Walk With Me

When you walk somewhere you have a destination in mind. Your entire walk is spent anticipating your arrival or looking back at the place you just left. So little time is spent just being present and enjoying the experience of walking or driving.

How many times have you driven somewhere and spent minutes driving with absolutely no idea of what you just drove past? How many times have you walked somewhere and had the same experience?

With walking meditation, every step is your destination. Every time your heel touches the ground is an experience all on its own.

Why not use this exercise the next time you need to clear your mind or to take a break? It’s simple and easy and a great way to start your week, or even better, to start your vacation so that you can actually enjoy your time away from the stress and anxiety of your work?

If you’re in New York City join me as I step into each week with a series of walking meditations every Monday morning. I created this program with the Rubin Museum to celebrate Meditation Month and the launch of Walk With Me – a film that explores celebrated monk Thicht Nhat Hahn’s spirituality. Click here to find out more.

Learn more here: https://simple-truth.com/thicht-nhat-hahn-walking-meditation/

The walk is free and attendees will receive discounted admission to the Rubin Museum’s screening of Walk With Me.

If you’re not available for the walks you can learn more about creating your own Walking Meditation by clicking here.

https://simple-truth.com/walking-meditation/

 

 

Q+A: What is the simplest and fastest meditation I can do?

Your question is not as simple as you may think. Realize that meditation is a wonderful 2,500 year old practice, but it is 2,500 years old. It was created for a world far simpler than the one you now live in. No matter what style you begin with, you will undoubtedly find you will outgrow it as you advance and begin to search for better, faster, deeper practices; which is as it should be.

Some people practice a lifetime before realizing that every door they open also opens a window as they realize there are ever more doors to explore. When you start with the idea of reducing stress and anxiety you inevitably discover those are surface ripples for the delusions you now take as realities. This is part of the self-realization that anyone who has meditated for any length of time begins to undertand.

If you are serious, begin your journey with a reputable school to learn the basics of breathing, dropping in on your thoughts and letting them go. Those are the three core elements to any style of meditation whether it is Vipassana, Samata, Zazen or some manifestation of them. Just as every school teaches you to not cling to your thoughts, forget about clinging to a single school, as each is woefully out of date for what you are looking for. Recognize the non-attachment they all talk about applies to their own school as well.

I teach people how to recognize the commonalities that is the foundation which connects all forms of mediation together. Learn those three core commonalities and then learn to pick and choose which technique work for you in your life. One technique may be better for stress, another may be better to manifest loving kindness, another still may help you focus on an issue through contemplation.

None are right or wrong, that is for you to decide. Learn to weave them together so that you can create a practice that works for your unique style and life, rather than trying to fit your life into a 2,500 year old practice which, in reality, are the same. You will find it much easier to maintain your practice with less frustration when you do.

Be well and I hope this helps.

Jeff

Emotional Management

You are an emotional being.

We all are.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, emotions are simply how your brain speaks to you in times of stress, for good and for bad.

Your emotions are an incredibly simple system that all animals share. They have kept us alive for thousands of years. There are no long winded sentences or punctuation to slow everything down, there are simply feelings like Fear, Hate, Anger, Pain, Love, Wonder, Curiosity, or Compassion that drive us to take immediate action.

It is why I become overjoyed [an emotion] when something that I have been speaking about for years is finally proved true by hardbound “research” rather than watching the natural world that is all around us and following one’s  “gut”.

Today emotions are not the wonder they were 40,000 years ago. They are still just your brain trying to speak to you, and unfortunately if you do not learn to manage them they can quickly manage your life in the wrong direction. Take a moment to think back at all the ways your emotions have steered your life in the wrong direction again and again and again.

I have been telling my students and clients that your emotions are neither good nor bad; they are simply your brain’s way of telling you that something in your world is about to effect your life. Anxiety is your brain’s way of saying, “we have been down this path before, so beware because the last time it didn’t turn out so well.” Physical pain is your brain’s way of telling you that something is wrong and you need to attend to it quickly. Anguish is your brain’s way of telling you that there is a loss in your life that you need to fill. Love is your brains way of saying something wonderful is about to happen if you just follow that trail, that person, or that animal to wherever it leads.

Back when your ancestors lived a constant fight, flight or fornicate mode, the emotional system was a great solution to staying alive. In today’s world, however, there you have time to step back and consider your actions before you commit yourself by running after your emotions – an act that often gets you into more trouble than whatever it was you were facing.

To do this you need to be awake to what is going on around you so that you can recognize the reality of your situation. Acting on your emotions is a choice and you can prevent yourself from taking the wrong path of following your auto-response with a breath so that you no longer feel trapped by the need to pursue whatever it is you are feeling without thinking.

Psychology Today recently published a new study about how your emotions drive most of your decisions without your even being aware that they are.

It is why I have always said that learning how to not respond to your emotions is the best step you can take to living a more meditative and mindful life to find the calm you want in your life.

Anxiety is not something to lose yourself to, it is simply your brain’s way of warning you to be cautious and to watch out. In many ways the anxiety you feel is your brain telling you hat you have faced a similar situation in the past and that it did not end up so well. Perhaps the person that you are haggling with over the cost of something reminds your brain of a person who cheated you in the past. You may not remember the person or the situation that your brain does, or perhaps it remembers something it saw on television and does not remember that that movie is not the real world. After all, why would you get so emotional about a movie or TV show if it wasn’t real? And since your brain recognizes it as real, the person in front of you with the same tic as the person in the movie is just as bad.

Your brain can’t always tell the difference between reality and make believe, so are you going to blindly follow your brain, even though the person in front of you is being fair and honest, but shares the same tic as a villain in a film?

It is important to remember that emotions are not the problem.  It is how you deal with them that is. If you lose yourself to your emotions, then they become your master – and that is never a good thing.

Don’t give up, we can help on this front. The next time you feel an emotion rising. Love or Hate, Anxiety or Comfort, Lust or Disgust, do not respond to it immediately.  Train yourself to stop, breathe, separate yourself from whatever it is that is triggering your emotion and relax.

Take a moment to really look at your situation so that you can ask yourself “is this emotion really right for what is going on?” Contemplate what you are feeling and try to remember the last time you felt this emotion. Acknowledge it, label it, contemplate it, and then ask yourself if responding in such a way is really what you want to do. Or would you be better off by simply letting it go?

Remember, your emotion is not the issue. It is simply your brain trying to talk to you using an antiquated system. Your brain is simply trying to tell you that something out there is about to effect you in here. It is up to you to decide how you want to respond.

Living in a meditative manner is the difference between joy and pain, love or anguish. After all, it is your life, it’s time to decide how you live it.

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

j.

Q + A: Is A Living Guru Required?

Q:

Is a Living Guru Required?

A:

Required for what? Before you can find the right answer you need to ask the right question. 😉

If you are asking about finding a shorter or more direct path to your destination, be they spiritual or material, the answer is yes in some ways. But the idea of a “guru” to lead you can distract you to follow false paths if you are not careful. You are the only one who can know what path to follow. Never rely on someone else, even me, to know where you want or need to go.

Always remember a guru can never know your mind. They can only share their experiences with you, but they can never know your thoughts.

It is up to you to select which part of their teachings applies to your situation. It is up to you, and only you, to know when you have learned the lessons you need to learn and when to move on so that you can continue your journey.

I have had many teachers and some gurus in my life. I have learned lessons, but rarely those they wanted to teach me. I have learned from watching the waves as they crashed on a beach, from observing the twists and turns of a mountain stream, and even by watching the stillness of a well worn stone. With each the most important lesson I have ever learned is knowing when to move on.

If you open yourself up to the stirrings of nature you will learn that you are your own best teacher. Just remember to allow yourself to acknowledge the wisdom all things in nature have to share and approach each with an empty cup.

Allow whomever or whatever to fill it free from preconceived notions and ideas.

I hope this helps.

Be well,

Jeff

Box Breathing

When you feel as if you just hit the wall and you can see your energy slipping away, when every page becomes a twenty-minute struggle to focus your thoughts, this is exactly when you need to breathe into your box. There’s no magic to it, you don’t have to sit in lotus or hold your hands in neat little circles. All you have to do is sit exactly where you are and breathe.

In minutes you will feel yourself settle into your breath. Your stress and anxiety will go somewhere that isn’t you and your focus will return so that you can return to being the person you were. You know before the circus of the world overcame your best efforts.

It’s so easy and simple, you can do it over and over again no matter what the world throws at you. Yes, it comes from the Navy SEALs, but that’s an entirely different story. All you have to know is that it works and it is there for you whenever you need it.

All you have to do to activate your box breath is to breathe in for a count of five, allow your breath to settle for a count of five, then breathe out for a count of five, and again allow your breath to settle for a count of five, before beginning again.

In for five, settle for five, out for five, settle for five, repeat, repeat, repeat.

If five is too long, make yours a count of four. If it is not long enough, make your count six. The important thing is not the count, but the consistency of your breath. As with every other exercise I teach, find your own flow and make this one yours. Own it, re-frame it, fit it into your style and your life as you need to. Do not try to fit your needs into my or anyone else’s – but yours.

That is it. As the shampoo bottle says, wash, rinse, repeat.

Now breathe into your own box and enjoy your day, your week and your life.

Be the person you were meant to be.

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

j.

 

Shared Purpose – a Relationship Meditation

“What is your purpose?” I asked.

“As a couple?” They replied. I shrugged, “Or as individuals?”

They aren’t alone in their response. After fifteen years of marriage they still weren’t quite sure how to respond. It was as if they stopped being individuals once they were married and this is one of the greatest tragedies we attach to being married. Many people think that once the ceremony is over you are no longer able to function as an individual. That thinking or having desires as an individual is somehow not acceptable, and that is a shame.

The beauty of marriage is that you have someone you can grow with in love and respect, in trust and in understanding. That you now have someone to continue on your journey with as a part of something greater. It does not mean confining yourself to a life of stagnation.

Instead of sinking into the comfort of your situation, make a pact with yourself and your partner that you will always explore new things, that you will travel, try new sexual positions and refuse to limit your growth by falling into the malaise of doing time on Maple Drive.

What are you afraid of? Do you think your partner may balk at your idea of spending your vacation somewhere new? Are you afraid that your partner for life may say no just like that boy or girl did in high school? Or do you think that living in the rat race, doing the same thing every day, is the most scintillating, exciting and fulfilling thing you can imagine doing until you retire at which point you can sit on your porch sharing remembrances of a life half-lived with your partner?

After a few moments of meditation to clear our minds my students and I delved a little deeper into the subjects of openness and honesty. It was no surprise that the husband felt trapped in his job and his wife felt trapped in the house, taking care of their home and children. Both felt chained to maintaining their lifestyle, which they admitted was a little beyond their means, “But everyone lives a little beyond their means, that’s part of the game.”

We took a short meditation break to release a layer of anxiety that was visibly building. When we returned I gently probed a little more; the husband confessed to being caught on his treadmill, his wife did as well. They were in the same room, but on two different treadmills. They faced the same direction, each set to a speed just a little faster than either was comfortable with, looking at the same wall they would never reach, yet both were unwilling to step off their treadmills and onto solid ground. Neither wanted to try new things for fear of losing that now sacred treadmill that was going nowhere.

If you truly love the person you have committed to, then set them free. Trust them to go off on their own and return to tell you about it. That ring on your finger is not your love for them. It is just a symbol that represents the vows you made to each other. Those vows are based on trust, and if you don’t trust your partner to hold your bond sacred, then no ring in the world will make a difference. If they hold it sacred, then removing that ring will not make them any less caring, trusting or respectfu, than they already are. Who knows they may even bring back some wonderful stories about the travels they went on and the adventures they had that may just revitalize the love and the vows you both took so long ago.

Trust in each other. Try something new. Gently ask your partner if whatever it is you want is okay. You may be surprised by their answer. Best case, you put your marriage on a better track that will truly last a lifetime. Worst case, you are right back where you are right now, running on your treadmill to nowhere.

Don’t let discomfort get in the way of getting what you want to get out of life. Let your partner be the strength you saw them to be when you first made your vows. Do not allow yourself to place them in some trophy case as some kind of an “I made it to fifty years” award. Smile at them, love them, and trust them as you ask them, and yourself, “what is your purpose?”

Understand that whatever you want is possible, but you have to express what you want to them if you want to experience it with them. Do not let your relationship become an excuse to stop taking the smart risks you so badly want to take.

The world has changed greatly in the past decade. Shouldn’t your relationship do the same?

Be well, and I hope this helps.

 

 

Jeff

Mind Your Brain Through Meditation

Your brain is an organ, it is grey, it weighs just under three pounds, and the last time it’s programming was updated was about 40,000 years ago – that was when modern humans, or Sapiens, took a major evolutionary leap forward.

Since that time, we have changed little in appearance but have evolved drastically in terms of our brain’s functionality and our sense of spirituality. While your brain may be the result of some pretty wonderous evolutionary leaps, it is important to remember that your brain is not the boss of you. But just try telling this to your brain.

The number one priority for your brain is to keep you alive. That is it. All those circuits and all that neural elasticity you have read about evolved for your survival. Those emotions you follow without thinking, like fear and hate, love and pain are there to keep you out of danger and to help you survive. It is why they play such a big part in your life and why you jump to follow them without pause and without thinking.

Each of those emotions leads you to a single operating process that results in the fight, flight or fornicate impulse you blindly follow. And that is where the problem starts in the contemporary world you live in. Yes, that process kept you alive 40,000 years ago, but in today’s 21st century world those same impulses will get you into more often than they will save you.

Let me give you a quick and easy, 60 second tutorial for how brain and mind evolved.

Make a fist and hold it at eye-level. That fist represents your brainstem. It is the source of your primal impulses. It is no different than the brain of a frog, lizard or alligator. It is what creates the Fight, Flight or Fornicate auto-response they and many of you live your life by. It is there to keep you safe, just like a frog’s or an alligator’s brain does today. Do you see your forearm? That represents your spinal column and will take you back on your evolutionary timeline. It is similar to the same structure within flatworms and earthworms.

As you move forward your brain becomes more evolved and specialized. Your frontal lobe is actually where the wiring for all of your executive functions live. I know that I am greatly simplifying a very complex organ I know there are areas of the brain that manage your hands and feet, I also realize there are two hemispheres, right and left, that perform tasks related to logic and creativity, but I want to keep things simple for the purposes of this post. All of your modern programming looks to your primal brain because it was programmed for survival, which is decided by your primal brain.

The problem is not with your brain, but with its programming. The programming of your brain was last updated some 40,000 years ago. It still responds to the world as if it were 40,000 years ago. It simply does not realize how the contemporary works. It does not realize the fight, flight or fornicate responses that kept you alive for so long are not appropriate in the contemporary world you now live in. When you begin to get nervous when meeting a new client or when you go in for a job interview, it is not a life or death situation, it is simply you getting nervous. It is not the time to pump more adrenaline and cortisol, it is the time for you to calm down so that you can think about the questions you will have to respond to.

That is the brain. Your mind on the other hand, is a modern wonder that exists just beyond the reach of your brain. It is the output of all those circuits that exists just beyond your reach. It represents all the hopes and dreams, needs and desires that make you who you are. It is the passion you feel and the sorrow you experience. It is the beauty of your life. It is also what makes your life YOUR life.

If you want to be happy and to feel accomplished in today’s world, then you must first learn to quiet your 40,000-year-old brain so that you can access the 21st century mind that is you. Then, and only then, will your 21st Century self flourish so that you can experience the joy, the happiness, and the feeling of accomplishment and success you were meant to enjoy.

Click here to discover the five simple steps to do this, or jump right to Jeff’s Teachings if you want to engage with Jeff without commitment at https://simple-truth.com/teachings.

  • Meditate – Stop stressing about meditation. Stop worrying feeling the urge to shave your head or give up everything you have worked so hard for. Neither of those things will happen unless you want them to. You will simply learn to understand how your brain and mind interact. You will become more closely attuned to their relationship with the world around you, and learn to manage them. You will learn that YOU are the one in control of YOUR life, not that voice in the back of your head. So free yourself to be YOU and take a stab at meditation. If you have never meditated before, download some free guides here https://simple-truth.com/teachings. Just know that there is a big, bright world out there free from the guilt and self-loathing that comes from within your head.
  • Meet your bad roommate – have you ever sat down and listened to that voice inside your head? You know what it sounds like. That’s right, a nagging roommate. The kind you would have tossed out years ago no matter how much rent they paid. Well, it’s time to realize that the bad roommate IS NOT YOU! That’s your 40,000-year-old brain doing what it does. It looks out for trouble, and when it doesn’t see any around you, it turns inward and starts nitpicking you apart. When you look at yourself in the mirror and it starts commenting on your hair or how you feel, do what you would do to a bad roommate – say thank you and tell it to leave, then turn to your mind and smile at the possibilities and enjoy the day ahead of you.
  • Let It Go – You live in a vastly different world than your ancestors did 40,000 or even 40 years ago. Today you live in an ever-expanding realization of world consciousness. Yes, your brain may be stuck in a village mentality, but you are not. When it snipes at someone who doesn’t dress right, acknowledge it and let it go. When it tells you, you are not good enough, nod and let it go. When it compares you to someone else, yes, smile and let it go. That is NOT YOU TALKING. That is the leftover programming from 40,0000 years ago and it has no place in the modern world YOU live in, or in YOUR life. If you just can’t seem to let it go then take a breather, refer to step 1 and meditate.
  • Smile – No matter what goes on around you, smile. It works on the physical level. It works on the psychological level. It works on the spiritual level. Smile and focus on the feeling that smile gives you. Smile as it spreads across your face and down, deep into your belly with every breath you take. Give it permission to lift you up. Allow it to spread to those around you as you stand up straight and let it go.
  • Honor Your Divine Self – That’s right. Honor the divinity and the infinity that is you. Forget about your perceived limitations and connect with the words the Buddha, Jesus Mohammad and even Einstein said. You are nothing but energy. All those atoms and molecules are held together with pure and unadulterated energy. It’s what keeps everything in the Universe moving together, in the right direction. You breathe it, you bathe in it, you live in it. It is why the energy that you put out there comes right back to you. No, that doesn’t mean if you wish hard enough for a bicycle you’ll get a bicycle. But it does mean, good thoughts, good words and good intentions will create a good life that you can enjoy every day if you want to.

All of this means is that when it feels like the world is beating you up, it’s really not. It is just your 40,000+ year old brain trying to do what it was designed to do – protect you. It’s just trying to do that with a 40,000-year-old program, and that’s like trying to send a letter with a 19th century typewriter. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it will take you quite a while.

Let your 21st Century mind pick a new program, one that is based on the modern world you live in.  Then, and only then, can you make good choices that will send your life moving in the direction you want it to move.

To learn more about how Jeff can help you design your life for the Modern World – take a look at his work on https://simple-truth.com/teachings

Be Your Meditation Master

Meditation is not something one can teach. One can only share their practice with your. It is for you to take what resonates with your life, to layer it with the teachings of others, to question what you do not understand, and to develop a practice that works for you, in your world.

Meditation is a practice you develop over time. It is not a one-time program that you learn from just one teacher in one sit. It evolves. It grows. It becomes a part of you just as you become a part of it.

With every moment of growth, you will exceed the teachings of the one before you. As you establish yourself in The Way, you will learn to share your own insights with those around you. This is how you create community. This is how you learn to straighten the crooked, even within yourself. If you are ever to grow, to become more than you are, you must continually strive toward a harder task, even within your meditation. It begins within yourself and reaches out to those around you.

Just as your practice starts with a breath and grows as you layer that breath with a count. As you learn to acknowledge your thoughts and to let them go, you will also learn to open your heart so that you can reach out to those around you. In so doing you will learn to straighten yourself; not in solitary contemplation or meditation, but in the shared community we are all a part of.

As you grow you will uncover the master within yourself. This is your only true master. When you surpass what you were you will find enlightenment. Just as meditation is not a one-time event, enlightenment is not a one-time moment. Each is an ever evolving series of steps, each leading upward to the next.

If you ever ask “who is my Meditation Master?” It is you. Who else could it possibly be? Who can know how your heart and mind works as well as you?

Just remember, only after you subdue yourself can you release yourself into the world around you with a new-found sense of focus, peace, and calm

Yours is a never-ending experience that requires more than an occasional sit. It requires that you open yourself to the peace and Love that is within you. It also requires that you share same peace and Love with those around you. That is how you emerge from your chrysalis.

Yes, enlightenment and even transcendence can be found in solitary contemplation. It can also be found in community. Neither is better or worse than the other. They are simply different paths to the same end.

Trust yourself to make the right choices for you. They will always lead you forward, toward the next fork along your path. If you are to make good choices you must learn from your past so that you can apply that knowledge to your future, the one that is happening in the present moment, all around you.

 

 

[box type=”info”]Click Here to Reach Out to Jeff Directly – It is the One Thing We Cannot Do For You.[/box]

 

 

Just 1 Thing

One Thing.

That truly is the answer – to simply focus on just one task at a time.

Your brain is a wonderful organ, but it is not meant to multi-task. It is only meant to address one task at a time. What you think is multi-tasking is actually your brain ping ponging between individual tasks very, very rapidly. The result? Exhausting you and reducing your ability to perform tasks that require higher cognitive functions.

The moment you try to multi-task is the moment you lose it all. You brain gets overwhelmed. You become more easily confused, more easily frustrated, and unable to identify and manage the details.

How many times have you arrived at your desk to find all that work you did the night before to be a mess?

Removing stress and distractions from your life simply means returning to a point of singularity again and again. That means approaching a single point of focus by bringing your mind and your body to rest on doing one thing at a time. And yes, a key to this lies in your breath and your ability to focus on it.

And that is called meditation. It is why meditation works so well in the modern world we have created for ourselves. There is no mystery to it, it is simply bringing our brain from  a confused state while attempting to do everything, to doing just one thing at a time.

So mono-task instead. When you are washing dishes, simply was dishes. When you are eating, simply eat. When you are working on a project, Simply work on that project. Do not try to squeeze one more task into what you are doing.

Instead, slow down and focus on the task before you.

Learn more at our event on this Monday evening [February 22, 2016] at 5:30. It takes place at the Mulberry branch of the New York Public Library. Learn more by clicking here or send us an email.

We are here to help.

Zen For Busy People – A Free Workshop

With 2016 off and running. why not start on the right path with our Meditation4All program?

We are arranging a number of free workshops for 2016, and the first one is coming up quickly.

On February 22nd, we are hosting a workshop at the Mulberry Branch of the New York Public Library. It is called Zen For Busy People.

As a part of our Meditation4All program it is free to everyone.

So take a look on our calendar at the Simple-Truth website for the 22nd, or copy the information below:

New York Public Library – Mulberry Branch
Monday, February 22, 2016
5:30 pm – 6:45
10 Jersey Street
New York, NY

We look forward to an enjoyable and enlightening evening and year ahead, and it all starts on the 22nd. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out at info@simple-truth.com. It will be a bit of short guided meditations, a bit of conversation, and a lot of AHA moments all around.

We look forward to connecting in 2016 and to seeing where it will lead.

Enjoy the start of your year and be well,

j.