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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.

Yeah. 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. Okay. 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. Right. 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. Right. 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.

Right. 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. Yeah. Otherwise you'd never know you were on autopilot, would you? Exactly. Yeah. 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. Right.

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. Right.

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.

So... 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. Yeah. 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. Right.

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. Yeah? 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? Silence. Exactly. 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. Beautiful.

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. Exactly. 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. 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. Yeah. 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.

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. Beautiful. 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. Absolutely. Yeah You can experience a whole kind of different things in any practice, no matter how long you've been practicing for. So... Yeah.

That's a really important point actually. It's worth emphasizing that mindfulness is not about trying to get a particular experience. Yeah. 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. Yeah.

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. Yeah. 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. 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. Right. 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? Yeah. 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.

Great. 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. So.

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. Yeah. 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. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. 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. Okay. 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. Good. 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. Okay. 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. Good. 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. Thanks. 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. Yeah. 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. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much again for your time and the see you next time.

Talk

4.6

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.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you 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.

Yeah. 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. Okay. 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. Right. 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. Right. 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.

Right. 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. Yeah. Otherwise you'd never know you were on autopilot, would you? Exactly. Yeah. 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. Right.

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. Right.

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.

So... 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. Yeah. 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. Right.

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. Yeah? 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? Silence. Exactly. 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. Beautiful.

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. Exactly. 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. 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. Yeah. 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.

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. Beautiful. 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. Absolutely. Yeah You can experience a whole kind of different things in any practice, no matter how long you've been practicing for. So... Yeah.

That's a really important point actually. It's worth emphasizing that mindfulness is not about trying to get a particular experience. Yeah. 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. Yeah.

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. Yeah. 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. 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. Right. 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? Yeah. 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.

Great. 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. So.

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. Yeah. 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. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. 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. Okay. 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. Good. 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. Okay. 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. Good. 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. Thanks. 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. Yeah. 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. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much again for your time and the see you next time.

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