -other will be along shortly. All you need to do is relax, wait for itto pull up, and hop on. Combination Plate Meditation can have a very powerful effect:It can keep you so busy observing rising and subsiding phenomenathat you, in a way,"lose track" of yourself. And when the sense of" y o u " drops away, you can experience a deep sense of awarenesscalled the "witness state" Remember back to the earlier Dragnet quote? You might saythat the witness state is "Just the facts, maam"—written large. Thewitness state can feel unsettling, blissful, and anything in between.Just allow whatever it is to be whatever it is. Neither hold on tonor run from it. As you know, everything, including the witnessstate, comes and goes, like clouds scudding across the open sky. So relax and do your best. As o u r operating instruction says,"Have fun w i t h it!" THIS WEEKS MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS: COMBINATION PLATE PREPARATION Set your timer for 8 minutes. Take your meditation position on your chair, comfortable and alert Gently allow your eyes to close.
140 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N Take a long, deep inhale that sweeps up your current wor- ries, hopes, and dreams. Hold it for a moment. Then gently and slowly "sigh" it out. One more time. Deep breath. Release any remaining tension. Start your timer INSTRUCTIONS Something arises in your awareness. Note this phenomenon as one of the following: Talk, inside or outside your mind Body sensation Visual image Label the phenomenon using one of these words: - Talk Body Image Observe the rise and fall of this phenomenon. Another phenomenon arises. Expand your awareness to in- clude it. Label it as talk, body or image. When more than one experience simultaneously occupies your awareness, note each as best you can. They may rise and fall together or in counterpoint.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 141 If you fall behind in your labeling, you need not t r y to catch up. Just stop where you are, take a deep breath, and wait for the next phenomenon to present itself. Dont feel frustrated if you cannot follow everything per- fectly Just neutrally observe: talk, body or image, singly, in tandem, or all at once. Allow everything to rise and fade away. Do this until your timer sounds. Repeat this technique for 8 minutes a day for one week.H O W S IT G O I N G ?Combination Plate is a challenging meditation technique. Thatswhy I saved it for last. Consider it your "final exam," which youvenow passed with flying colors! Although you might have experienced some confusion, irrita-tion, and frustration while doing Combination Plate, dont regardit as an indication of h o w far you need to go, but how far youvecome. If I had given you Combination Plate in W e e k One, youprobably would have thrown up your hands—and thrown awaythis book! Instead, here you are in just eight weeks, able to comprehendand perform a meditation technique that requires a high level ofallowance, awareness, and concentration. Congratulations! Youare a meditator,with a meditation practice that can last you a life-
142 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONtime, and one that I hope you will take to the next level, which iswhat Part III of this book is all about. For those of you w h o have diligently followed this 8 weekprogram, meditation is obviously something that resonates deeplywithin you. And Ill bet you are raring to get on to Part III. The fol-lowing advice is directed to anybody who, for any reason, mayhave worked w i t h the 8 Minute Meditation program sporadicallyor is reading these words because they thought they could skipthe previous hundred pages and just "cut to the chase." If you fall into either category, please do not berate yourselfor think you are a failure or "meditation challenged." If you onlymeditated once in the past 8 weeks, this is one more time thanyou have ever meditated before. And heres h o w simple and easyit is to start to meditate again: Return to where you last were in theprogram and start from there. As Ive said many times, there is no such thing as success orfailure in meditation. This is a practice, not something you doonce, for 8 days or even 8 weeks and then cross off your " t o d o "list. Meditation is an ongoing process, a journey in awareness, clar-ity, and happiness. N o t in some abstract f u t u r e — b u t now, right inthis moment W h e t h e r youve meditated for the past 8 weeks with ease orconsider yourself a total failure, my advice is the same: Keep med-itating. Every day. For at least 8 minutes.
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 143Q&A: GRADUATION QUESTIONSQ: Eight Weeks of Meditation, and J Still Cant StopThinking. Whats Wrong?Nothing is wrong, except your belief that somethings wrong. The notion that meditation will, at some point, cause thecomplete cessation of thinking is what I call "The Great Medita-tion Misconception." Its a misbelief held by almost every begin-ning meditator—and plenty of advanced ones too. A l l o w me tosay this again: There is no way you will ever stop your mind fromthinking. That is its job: to think, analyze, criticize, and judge—365/24/7. You have already heard me say that in 8 Minute Meditation,o u r goal is not to suppress thinking but surpass it. The followingscenario illustrates what I mean: Imagine you have a fruitcake relative. Lets call her A u n t Fran.Shes not dangerous. just obsessed with UFOs, which she believesare about to make a guest appearance at your local Wal-Mart.And thats exactly where you and A u n t Fran are this very m o -ment, shopping for a toaster oven. So there you are, in the small appliance aisle, trying to figureo u t what the best buy is, while A u n t Fran incessantly chatters inyour ear about the imminent U F O invasion. Nerve-racking? Absolutely. The question is, how do you handlethis situation the best way for all concerned—including Aunt Fran? You could rush over and tell the store manager to start theUFO Preparedness Drill. Or scream at dear, little old A u n t Franto shut up. You could perhaps t o w her o u t to the parking lot andlock her in the car w i t h your Schnauzer.
144 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N But are you going to do that? Of course not! Because you aresane, kind—and darn it—you need a toaster oven! So what doyou do? Absolutely nothing. Right. You just allow A u n t Fran to chatter away about thosealiens. Every minute or so, you automatically nod your head, smile,and say " U h - h u h " or "Right." In other words, you hear the chatterand pay no attention to it. Your focus is on those toaster ovens.A u n t Frans words are just "white noise." Lets apply this scenario to thoughts and meditation. Think ofA u n t Fran as none other than good old Roving Mind, the nonstop,chattering voice that constantly wants to engage you in ridicu-lous, useless, and unhelpful thinking. Imagine the toaster oven as ameditation anchor point, like your breath. W h a t youre doing when you meditate is exactly what youredoing in the Wal-Mart: allowing A u n t Fran/Roving Mind to chat-ter away, while you keep your attention on the toaster oven/an-chor point. So dont worry, you didnt miss the secret thought-stoppingtechnique I cleverly hid on page 48. Roving Mind is here to stay.Regard it as a gift thats here to remind you that peace is justaround the corner, when you allow thoughts to come and gotheir merry—and sometimes wacky—way.Q: Can Meditation Help Me Eat More Healthfully? OrLose Weight?It could—if you meditate on a StairMaster. Even though 8 Minute Meditation is a kind of diet for your
THE 8 WEEK MEDITATION PROGRAM 145mind, youre not going to lose a l o t of weight sitting on a chair for8 minutes a day. There is, however, something else in your question we canexplore: Can meditation make you wiser in your choice of diet?My answer to that question is yes; it is certainly possible, afteryouve been meditating for some time, to find yourself makinghealthier, more positive choices in and changes to your diet andlifestyle. For example, you could, one day and for no apparent reason,find yourself cutting back on your five triple-latte-espresso habit,first to three cups, then one—eventually maybe none! This changemight not seem to be a result of a conscious decision, but rathersomething that "just happened." But what might really be happening here is that meditation ismaking you more aware of your unconscious and automatic be-havior, in this case one that may be unhealthy This seemingly ef-fortless lifestyle change is yet another example of howmeditation, rather than depriving you of things you like, providesyou a mindful opportunity to notice that something might not begood for you. And take action.Q: Even After 8 Weeks of Meditation, I Still FeelStrange When I Do It.As Ive said, its natural to feel awkward about the process ofmeditation, especially in the early stages of practice. Its also nor-mal to feel that youre doing something "countercultural" whenyou meditate. A f t e r all, your decision to devote even 8 minutes aday of your busy life to something that may not be considered
146 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N"productive" in the eyes of the w o r l d can make you feel ashamed,embarrassed, and maybe even guilty. Heres a way of looking at meditation that can help you ac-cept these feelings of awkwardness and strangeness: Treat y o u rmeditation practice in the same way you would a new romanticrelationship. Heres what I mean: The first few weeks of a budding relationship are whatsknown as the "getting-to-know-you" or " h o n e y m o o n " phase.Everything is fresh and new, and you are excited about the possi-bilities. But at the same time, you feel some trepidation, hesitancy,and even anxiety about what you may have gotten yourself into. However, because you really care for this person, you decideto "give it a chance" and see what develops. Eventually, as in everyromance, you reach the point where it becomes clear as towhether things are going to w o r k o u t or not. Its the same w i t h meditation: It seems new and strange atfirst, but part of that feeling may be due to the excitement of dis-covering something that has great potential for your happiness. Stick around and give it a chance. Trust me, it will w o r k out.CONGRATULATIONS!! AND A PREVIEW OF COMINGATTRACTIONSYou made it! Way to go! Eight weeks ago, you probably thought you would never beable to meditate on a daily basis for 8 seconds, much less 8 weeks.But you did! A n d now here you are, with a strong meditationpractice that can last you a lifetime.
THE 8 WEEK M E D I T A T I O N PROGRAM A7 Im not saying that it was smooth sailing all the way. Thats notthe way meditation—or life—goes. W h e t h e r youve been medi-tating for twenty minutes, twenty days, or twenty years, somedays feel like a cakewalk, while others feel like a schlep over theHimalayas. Youve done well! Rest on your laurels for a few minutes. A n dthen, move on to Part III of 8 Minute Meditation. I call it the "up-grade" section, and it is designed to help you take your medita-tion practice to the next level. Part III also contains additional Lovingkindness Meditationinstructions, my personal "A-list" of books and tapes, and lots ofother goodies. Perhaps most important, Part III will introduceand teach you what I call the Meditation in A c t i o n Template, asimple yet powerful technique that enables you to apply Mind-fulness Muscle to any daily activity—and transform it into a dif-ferent, richer experience. Be sure you t r y it; youll be glad youdid. Just before you move on, you need to do one more thing. Itstime to exchange the 8 Minute Meditation pledge that you signed8 weeks ago for your well-earned 8 Minute Meditation Certificateof Completion!
148 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N 8 MINUTE MEDITATION Official Certificate of Completion W i t h Honors (Date) Be it known to all concerned, that (your name) has successfully completed the 8 Minute Meditation program with flying colors. In accordance with completion, the recipient is now declared a meditator, equipped with the basic skills needed to deepen their meditation practice and continue it for their lifetime. Furthermore, they are entitled to all the benefits of medi- tation, including the ability to be more present, allow what is, and in general, lead a fuller, happier life. Victor N. Davich 8 Minute MeditationA N D REMEMBER-The fact that you have given yourself a meditation practice is asure sign that you desire more peace and happiness in your life—and the lives of others. Continue to make it so, As I have said throughout these past 8 weeks, remember totreat yourself with great kindness in everything you do, includingyour meditation practice. It has been a privilege to spend the last 8 weeks w i t h you.
PART I I I • • •THE UPGRADE
WELCOME TO THE 8 MINUTE MEDITATION UPGRADEFrom soft drinks to computer software, you cant go through aday without someone offering you an upgrade. So why should 8Minute Meditation be different! ? First of all, I want you to know that theres no catch to yourupgrade: Its absolutely, totally, positively free! You got it just by buy-ing the book. And even better news: Youre absolutely ready toupgrade your meditation practice. In fact, youll be doing yourselfa great service by doing so.
152 8 MINUTE MEDITATION"WHATS IN IT FOR ME TO UPGRADE?"The ultimate goal of 8 Minute Meditation is to empower you w i t ha way of being—not for just 8 minutes a day sitting on a chair, butthe millions of other minutes that comprise your life. 8 Minute Meditation has thus far helped you give yourself a con-sistent, daily 8 minute meditation practice. But why stop here? Thetruth is that meditation has incredible practical value that can be ap-plied to everything you do. Honestly, if you confine meditation to 8minutes a day sitting on a chair, not only are you missing the pointof meditation, but youre shortchanging yourself as well. Your initial response to what Ive just said could very well be,Are you crazy? If I float around all day in a meditative state, I wont beable to function! But the truth is just the opposite. Lets take acloser look at what you perceive as your ordinary state and seejust h o w awake you really are. Right now, Id like you to take a minute or so and review themyriad chores and activities you performed today. Choose one ofthem. N o w look closely at it and answer this question: Were you truly there when you did it? Or were you on some kindof "automatic pilot? For example take eating your breakfast. D i d you eat youreggs and really taste them? Or were you simultaneously listeningto the morning news, scanning your e-mail, preparing lunch foryour son, and chatting on the phone w i t h your friend? Choose some more activities. No matter which ones you se-lect, Im pretty sure that youll find they share one thing in com-mon: You really werent completely " t h e r e " when you did them.Pretty amazing, huh? Maybe a little scary, too.
THE UPGRADE 153 Now, look at one activity and consider h o w effectively youperformed it while you were on automatic pilot. Is it possible thatyou could have done it more effortlessly, thoroughly, productively,and happily if you had actually been here, as opposed to else-where or elsewhen?The answer is obvious. Well, heres good news. The goal of the 8 Minute Meditationis to help you do exactly that. Part III affords you the o p p o r t u -nity to take what you have learned in the past 8 weeks to t h enext level, so you can be more present—more here—right now.N o t just sitting on a chair for 8 minutes a day, but everywhereyou are. Whats in it for you to go deeper in meditation? A richer ex-perience of life. Interested? Sure you are.CARRYING ON WITH MEDITATION. CARRYINGM E D I T A T I O N I N T O LIFE.Part III is designed to help you deepen your meditation practiceand apply it to daily life. It is divided into four sections: • Beyond 8 M i n u t e s enables you to effortlessly and effec- tively increase your daily meditation time. It will assist you in creating your o w n meditation "training schedule" as well as your personal "mini-retreat." * M e d i t a t i o n in A c t i o n will enable you to carry over y o u r meditation practice into daily life. Youll learn about and use the Meditation in Action Template, a simple yet powerful tool
154 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N you can apply to any activity in your day. It also enables you to build Mindfulness Muscle. Once you see how easy and ef- fective the template is, youll want to use it all the time. • Lovingkindness: G o i n g F u r t h e r will help you deepen your connection w i t h the w o r l d , in the w o r l d . • Resources is my personal "A-list" of books, tapes, and re- treat centers that can help you take your meditation practice to the next level. The section also will inform you about med- itation sitting groups and h o w to find one, or start one of your o w n . Youve sat d o w n long enough in meditation. N o w its time foryou to stand up and take it into every part of your daily life. Lets start to upgrade.BEYOND 8 MINUTESThe t w o simplest and easiest ways to increase your meditationtime are: * The gradual addition of minutes to your current 8 minute meditation period. * The addition of a daily second meditation period. You may utilize these options alone or in tandem. Ill showyou how. But first, youll need to select your favorite meditation
THE UPGRADE 155technique from the last 8 weeks of the 8 Minute Meditation pro-gram.The technique you choose will be the one you stay w i t h asyou begin to increase your meditation time.How to Choose Your TechniqueOver the past 8 weeks, youve learned and practiced meditationwith 8 different meditation techniques. Different techniques res-onate more deeply for certain people. Its quite probable thatyouve already decided on a favorite. If you have, you can skip tothe next section. If you havent, please do the following: * Return to Part II and review the 8 meditation techniques youve worked with, excluding Lovingkindness Meditation. * Close your eyes and spend a minute w i t h each of them. Youll probably find one or m o r e that you "connect with." * Now, narrow your choice d o w n to one technique. G o t it? Great. This is the meditation technique you will use exclu- sively as you increase your meditation time.How to Increase Your Time PeriodThe easiest way to increase meditation time is to incrementallyadd minutes to your daily 8 minute period. This is analogous tohow you would train for a walkathon or marathon, gradually andslowly, so as n o t to cause yourself unnecessary strain or pres-sure.
156 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N Begin by adding t w o minutes a day to your current 8 minutesession. Meditate for this ten-minute period for t w o weeks. Then,add another t w o minutes of meditation, making it twelve. Hereswhat this "training schedule" looks like: * W e e k s I and 2: 10 minutes * W e e k s 3 and 4: 12 minutes * W e e k s 5 and 6: 14 minutes * W e e k s 7 and 8: 16 minutes * W e e k s 9 and 10: 18 minutes The gradual addition of t w o minutes every t w o weeks mayseem insignificant, but remember what Einstein said about com-pound interest: Things add up. Start today, and by the end of aboutt w o months, you will be meditating for eighteen minutes a day!This is a serious meditation practice by anyones standards. After youve gotten your meditation time where you want it,continue at this level, using your chosen meditation technique fora minimum of t w o more weeks. At that point, if you like, you canswitch techniques. But remember, once you choose your technique, theres gotto be no "buyers remorse" or second-guessing—no matter what.Stick with the meditation technique you chose. Just as there is nosuch thing as a " b a d " or " w r o n g " meditation period, there is nosuch thing as a wrong meditation technique.
THE UPGRADE 157H o w to Add a Second Daily Meditation PeriodThe next option for deepening your meditation practice is to add asecond daily 8 minute meditation period. The addition of a second 8minute meditation period immediately doubles your meditation timeto sixteen minutes a day. This may sound overwhelming, but the factthat its divided into t w o equal portions makes it easy and doable. People w h o meditate usually do it twice a day, first thing inthe morning and last thing before bed. I recommend this. Shouldyou decide on other times of the day, allow at least six hours be-tween meditation periods. You may also increase your second meditation period in in-crements, as described in the previous section. For example: • W e e k s I a n d 2: morning period, 8 minutes; evening pe- riod, 2 minutes • W e e k s 3 a n d 4: morning period, 8 minutes; evening pe- riod, 4 minutesAnd so on. If you do it like this, you will eventually reach the point whereyou are meditating for twenty minutes, twice a day, for a total offorty minutes! This is a major meditation practice, one that willlead you to m o r e advanced levels of practice. In fact, if you doreach this point in your practice, give some serious considerationto going on a meditation retreat. Youll find pointers on h o w tolocate o n e in the next section. And remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules here. Feel free toexperiment. Mix and match. W h e n you find something that "feelsright," stay w i t h it. YouII know when its time for more minutes.
158 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NThe Personal Mini-Retreat: Spending Quality Timewith MeditationPersonal mini-retreats are a great way to deepen your practice.And you dont need to travel to a retreat center or monastery.All you need are a few undisturbed hours at home. If you went to a retreat at a meditation center, you mightspend many hours each day alternating between sitting and walk-ing meditation periods. On your mini-retreat, you will meditateand walk, but for shorter periods and many fewer hours. Heres h o w to plan and conduct your mini-retreat: • Reserve at least one hour when you can be alone and undisturbed by w o r k , family, or other responsibilities. • Create a space that is as quiet and intrusion-free as possi- ble. Turn off the phone. Close the doors. Hang a sign on the door that says " O n Retreat. Back at 4." • Prepare a short, simple schedule, alternating amounts of time for sitting meditation and walking meditation (using the Meditation in A c t i o n Template in the next section). In the be- ginning, keep time periods short. • Settle d o w n and follow your schedule. Heres a sample schedule for a t w o - h o u r mini-retreat: 12:45-1:00 Prepare space and quiet down. 1:00-1:15 Sit.
THE UPGRADE 159 1:15-1:30 Walk (using the Meditation in Action Template). 1:30-1:45 Sit. 1:45-2:00 Meditation in Action: Just one Dish Meditation. 2:00-2:30 Listen to meditation teaching tape. 2:15-2:30 Walk. 2:30-2:45 S i t 2:45-3:00 Lovingkindness Meditation. As you can see, you can fit a lot of meditation into just t w ohours. The mini-retreat is also a great opportunity for you to pushyour personal meditation "envelope" (with kindness, of course!).For instance, you might decide that youre going to sit for twelveminute periods even though your daily practice is only at 8. Teaching and guided meditation tapes can contribute greatlyto the quality of your mini-retreat. Thats why Ive set aside timefor you to listen to them. When you do. give them the same, un-divided attention as you would your meditation periods. You willfind some good resources for tapes later on in this section.THE MEDITATION IN ACTION TEMPLATEThe Meditation in A c t i o n Template is a terrific tool that lets youtake the awareness and presence you develop in sitting medita-tion and apply it to all your daily activities, no matter how simple
160 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nor complicated they are. The template works on everything frombrushing your teeth to preparing a PowerPoint presentation toeven lovemaking. Whats more, you dont have to learn a differentmeditation technique for each activity: The Meditation in ActionTemplate can be applied to anything, anytime, and anywhere. Rather than talking about it, lets try a simple hands-ondemonstration of the Meditation in Action Template, using it todo a simple chore that you do every day.Just One Dish MeditationTo get the feel of the Meditation in Action Template, Im going tohave you wash a single dish. To rephrase the age-old PassoverSeder question,"Why is this dish different from all o t h e r dishes?"The answer is, its not, but the way you wash it will be. Do the Just One Dish Meditation when you can be alone.That way you can avoid strange looks from your family, w h o maywonder why Mommy or Daddy is pretending to be a robot. JUST ONE DISH MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS • Choose a sturdy dish, a sponge, and a drying cloth. • Plug the sink and set the dish down in it. • Slowly turn on the water. Listen to the sounds the water makes. Do this just like you did in Naked Sound Meditation. • Test the water temperature, and make the necessary ad- justment so the water is comfortably w a r m and not t o o hot.
THE UPGRADE 161* Lift the soap dispenser over the sink and slowly squeeze it.Watch as the soap falls and dissolves into the water.* Watch the water level rise until the sink is half full. Placeyour hand on the faucet handle and shut off the water. Feelthe cool metal in your palm. Notice the momentary cessationof sound.* Slowly, immerse your hands into the water. Locate the dishand grasp it in one hand. N o t e how it feels. Slowly lift the disho u t of the water and look at it. There may be a coating ofshiny suds on the b o t t o m rim. Notice how the dish catchesthe light. Really look at this dish.* W i t h your other hand, pick up the sponge. Slowly press thesponge against the surface of the dish. Notice h o w it feels"squishy" in your hand. Press the sponge gently against thedish surface, and notice the pressure.* Slowly begin to wash the dish. Feel the movement in yourw r i s t as it makes a circular m o t i o n . Remember that you arejust washing this one dish. There are no o t h e r dishes towash next. This is the only dish in the entire world!* Thoughts such as This is so stupid! or / might as well throw inall the other dishes may arise. When they do, simply apply whatyouve learned in your sitting meditation practice: A l l o w thethoughts. Catch and release them. Watch them rise and fadeaway. Then, return to washing the dish.
162 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N • Look—really look at your dish. Notice its texture. Does it reflect light like a diaphanous seashell? Is it dull? Is it like a subtle mirror, reflecting a hazy image of you? • Slowly rub your sponge over the dish until it is clean. Turn over the dish, and continue. Stay connected to the move- ment of your hands, the feel of the water, the tickle of the soap bubbles, and the soft pliability of the sponge in your hand. • W h e n the dish is immaculate, slowly raise it o u t of the water. Notice how the water beads and forms tiny rivulets as it drips off. Hear the subtle trickle of water as it drizzles into the sink. • Slowly, pick up your drying towel. Bring the same attention you brought to washing your dish to drying it. Feel the move- ments. Hear the sounds. Notice the play of light and shadow. • W h e n you are finished, slowly set down your clean dish. So how was it? People describe their experience of Just OneDish as eye-opening, sensual, and even exhilarating. If the Medita-tion in A c t i o n Template can transform the ordinary experience ofwashing a dish into something o u t of the ordinary, think what itcan do for the rest of your life!
THE UPGRADE 163LIVING MEDITATION IN ACTIONIncorporating the Meditation in A c t i o n Template into your life cantransform your experience of it. Here are a few examples of howyou can do it: * W a l k i n g . The natural act of walking is a great opportunity for Meditation in Action. Go outside and take a mindful, unhur- ried walk around the block. Or practice Meditation in Action when you walk from your parking space to your office en- trance. Notice how walking really feels. Remember, you dont have to move like a stilted r o b o t Just walk at a slower pace. * At t h e s u p e r m a r k e t . Make this Meditation in Action with a shopping cart. As you slowly glide your cart d o w n the aisle, notice the feel of the handle and hear the squeak as the wheels scoot over the linoleum floor. If you stop at the bak- ery section, smell the faint aroma of baking pies. Lift a loaf of bread. Feel the firmness of the crust, w i t h just the faintest "give." * Exercising. Instead of mindlessly daydreaming on your StairMaster, treadmill, or exercise bicycle, apply your Medita- tion in Action Template. Really notice your movement; feel the heat as it builds in your body and the trickle of sweat on your brow. * Yoga. Stay conscious of your yoga postures. Notice when you lose awareness in the transitions between them. O b - serve w i t h utmost attention the subtle mind and body
164 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N changes that might arise w i t h even the slightest adjustment to your pose. An excellent audiotape on meditation and exercise is Shinzen Youngs Meditation in the Zone (see the resource sec- tion for how to get it). * P r e p a r i n g dinner. Bring the same mindfulness of Just One Dish Meditation to preparing your meal. Choose one dish and prepare it w i t h the utmost attention. Lets say its a salad. Dont just dump the veggies into the salad bowl. Arrange them slowly, feeling their different textures, the smooth-skinned tomato, and the pebbly skin of the cucum- ber. Peel an onion w i t h single-minded attention, noticing how it brings a tear to your eye. Really smell the marvelous aroma as you grate your Parmesan cheese. * Eating. We know how elsewhere and elsewhen we can be when we eat: preoccupied w i t h the newspaper, chatting on the phone, watching TV, or jotting down notes for the next meeting. What a perfect time to use the Meditation in Action Template. First, turn off your radio, TV, and telephone. N o w , look at your food. Take a long, slow breath. Really pay attention to what you are about to eat. Does it look inviting? (If not, per- haps you shouldnt eat it.) Lean forward and smell the aroma. Does it bring up thoughts and memories, pulling you o u t of the present moment? Feel the weight of the fork in your hand as you place food o n t o it. Slowly lift a small forkful of food to your mouth.
THE UPGRADE 165 As it enters your mouth, close your eyes and bring y o u r awareness to the sensation of taste. A r e there one or many tastes here? Does one prominent taste subside, replaced by another? Chew slowly. Set your fork or drinking glass d o w n after each bite or sip. D o n t be in a hurry. • Youve got the picture now. Choose y o u r o w n activity and apply the Meditation in A c t i o n Template to it. Remember, you can do this with anything! Remember, Meditation in Action doesnt require that youmove in slow motion, as if swimming in maple syrup. By all means,do things at the pace at which they need to be done. It doesntmake sense to do something mindfully yet in a manner that mightattract unwanted attention. Then youd be t o o busy feeling self-conscious to be mindful. Use the Meditation in Action Template as often as possible.In fact, start right now! W h a t do you have to do next? Wash thecar? A t t e n d a meeting? Coach the soccer team? Register tovote? Great! Do it w i t h the Meditation in A c t i o n Template. Youwill more fully enjoy what you do—because you will more fullydo it.
166 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NLOVINGKINDNESS: GOING FURTHERBack in Week Seven, I promised you an expanded lovingkindnesssection. And see, I didnt forget! If Lovingkindness Meditation is something that resonatesfor you, by all means include it in your daily meditation practice.Its quite simple. Here are some suggestions for practicingawareness meditation and Lovingkindness Meditation togetherin a single period: • Do Lovingkindness Meditation last. • Pause for a minute or t w o between meditation techniques. • Make sure youre comfortable when you do lovingkindness. Switch to a different position if need be. • Allow yourself to truly feel your lovingkindness phrases. Lovingkindness Meditation is not an intellectual exercise. W h e n you repeat a phrase, drop down from your mind—and into your heart. • You dont need to time Lovingkindness Meditation periods. Just relax and let it take as long as it takes.EXTENDING LOVINGKINDNESS PRACTICE TO OTHERSLike charity, lovingkindness begins at home. Once you begin todevelop your capacity for sending yourself best wishes, theres anatural inclination to " f o r w a r d them o n " to the rest of the w o r l d .
THE UPGRADE 167 The following is a classic Lovingkindness Meditation tech-nique that will enable you to do just that: Choose four different individuals to w h o m you will send lov-ingkindness (note: all persons should be currently living): • Yourself • A mentor. Someone w h o you personally know and w h o has had a major positive impact on your life. This could be anyone— from your rabbi to your car mechanic. • A close personal friend. • Someone you hardly know. This could be anyone f r o m a new acquaintance to a complete stranger you saw at the bookstore this afternoon. • A difficult person. Okay, lets be honest—that gigantic pain in the neck in your life! Somebody w h o is driving you crazy, making your life miserable. Family members, bosses,and land- lords are always popular choices. If for some reason your life is so serene you cant come up w i t h o n e — d o n t w o r r y — y o u can! These four people (including you) will be the recipients ofyour Lovingkindness Meditation. You will, in t u r n , direct lov-ingkindness toward each of them, using the same set of phrases. Remember, the phrases are meant to emanate not f r o m yourhead, but your heart. Just relax, and let them resonate f r o m thattender yet courageous place.
168 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O N INSTRUCTIONS LOVINGKINDNESS MEDITATION • First, send lovingkindness to yourself: May I be free f r o m danger. May I be healthy. May I be happy. May I have ease of being. • Next, visualize that mentor, the person w h o has positively influenced your life, and say: May you be free from danger. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you have ease of being. • Next, visualize your close friend, and do the same thing: May you be free from danger. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you have ease of being. • Now, send lovingkindness to the stranger. Picture him or her and repeat: May you be free from danger. May you be healthy May you be happy. May you have ease of being.
THE U P G R A D E 169 * Now, send lovingkindness to your difficult person. Picture him o r her and say: May you be free from danger. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you have ease of being. * Finally, send lovingkindness to all beings, everywhere: May all beings be free f r o m danger. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be happy. May all beings have ease of being. The above instructions may appear complicated, leading youto wonder How in the world am I supposed to remember all thisstuff? But trust me, Lovingkindness Meditation is much simpler todo than to describe. Essentially, what youre doing is repeating the same phrasesand directing them to different people. If, for some reason, youforget the sequence or the phrases or get lost or f r u s t r a t e d —stop! Take a deep breath and relax. Send yourself some lov-ingkindness. Then, when youre ready, begin again. Youll be amazed at how quickly youll get the hang of Lov-ingkindness Meditation. Like all meditation, lovingkindness "tastesgood. A n d its good for you, too." Above all, remember that the numero uno thing here is to bekind to yourself. Like Ive said, lovingkindness, like charity, begins athome.
170 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NQ&A:LOVINGKINDNESSQ: Can I Change the People I Send Lovingkindness To?If your question is whether you can send lovingkindness to dif-ferent people, the answer is definitely yes. Just dont do it duringthe same Lovingkindness Meditation period. If, on the o t h e r hand, y o u r question is about w h e t h e rsending lovingkindness to someone will cause them to change,I can only say that it is up to that person. Still, extraordinarythings can happen w h e n you send lovingkindness to another:You may see them in an entirely different light, w h e t h e r theychange or n o t . A n d then the answer to y o u r question w o u l dbe yes. As a personal example of this, I once designated my m o m asthe difficult (okay, very difficult) person in my Lovingkindness Med-itation.After several weeks of sending her lovingkindness, one dayI found that I had made her my mentor! From that day forward, I saw my mother in a much more lov-ing way. I started to treat her differently, and o u r relationshipchanged for the better. And you know what else? My momchanged. Like I said, lovingkindness can be a powerful practice.Q: What About That Person I Dont Like or Am AngryAt? Why Should I Send Him/Her Lovingkindness?This may be the most frequently asked question about lov-ingkindness practice. After all, why in the w o r l d should you wishhappiness to someone whose only job on the planet, it seems, is
THE UPGRADE 171to make your life a living hell! ?The answer, surprisingly is m o r eabout you than that miserable so-and-so. Consider this: H o w do you feel when youre angry w i t hsomeone and refuse to forgive them for whatever slight or w r o n gtheyve done you? N o t terrific, right? Emotions such as resent-ment, anger, and animosity invariably lead to uncomfortable,stressful, and painful thoughts and feelings. W h a t this means is that whenever you, the "grudger," findyourself angry at your "grudgee," youre going to pay a price insuffering. And believe it or not, the price to you is much higherthan the one you will mete o u t to them. Why? Because you are going to feel h u r t not once, but twice!Once by the person w h o h u r t you, and once by yourself. Ironic,isnt it? Even if youre in the right (which we always are!), yourestill guaranteed to get the w o r s t end of the deal! A much better way to do things, in my opinion, is to practicewhat I call "enlightened selfishness. " T h i s means that you make thealleviation of your own suffering job number one. First, send lov-ingkindness to yourself. Then send it to your difficult person. Dothis not for their sake, but for yours. And be open to change. One day, you just might find that youare sending lovingkindness to that difficult person, but this timenot for your o w n sake, but theirs. Thats why you should alwaystreat your difficult person as a gift: They are helping you drawcloser to your true heart.
172 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NQ: Can / Create My Own Lovingkindness Phrases?The phrases used in Lovingkindness Meditation come f r o m yourheart, n o t your head. What matters m o r e than what you say is theintent with which you say it. Nevertheless, I dont advise you to change the phrasesgiven here, at least for t h e first t w o months that you practicelovingkindness. The lovingkindness phrases used in 8 Minute Meditation aretried and true: They have been employed for thousands of yearsby hundreds of thousands of people. Theres no reason to goshopping for different ones, at least right now. After you practice lovingkindness for t w o months and feelcomfortable in your practice, you can experiment w i t h differentphrases. If you choose to do so, here are some suggestions: • Do not use m o r e than four lovingkindness phrases at one time. Otherwise, you may be t o o busy remembering the phrases to properly direct them to those you are sending them to. Most people report that three or four phrases w o r k best. Keep it at that. • Once you have created a new phrase sequence, stay w i t h it until it has become automatic. Use it for a month. There is no "perfect" lovingkindness phrase that you will find through constant tweaking. • Use phrases that are clear and simple to remember and say. Avoid double negatives and multi-syllable and confusing words.
THE UPGRADE 173* Avoid using lovingkindness as a protection device for spe-cific ailments or medical procedures. A phrase like "May I befree from r o o t canal pain" is not in the spirit of this practice.This is another reason why I recommend that you stay w i t hthe basic phrases as given here.* Dont wish for things. You know, like a Range Rover or thatjob w i t h the corner office. Lovingkindness Meditation is nota wishing well. Actually, its much, much better. Wishing wellsdry up, but lovingkindness doesnt.* Use "May I . . . " to introduce a phrase. Some people thinkits better to say "I am . . . " instead of "May I ...." Lovingkind-ness Meditation is not Positive Affirmation Land, where youvisualize yourself getting something. Lovingkindness is aboutsending your best wishes and thoughts to yourself and o t h -ers, so that you and they may, if that is the way life choosesto unfold, experience safety, health, and peace. Which I hopeyou always will.
RESOURCES:MY PERSONAL A-LISTTHIS M O R N I N G , I typed the w o r d meditation in the Amazonsearch window and got a list of 9,934 books. When I did the sameon Google, I got 4,760,000 hits! Your initial reaction to this might (and I hope will) be "Boy,am I glad I found 8 Minute Meditation." While its great to havechoices, at a certain point the law of diminishing returns kicks in.The fact that there are almost ten thousand meditation books onAmazon could very well be the main reason you were put off bymeditation in the first place! So, w i t h countless books, tapes, and websites to choosefrom, h o w do you go about finding ones that can help you? W e l l ,first of all, the good news is that you happened upon 8 MinuteMeditation. If youve gotten something o u t of the past 8 weeks,
176 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nyoull probably trust my recommendations as to other materialsI think youll also benefit from. A n d please know that everythingI recommend is simpatico w i t h the 8 Minute Meditation philoso-phy: No religious agendas. No inscrutable jargon. No spiritualkidding. You may n o t realize it, but this is an important moment inyour meditation practice. Youre open to deepening it, and I wantto steer you in that direction. I make it my business to keep as up to date as possible w i t hnew book releases and developments in meditation. Over thepast fifteen years, Ive read lots of meditation books and visitedmany websites. Im very picky when it comes to things I recom-mend. In addition to books and tapes, this section also contains re-sources and suggestions for t w o o t h e r important adjuncts todeepening your meditation practice: meditation retreats andmeditation sitting groups. W h a t follows is my A-list of meditation materials, the one Igive to friends, which I consider us to be at this point. D o n t besurprised at the brevity of the list. It may be lean, but believe me,its choice. By the way, nothing I say should deter you in the least frompersonal exploration of all the other books, magazines, tapes,teachers, and retreat centers o u t there. In fact, I encourage it. Re-member, the final authority for what w o r k s for you is you. If youdiscover something you think is great that you want to share,contact me at the 8minutes.org website. Ill review it, and if it isappropriate, post it for everyones benefit.
RESOURCES 177BooksThe Light of Discovery, Toni Packer (Tuttle Publishing) Althoughonly 123 pages in length, Toni Packers book abounds in wisdomfor meditators at any stage of practice. Toni heads the Springwa-ter Center in Rochester, N e w York. This book is a compilation ofher talks and answers to questions f r o m students as published inthe Springwater Center newsletters. Tonis teachings are down to earth and penetrating. They in-clude discussions of thinking mind, awareness, and many of thesubjects I have addressed in the Q & A sections of 8 Minute Medi-tot/on.This little book can be of great value in helping you deepenyour practice. Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki (Weatherhill) Aclassic that is accessible to even the beginning meditator Shunryu Suzuki was a Zen master w h o was instrumental inbringing Zen to America. He is respected and revered by all mem-bers of the American meditation community. This timeless col-lection of his talks begins w i t h the famous sentence, "In thebeginners mind there are many possibilities; in the experts mindthere are few." This clear and profound book expands upon theconcepts discussed in 8 Minute Meditation. 365 Nirvana Here and Now, josh Baron (Element) A greatcontribution from the man w h o coined the expression "else-where and elsewhen. " Joshs book is a remarkable compendium of timeless wisdomthat spans cultures, continents, and traditions f r o m ancient Zensages to contemporary poets—all celebrating the perfection ofthe present moment. These stories, dialogues, songs, and poetry
178 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Ncan lend great support in your daily meditation practice; theyrelike one-a-day vitamins for your mind. 365 Nirvana Here and Nowalso contains Joshs o w n dialogues on presence. W h e t h e r youreOprah or not, this is a great book to have on your nightstand. Wide Awake, Diana Winston (Perigee) Although the subtitleof Dianas book is A Buddhist Guide for Teens, this book is perfectfor anyone of any age and any religious (or nonreligious) persua-sion. As Diana says, "many people, whether or n o t they are Bud-dhists, find the insights of Buddhism so helpful that they simplyapply them to their lives." Wide Awake is a joyful, clear-eyed, andpractical guide to integrating meditation into "The Big Picture." Faith:TrustingYour Own Deepest Experience, Sharon Salzberg(Penguin) N o t only is Sharon one of our countrys foremost medita-tion teachers, she has authored some important books. Faith is one of the most honest books ever w r i t t e n as well asone of the most insightful. If you have ever questioned what"faith" means and wondered about your o w n , Sharons book willprovide you w i t h answers, comfort, and assurance. Her book willalso give you immense gratitude for being fortunate enough tohave a meditation practice. The Best Guide to Meditation, Victor Davich (St. MartinsPress) Before the Dummies and the Idiots books, there was TheBest Guide to Meditation, w r i t t e n by yours truly. Its 300+ pages arechock-full of everything you always wanted to know about med-itation. If youre interested in things like sixty-four additional medita-tion techniques or meditations connection w i t h Buddhism andother religious traditions, my book might be your cup of greentea. There are also in-depth chapters on Meditation in Action, sit-
RESOURCES 179ting postures, and an entire section devoted to the application ofmeditation in pain management.Audio and Video TapesOne of the great advances in the teaching and practice of medi-tation over the past decade has been in the area of audiotapes.While there is no substitute for personal interaction w i t h a greatmeditation teacher (which I always recommend), audio and videotapes provide us with the next best thing—and w i t h far greaterconvenience. Theres a special experience in actually hearing a good teacherspeak his or her o w n words; it transmits something beyondwords. In my opinion, the more you listen to a good meditationteacher, the more likely that something good w i l l " r u b off" on you. It used to be that if you wanted to study w i t h a good medi-tation teacher, you had to go to where they were holding a re¬treat.This could sometimes mean a trek clear across the country,and considerable time and expense. Today, w i t h just the click ofyour mouse, you can access hundreds of talks, guided medita-tions, and other teaching materials from some of the foremostmeditation teachers in the country. I highly recommend that youtake advantage of their audio and video tapes. Here are three places I direct friends to when they ask aboutmeditation tapes and videos. These websites are extremely wellorganized and complete. If you have questions, call them. Sounds T r u e , w w w . s o u n d s t r u e . c o m , 8 0 0 - 3 3 3 - 9 1 8 5Sounds True offers more than five hundred titles that run the
180 8 MINUTE MEDITATIONgamut of spiritual subjects, including psychology, health and heal-ing, self-discovery, and, of course, meditation. The Sounds Truemeditation collection also features several meditation books ontape. You can sample many of these materials on the Internet be-fore ordering them. Recommended titles: Meditations of the Heart,Jack Kornfield; When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron; NaturalMeditation (video), Surya Das; Road Sage, Sylvia Boorstein; RadicalSelf-Acceptance, Tara Brach. D h a r m a Seed T a p e Library, w w w . d h a r m a s e e d . o r g , 8 0 0 -969-7333 Dharma Seed Tape Library publishes a variety of liverecordings from nationally known western meditation teachers, in-cluding IMS founders Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. Theseare mostly recorded talks and not studio produced materials. Nev-ertheless, youll find the overall audio quality very good. All materi-als are reasonably priced, and some are available on a donation basis. Dharma Seed (and Sounds True) offer my number-one t o pchoice in the audiotape area: Insight Meditation: A Complete Corre-spondence Course, by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. If youhave any thoughts of taking your meditation practice to the nextlevel, I highly recommend it. O t h e r titles: Approaches to Meditation, Christina Feldman;Wise Effort and the Practices of Awakening, Tara Brach; Metta: LovingYourself, Sharon Salzberg; Four Foundations of Mindfulness (video),Carol Wilson; Vipassana Video Retreat. The Dharma Seed website also offers D h a r m a s t r e a m ,w w w . d h a r m a s t r e a m . o r g . Here you can sample, for free, morethan thirty recorded meditation talks from meditation teachersw h o teach at the Spirit Rock Retreat Center and IMS Meditation
RESOURCES 181Center (see below). This is a great way to get an idea of what toorder and also be introduced to teachers w h o you may somedaywant to join on a retreat. Shinzen Young W e b s i t e , www.shinzen.org ShinzenYoung is an American w h o trained extensively in Asian monas-teries. He has, for the past thirty years, taught and led retreatsacross America and Canada. Ive already mentioned that Shinzen was my primary medita-tion teacher. I am delighted to be able to offer you a way that you,too, can receive the benefits of his cogent, accessible, and modernteaching methods. Shinzens taped talks and guided meditations are topical,down to earth, and transformative. His website contains a classi-fied catalog of more than one hundred taped talks and guidedmeditations. They include tapes on Vipassana Meditation (similarto what youve been doing these past 8 weeks), Christian andJewish meditation, and the science-meditation interface. Recommended titles: The Formula; Beginners Guide to Medita-tion; Millennium Album III—Guided Meditations; Break Through Diffi-cult Emotions; Carrying Meditation into Life; Meditation in the Zone;Shinzens 20-minute Relaxation.Meditation Retreat CentersPermanent meditation retreat centers in America are scarce. Butthe good news is that t w o wonderful permanent retreat centersexist, located on both the east and west coasts: IMS, in Barre,Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock, in Marin County, California.
182 8 MINUTE MEDITATION These not-for-profit retreat centers teach in the Vipassana, orInsight Meditation tradition, which is what informs the meditationtechniques you have learned in 8 Minute Meditation. IMS and SpiritRock are impeccably managed and maintained by a community ofmeditators and teachers. Prices to attend retreats vary, but everyattempt is made to keep them affordable. Scholarships are alsoavailable. Teachers fees for leading retreats are usually separatefrom r o o m and board and made on a donation basis, which in theBuddhist teaching tradition is called dana. If you aspire to become a serious meditator, a retreat at IMSor Spirit Rock is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The Insight Meditation Society (IMS), Barre, M A ,w w w . d h a r m a . o r g , 9 7 8 - 3 5 5 - 4 3 7 8 IMS was founded in 1975 as anonprofit organization to provide an environment conducive to thepractice of Insight and Lovingkindness Meditation. The center is seton 160 secluded acres in Barre, Massachusetts, whose town m o t t ois "Tranquil and Alert." IMS offers a full year-round schedule of silent meditation re-treats lasting in duration f r o m one weekend to three months. Re-cent special retreats include those for women, young adults, andpeople of color. A group of senior teachers provides regular and ongoingguidance and direction and teaches a number of courses eachyear. They include Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Lama SuryaDas, and Christina Feldman. Spirit Rock M e d i t a t i o n C e n t e r , Fairfax, C A , w w w . s p i ri t r o c k . o r g , 4 1 5 - 4 8 8 - 0 1 6 4 Like IMS, Spirit Rock Meditation
RESOURCES 183Center is dedicated to the practice of mindful awareness throughVipassana Meditation. The Spirit Rock property, located in Marin County, California,covers more than four hundred acres and is secluded and breath-taking.The center hosts a full program of ongoing classes, one-dayretreats, and longer residential retreats. Recent offerings include"Vipassana 101" and " O n e Breath at a Time: Buddhism and theTwelve Steps." The meditation halls and accommodations at Spirit Rock areimmaculate, classic, and state-of-the art. My personal experienceas a retreatant here was quite wonderful. Several well-known meditation teachers and book authorslead retreats at Spirit Rock. They include Spirit Rock founder JackKornfield, Sylvia Boorstein, and Anna Douglas. Vipassana Support International (VSI),. www.shinzen.org,8 6 6 - 6 6 6 - 0 8 7 4 VSI is a nonprofit, nondenominational organiza-tion dedicated to those w h o desire to deepen their meditationpractice through the practice of Vipassana Meditation. VSI coordi-nates Shinzen Youngs national retreat schedule throughout theUnited States and Canada. The VSI website contains informationon upcoming retreats, events, and other information. VSI does not have a permanent retreat center site. Instead,Shinzen Young travels widely around the country to different fa-cilities where the VSI retreats are held. If you go to his website,you may find that Shinzen may soon be "appearing at a retreatnear you." There are other retreat centers and retreats located through-out the country. You might find o u t about them by asking around
184 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O Nyour local meditation community. Also, meditation and yoga mag-azines such as Tricycle and Yoga Journal usually contain advertise-ments and listings for retreats and retreat centers. Theres also theInternet, where youll even find a website completely devoted toretreat centers: www.retreatfinder.com.Meditation Sitting GroupsThe practice of meditation in America is growing and spreadingrapidly across the continent as well as around the w o r l d . In a re-cent survey over ten million Americans said that they meditate.One indication of this growth is the proliferation of meditationsitting groups. At these gatherings, usually held once a week, med-itators convene to meditate, support, and help each other. Sitting groups provide something of great value: a standingdate w i t h meditation that you look forward to keeping. I haveregularly attended a weekly meditation group at my friend Annshouse for more than ten years, and it has reinforced my o w n dailymeditation practice enormously. Sitting groups also provide you the opportunity to meet andmeditate with other like-minded people in your community—w h o also seem to bring the most delicious baked goods! W h e nyoure ready to find your meditation sitting group, here are somesuggestions: * Consult your local merchants and bulletin boards. N e x t time youre at your yoga class, health food store, coffee hang- out, or spiritual bookshop, ask around among the workers and shoppers as to the whereabouts of a meditation sitting
RESOURCES 185 group. Check the bulletin boards as well. Do the same at your local college campus, health club, and, believe it or not, the Y. * Obtain a copy of Inquiring Mind, the journal of the national meditation community. Besides being a great magazine, it con- tains listings of upcoming retreats and established sitting groups throughout America. The Mind is published quarterly on a contribution basis. Youll find them on the web at www.inquiringmind.com. If for some reason you cannot find a sitting group in yourarea, start one of your o w n . Its easy and not a big deal. All youneed is at least one fellow meditator, a timer, and a bag ofchocolate-chip cookies (which will make other meditators showup in no time flat!). Meditation sitting groups are informal, free-form affairs, somake up your o w n agenda. You might decide that youll meditatefor a certain amount of time. And if anyone needs to stop sooner,thats fine. You might also, at some point, play a teaching tape ordo a guided meditation, w i t h one person as the "narrator." Thesitting group I belong to sits in a circle after meditation and dis-cusses how meditation practice supported and helped o u r livesover the previous week. W h e t h e r you join an ongoing sitting group or start youro w n , youll be doing something positive to nourish and deepenyour meditation practice. Youll also be helping other like-mindedpeople. Its win-win, all the way.
186 8 MINUTE M E D I T A T I O NThe Official 8 Minute Meditation Website,www.Sminufes.orgN o w heres a website I can personally recommend—mine! I cre-aced 8minuces.org Co support your continuation with what I hopehas become, and will be, your daily, lifetime meditation practice. Here is where you will find the latest and the greatest8 Minute Meditation developments. Its also the place where youcan order the 8 Minute Guided Meditation C D , which allows youCo close your eyes and follow the weekly meditation instructionspresented in 8 Minute Meditation. Other features youll find at www.8minuces.org include: • M o r e Q & A s . Just because youve completed the 8 Minute Meditation program doesnt mean you have Co scop asking questions. As you deepen your practice, expect more Co come up. Send them in to me, and Ill answer them for you and everybody. • Links t o n e w d e v e l o p m e n t s , r e t r e a t c e n t e r s , a n d r e - sources. Like I said, at last count, m o r e than 10 million Americans said they meditate. Every week, more articles ap- pear about meditation and its benefits. The website will keep you up Co dace on the latest developments in meditation, in- cluding scientific studies, retreat centers, and noteworthy books, tapes, and videos—all of which will carry the 8 Minute Meditation Seal of Approval.
IN CLOSINGWELL, I GUESS thats all I have to say—for now. Except forsomething Ive already said to you 8 times before, modified just atad. A n d that is . . . Youre doing great!. Just turn the page a n d move on with your life—with meditation at your side. May this book benefit you, and everyone you come in contactwith. May you be happy —Victor
THANK YOU -v-BOY, H O W DO those Oscar winners do it? Sixty seconds tothank everyone. I dont know where to start. But that hasntstopped me yet. First, I express deepest gratitude to mentor and close friendJosh Baran. Josh has been instrumental in the creation, writing,and publicizing of 8 Minute Meditation, f r o m proposal to makingsure I was interviewed by Time magazine. Joshs benevolence alsoextends to letting me occupy the famous "Baran author c o u c h "in his loft on my trips to N e w York. Tremendous thanks go out to the folks at my agency,Lowenstein-Yost. To Eileen Cope, that rare agent who tells youshes going to sell your book—and by gosh does it. Eileen " X O "to you! Also to business affairs maven N o r m a n Kurz, who let me
190 THANK YOUplay lawyer—and then provided the reality check. As did MartyWeisberg, Esq., valued friend and counselor. Over at Perigee Books, this years Nobel Peace Prize goes tomy amazing editor, Christel W i n k l e r : guide, guardian, confidant,and all-around smart cookie. H e r equanimity level approaches theDalai Lamas—and she needed it at times to handle yours truly Thanks also to Perigee publisher John Duff, w h o had the fore-sight to acquire 8 Minute Meditation and give it his full support. Mydeep respect to the designers, salespeople, publicists, and every-one else at Perigee for their graciousness in inviting me to put myt w o cents into everything from front cover to t e x t font. I hearyoure all recovering nicely. Great gratitude to my longtime meditation teacher, coach,and friend, Shinzen Young, not only for his conveyance of theteachings, but for helping me get my first book deal. Ive knownShinzen for twenty years and his unflagging energy and compas-sion are awe inspiring. Deep thanks to teachers and friends Sharon Salzberg andCatherine Ingram, w h o provide a sanctuary of truth, beauty, car-ing, and humor to all. Re lovingkindness, I send mucho to dear friend A n n Buck,whose loyalty, generosity, encouragement, and support have sus-tained me through it all. A n n is a living embodiment of the truespirit of compassion. Many other teachers have influenced my development as ameditator and author through my contact w i t h them or exposureto their books and teachings. Among those I thank are ShunryuSuzuki Roshi, Taizan Maezumi Roshi, the Dalai Lama, Bernie Glass-man, Wolfgang Kopp, Thomas Merton, Ajhan Chah, Alan Watts,
THANK YOU 191Steve Hagen, Jack Kornfield, Toni Packer, Pema Chodron.JoanTol¬lifson, Christina Feldman, Joseph Goldstein, and Sylvia Boorstein. Heartfelt acknowledgment to close chum, Reverend JohnN e w t o n , for his unswerving faith in my ability to w r i t e this book,no matter what / said. John read several drafts and his advice to"stop already!" was golden. Speaking of manuscript review, noone does it better than Reed Moran, my longtime buddy, confi-dant, cheerleader—and the best w r i t e r in Hollywood. Thanks go o u t to my unofficial marketing advisors: HelenBoehm, Susan Anderson, Cathy Moran, my niece Arlyn Davich,and Mike Attie. Also to Steve Royes, w h o tested the program andprovided feedback. Thanks to Joe Besch, elder statesman at Barnes and Noble,for reminding me to believe, and to Stan and the staff at the BodhiTree Bookstore—for not charging me rent. And a big D o w n w a r dFacing Dog to everyone at Sacred Movement Yoga in Venice, es-pecially my teachers Brad, Jamie, Jason, Ira, and Lynda. Finally, eternal love and gratitude to Dr. D, true-blue brotherMitchell, w h o always sings to me on my birthday. I think theyre signaling me from the control booth. Yup, timesup. Just as well. As they say, "After the ecstasy, the laundry." A n dboy, has it piled up.
MEDITATION/SELF-HELP Copyrighted MaterialIf youve said "Id love to meditate, but its too hard and takes toolong," 8 Minute Meditation is your answer. Its the revolutionary newprogram that Time magazine calls "the most American form of medi-tation yet."8 Minute Meditation is simple, easy, and geared to fit your busylifestyle, in just 8 minutes a day, the amount of time between televi-sion commercial breaks, you can develop a strong meditation prac-tice that can last you a lifetime.8 Minute Meditation is the unique new program that:• Starts you meditating immediately. Open this book and in just 10 minutes youll experience meditation.• Keeps you meditating. With easy, jargon-free, failure-proof meditation instruction.• Helps you quiet your mind, lower your stress level, and experience peace.• Makes daily meditation an enjoyable mini-vacation.• Anticipates your questions and concerns—and answers them in clear, commonsense language.• Empowers you with the Meditation in Action Template, the powerful tool you can apply to all your life activities.• Takes you to the next level of meditation, with valuable "upgrade" and resource sections.Why wait? Receive the benefits youve always wanted. Start medi-tating today with 8 Minute Meditation, the program that willchange your life.Victor Davich is the author of the highly popular The Best Guide toMeditation. He has meditated for more than twenty-five years and studiedwith Americas foremost teachers. He has also been an attorney, producer,and marketing executive for Fortune 500 advertising agencies and motionpicture studios, including Y&R, Paramount Pictures, and Universal-TV.