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Meditation, Mindfulness, and Focus – An Interview with A Monk Part 3

Meditation, Mindfulness, and Focus – An Interview with A Monk Part 3

We hosted an interview with a Buddhist Monk Pasura from Thailand. Monk Pasura is one of the Monks who trained Samavira’s founder Lauren when she lived in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. We spoke about meditation, mindfulness, focus and more. Enjoy the read! 🙂
My question was really about our emotional regulation. So like when you are overly avoiding a particular emotional state or overly focusing on a particular emotional state, or you are in it rather than observing it, you can be quite dis-regulated. I think a lot of what you said already answered some of this with the filtering, process, and acceptance, but I wondered if you had any more wisdom to that and I wondered if you had any posture tips, I would like to sit for long there, I’ve tried all kinds of positions and my legs are always dead, so, yeah.
So, two questions. The first one, we usually let our emotions consume us and become victims of our own emotions. And then that’s actually not focusing on the emotions, we actually become sort of a victim of our own emotions. So every emotion needs to flow because that’s essentially the word emotion, which means it is movement.
So as long as you’re still part of that movement, you are still being consumed by the emotion. Which means in that movement, you have to be still. Whenever you are still, that movement slowly turns until it runs out until it no longer has that effect on you. But the moment you are part of that movement, of that motion, it continues to accelerate because you add a few, you are the guest.
So first thing first, whenever you notice that your emotions are starting to consume you, you’ll notice that your state of peace is changing. So then, take a break, a mental break, a step back because that stillness will help you to notice the emotions. And it’s not about trying to recollect it, because the moment you try to control it is the moment that you actually input more acceleration  into the emotion itself.
So instead you should watch it flow until you understand what is happening in that situation. And then when you resume the action, the action itself will not be a part of that emotion. But if you try to regulate the emotions, you’re gonna jump right back in and stir it up again.
Imagine this, you’re upset, and you know that you’re upset. And you try to recollect yourself by focusing on what you’re upset about. But the human mind doesn’t work that way because whatever we focus on, gets bigger. So if you focus on it more, you get more upset, not less upset. So instead I should take a step back to notice what is happening to me at that  moment. And identify it, for instance, it might be a problem at work. Maybe there are some people who keep acting like they don’t understand what I’m saying.
So, maybe the way I explain it doesn’t make sense to them. Let me lay it out differently to see if that will work out. Meaning, if I turn that into a different action, and step out of that motion, I can find a better resolution to the problem.
About the sitting posture, first of all, don’t get caught up with this perfect/ideal posture that we have seen, because it’s more about your body. Meditation is about finding that balance between awareness and comfort. With too much awareness, you’ll be tense. Too much comfort, you’ll be sleepy. So most of the time people tend to get lost in wanting to focus on keeping their mind still.
But you can’t force your mind to stop thinking. You can only slow it down by sitting back, waiting, and watching it until it slows down on its own. This means you need to sit the longest you can and that requires you to sit as comfortably as you can while you remain aware. So it doesn’t matter if you sit on the chair, couch, bed, floor, whichever style, legs up pointing forward, it’s up to you as long as you can sit there and feel like I don’t have to worry about my body anymore.
That’s the first part. Secondly, accept that your body has limits. It doesn’t require you to meditate by sitting still completely for three hours straight up because even I move. The human body has limitations, and that means we can’t be in the same position for too long. Human teachers will not be able to stand the pressure. So at a certain point, you will notice it, but there’s something about it.
Have you ever enjoyed reading books or watching a movie that was so fun and you stayed there for a few hours without noticing? The moment that you capture something, you tend to withdraw from perceiving the physical sensation.
So same thing with the mind, with meditation. If you really enjoy that entire time of meditation, you don’t really pay attention to the body. When you actually meditate longer, it’s not that you erase the pain, you don’t perceive the pain. So the thing is you just ignore it. If you tell yourself if I’m feeling some pain, gently adjust, or start again. Come back to where you sit back, relax, and enjoy the meditation.
Put it this way. When you go to the cinema, what do you do? You find the best seat where you can sit back, relax, and watch the movie. Here you are not an actress, director, or commentator. You just need to shut up and watch the movie while you sit back, relax, and enjoy it.
Whenever you feel that your seat is becoming uncomfortable, you adjust yourself and keep watching. Anytime you get wandering thoughts, it’s like you jump to the screen, come and access it then return to your seat where you can sit back, relax, and watch it.
A question regarding meditation and healing. How do you see, how can we heal ourselves and others and the world as a whole through the practice of meditation?
The process of healing depends on many aspects, but meditation allows us to reflect on what’s happening within ourselves. In the past, people thought mindfulness is about being in the present, but it also actually means being aware of what happened to you in the moment.
So that you can be aware when you are looking at the past and you can be aware of it as you look into the future as well. So that’s actually part of mindfulness. And when you do so, you create a next step, which is introspection or retrospection. Which means you are able to kind of review the whole thing. But what would happen is then you start to make sense of it, this is actually a lesson to learn, something that I understand happened to me, except if that’s on my part so I can move on from it.
So all of this is related to the process of healing because at the end of the day, we can’t erase anything in our life, even though we want to forget something, we won’t. The human brain doesn’t work that way. But we try to pretend that it doesn’t hurt anymore because we can’t forget about it. At the end of the day, you can’t! You can only learn to live with it and understand that it already happened so it’s something that you are not victimizing yourself anymore and you can move on from that.
And that is a process of healing that really comes, including other things that you have been, traumatized with different experiences in life. Those are things that we can reflect on and study to accept as who we are, and that’s when we can move on. Otherwise, we keep rejecting ourselves all the time and when everybody starts doing that to themselves it actually helps them to see other people from different perspectives too.
That everybody has this sad story of pain that they don’t even know about. And that sometimes becomes the behavior that people act in a certain way. And when you feel that sense of understanding that brings kindness and compassion in your actions towards others and that makes the whole world a lot easier.

How do you see trauma and meditation? Would you say that meditation can help or should it come in the healing process a little bit later on?

It actually comes automatically. The moment you’re meditating, you might settle down your memory that has been suppressed or slowly kind of unwinds it. And it will pop up. Sometimes we pop up just the feelings or kind of power like images, but it’s for you to deal with.
It’s like when you open the carpet and the dust comes out and you are like, ‘no, there’s the dust.’ And try to convince yourself it’s not there. So you sort of notice that now this is the dust and you can now put the dust aside. Now I’m just gonna put it in that corner or the dust bin where I no longer need to think about it anymore or at least you get to deal with it rather than just every time you look at the carpet, you know it’s under there, but you pretend it’s not there and it’s haunting you.
So those can really help you heal. But it takes time. It depends on how deep the scar is, the deeper the scar, the longer it takes. But eventually, it’s said that thinking about it and reliving those experiences will slowly transform you into living with those experiences. And that’s the big change and basically reintegrating it.
You stop judging and victimizing yourself from those experiences, and start to move on from it. It can take quite a while, but in the end, obviously, it’s worth it. I mean, that goes without saying, but also, Finding the support of practices like meditation or finding the support of meditation, finding support of, of course, also people around you.
What I wanted to ask was, introspection is beneficial but people still tend to avoid it or are afraid to go deeper within themselves. Why do you believe, or why do you think that people might be afraid of introspection, or why do people avoid it?
For a number of things though, people look for validation from others. So throughout a lifetime of that, means that the person is always feeling insecure to embrace themselves and accept how vulnerable and flawed they are.
Everybody has flaws, but it’s not everyone can accept that. They have a flaw to move on from that. And because of that, a lot of people are afraid of accepting who they are. And that’s why everyone creates this image that’s an illusion of liking themselves and everybody thinks of this image as you. Then you try to protect that image so hard instead of accepting who you are and that makes an introspection of realizing yourself and the other worlds very hard because they don’t want to embrace who they are. Yet life is not picture perfect as we tend to create it.
Secondly, there are two types of people in the world. Those that don’t know that they don’t know and those that know that they don’t know. The first one doesn’t know that they don’t know anything. So they don’t know that. They don’t even know themself. So that’s why they don’t bother taking time to look inside themselves or to introspect at all. They think they know what it is about themselves already. So that’s actually what makes it really, really hard, as are the people who know that they don’t know anything about themselves, so they want to know more about themselves.
And that is actually the second stage. That’s why, for them to open up to it, it takes a lot of time and moments for them to look inside until they start to see a glimpse of it because the moment they see within is not as scary as they believe it would be, they actually become more accustomed to it, as friendlier rather than being hostile to that and then they start to accept it.
Because in order for you to solve a problem, you have to admit that you have a problem, accept the problem, and realize that you have it in order to, to resolve it. But if we keep rejecting it, we never really face it. Meaning we are always in flight mode, running away. It’s very important to acknowledge the issue before you can learn to accept them.
What do you believe consciousness is? If you have an answer to that?
In our context, consciousness is the mind. And the mind is not the body, not the brain, and not the heart because the mind is different. For us, we explained it as this different element that has the ability to think, memorize, perceive, and know. So when you are conscious of something, the mind perceives and goes through everything, every thinking process until it becomes the realization of something.
That’s consciousness. It needs to work with the body because the brain is like an office for the mind. So it’s a kind of software and hardware. The mind, and the consciousness is software and brain is hardware. So they kind of connect to each other, but not exactly the same things.
That’s how we explain it. The key point is we can always upgrade the software, which is the consciousness of the mind, but the hardware tends to stick to the way it has been ever since we grew up. So it’s not easy to upgrade the hardware, but we can always focus on upgrading the software with the hope that it will stimulate, enhance or optimize the hardware.
For someone who wants to meditate and for some reason, their region does not allow/ holds them back from meditation, how can that person learn/practice meditation? Asking this because I intend to train/provoke others to at least start meditating to reap the benefits of that. Is there any kind/alternative method like walking meditation, or anything like that, that people or even children can start with?
That’s a very good question, but first of all, let’s go back to the meaning of the word meditation itself. Meditation is a skill that enhances the ability to stay conscious and be aware of the present moment, basically.
So now, the problem is that people have this perception and idea that meditation is a religious practice. Let me go back to the 1960s in the US, back then, people still thought of meditation as a religious practice. So they didn’t call it meditation, they referred to it as ‘attention enhancing techniques.
My point is that, for instance, ‘chicken’ is an English word. In Thai, we call it ‘gai’, in Chinese it’s called ‘iro’. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It is that thing, that poetry meat that you eat anyway. It’s good when you fry it. That’s all.
So what matters now is that if you just say, ‘I’m gonna be gonna practice meditation together’, it’ll be an issue. But probably, if you paraphrase it and use other words, for example, say this is ‘we are gonna do a little workshop about enhancing our focus’. You don’t have to call it meditation because it’s just a name and you can create a name for it in different ways.
That doesn’t refer to the connotation because at the end of the day, if you ask someone to focus on their breathing, to visualize something bright within themselves, repeating the word that they come up with, there’s nothing religious about it at all. So whether you choose walking, meditation, sitting down, or breathing, it doesn’t really matter as long as you don’t call it meditation.
That way, people won’t get that weird idea of it. You just have to explain it. For instance, we can say a workshop for reducing stress, enhancing attention, awareness, consciousness, or healing process. There are many ways that you can call it. I was just teaching kids meditation in Austria last week, and what I did was simple.
I told them, ‘Okay kids, I want you to sit down. Imagine that you’re sitting in the nighttime. Now I want you to pick a star, the brightest one in the sky. Just pick it. You got it. And then eat it like candy. Now let’s play a game. The game is very simple. The game is called Guardian. So I want you to keep looking at the star inside yourself.
Okay? As long as you can see it, you can guard it. If you lose sight of it, something will take it away. Don’t let the monster take it away. Okay? Now let’s look at it from the top. Now turn this time to a moon. Now let’s turn this time to the sun. Now imagine you are flying.’ And that’s it.
It’s more of the name that some people get caught up with, instead of what it is. Because they’re just hearing things without getting the experience that this is not about religion.
And it doesn’t matter what religion you practice. Meditation doesn’t change what you believe in. It actually helps you to understand what you believe in a lot better. So to go back to the core of what meditation actually is, without calling it a meditation so that people are more open to the practice.  

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