Begin by finding a secluded spot…The Lamp on the Path – Deshung Rimpoche
So starts a manual of meditation by a major teacher of the XXth century. But he’s not alone in recommending seclusion as the first step to learn meditation. Countless other manuals, from Yoga classics to mystical Christian texts like The Cloud of Unknowing, solitude, and retreat are the requisites for learning meditation.
But I live in a City.
So, does this mean that I cannot meditate?
I would respectfully say, no, it doesn’t. What it means is that I should modify the technique and the way I meditate. I cannot ape those old masters, living in pre-modern times. I must find a way of making it work wherever I am, not pine for a moment where I will live as they did.
My name is Federico Andino and for the last 20 years, I’ve been practicing and later teaching meditation. I have both learn classical techniques (I’m the resident teacher for a Tibetan Buddhist school) and more modern techniques; I’m a researcher and teacher of Mindfulness for IBM. But at some point on the 20+ years journey, I’ve found them both wanting.
The traditional techniques are great: rich in both depth and detail, they form a great base to learn. They also have a very clear conceptual framework which makes their practice both rational and able to be measured. However, they are based on two improvable assumptions:
1) the teaching methods are not the best, especially for visualization techniques where rote memorization is taught over more modern systems like Image Streaming and
2) the learning curricula tends to favor long (months to years) periods of intensive learning and practice that are not feasible for the modern practitioner. Even those people who dedicate their lives to be a monk or a nun can lack resources to maintain such a lifestyle; therefore the techniques are never really practiced (since it would require always a moving goal of time) as the saying goes and they cannot be applied effectively on a day to day basis.
On the other hand, the more modern techniques are more portable, they are formulated in less complex terms and they have quicker subjective results. However, they also have two issues in my opinion:
1) the lack of a conceptual framework muddles both the metrics you can get from them and sponsors an “anything goes” mentality regarding technique and
2) they are geared mostly to produce states that are basically extended relaxations. You can try to visualize yourself as a mountain, sure…but what are you going to do when you’re in an overcrowded public transport or in a busy office? This is why techniques learn at a chic workshop never work in your day to day life.
Realizing this, I started to change my way of practicing. Instead of trying always trying to transport myself to an ideal situation, I started to work with the situation at hand and trying to transform my idea of a situation.
- In a busy office, with people talking? Focus on sound metacognition and integrate into your meditation.
- On public transport? Kinesthetic balance meditation will be a natural and enjoyable way to focus on yourself.
- At the end of a long day and can’t sleep? Nidra-types of meditation will both relax you and make you aware of how tired you really are.
No matter where are you and how are you trained, you can meditate. It requires a sacrifice; to let go of those hallowed ideas of monks chanting in a mountain. And it carries its own rewards: the ability to become more aware and present in each moment. But you need to see the need for yourself to change approaches.
We are going to have a talk and a recoding on Urban Meditation on the 25th of October. If you’d like to participate, you can book it here.
May you have a day full of Awareness!
¿Le interesa Mindfulness, la técnica que según Hardvard Business Review es la clave del liderazgo futuro? *
¿Trabaja en un entorno lleno de stress, para generar contenido creativo?
¿Desea generar una transformación digital y ágil que mejore la satisfacción laboral?
Si alguno de estos puntos le interesa, le invitamos cordialmente a una charla online sobre Corporate Mindfulness. Brindada por profesionales con más de 10 años de experiencia en la aplicación de Mindfulness en entornos corporativos, usted conocerá:
•Las cinco claves para aplicar Mindfulness en el entorno corporativo.
•Los tres problemas principales que surgirán y como solucionarlos.
•Las formas de explicar, medir y vender Mindfulness a líderes que dudan de ella.
•Dos técnicas, una breve y otra más estructurada, para empezar a brindar Mindfulness en su trabajo.
La charla tendrá una modalidad online; en caso de no poder participar, se les enviará la grabación de la misma.
Nuestra experiencia tendrá lugar el día 20/09/2019a las 20hs de Bogotá (GMT -5)
Tiene un costo de us$9.99. Para inscribirse, por favor haga click aquí.
-UR Meditation, Meditación Urbana
“So” my Buddhist teacher, Khenpo Pema Wangdak told me once, on the bizarre NYC/Tibetan accent that he’s developed over the years “you hafta teach”. We were in my house, after a long day of ceremonies and initiations that I had set up, and I was beat.
“Ok” says myself, thinking “well, I am kinda teaching meditation”
He must have read my face, because he said “yeah, I know, you are doing it…but after His Holiness (the leader of the Sakya Tradition, H.H.Sakya Trizin) formally empowers you to do so, you have to do it even more seriously”. I was a little bit worried. You see, I thought that I was doing it in a serious, respectful manner.
But Khenpo Pema was not done, yet. “You hafta also go through here and teach”
I thought about it for a while. “Master, what does ‘here’ means, exactly”.
Khenpo Pema was already playing with his phone, but he put it down gently and looked to me as if I were a particularly strange puzzle that he saw sitting behind glass on a wall.
“Here means here, like, South America, right?”, he told me and right away must have picked up my rising tiredness and disbelief because he said “well, but that’s after His Holiness”.
Fast forward two years.
We were leaving His Holiness house and Khenpo Pema told me “ok, so…got everything set up?”. I thought about it, while we walked on the gravel…and resolved to tell the truth “no, not really, not as such”.
Khenpo Pema smiled. “You’ll make it up as you go along…bring the Dharma (the Buddhist Teaching) to them like the Christians do. High Church and all that”.
“High Church?” In the tone that people must have asked Perseus “wait, you’ve killed whom?” “High Church, travelling High Church? Me?”
Khenpo Pema did pause at that, but he smiled and said “well, could be that or another thing, but you’ll figure it out”
If that was the goal, I must admit I have failed to do so. Not at teaching meditation, I think: I might have not improved quality-wise, but I’m teaching it at several places: at work in IBM, in clients, in the Buddhist groups that I run, in my own institute, Ganapati.
But I have not conformed to the High Church ideal. My master is more built for it: thin, elegant, with a rapier wit, he fits more with the image of a big temple, lots of incense and ancient works of art.
So…how to teach? What’s my style?
The answer, funnily enough, also came from Christianity. I had a friend (who’s sadly passed away), a Christian theologian, who was a very classical, philosophy oriented person. He also taught at my university and always decried the state of Christianity, saying that it has lost its way; usually he added “for the last two thousand years” and for him, it was true. You could picture him at the side of Jesus: thin, tall, very very bearded, walking in the desert.
Once we were with another friend having coffee and he started decrying the fall of christian ritual in favor of more feeling. He told me that he went to see a traveling pentecostal preacher who danced with snakes and screamed, that was, horror of horrors, doing “shows” (as he put it) near the main cathedral of the city!
I said to him “oh, that’s terrible, I am so sorry” but internally, idolater pagan that I am I though “well, that does sound fun”. So I asked him if it was near us (it was) and if he knew that there was going to be a “show” that night (there was).
One hour later, we were in the preaching. While I wasn’t that moved by it (again, not a Christian, so probably it was lost on me) I couldn’t deny the electricity and charm of the preacher. Afterward, over pizza at Las Cuartetas, my friend asked me what did I think and I told him: I must admit to have enjoyed the energy of it.
He looked at me with warmth tingled with some slight disgust and he said “of course you would, you pagan brute! I can just picture you dancing with snakes”.
Lo and Behold, I had my style of teaching. Punk Preaching, with a Buddhist twist.
No, I don’t do snakes. I rather like them, but I think that making another animal work (besides myself) is a little like slavery. Also, I would have to keep them in my house, where they wouldn’t probably survive my twins; they would twirl them like nunchakus to impress girls.
Also, I don’t dance that much; I’m not good at it, though I enjoy it and most teaching trips end up somehow in a dive bar, with drinks and dancing. But that’s not scheduled, at least by me.
Having said that…I guess I turned out to be a kind of punkish traveling preacher that, instead of talking about snakes and tongues and Jesus, talks about science and meditation. I do go on tours and I tend to be a lot less “high church” as my teacher would say, than most teachers.
I use Storytelling, a lot. I also use games, competitions and try to shock the people who come to learn at least once. But whatever I do, I try to make it an experience: something that you do not only to learn, but to enjoy. And always keep to three chords and the truth.
I am taking the show on the road again, this 2019. I’ll be on several cities: hopefully, if you do come, you’ll learn, I’ll learn, or either/both of us can be shocked; but more importantly, we’ll also have a great time.
So…join up! If you’d like to learn a Modern Mindful Meditation, go to www.ganapati.com.ar to see if we’re near you. Or join our webcasts and Youtube channel. But above all…have fun!