Neurons

Although neurons may differ in shape and size, they are essentially the same from the most primitive animal life to the most advanced. It is their number and organization that differ: we have a hundred billion nerve cells, while a jellyfish has a thousand. But their status as cells capable of rapid and repetitive firing is essentially the same.

It is fascinating to think of Darwin, Romanes, and other biologists of their time searching for “mind,” “mental processes,” “intelligence,” even “consciousness” in primitive animals like jellyfish, and even in protozoa. A few decades afterward, radical behaviorism would come to dominate the scene, denying reality to what was not objectively demonstrable, denying in particular any inner processes between stimulus and response, deeming these as irrelevant or at least beyond the reach of scientific study.

Oliver Sacks

One minute, two minutes, three minutes…

… have him do those things. when he is focused on those things, he is meditating. help him realize this. when fully engaged in an activity, this is called mindfulness, which is the definition of meditation. this is an active meditation. when you keep mindfulness while breathing or whatever, this is what is usually referred to as sitting meditation.

have him recognize that he is being mindful during these activities, when he is in the moment, and no thoughts come up, and he plays basketball or whatever the activity is. help him become familiar with this feeling. as he pays attention to it during the activity, he will automatically become able to begin to reproduce it while sitting or whatever in small amounts. after that, its just practicing it so the sensation will last longer.

most importantly get across that there is no goal of meditation. if he struggles with increasing the length of the mindful period, thats ok. the goal is not to make the practice longer. the goal is the practice itself. it gets longer and easier as a byproduct. if you meditate with the intention of a goal of any sort other than to meditate, you will only run into frustration because you feel you “arent doing it well enough”. this is a common beginner problem.

its like when you listen to a song. you dont listen to a song to get to the end, you listen to the song to hear whatever part is playing at the moment. mindfulness essentially is when you view the activity at hand and eventually all experience in this way. except you dont “view” it that way, you just do it. since he is into drums, i would start there. i find that the music comparison is the easiest for helping people grasp this.

liqua in reddit

Openmindness

Open mind meditation is when we acknowledge whatever rises into consciousness without trying to react to it. Sensations, thoughts, emotions, memories, and imaginations may arise, but we don’t cling to them or avoid them – we just let them be. Open mind meditation is a full acceptance of whatever the present moment has to offer, without any particular directing of attention.

Steven Handel

It seems I have been doing this all my life

Respect the pain

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I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Awareness

Thailand Sunset (original)Image by ecstaticist on Flickr

Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.

Jon Kabat Zinn in Wherever You go, There you are

External self

This silent lightImage by mendhak on Flickr

I thought I could make my inner turmoils stop by fixing my outside world. I used to think, “If only this situation or that situation would change, I would be at peace inside.” What I didn’t realise was that I needed to do something to change the way I behaved inside.

I didn’t really understand the concept of self-change, and I ended up focusing on fixing my external self – i.e. how I appeared on the outside. My inner world was a mess, and the more I tried to fix myself, the more tangled up I became.

Amyra Mah

Cushions

Cub relaxing at the nurseryImage by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr

Well, like I said, it makes it difficult to integrate your practice into your daily life.

I know a Zen priest, years ago he said he was meditating like that, a whole lot. Many hours a day. He eventually began having great difficulty in his daily life which he attributed to being overzealous in practice. He said he later realized he was poisoning himself with too much meditation.

Everything in moderation. Your meditation practice should be a regular habit in your life like eating and sleeping. But, just like eating and sleeping, it can certainly be overdone.

Last time I visited the monastery, I was excited to tell my teacher how stable and regular my meditation practice had become. I was really happy with the momentum and the commitment and discipline. I told him all about how much I was sitting. He just nodded and said “Uh huh. That’s nice. Just don’t neglect the rest of your life for a cushion. How are your kids doing?”

kirkirus Zazen/Shikantaza in Reddit.com