December 2019 TDM
The Beginner's Guide to Meditation issue
Welcome to the seventh issue of The Daily Meditator ✌🏾This is your monthly resource for fun, quirky, interesting, and noteworthy happenings in and around the worldwide meditation community—created by Bliss More author and daily meditator Light Watkins. Guest edited by Kristen Vandivier.
Our intention is simple: to broaden the horizon of what a daily meditator looks like while providing you with more inspiration for committing to your daily practice.
In this issue: we present you with everything you need to start meditating in 2020, plus an in-depth interview with one of the powerhouses of meditation, Rev. angel Koydo williams. Enjoy, and if you feel charmed, please share this with your circle. As always, sending you a big "Namaste," "Sat Nam," or "Jai Guru Deva" wherever you are in the world.
[ FEATURED INTERVIEW ]
Rev. angel Kyodo Williams on why the time for radical liberation is now
There are spiritual teachers who spend much of their time in ashrams, secluded from the drama of real life, and then there is Rev. angel Kyodo williams—a warrior for peace who takes the teachings of the Buddha to the front lines of life in an effort to make the world a place of greater love and harmony.
The Daily Meditator interviewed Rev. angel about the movement sparked by her recent book, Radical Dharma. She is a Zen priest (the second of only three black women Senseis or teachers), the founder of the Center of Transformative Change, and the author of Being Black, Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation.
You may want to make yourself a cup of tea and settle in for a listen, because we went deep about how to blow apart the boundaries of what it truly means to be on a spiritual path and how to step outside the bounds of our identity—and in particular, our racial identity—in order to become more whole both individually and collectively.
A few highlights from our talk:
“What we are advocating for, is that people's Dharma be more complete, that it gets outside of the country club, outside of self-improvement, outside of the comfort and lack of confrontation with a more whole reality that white Western Buddhism has developed itself into and by extension, mindfulness these days.” (1:48)
“What people have to do is to see the ways that their privilege imprisons them, that their privileges are designed actually to keep them from investigating the wholeness of who they are.” (3:29)
“Become a fugitive from spaces that would have us be bound to a limitation of our identity and our sense of ourselves in order to adhere to normativity.”(6:10)
“I invite people to examine an identity that they've so deeply wrapped themselves inside of, they don't even think of it as an identity that's worthy of being investigated, which is whiteness itself. Nobody comes to the world white.” (6:47)
“I can't think of a better way to spend time in these times that are so confusing and so disruptive to our sense of what is right and what is true than to dip into your own truth and to do that in the company of others.” (16:00)
You can listen to the full interview here or read a transcription here.
[ MEDITATION & NEWS ]
More black men are embracing yoga
De-stressing with Broga.
NBC recently reported that a growing number of black men are turning to yoga and meditation as a way to address the emotional and physical health disparities of their community. Sherri Doucette, the founder of Litehouse Wellness in South Dallas, calls her classes, “Broga—Yoga for Brothers.”
Black men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 60 percent more likely to die from stroke than non-Hispanic white men, according to the Black Men's Health Project. Black men also have the lowest life expectancy in the United States.
When it comes to mental health, African Americans, in general, are 10 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
Black yoga instructors in Dallas, Baltimore, and around the country have begun creating spaces that are more culturally sensitive, affordable, and available in urban communities where yoga has traditionally been absent.
Bottom line: We say, the more diversity on the cushion or the mat, the better.
[ MEDITATION & RESEARCH ]
Study finds that team mindfulness reduces work tension
Surprise surprise: mindfulness soothes work tension!
A study recently published in the Academy of Management Journal suggests that work conflicts can be reduced, or even avoided, through team mindfulness. Here were the findings:
When teams are more mindful, this reduces interpersonal conflicts and helps teams better focus on the task at hand.
Mindfulness in teams causes the degree of interpersonal conflict to decrease.
Team members are also less likely to transform their frustration with a particular task into a personal conflict with a colleague.
Mindfulness helps team members detach from a task and eliminate strong emotions and feelings of prejudgment.
Team mindfulness ensures that the task, rather than the person, remains the focus of reactions.
Bottom Line: A mindful employee leads to a more productive work environment.
[ MEDITATION & CULTURE ]
Guess who's building a meditation amphitheater in Wyoming?
Hint: he may be adding meditation to his Sunday Service...
That's right, it looks like Kanye West applied for a permit with the Park County Planning and Zoning Commission requesting to build a 70,000 square-foot amphitheater on his Cody Ranch. The request, filed by his Psalm 2019 LLC, was called the "West Meditation Large Impact Structure."
We have no idea what that means, but he claimed that the space was to be used for "meditation only" and did not have any plans to include utilities, such as sewage or lighting, according to the filing. His original application was denied, but if we've learned anything about Kanye West, it's that he doesn't give up very easily. So we'll be on the lookout for this massive meditation amphitheater.
Bottom line: Kanye, while you definitely have eccentric tastes, you had us at "meditation."
[ MEDITATION & THE HOLIDAYS ]
What's the perfect gift for a meditator?
This year, we advise skipping the mall and giving gifts from the heart.
Living in our consumption-happy society, we always advocate for less mall and online shopping and more sentimental, heartfelt gift-giving. Here are some suggestions of gifts that will likely stand the test of time:
Write a poem or a song inspired by your loved one. Seriously, who wouldn't want a song written for them? Do this, and then sing it on the holiday, or if you're tone-deaf, write a poem about your friend. Sure, it takes time and effort, but that's why it's going to live on forever in the heart of the receiver.
Organize a fun experience. Plan an outing to an escape room, or an amusement park with your friends or kids, and give them the gift of some quality time with you. Or perhaps take them to brunch at a lovely restaurant of their choice.
Volunteer. A great way to show the holiday spirit is by giving back to others. Organize a service outing for your loved ones, and while you may meet some initial resistance, it's sure to warm their hearts and souls to help others and remind them of the true power of giving.
Meditation instruction. And if they're not yet a meditator, but they've expressed interest in becoming a daily meditator, you may consider gifting them classes at the local drop-in meditation studio, or book a training with a teacher. See below for options.
Bottom line: The experience is the new desirable gift. If you have to wrap it in 2019, you're kinda mailing it in (pun intended).
[ BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO IN-PERSON MEDITATION INSTRUCTION ]
Where to learn meditation with a live teacher
If you've been using the apps and YouTube videos to learn the in's and out's of meditation, and now you want to take your practice to the next level by learning from someone who's dedicated their life to the practice, or if you just want more accountability, here are the most common styles to try and a few familiar names of people who currently practice them:
What is it? A style where you sit with back support while using a silent mantra.
Who does it? TM is practiced by a ton of celebs like Rick Rubin and Jerry Seinfeld, as well as business moguls like Ray Dalio.
How much? Around $1000, but a sliding scale and payment plans make it affordable for most people. Also includes lifetime support.
How long? It takes 4-days to be trained by a certified instructor. Recommended practice is 20 mins twice a day.
What is it? Practitioners use back support and a mantra given to them by their teacher.
Who does it? VM is practiced by the Dutchess of Sussex, as well as celebs like Jonah Hill and Busy Phillips.
How much? $500 and up. Sliding-scale tuition and installment plans are sometimes available.
How long? It takes 4-days to be trained by a qualified instructor, and that includes lifetime support. Recommended practice time is 20 mins twice a day.
Website: Certified VM teachers teach independently, so you have to search your city and "Vedic Meditation" to see who's teaching nearby.
What is it? A form of Buddhist meditation where you place your attention lightly on your physical sensations.
Who does it? Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and best-selling authors Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens) and Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek).
How much? Optional donation.
How long? Traditionally, practitioners attend a 10-day silent retreat in a forest ashram. When you return home, the recommended practice time is 1 hour in twice a day.
What is it? There are several variations but, in general, practitioners meditate on present moment awareness.
Who does it? Marc Benioff, CEO of SalesForce, William Clay Ford Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn.
How much? around $500 for the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training.
How long? The training is 8 weeks, and the recommended practice time is 30 minutes once or twice a day.
Shambala Center (Buddhism)
What is it? You meditate with legs loosely crossed, straight posture, eyes slightly open, while focusing your attention on your breath.
Who does it? Actors Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, and of course, Pema Chodron and The Dalai Lama all practice variations of Buddhism
How much? Shambhala centers run trainings on suggested donations.
How long? There are half-day, full-day, or 7-day trainings. Recommended practice times vary from 10 minutes to 30 minutes per daily sit.
[ READ. WATCH. LISTEN. ]
Read: Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation
This was Rev. angel Kyodo williams's book that was mentioned in her featured interview (above). Along with Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah, Rev. williams offers her own history and experience to illustrate the types of challenges facing dharma practitioners and teachers who are different from those of the past five decades (i.e. white privilege). They ask how teachings that transcend color, class, and caste are hindered by discrimination and the dynamics of power, shame, and ignorance. Read now
Watch: Going Home
Looking for something inspiring to watch during tonight's Netflix and Chill sesh? Ram Dass is one of the most important meditation icons from the 1960s and 70s. Author of Be Here Now, and beloved spiritual teacher, Ram Dass is now himself approaching the end of life. Since suffering a life-changing stroke twenty years ago, he has been living at his home on Maui and deepening his spiritual practice—which is centered on love and his idea of merging with his surroundings and all living things. Watch here
Listen: TDM Live Cast with Rev angel Kyodo williams
On our first live cast, you can listen to the entire interview between TheDailyMeditator's Kristen Vandivier and Rev. angel Kyodo williams as they dive deep into race, class, dharma, and white privilege. Rev. williams is also the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace. You can get more info about what she's up to in the section above. Listen now
[ REPORT FROM THE FIELD ]
What have you gotten from meditation? It's allowed me to clear my cluttered mind and collect fractured ideas. I am more productive and creative when I meditate and I am able to process difficult and challenging moments in my life with clarity.
Strangest meditation moment? There was a time when I was practicing meditation and experienced what felt like a vivid daydream of another life in Egypt. Probably too much TV.
Most unexpected benefit of meditation? The breathing. I find that I use my breathing techniques to calm myself in all sorts of stressful situations including public speaking and the anticipation of having difficult conversations.
[ WHO TO FOLLOW ]
Two of our favorite daily meditator Instagram accounts with a purpose
Ajay Relan is an investor, a restauranteur (check out @FindYourHilltop the next time you're in LA), a community leader, and founder of the worldwide movement, @HashtagLunchbag, which he started seven years ago on Christmas 2012 in his Los Angeles apartment. Long story short, Ajay and a group of friends were having trouble finding a fun and meaningful way to give back, and after a few failed attempts, they decided to go to a local grocery store and buy enough food to prepare 100 lunches. Then they hit the streets of LA looking for anyone who could use a meal, and shared their adventure on social media, jokingly tagging their posts with #HashtagLunchbag (because it rhymed). Cut to a year later, they're making 1,000 meals with a 100 of their friends. And 7 years later, their movement has grown to 100+ cities around the globe and hundreds of thousands of hungry people fed! Ajay is a walking inspiration and now a family man. Make sure you follow him immediately.
So musician and meditator Mike Posner just walked across America, from the New Jersey shore to the Pacific Coast (pictured above). It took him 6 months, and he blogged about it on his IG each step of the way. Mike's music is also so much fun and folky, and we just find him super inspiring. Give him a follow, and as he embarks on new adventures, who knows, you may find yourself getting inspired to go on an adventure of your own. Follow Mike here
“Finish each year and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. We're approaching a new year. And you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Inspired by the original quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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