Meditate with a beginner’s mind, that is Sarah’s advice to aspiring meditators. Sarah Mclean explores various tips and techniques of meditation for health and well being.
Excellent video interview with lots of inspiring, practical, down to earth advice from meditation guru Sarah McLean.
Who is Sarah McLean
Sarah McLean is a best-selling author of Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation.
She is a modern day meditation teacher. Sarah’s work is highly recommended by Deepak Chopra as “entertaining, informative, and inspiring for even the most experienced meditator.”
Sarah has been practicing meditation since the late 80s and has been teaching the various techniques of meditation since the early 90s.
Excerpts and Valuable tips from Meditation Teacher Sarah McLean
“What I’ve realized”, says Sarah McLean, “is I’ve been around the world trying to find out what real meditation is.”
“I mean, I know what American meditation is or what we think is Western or Buddhism in America, but I really wanted to find out more so I really spent some time in an Indian ashram six months there doing what’s called Bhakti yoga, very devotional meditation living in a community chanting working with mantras and things like that and then I came back and I lived for two years in a Zen Buddhist monastery where it was a whole different idea.
There was no belief system It’s very austere It’s a very formal practice and of course I learned to meditate when I was with the chopra center where I actually became a meditation teacher and that’s a different form of meditation and of course, there are the traditional meditations that you hear about here in the US like relaxation response with Herbert Benson or the mindfulness meditation techniques with John Cabot Zin and so there are a lot of ideas about meditation and I really have I really feel satisfied now that I have an idea about meditation.
I’ve been doing it for 21 years. And when I came to Sedona I decided well I’m gonna start teaching not just the ones I’ve been trained to teach but the ones that I actually use on a daily basis. So that’s what I do and I’d love to share it.
People come to Sedona from all over the world as you know, and as you are right and they want a spiritual experience. I two women here from Canada yesterday and first they came and talked about their stress and how they wanted to relieve their stress and then we had a break. We talked a lot about meditation..
We had a break I came back and they said, What our real interest is is finding what’s missing in our lives both of them were successful, they were mothers grandmothers’ daughters and their parents were still alive, so both were living within the four generations of their family alive had full-time successful jobs, and they totally felt unsatisfied.
So, that’s what they said when I came back as we’re missing something. What is it? And what I realize is with all the pressure that we have in our lives even if you love your job and you love your family. Sometimes there’s not enough time to savor the moment that we’re in.
So I find what meditation really does. It helps to train the awareness to be right here in this moment it helps to train your awareness to be here now, which is where your life really is. I kept saying your life is right here in this moment in Sedona with me right now.
Especially if we have a lot of responsibilities. Mind travels into the future into the past and to the future into the past and then you can miss what’s happening right now so meditation among all the other benefits really helps to train the awareness to be right here right now right here right now, so it’s done in a variety of ways for instance if we were to do a walking meditation where we stood up and we slowly walked with complete awareness feeling our legs rising falling feet touching the ground and feeling the way our body moves through space and the way our balance shifts.
Some people, a lot of things can come up when we move very slowly and walking meditation the mind starts traveling. The first thing it says is gosh this is too slow this is boring. I got to stop I’ve got to move quickly but when we start, one of the things we need in meditation is discipline that’s for sure, so when we start a practice and meditation we want to stick with it, just to stick with it through those rough spots because as any athlete knows or anyone is really trying to do something well.
I mean, there are going to be rough spots, but you have to move through them because on the other side of them. That’s when the bliss happens so with the walking meditation it’s training the awareness to be in the present moment, although the thoughts will come about how long is it going to take me to walk across that room or this is way too slow or I’m losing my balance or this is this isn’t working and then when you realize it you bring your attention back to what you’re doing to the sensations once again, the body’s always in the present moment the activity we’re doing is always in the present moment, it’s only the awareness that travels the thoughts that travel from the past to the future.
So it’s a training of the awareness whether you’re walking in meditation or whether you’re sitting completely still and paying attention to the breath. Now the breath is always in the present moment. So when we focus here, we’re in the present moment but then here come the thoughts so I’m writing this book and yesterday I was writing this introductory chapter.
We’ve heard this figure speech called the monkey mind. It’s a Buddhist expression Western now and it talks about how the mind is very unpredictable and it’s constantly looking for something to grab on to and when it’s got something that’s looking for the next thing like a monkey like right now.
So meditation, whether you’re paying attention to the breath or you’re moving in space and doing an activity in meditation, both of them require two things: your attention and a focus for your attention.
So the focus obviously could be the breath could be the sensation of walking some people use a focus that includes a sound either a sound they make like a chant like I did earlier or a sound they think like a mantra or a sound that they’re listening to like some of those white noises or Tibetan bowls or crystal bowls, so you can listen to you can use a sound as a focus you can also use something you look at as a focus for your meditation.
Every time the the attention and you notice the attention wanders to my mic how this video’s going what’s gonna happen for lunch if you just once you realize it you come back we’re gonna talk more about that in a moment there’s no way to stop thinking by thinking about it we’ve all tried that so candle flame is one way to meditate some people like to look at pictures of saints or sacred geometry.
So they’re different meditations for different reasons, so we’ve talked about sound, we’ve talked about what things look like or using the sense of sight and you can also use a sense of touch.
I described two of them: touch doesn’t mean I’m gonna touch you but touch means how do you feel what’s the body feeling like so that would be the walking how it feels to space it would be the way you breathe and how that breath feels.
So those are the three ways to really have a daily meditation practice through one of those census so it takes you awareness and it is a gentle focus of your awareness on a particular focus and you pick one and you do it.
What I have to say in meditation is don’t try to hard it’s you want to have discipline and stick with it, but You want to sort of lean back rather than lean forward into a meditation that’s for sure and that there’s this um, you’ve seen it probably on CNN or an MSNBC or something where they say lean forward no meditations all about leaning leaning back into your life into the practice receiving receiving so don’t try too hard society.
How do we learn to try really hard and what is it, you know, I wish we’re movie buff and I’m not but I’ve heard this. They say don’t try there’s no try there’s only do.
I know I’m gonna get some emails about not knowing that but there’s only doing. Does it mean anything if I say I’m gonna try to lift that cup up and have some tea. I’m just gonna do it, you know. I’m just gonna do it and it’s amazing that not only.
I mean it’s important to be in that science but we have a tendency to want to visualize or still be active and still take that time to create some more and expand in it like give the universe was not gonna hear us, you know, we gotta work really hard at it yeah again through the, Right so
The place where we can put that effort really is to find a time to do it do it every day and then stay diligent in the practice in terms of when you get bored with the walking or bored with the breathing or bored with the mantra or bored with or restless because you feel like you need to check your email or you need to you know, go make dinner or something go to work.
Instead of moving out of the meditation for the time you’ve allotted stick with it come back to it any long distance runner knows that if you get through the mind and the conversations having with yourself to stop you can get past that and get into the bliss so meditations the same way don’t try too hard but stick with it be.
Be diligent have you know be committed to it it doesn’t mean you try hard when you’re in a relationship you’re committed but doesn’t mean you’re trying really hard you’re just committed and it’s easy and it’s should be anyway, yeah so don’t try hard remain committed the next thing is really challenging for many people let’s say you’re sitting here paying attention to the breath, when we all do this now at home.
Guided Meditation by Sarah McLean
First, “you can give yourself a couple of deep breaths ideally through the nose.
The same applications of not trying hard so don’t regulate the breathing don’t try hard to breathe simply allow the breath to lean back and allow the natural flow of the breath. In and out of the nostrils.
As you close your eyes and. Pay attention to the breath. You might notice all the sounds in the environment including my voice, so just welcome them to lean back and receive that breath.
And we’re going to stick with this practice. I know you want to open your eyes and look around scratching it. You can do all that but then come back to this practice.
One of the other things with your eyes closed is you might begin to notice. How your body’s really feeling in this moment usually with your eyes open leaning forward into your life, you’re not aware of how the body’s feeling so let’s bring our attention now. To the body. I’ll talk you through this meditation relaxation that I do.
Relaxing your forehead and your scalp.
Relax your eyes. Relax your whole face.
Relax your mouth.
Can tuck your chin in just a little bit and allow the back of your neck to lengthen slightly as you let your shoulders move down away from your ears.
To breathe continues to be natural. Relaxing your belly and your diaphragm.
Relaxing each leg. And go of any subconscious or unconscious holding pattern that you have.
Relaxing your arms letting them hang from the shoulders. Resting easily in your lap and whatever position you care for. Don’t try too hard. Now sticking with this means. Whenever you notice your attention drifts away. You want to get up and get a snack or you want to make a phone call, acknowledge that and simply come back to the practice.
The breath might get faster or slower. Deeper or shallower. Let yourself love your breath.
Now you’ll notice your attention drifts away either to a sound in the environment. Physical sensation. Or one of the thousands or tens of thousands that you think that you have each day.
Whenever you notice your attention is not on the breath. Or whatever your focus is in this case, it’s the breath. Gently once you realize it, return your attention to the breath. Now, here’s the key. Do not beat yourself up. Simply gently refocus the attention on being very sweet to yourself.
Continuing to pay attention to the breath. Maybe noticing the cool air on the inhale the warmer air on the exhale.
A lot of people are waiting for something to happen because we’ve all heard about meditation and it’s great effects, but I’ll tell you when we meditate with expectation we stop the natural process. So what I’d ask you to do is anytime you notice that you’re waiting for something or you want a certain experience.
Simply come back to the breath. This requires a little trust. There’s nothing you can do to make anything happen in meditation.
Except for to gently and easily pay attention to the focus.
Now, here’s a practice that you can try now dropping your awareness with your eyes closed to the center of your chest.
And imagining the breath moving in and out from your heart center as if your heart were breathing.
This enlivens your wise heart.
And remember, that meditation is a practice. Your training your awareness to be right here right now.
So keeping the eyes closed.
Can take your attention off the breath. Simply sit in the silence for a minute or so. I’ll keep track of the time. Being sure your body’s completely relaxed.
With your eyes closed begin to give yourself some deeper breaths, maybe wiggle your fingers and toes.
And whenever you do feel ready to open your eyes, take your time, there’s no rush. Can slowly begin with a downward gaze. And then when you feel ready to engage you can open your eyes all the way.”
Sarah McLean’s Interview Continued
“Well you know I was trained for it on a very at a very young age and not very young age but at a very early stage of my meditation when I first began to work at with Deepak Chopra at the Ayurveda Center in Massachusetts, I went off to learn some advanced techniques they were in the TM tradition transcendental meditation tradition and so we went to Iowa we meditated in these big domes to get the advanced meditation techniques and I was selected to be the president of this group of people now.
I think they’re probably over a hundred people but my job was not only. To learn all of these advanced meditation techniques and believe me, they can really rock your world but I also had to be totally an action totally present making sure people knew where they were going being on time everybody else is spaced out and I’m in charge, you know, and, Yeah I was reading the Mahabharata and in it there’s the bug about guitar, you know, it’s the story about a Krishna and Arjuna and what it means is established in being perform action and that’s what you do when you’re doing your videos and taking people on this juicy living tour you really center yourself and then you do your action you perform action because you know, if you’re centered you will have access to spontaneous right action, you’ll have access to what you call the green light.
Right? And for me when I settle down into my teaching. You know, I basically disappear yeah I have stories and memories and desires but it’s not about me it’s about performing the action in this case, you know, taking the your listeners to and meditation so yoga star care money, it’s a practice of being sort of in awakening state alert present completely present and just allowing.
Your presence to express itself yeah and that’s really one of the benefits of meditation for sure and then the day you’re the next thing is really it’s it you’re in the flow and things. Work out as you say magically yeah and actually you know what we’re allowing because it’s really all what we have to do isn’t it mm-hmm just allow the same way that we’re doing in meditation exactly as prompting the.
Life will bring on the right thing exactly and that same thing is the meditation of confidence and trust and patience this is my credo faith that’s all gonna work out. I wasn’t always like that some days I have a bad day but you know most the time faith patience which includes my practice which includes what I know to do to take care of myself, whether it’s sleeping or meditating or eating correctly or exercising and then grace grace is when, You show up in Sedona and you know we do this or grace can be when you have a certain desire and then it manifests without effort it just manifests it meet you and so that’s how I walk through the world is have a lot of faith which has been to it’s sort of cultivated through meditation patience which we all need because when we have a desire no matter what it is for whatever you have for your juicy living tour, whatever I have for my career or life, we know that we’re not in charge of the timing so we have to avoid we try to employ.
Yeah yeah, so we simply have to be patient and practice what we know to do and grace is when huh it meets us so back to the practice of meditation. I mean, one of the things that people need to realize is even though a lot of great things can happen in meditation.
I know that but I have to say it’s not going to happen because you make it happen it again requires faith that it works out patience with the practice paying attention to the breath and grace. There comes some expansion or awareness or here comes some heart opening experience, but more often than not meditation can be boring.
That’s how meditation is and the way you know meditations working is not because of any experience you had in meditation. How your life looks. How’s your life going? Do you feel better today? Are you a little less stressed? Yeah. Are you less stressed? And it’s so simple, but think about it, the breath is always in the present moment.
And when we come right here right now as those Canadian ladies wanted when we’re right here right now, we have the direct experience of our life. Take not Han has this book called Saver. We get to save her. The experience of our lives. Saver our breath saver what we’re eating savor who works surrounded by savor the gentle aggressive breeze of the trees.”
Who is Lilou Mace
Lilou Macé is a French-American author, webTV host and international Internet video blogger since 2005 with over 30-million video views on youtube. Lilou Mace regularly does interviews with experts on spirituality and personal development, such as Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, Joe Dispenza, and many others. Read and Watch Lilou Mace interview with Joe Dispenza discussing a new consciousness. and many others. Recently Lilou Mace did a YouTube interview with Gregg Braden about his new book The Wisdom Codes – Ancient Words to Rewire Our Brains and Heal Our Hearts.
Lilou is also an international speaker. She spoke about the power of active co-creation at a TEDx event in France in Octobre 2013. To watch her TEDx talk in French, subtitled in english. Lilou webTV for french speakers is called La Télé de Lilou www.lateledelilou.com and is very popular in France, Belgium, Switzerland and in Quebec. Her latest book is the excellent
Lilou is now traveling around the world interviewing people to offer online everyday wisdom and inspiration.
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