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Practical Tips on Being More Mindful

Shamash Alidina & Melli O'Brien






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Practical Tips on Being More Mindful

In this interview, Shamash shares how to create a strong foundation for your mindfulness practice and advice for those who are just starting up a home meditation practice.

I'm your host Melli O'Brien and

I'm really excited to introduce you

to today's guest, Shamash Alidina.

Shamash is a best-selling author,

speaker and mindfulness teacher.

He's the author of the

international bestselling,

Mindfulness For Dummies series.

And he's just released a new book

called the Mindful Way Through Stress.

Shamash runs courses and workshops on

mindfulness and speaks about mindfulness

at conferences around the world.

And he's been teaching since 1998.

So it's a really long time to be teaching.

And he's also now a

teacher trainer as well.

So Shamash, thank you so much for

sharing your time with us for the summit.

Thank you very much and I'm

really excited to be here.


So there are probably people who are,

who are watching this summit that have

been practicing mindfulness for a while.

And then there's going to be kind of

the other end of the spectrum, who

are people who really maybe never

even heard of mindfulness before.

So for those people, what would you,

how would you define mindfulness?

Yeah, well, one of the interesting things,

when I was first writing this book, it's

first book, Mindfulness for Dummies, I

thought the easiest bit would be to write

what's the definition of mindfulness.

So I looked at one book and

it had the one definition, at

another book, another definition.

So it almost became, what I discovered

is that mindfulness is more like a

rainbow with different people seeing it

in different angles, but there's certain

commonalities that are really important.

So the first aspect of when people

ask me what mindfulness is, is it's

really important in that, in the

sense of a present moment awareness.

So if you say to people, you know,

your normal average person has never

heard of mindfulness, present moment

awareness, they'd be like, yeah.


I think I know what you mean.

But what the research has found is

that most people, at roughly half

the amount of time that we go around

in our normal everyday activities,

we're thinking about stuff.

And the stuff we're normally

thinking about is either about

the past or about the future.

And in fact, all the stuff we're

thinking about the future is just

stuff that's projected from the past.

We have all these experiences

that we've had in our lives.

We've all lived for

different lengths of time.

And we've got all these memories that

are kind of locked into our head.

And we're either thinking about the stuff

that's happened or we're projecting,

using those memories, to guess what's

going to be happening in the future.


Now to, to be caught up for so much

time thinking about these things

means that we, we lose our ability to

actually experience the here in now.

And what mindfulness does through

different kinds of concepts and especially

through doing different exercises and

meditations is to learn to be more in

the here and now, the present moment.

So for example, as I'm speaking, the

more mindful you are, the more likely

you are to appreciate when your mind

kind of goes to these other thoughts

and actually says, hang on a minute,

let's just, just turn the attention

back to what Shamash is saying.

Or if not, if you know, if you're not

interested in what I'm saying, then maybe

just noticing the sensations of your body

as you're sitting here, or the sounds

of the bus or the computer or whatever.

But the sense of being in the

here and now is a really, really

important aspect of mindfulness.

Now most people kind of just stop there.

They think of mindfulness as okay.

Just being more in the

here and now more present.

But the second really, really

important aspect of mindfulness is

to what I call mindful attitudes.


So it's about the way you pay

attention to the present moment.

Because if you can have someone like,

you know, a sniper, somebody who wants

to kind of kill someone or someone

who's in the army or something, that

could be really mindful, in the sense

of very here and now, very present.

And they could just be going around

shooting and killing people and

you can say, Oh, that's nice.

But he was just so mindful of

the way he killed that person.

It doesn't sound like, like the kind

of thing that mindfulness is all about.

It's much more about bringing also these

attitudes of kindness, sense of warmth,

sense of affection, sense of friendliness.

So, so mindfulness is about the

present moment awareness, but also

these, these warm attitudes and

those attitudes are really important

when we start looking inwards.

So when you start noticing your bodily

sensations, especially if they're painful

or emotional feelings, again, especially

if they're difficult and also thoughts.

If we've got kind of negative thoughts

and we don't want to have them,

then the automatic reaction of most

people would be to try to fight them,

to push them away, like, Oh no, I

don't want to have that thought.

I don't want to think about

that really horrible thing.

But unfortunately the more negative you

are towards that, the stronger it gets.

It kind of bounces back

to you like a spring.

Whereas if you bring this like,

Oh, that's okay, that's fine.

Let me be friendly to it.

And you learn to build this, this new

type of attitudes, this friendly kind

of attitude, then it seems to soften.

It seems to dissolve.

Yeah, the present moment becomes

a pleasant moment to be in.


So if you were to describe the actual

experience in, in your own direct

experience of what it's like to, to

shift attention in a mindful way.

So let's say you were in autopilot mode

and then you shift into mindfulness.

You would just to kind of like take

that little snapshot snippet of time,

like three seconds or five seconds.

How would you describe

that actual experience?

That direct experience?

That's a really interesting question.

Well, the thing is that our

mind does kind of always go into

autopilot and always comes out.

So people who've been practicing

mindfulness and mindfulness meditation

sometimes get the sense of frustration

that the mind keeps going off to thoughts.

It keeps going off to thoughts.

But the thing is that although it

does, yes, goes off on thoughts, it

also always comes back at some point.

We don't, we're not caught

up in autopilot forever.

There's always some point

where it always comes back too.


Otherwise you'd never know you

were on autopilot, would you?



So yeah, it always goes on.

And then yeah, you notice

that it's gone off.

And the tendency in mindfulness is,

first of all, when people first learn

mindfulness is that they actually kind

of are a bit harsh to themselves and

are not very friendly to themselves.

Like, wow, my mind's wandered off.

Let me bring it back.

They didn't bring it back.

And then gradually over time, people

learn to be a bit more friendly.

So just to answer your

question, what's it like?

It's, it's actually an

experience that everyone's had.

Like, for example, you're sitting in

the classroom, when you, as a child

and you're looking out the window

and your mind is wandering off.

And then at some point, either the teacher

would say something, that's usually the

way it happens, but if not, then you just,

you know, you just kind of get bored of

what you're looking and you just turn

back and you look at the, the blackboard

or what the teacher's talking about.

And the mind has gone from being caught

up in this dream world to being present.

So it's actually a thing that's

naturally happening to us all

the time, going off and coming

back, going off and coming back.

In mindfulness, what we're doing is

that we kind of are trying to lean our

mind towards more coming into the here

and now, rather than that fantasizing.

And although we, although most

people think that, ah it's so nice

to kind of dream and fantasize,

and it seems very pleasant.

The thing is that once you learn to

practice mindfulness and you do it more

often and you do it with this friendly

attitude, the present moment becomes

actually a really enjoyable place.

And it actually has much more depth and

it can go deeper and deeper and deeper.

But as I was saying, that in mindfulness,

when you start learning these mindfulness

exercise, what most teachers, meditation

teachers say that, you know, it's the

mind's tendency to wander off and you

bring it back and you bring it back

with friendliness and you bring it back

with kindness and that's the next level.

But what I've been exploring and

discovering, over actually just the last

few months, is that I think there's a

third aspect to it as well, which is

once it's, which is to actually turn

towards this, this process of what's

automatic pilot and actually think about

actually, why is my mind wandering and

to start looking at the causes of that.

And so if you start bringing that same

sense of kindness and friendliness we

were talking about to mind wandering

or to your relationship to your

mind itself, it really starts to

kind of settle and calm down a lot.

So what we're trying to do is not

be the enemies with autopilot or

with the mind, but actually to

let the mind be your best friend.


I like that.

So, for example, let's say if

you're sitting on a park bench with

your friend and your friend starts

talking about something different.

You just say, Oh, that's

really interesting.

Please come back to what I'm doing

now, because I'm looking at this tree.

And then your mind says, Oh yeah,

but you know, I was playing this

computer game the other day.

It was really fun.

And you're like, thank you very much.

Let's bring it back.

After a while, your friend

would get really annoyed.


And I think this is where mindfulness

is going with a lot of teachers and I

in the past, as well, is that, Oh yeah,

your mind goes off, bring it back.

Your mind goes off, bring it back.

But after a while that can actually

get quite frustrating and it's kind

of frustrating for the mind as well.

And we're kind of pretending that's okay.

But what I've been doing in the last

six months, which I find very, very

effective, which is that if the mind does

want to wander off into something else.

Then I say, Oh, okay, mind

you know, you're my friend.

We're together in this.

Where do you want to go?

What do you want to think about?

And what I've found is that very soon,

within seconds actually, it's like, Oh,

you're not trying to control me anymore.

You're letting me go off.

And yet you're paying

attention to what I'm saying.

And this is, the mind is like, actually.

Yeah, let's, let's just, you

know, let's just be here.

Let's feel the body and

let's listen to those birds.

Let's feel the breathing.

So you're in it together.


I like that.

And you know, what I like about it

is that, you know, we talk about you

talking about this, this friendly

attitude, this warmth, and this

kindness towards the mind, and it

strikes me when you're saying that.

But that is just the ultimate

kindness and warmth, isn't it?

You're actually just letting it be

as it is, but you're just bringing

awareness to how it is right now

with absolutely no agenda for

control or manipulation whatsoever.

That's beautiful.

I really, I really like that.

That's lovely.


It's like not making

autopilot into an enemy.

No, exactly.

Just letting it go.

I often find is that with mindfulness,

we do like mindfulness of breath and

then the body and sounds, and then I tell

people let's be mindfulness of thought.

Let's be mindful of our thoughts.

And for most people, as soon as they turn

their attention to their thoughts, they're

like, oh, I couldn't think of anything.


So they're fighting with their mind

all the time with the breathing and

with the body or pretending they're not

fighting with their mind, like, Oh yeah.

It's kind of going off, come back,

going off, come back and going off.

Now I say, okay be

mindful of your thoughts.

Then suddenly.

Shamash, what do you mean

be mindful of my thoughts?

I couldn't think when I was being mindful.

I'm like, exactly.


Quite often I see that happen.

Have you had that experience?

Yeah, definitely.

It's kind of like you say, say

to your mind, okay, now you can

wander to your heart's content.

You can do whatever you want, go for it.

And what do you get usually?



So the key is to have this attitude for

the whole of the mindfulness exercise.

Let it go.

This is what the process

of mindfulness is.

It's not about control, whether it's, you

know, harsh control or even pretending

to be not being harsh with yourself.

It's about truly letting things be.

Mindfulness is not an act of willpower or

an act of force, whether it's, you know,

strong or subtle, it's letting things be.

A nice analogy, which, you know,

my, one of my favorite teachers,

Ajahn Brahm uses, is he often uses

this a glass of water analogy.

So imagine this glass of

water as your thoughts.

And so you're holding this and as you

can see, the glass of water is moving.

So in mindfulness, we say, okay, let's

just do a little bit more effort.

Kind of hold it.

And the more effort you put, the

more it starts shaking around.

So I'm like, okay, I'm

really going to focus.

Now, let me be patient.

It's going off, come back.

It's still moving.

And it's only when we say, actually glass

of water, which is like your thoughts,

I'm just going to let you be as you are.

And as I put it down, you can't see,

but at first it still continues to move.

So when you let go and let the thoughts be

as they are, they still continue to move.

But eventually, because you stopped

controlling, that, that control

freak part of our brain starts to

ease, starts to let go and things

actually settle in a more relaxed way.

So this is actually opposite

of doing, of trying to control.

And we're so used to controlling that

when we start doing mindfulness and

meditation, for most people, that

part of our brain is still running.

So I want to get this right.

I want to make sure that mine's

going, I'll bring it, but you know,

and any, any sense of force or trying

to control is unfortunately going

to just keep it going, going, going.

But once you just listen to this,

these kind of concepts and learn to

actually, I'm really going to just let

the mind be as it is, let the emotions

be as they are, let the body sensation.

Let me just watch and observe.

Then in its own time, it does settle.


That's such a, it's really such

a, such a valuable insight.

And I love, you know, for the people

who are watching this who are just

starting out with mindfulness as well,

knowing that, just knowing that from

the beginning, that that mindfulness

is sort of not, it's not about,

it's not about controlling thoughts.

It's not about suppressing thoughts.

It's not about clearing your

mind or any of that stuff.

It's, it's actually just...

you know, in, in Mindfulness for

Dummies, I love how you, you talk about

this kind of letting go and having the

realization that you are not your mind.

You know, that, that, that finding that

spaciousness to step back and, and open

up to the awareness that's there behind

thoughts, and then the thoughts can

just come and go, arise and subside.

So, yeah.



And that's really, really important.

In fact, that just reminds me of when

I first got into mindfulness, that

was such an important aspect for me.

So, I remember going into this,

this class, it was actually like a

practical philosophy class and they

just talked first about the concept

of different levels of awareness.

So they said there's sleep and

that's like low levels awareness.

I was like, yeah, that makes sense.

And then there's everyday wakefulness,

it's slightly more conscious awareness.

I'm like.


Yeah, definitely.

We're definitely a bit more

conscious, conscious when we're

awake rather than sleeping.

But then they said, there's these

higher levels of awareness which

you can cultivate through doing

consciousness or awareness exercises.

I'm like, yeah, that totally makes sense.

And then they said they did

this exercise where we went

through our different senses.

We could maybe do that

in a minute if you want.

And then once we went through our senses,

we took a step back and we said, actually,

you're watching these thoughts arise.

But if you're watching them, there's

the thoughts and then there's you.

And so there's a sense

of space and separation.

So no matter what these

thoughts say, it's not you.

And so they can say whatever they

want and they'll never affect

you because you're the observer.

Whatever emotions can come up,

whatever, even pain or difficulties

come up, but you are not them.

You're the watcher, you're the observer.

And once you kind of get a little

bit of a feel for that and appreciate

that, it really is life changing.

I mean, many of the people listening

to this may have heard of this guy,

Eckhart Tolle.The guy who wrote the Power

of Now, and that was his experience.

He was totally caught up in a depression.

He was suicidal.

And then there was a moment, I

think he said something like,

I cannot live with myself.

And then he though, Hold on a

moment, if I can't live with

myself, there's two bits to me.

There's the I that can't...

so that means that...

And then when he investigated a

bit further, he discovered that

yeah, there's me, the observer, and

then the experiences, but I'm the,

I'm kind of detached from that.

And there's a huge freedom in that.

So it's really, really important kind

of concept to experience at some point.


And something that opens up more and

more through mindfulness practice, I

was talking to Rick Hanson recently

about, about that, about how there's

a consistent reporting of people who

practice mindfulness, that there's their

sense of self changes to a, what Jon

Kabat Zinn sometimes talks about, as

an orthogonal rotation in our sense of

self from, from being these mind based

self with all this needs and wants and

its story-based self to, to something

much deeper and much more connected.

So, yeah.


I remember reading some

research about that.

About the present moment self and

kind of like the storytelling self.

So this is where the storytelling self is

basically linked to that automatic pilot.

But I suppose the more we do mindfulness,

we realize actually there's another part

of my being, which is actually quite

still, it's quite calm, quite happy and

is actually watching the whole show.

And so I can tune into

that part of me too.


And this is something obviously that

over time, I think, you know, many

people experience this from time

to time in spontaneous moments of

mindfulness and that kind of thing.

But over time, it's certainly

true, in my own experience and many

people that I speak to, that that's

something that develops more and

more, more and more with practice.

So for those of you who are watching

and you don't sort of feel that the

first time you practice mindfulness,

that's fine and normal and whatever.

Yeah, yeah.



You can experience a whole

kind of different things in any

practice, no matter how long

you've been practicing for.



That's a really important point actually.

It's worth emphasizing that

mindfulness is not about trying

to get a particular experience.


It's about letting whatever

experience is arising, letting it be.

So if you're trying to feel peaceful,

if you're trying to feel calm, if

you're trying to feel relaxed, if

you're trying to feel detached,

then you're trying to get something.

So you're not letting the experience

be and the peace and the calm and

the letting go and the relaxation

comes from letting that experience

be, which is the agitation be, let

the stress be, let the thoughts be.

Like we were just talking about

earlier with the thoughts,

just let them be as they are.

Let go of the wanting

things to be different.

And then it's just a

matter of patience then.


In your own journey into mindfulness over

the years, so you you're, it sounds like

your journey started fairly young and then

you came to philosophy and mindfulness

in your, was it early twenties?

Yeah, exactly.

Early twenties.


And so what does, over time, in

your own experience, what have been

the, the realizations, the insights

or the ways in which mindfulness

has changed your experience,

maybe in little ways or big ways?

What's that journey been like for you?

It's actually a little bit difficult for

me to say how my life would be different

if I hadn't done mindfulness because

I did it at a relatively young age.

So I could talk about how it was

before I did mindfulness and after.

I don't think it's actually totally

fixed that, you know, I'm unmindful

up to this point and then suddenly

mindful for the rest of my life.

So it's probably lots and lots of steps.

And we were having a little

chat earlier, weren't we, about,

about how I came to mindfulness.

And I suppose the first inklings of

it was when I was, I don't know what

age it was, maybe seven or eight or

something like that, and I just, just

looking around at the world and just

getting a sense of, hang on a minute.

Why is all this happening?

I mean, there could be just, it

could, life could be just nothing.

It could be nothing.

But it's so that there's this amazing

universe and trees and birds and

the earth and then just beyond that,

we've got this whole solar system

and beyond that we're in this galaxy.

It's just an incredibly huge universe.

And then I'm just going around with

my little thoughts about my, you know,

my mom and my dad, this little world

of mine that I'm kind of caught up in.

And then I looked around at everyone

else and they're all caught up in

this old, this, this little world too.

And they're worrying about the tiniest

of things and there's this amazing thing

happening, the fact that we're alive.

It kind of doesn't make sense.

And it's a huge mystery, actually.

It's a massive mystery and yet people

never talked to me about this, this

mysterious world that we're living again.

And yet, you know, they're talking

about exams or about computer

games or about these really

tiny things when we've actually.

It's like, imagine that you took

human beings now and you put

them into this magical heaven.

And then they were just talking about,

you know, there's some little thing

that they have to do that day when

actually hang on a minute, look at

this, look around us, theres this

amazing thing that's happening.

So that was the kind of, that was

my first, I never realized, you

know, this is something that, that

people talked about, the sense of,

you know, philosophy and about the

sense of the mystery of the world.

And you know, about

consciousness and awareness.

I never knew many people

talked about it at all.

So there's a sense of like, this is

really weird that I'm thinking about this.

And then it just kind of, as I got

totally, you know, when I went to

secondary school and you've got loads

of homework, I got caught up in the same

thing that everybody else was caught up

in, because you're just living, I suppose

from fear, if, you know, if you don't

do your homework, you get told off with

this consequence and that consequence.

And I think it's partly, probably

because of fears about getting into

trouble or not doing the right thing.

I just got caught up in,

in that same world, too.

And then it was only when I

was, I suppose I had, luckily I

had this wake up call whenI was

studying and I was at university.

And I was, one of my

friends was religious.

Like I'd been brought up, like my

mum was from the Hindu background.

My dad was kind of from a Muslim

background, but neither of them

had stuck to their faith too much.

So I wasn't really brought

up in a religious sense.

So I have that sense of openness.

And I just, when I've done this

job, cause I was studying chemical

engineering, I did it as a, as a

summer job, like an internship thing.

I didn't like it at all.

And I found myself just, just in this

evening philosophical type class.

And it was such a relief to

realize that people actually

sit around and talk about life.

They don't just talk about money

or they don't just talk about jobs

or about what some TV or computer

games, but they also talk about this

mystery of that were actually alive.

And they also talk about how to

live a happier life, actually,

and a more conscious life and just

reflect about how life is going.

And that was a wonderful,

wonderful experience.

That particular day.

I can't remember what day that was

exactly, but when I did that mindful

exercise and that discovered that there's

this whole new group of who, this whole

world of people that talk about this.

And then I think basically from that

day onwards, I've been both practicing

it and then also as soon as I could,

I wanted to start teaching it as well.

It's just in my nature, so

I started doing that too.

So, yeah.

So that's, I suppose those two worlds,

like before and after mindfulness, in the

sense of before the sense of fear-based,

of not having much options, like, you

know, autopilot, coming and going in

it's ownnatural way, to discovering

there's a whole different way of

deliberately living in a conscious way.

And yeah, it's really good.

I recommend it guys.

It's and it's, I, I know that, I know

that it's over, not only in our lifetimes,

but through the millennia, it's, it's

such a difficult thing, I think, to

articulate sometimes what it is that

it is to be, to feel mindful or to

feel, you know, an interconnectedness

with life or to feel wonder.

I know you talk in Mindfulness for

Dummies about having a sense of

wonder and a sense of connectedness

with life and that kind of thing.

And, and we use these terms that it's

sort of, other than that, it can be

a bit tricky to define, I suppose.


Yeah, it can.

I mean, I just thought of an analogy now.

Like once you learn how to walk,

so you know how to walk, but then

if you ask that person, so what was

it like not to walk, it's kind of,

it's after awhile, you forget what

it's like to walk because you've

kind of been doing that kind of way.


So it's, it's this kind of, it becomes

like as you practice it more and read

about it more and meet more like always

mixing with people who are into this,

then you kind of, it's easy to forget

what it's like at the beginning.

So that's why it's important to

keep in touch with people who

are just new to and fresh to it.

And, you know, you give them this little

piece of food and they taste, And they're

like, Oh my god, this tastes so good.

Or you just do a little bit of mindful

walking with them and they just really

feel that, wow, it's like, they're

looking at outer space, men, like

walking on the moon, like it's like

discovering a whole different world

when you live in a more conscious way.

So yeah, that really enjoyed that.

So I have two, two kind of questions aimed

at beginners coming to this practice.

Maybe, you know, let's, let's say we

take a person who is thinking about

setting up a mindfulness, living

more mindfully, maybe setting up a

formal practice at home or whatever.

And, and what advice would you give

to somebody who is just starting out

with a mindfulness practice at home?

Any little practical pieces of

advice or things to watch out for?


So there's a few things that I'd like to

kind of personally recommend to people,

first of all, coming to mindfulness.

And the first thing is, is

as much as possible try and

make it enjoyable for you.

So you remember, I talked

about this friendly experience,

this friendly attitude.

So, I think even the word, I

call it, I should say a formal

meditation or formal mindfulness.

That sounds like, you know, you need

to kind of get dressed up for it.

It's like this really, really

important moment that's coming up,

I'm about to do formal mindfulness.

So whatever you want to call it,

call it whatever feels right for you.

And then for me, in my own personal

experience and what I've found with

the students I teach, is that let

yourself be really comfortable, even

more comfortable than what I've written

about in my book and also in other books.

If you want to lie down, lie down,

if you want to sit in the coziest

sofa, you can find, then do that.

Let yourself be really physically

comfortable for this, this

mindfulness or meditation

exercise that you're going to do.

And then what people say to me, but Oh, if

I get too comfortable, then I fall asleep.

By saying falling asleep, the Dalai

Lama was saying sleep is one of

the best meditations you can have.

We are really, first of all, we're not

sleeping enough because of this thing

we've invented called electricity,

which keeps us awake all night.

So, and then all these gadgets and stuff.

So most people are not

getting enough sleep.

And then when we do sit down to do what we

call meditation and we fall asleep, most

people are like, ah, no, I fell asleep.

I'm not doing it right.

But this is exactly what

your body needs right now.

Before you can start to

come to mindfulness and

meditation, you need to sleep.

Sleep has so many amazing benefits.

So sit in a nice, comfortable position,

comfortable chair, comfortable

bed, whatever works for you.

And if you do fall asleep, just let it be.

Like congratulate yourself, oh, thank you.

You gave me some sleep.

Like this recent teacher training I was

working and I was guiding meditations and

some of the people were falling asleep

while I was guiding it over the internet.

And at first they were kind of

critical towards themselves.

And I told them about this letting

things be, which means sleep.

And it was such a relief for people.

And then within just a few days,

when they started doing the

practice, they didn't fall asleep.

Just like with the mind, when you

let the mind wander off and let it

be, it starts to calm and settle

at same time, same with sleep.

When you just let the sleep be, after

a while, you start to get enough sleep.

And then it naturally starts

to wake up and be present.

So the first piece of advice, let yourself

be really physically comfortable and cozy.

And if you fall asleep then let it be.


Secondly, what we've already mentioned

earlier, which is to, to bring this

friendly attitude towards yourself.

And so don't rush yourself too much

too, because with mindfulness, obviously

a lot of, a lot of the times, people

focus on mindfulness for breathing,

but that requires a certain level

of consciousness and awareness.

And sometimes when we first come into

mindfulness meditation, that, that sense

of that fine attention can't be there.

So just let yourself be attentive

to whatever you can notice.

It might be just the weight

of your body on the chair.

It might be just the sounds in the room.

It might be, might be your breathing.

It might be some thoughts

or emotions coming up.

So just let things be and just notice.

But I particularly recommend you

start with your physical body and

just noticing bodily sensations.

And see if you can bring this quality that

we're talking about, which is letting go.

And then people often ask me,

okay, how do you do letting go?

Once you start noticing your body

feeling the sensations that say like

at the moment, my legs are twisted.

So I'm sitting here and start to sit.

And as I turn the attention

to my body, maybeI can feel a

slight tension in my lower back.

So I turn my attention

there, pay attention there.

And as I start to focus and notice,

there may be a certain release.

And any sense of release is letting go.

You're doing it, you're achieving it.

So you get feedback.

You're noticing a sensation.

And at some point one of those sensations

may relax just the tiniest bit.

So there's that little bit of letting go.

You've actually managed to do that.

And so if you kind of acknowledge that and

then you move to another part and another

one starts to release, starts to let go.

So you just start to feel more

relaxed, more comfortable.

And then that this pleasant

experience which I was talking about,

starts to grow and grow and grow.

So that's kind of a long answer, but

the, the main things are first of all,

by making yourself nice and comfortable.

Secondly, focus on

whatever you can notice.

And then just bring this kindliness,

this friendliness and just get feedback.

And when you get into this sense of

relaxing and letting go, and if it's

becoming a more enjoyable experience for

you, then there's definitely the sense

that you're going in the right direction.

Very easeful and light practice.

So you're not of the school of thought

of, you know, student as upright

and rigid a position as possible

with every muscle of your body

tense so that you can stay awake.

No, no, I've tried doing that, but...

Yeah, I've also tried that.

But this technique is a lot more

fun for me and more relaxing and

the results that you get from people

who are doing the practice once they

start to really let go, is incredible.

Actually, people get really,

really deep experiences.

So I really want to try it.

And we are really glad that

we have this, this forum, this

platform, to be able to share this.

At least try it.

If you've always been sitting in very

rigid, you know, maybe you've been

doing meditation for 10 years and you've

always been sitting in this maybe too

much upright or too tense posture.

Just see if you can just experiment

with this for a few weeks.

Just letting your, letting go

of your body, letting it be and

being soft and kind and friendly.

Just notice what happens.

Yeah, there was, I want to share with

you that there was this, there was a

period in my life where I was being

the very serious, serious meditator.

And then I noticed that pattern,

exactly like what we're talking about.

I noticed this real, like kind of

not an embodiment of friendliness and

kindness and openness and letting go.

And so what I did was I started cloud

watching as my meditation, laying down and

just looking at the clouds and, you know,

with my arms wide open and going, Oh yeah.

Now this feels embodied, you know, just

watching the world go by and being, you

know, etting things come and go like

clouds and just like relaxing into it.


And you really enjoyed that did you?

Oh yes.

Oh, wow.

Yeah, no, that sounds fantastic.

And then the cloud watching embodied

attitude, if you know, when I, you

couldn't, you can't always cloud

watch, but that the sense, the

sense of the easefulness of that.

I think, you know, Thich Nhat Hanh talks

about, you know, going on a picnic

on a Sunday, you know, and, and that

you could live, you know, even when

you're putting up tent poles for the

picnic tent, that's part of the picnic.

So it's all very easeful.

And, and, you know, he was, he

kind of says, you know, you can,

everything can be like putting

the picnic tent up on the Sunday.

So it was that kind of bringing

cloud watching into, back

into my formal practice.

So yeah.

Yeah, yeah.

Very nice.

Very beautiful.

This is, this is what I love.

That sense of creativity in mindfulness

so that you don't have, there's no

fixed answer about how to be mindful.

Every human being is different.

And we human beings, majority of

the time, love to be creative.

So you use a nice extra example of

some creativity there where you tried

something different and it worked for

you, and then that's your little practice.

So it feels really great.

So I'd really encourage people

to also see what works for you.

Like, you know what

position, what posture.

It could be walking.

Walking meditation's a fantastic

one for a lot of people.

It could be yoga or movement or Tai Chi.

It's different for different people.

And then it starts to spread to

your whole life, which is what

the whole point of that is.

It's not about now is mindful time

and now it's be really wild and

crazy for the rest of your life.

It's actually to let

that spread and open up.

So, you know, whenever you do notice

the cloud, do you really enjoy it.

Do you really observe and look at it.

Just you mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh,

a great teacher, just a little story

that comes to mind because I came

from this retreat and the teacher

of the retreat was one of the

close disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh.

So he's very close to him,

been his teacher for 50 years.

And he went to visit him because Thich

Nhat Hanh is not well at the moment.

He's in hospital.

And he went in January and he said

it was an incredible experience

because when he walked into that

ward, I think it's supposed to

be some sort of emergency ward.

But because of all these monks, which

are these disciples of Thich Nhat

Hanh always walk in a very mindful

and calm and slow way, he said all

the doctors and nurses were the same.

So like all the doctors were like

tiptoeing around, walking slowly,

being conscious and mindful.

And, and he said it was like,

he'd never seen this ever before.

Like doctors and nurses are normally

rushing around in this kind of place.

So even though he's not well, and

he's lying in this hospital bed

because of the way he's taught

mindfulness to his students and the

way they're being conscious, the

mindfulness is spreading around him.

So, this is another interesting

thing which sometimes we don't

talk about so much, in that

mindfulness is actually quite catchy.

And if you practice mindfulness,

just a little bit more, people around

you start to maybe slow down or to

be more awake or more conscious.

And it actually has this

positive feedback loop.

And that's perhaps partly why mindfulness

is spreading so much because people's

presence and awareness is naturally

spreading from one person to the next.

And this is not to say, to act, to

act in a mindful way, when you see

someone like Thich Nhat Hanh, I see

the way he walks slowly and speaks,

like he'd be speaking a lot slower

than I am, but he's being himself.

And it's important for us to be

ourselves and not to act wise

or act this way or that way.

Sometimes it was fun to act a

little mindful of spirit, but

just to be yourself actually.

But when you're yourself with this and

treat yourself with the sense of presence

and awareness and people love that.

People love people who love

themselves, who are not trying

to be, trying to be mindful.


Whatever your personal expression is

of being present, whether you're an

energetic person or a slower moving

person or whatever, passionate person

or whatever, whatever that authentic

expression is, people love it.

Yeah, for sure.




So I'd love to invite you to lead

us in a practice of mindfulness,

if you, yeah, if you would care to.

Yeah, I'm sitting in a really, really

erect posture with every muscle tense.

Like incense sticks.

People are, I see people would be

kind of by their computers if they're

listening to this or on their phones.

So yeah.

Let's just experiment

with this approach of...

How much time should we have,

do we have five, 10 minutes?

Yeah, Yeah, 5 or 10

minutes would be wonderful.


So let's just start by getting

ourselves nice, cozy and comfortable.

So just the way you do that is to

notice how your body's feeling.

So if you're sitting on the chair,

then just readjusting your posture.

So it's in a nice posture where

you feel comfortable and at ease.

And if you'd prefer to lie down

for this or some combination of

sitting or lying down when you're

placing your feet up, just try that.

So see what works for you.

And we're just going to spend a

couple of minutes just checking in

with our posture, posture actually.

So once you've got your, what feels

relatively comfortable for you and

relaxed, allowing your eyes to close,

just to help you to tune into your

inner world of your physical sensations.

And maybe just taking a couple

of deeper in and out breaths.

So taking a nice, full, deep

breath in and slow breath out.

And as you breathe out nice and

slowly, maybe combining it with

just the tiniest of smiles.

You may not feel very smiley right

now, but just experimenting with just

lifting the corners of your mouth.

And you may just get the sense of letting

go in the body, your physical muscles,

maybe just relaxing a little bit more.

Maybe not just noticing.

And now as you're starting to naturally

become a little bit more aware of your

body, a little bit more conscious,

there may be certain parts of your

body that still don't feel quite right.

And so I invite you to just continue

to adjust your posture as necessary.

You might notice that your legs are

not in quite the right place, or maybe

you need to loosen some tight clothing.

As the attention starts going from

this outer world into the inner world

of your body and you start to notice

the sensations more and more, there's

still a period of time where you

need to continue to make adjustments.

So feel free to continue to do so.

Let that be your first act of kindness

towards yourself, friendliness.


And now sometimes in mindfulness,

we can do a little visualization

to help us to start the process.

So let's do that.

So I'd like you to imagine thatt you're

holding two heavy bags, one in each hand.

One bag in your left hand represents

the past and one bag in your

right hand represents the future.

So just imagine you're standing or

sitting somewhere and you're just

holding these heavy bags, you're

holding them up and you've been carrying

them around maybe all day or week

or month, or maybe your whole life.

But right now, we're going to

be just putting these bags down.

The bag of the past, which represents all

your memories, all the things that have

happened today and perhaps all the way

throughout your past, all the regrets,

all the good things that happened to you.

Just slowly imagining lowering

that bag down towards the

ground, towards the earth.

And just noticing what it feels like

to just open up your fingers and just

really release and let go of the past.

And then your right hand, you're

holding the weight of the future,

all the ideas, your goals, your

dreams, your visions, your worries

and concerns about the future.

Just lowering that bag down too.

Just for the time being.

Imagining your hand going down, and

just releasing, opening up your fingers.

So you can just for these few precious

minutes that we have together, just see

if you can stay present with my voice,

with this experience and just for the

time being, let go of past and future.

Now when you let go of past and

future, you find yourself in between

those two, which is actually the

only moment you truly experience any

place you can live and be creative.

It's actually one of the best

places to be, and it's the

present moment, the here and now.

So noticing what it feels like to have

at least even just a tiny bit, let go

of these thoughts about past and future.

And to be here with your body, the

sound of my voice, the sounds in

my room, in the room that you're

sitting in, or maybe outside.

Just noticing what that feels like.

We've been talking about the body and

looking after our physical body when

we first start mindfulness, so let's

just come back to our body now and

just noticing how your body feels.

And maybe just checking in and noticing

which parts of your body feels still a

little bit tense, a little bit tight.

There'll be some aspect of your

body that may not be totally relaxed

and comfortable, even though you've

adjusted your bodily posture.

So what I'd like you to do is that

when you're ready, just gently turning

the spotlight of your attention

towards that part of your body.

And that's the mindfulness bit.

Turning your attention to the

sensations where there's the tiniest

or strong aspect of tension or

tightness, difficulty, or maybe pain.

And then once you've managed to

connect with that sensation with

the mindfulness, then sending this

kindness I've been talking about, this

warmth, this sense of friendliness.

So just letting it be being soft

and kind and gentle towards it.

And just noticing the mindfulness

will give you feedback.

Maybe it's starting to relax,

so let go a little bit.

If so, great.

And even if it doesn't, just continue

to watch, to observe the sensations.

And if they do dissolve and

diminish, then move on to another

different part of your body.

And if they continue to stay

there, then that's okay too.

See if you can just allow

it and just let it be.

And as I mentioned earlier, to

help you to cultivate this friendly

awareness, it can be helpful to

just lift the corners of your mouth.

If there's one posture that

you need in mindfulness, quite

often, it's just this tiny smile.

So staying with your bodily

sensations as best you can.

And again, as we spoke earlier, the

tendency of the mind may be to wander

off to other thoughts and concerns,

and if that does happen, then maybe

for the time being, just let it be.

Turn your attention to thoughts,

to the mind, and just notice.


Where does the mind want to go?

What does it want to think about?

And then it may want to think

for a bit, or it may not.

Let it be.

So we're going from battling or

being enemies with the mind and

body to actually being best friends

with both body and mind together.

So as we continue to practice,

you may notice a certain sense of

release and relaxation, maybe the

tiniest bit, just the fraction of 1%.

And if so, then well done.

And just seeing if we can continue

to enjoy the experience they bring

that sense of pleasantness, the

sense of letting go, enjoying the

mindful experience as best you can.

And as I said earlier, if you not finding

this experience to be relaxing or this

a sense of letting go, and just see

if you can be patient with yourself.

Just stay with noticing and observing

and bring this friendly attitude.

And if you really want to help to

increase that, then one approach would

be to just place your hand on your heart.

The left, or right hand, placing

it on the physical heart.

That can sometimes help to cultivate

this warmth, this friendly attitude,

as you continue to feel the sensations

in your body and enjoying any sense

of letting go, the relaxation.

As you continue to do this, you may start

to notice that significant sensation and

movement in the body is the breathing.

And there's no special place

you need to feel the breathing.

This is not mindfulness of

nose or mindfulness of belly.

This is mindfulness of breathing.

So just feeling the

whole process breathing.

You know when you're breathing in and

you know when you're breathing out.

So, if that does happen to rise up

in your attention and your awareness

and see if we can, again, bring

this attitude of friendliness,

kindness, warmth to your breathing.

Turning the present moment into what

we talked about, a pleasant one to be.

Because your mind likes to move towards

happiness, towards what it was pleasant.

So giving yourself permission to enjoy

these few precious moments together.

Using the moments of silence to

just tune into the experience.

Letting go, putting that

glass of water down.

Putting that sense of control

down and just letting things be.


And as we're slowly starting to come

towards the end of this practice, just

noticing how you're feeling right now.

Noticing what this

experience was like for you.

And if it was a positive experience, if

you did feel that maybe there was the

sense of letting go, enjoying letting

things be even a tiny bit, then just

notice what you did, what attitude you

managed to bring to bring this about.

So there's a sense of learning.

And if you didn't, if you found it

a difficulty or a struggle, then not

berating yourself, not criticizing

yourself, but just noticing that.

And maybe having another go at another

time and seeing how it works for you.

So when you're ready, and you

want to bring this exercise to

close and just gently, maybe just

wiggling your toes or your fingers.

Maybe gently opening your

eyeswhen ready to do so.

And having a little stretch.

I enjoyed that.


Thank you.

No, it's it's it's always amazing.

We spoke about this before

the interview started.

It's, it's amazing because we took

one moment, one minute of mindfulness

before we started our interview.

And it's always amazing, you

know, how nourishing a short,

even a short practice can be.

So yeah.

Thank you for sharing that.

Oh, you're welcome.

Thank you.

So I just have one more

question before we close.

And it's the question that

I'm asking all of our,summit

speakers and, and interviewees.

And that is, you know, it's been said

that mindfulness has the capacity

to, to change the world from the

inside out one person at a time.

And so what I'm curious about is,

you know, it's said sometimes that

mindfulness has gone mainstream and I

think it's entering popular culture.

But in your opinion, if mindfulness

was really to hit critical mass,

I'm talking 50% maybe of the world's

population, what kind of a world

do you think that would create?

You know, from what you've seen when

you teach people over the years and what

you've seen unfold in your own life?

I mean, realistically, what kind of a

world do you think that could create.

Beautiful question.

I recently came back from

this retreat that I mentioned.

The guy who is leading it is the

program director of Gross, the

concept of Gross National Happiness.

In Bhutan, the King of Bhutan was

once asked, a journalist asked him,

what's the GDP of your country.

And he says, I don't, at that point,

he said, I don't care about GDP.

I care about GNH, gross national happiness

in my country, how happy is my country.

And their policies on a country,

country-wide basis is based on

what would actually make the

country a happier place to be.

So, you know, they don't allow, you

know, fast food companies to come in.

There is, you know, very little

television and stuff though.

Because they focus on, they

look at what actually makes the

world a happier place to be in.

Nature is very important

to them, for example.

So if something like 50% of the

population, which would be incredible,

was, you know, interested even not,

maybe not even just mindfulness, but

actually just interested in these

values of, you know, raising happiness

and wellbeing, rather than just, just

focusing on, you know, making these

super rich people even richer and just

taking more oil out on the ground.

Just focusing on these unsustainable.

I think with mean moving from a world,

which is just very unsustainable

at the moment to being a more

sustainable place to be, because

you're more conscious of that.

And the beautiful thing is that there

is these pockets of places in the

world where it's starting to happen

on the country-wide basis like Bhutan.

Oregon is starting to think

about putting these policies in.

Costa Rica is starting to look.

And this guy was saying like, you know,

the system, this may start to spread

to other South American countries.

So from a global level, as we start to be

more conscious and aware, I think we start

to care more for the people around us.

We start to care more for the environment.


And, and then, because if we're

kind of positive on this kind of

individual basis, we start making

more positive global decisions.

So as a world, we focus

on what's more important.

Like I've got on my t-shirt.

It says, Happy is the new rich.

I see you dressed for the occasion.

We start to focus on what's really, really

important, which is happiness, well-being,

compassion and care for each other.

So it becomes a less violent and a

more sustainable place to live in.

Thank you.

And thank you so much for

sharing your time for the summit.

I really, really appreciate you

taking this time out for us.

Is there anything that you

want to add before we close?

I just thought I'd add that

little moment of silence.

There is nothing else I'd like to say.

I'm just really, really grateful for

the opportunity to be able to share

what, you know, what I find works

for me and through my experience.

So to have this platform of forums

for people to be able to access it

and it is live in the it's even free

for them, I think that's wonderful.

So thank you very much for your hard work.

I'm sure you've been working

extremely hard to put this together.

So I really appreciate that and

very happy to give my time if it's

going to make this world a little

bit more conscious and compassionate

and sustainable, as I said.

So I really, really appreciate it.


Well, thank you so much again for

your time and the see you next time.

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The Mindfulness Summit  null Playlist · 23 tracks

The Mindfulness Summit

Playlist · 23 tracks4.9

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