8 Minute Meditation by Gyan Guru


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8 Minute Meditation by Gyan Guru

  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. 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."
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 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-
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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.
  10. 10. 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.
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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 ? "
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. 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-
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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.
  19. 19. 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.
  20. 20. PART ONE • • •MEDITATION 101
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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:
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. 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.
  26. 26. 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,
  27. 27. 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!)
  28. 28. 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:
  29. 29. 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.
  30. 30. 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.
  31. 31. 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
  32. 32. 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
  33. 33. 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.
  34. 34. 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.
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. 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!
  37. 37. 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
  38. 38. 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:
  39. 39. 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:
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. 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?
  42. 42. 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
  43. 43. 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,
  44. 44. 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?
  45. 45. 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.
  46. 46. 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
  47. 47. 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.
  48. 48. 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.
  49. 49. 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
  50. 50. 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-
  51. 51. 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:
  52. 52. 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.
  53. 53. 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
  54. 54. 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!
  55. 55. 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
  56. 56. 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
  57. 57. 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
  58. 58. 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
  59. 59. 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,
  60. 60. 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.
  61. 61. 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.
  63. 63. 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. 64. 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.
  65. 65. 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. 66. 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
  67. 67. 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.
  68. 68. 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.
  69. 69. 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. 70. 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,
  71. 71. 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. 72. 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