The Boston Buddha Blog

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Andy with his spiritual guru and wife Catharine

Andy recently sat down with About Meditation‘s Morgan Dix to talk about mindfulness and meditation.  In this interview, we learn about the events that led to Andy becoming the Boston Buddha, and we explore his approach to teaching meditation in corporations and schools.

I invited Andy to the show because he’s passionate about helping people change their mental habits through meditation to achieve deeper happiness and fulfillment. He’s full of practical wisdom and teaching tips that will help you hone your own meditation practice.

In this interview, the Boston Buddha and I explore:

  • How Andy became a meditation teacher
  • The benefits of different styles of meditation
  • Why he does mantra-based meditation in the morning and mindfulness-based meditation in the afternoon
  • How to strengthen the neural networks associated with attention
  • How to change the stories we tell ourselves
  • Why it’s important to pick one practice technique and stick with it
  • How he came to be called the Boston Buddha
  • Why he says that everyone is the Boston Buddha
  • How he teaches meditation to students from 8-18 years old
  • His unique 5-minute email meditation exercise for executives
  • Andy’s main advice for new meditators

Enjoy!

About Morgan Dix

Morgan Dix is a blogger who enjoys exploring the intersection of contemplative fitness and culture. He is a co-founder of About Meditation and contributes regular articles and guided meditations.

 

roadblockWell, those two weeks went by fast, huh?  I’m so glad you’ve made the decision to stick with us for the “Commit To Sit 2015 Meditation Challenge”. Knowing what meditation has meant to me, I’m really excited in anticipation of how this experience will transform your life over the next year.

Let’s face it, sometimes opening up to one’s experience is difficult, because the experience may not be what we wish it could be – but when we do… when we take just 10 minutes a day during the work week- you start to see that you’re building up these internal resources that help you cope with stress a lot better. It’s not always easy so stay positive over these next few weeks and trust me!

Homework for this weekend:

– Wherever you are – spend at least five minutes outside with nature. Whether we know it or not, we all have meditative experiences throughout the day… when we’re out walking the dog, staring off into the ocean, playing with our kids, looking up at the stars, listening to the sounds in our environment, and breathing in the fresh air. We can all be present with our experience – the hard part is learning to sustain it for more than just a couple of breaths outside without picking up our phones – and that is what we’re starting to cultivate in class.

– S.B.L.S. (Stop. Breathe. Listen. Smile.) Stop, take a breath and get in the habit of asking yourself: “How do I feel? What do I need right now?”

I think the question that was asked most this week was: How do I REALLY know that I’m doing it right?

1. You’re sitting for five minutes – twice a day. (you’re doing it right)

2. You have thoughts, feelings, or get distracted by external noises. (you’re doing it right)

3. You fall asleep. (you’re doing it right – especially in that first month)

4. You are aware that you you’re focusing on the physical sensation of the breath in your body. (you’re doing it right)

Remember, it’s totally normal for your mind to wander. There’s no need to criticize yourself when you notice that your mind has wandered. The point is not to suppress thoughts or emotions but rather to have open spacious awareness with it.

THE BEST WAY TO REALLY TELL IF YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT is AFTER you open your eyes. Is your day easier? Are you taking things a little lighter – less serious? One of my teachers, Sharon Salzberg likes to remind us, “When it comes to meditating, it helps to have a sense of humor.”

Have a great weekend!

-Andy

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BuddhaBreak – Don’t have time to do a full 30 minute body scan meditation? That’s OK, we’ve got you covered! Try my “4 Minute Mood Shift” throughout the day. I find that this mini meditation really helps me dislodge stress and tension and snaps me out of my negative moods.

MINUTE 1: Focus on any physical stress and tension in the body.
MINUTE 2: Focus on what your feelings and thoughts.
MINUTE 3: Bring your attention in and focus on the breath.
MINUTE 4: See if you can expand your awareness around the breath to include your whole body sitting there breathing – from your head to your feet.

I hope this helps!

The most common questions I get when I introduce meditation to anyone is, “does it matter how I sit?” and  “do I need to sit cross-legged like a pretzel on the floor to meditate?”. howtosit

My response is always the same – the key is to be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, it may be easier for you to give up meditating altogether.

Unless we’re doing a body scan or chakra toning, it’s preferable not to lay down – because people have a tendency to fall back to sleep when they lay down, but other than that, sitting in a particular posture really isn’t that important to me.

There are many meditation disciplines that emphasize sitting ‘the right way’ quite a bit. If you were in class on Monday, you heard Betty giving direction on how to formally sit in the seven pointed posture – and it makes sense – certain seated positions not only open us up physically but also open us up emotionally. When our posture is open, when our spine is erect and our hands are not crossed in front of us, we feel more open and confident! In fact, if you sit straight up you get more oxygen to the brain making it easier to learn.

With all that said, what I’ve found over the years is that while the posture we use in a formal class is useful, what happens sometimes is we get so wrapped up on perfecting and maintaining that perfect posture that it becomes less open and more rigid.  We focus on how to make the perfect seat (adding blankets, blosters, etc) so my leg won’t fall asleep. We start to hyperfocus on perfecting ‘the one seat’.

For me, I never sit on the floor at home. In fact, much like this picture of my son meditating before school, I sit on a couch with with a blanket over me. I suggest the real reason that yogis sat on the floor thousands of years ago is… wait for it… because they didn’t have comfortable chairs!

What I try to do in my seat is cultivate an inner attitude for openness. What’s most important is that we approach meditation with the quality of being relaxed, open, and alert. Especially in the beginning. The last thing I want to be thinking about during my meditation is how much pain in my body is in – I really don’t need the extra distractions… I do fine all by myself . So, it’s all about our inner attitude.

A few questions for you to think about as you find YOUR seat – whether it’s slouchy or straight – Are you open or closed off? Do you sit with ease? Is your approach simple or rigid? Are you thinking too much about the body during the meditation?

Be comfortable.

I hope this helps!

-Andy