Meditation as Medicine: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 18.05.2010

MANNY: Good afternoon my friends. My name is Manny and we are delighted today to have
my friend, Bob Stahl with us today. Bob is a--he's--so, Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder
of MBSR calls Bob the go--the go-to person for MBSR in all the West Coast. Jon says this
if you need anything by MBSR, go to Bob because Bob is the man and I have a lot of respect
for Bob for this and other reasons and besides being jolly and wise and amazing. Bob founded
and directs the MBSR program in five medical centers in San Francisco Bay Area including
the El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and the O'Connor Hospital in San Jose. He lived
in the Buddhist monastery for eight and a half years and he is most recently the co-author
of this book, a "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook," and it is available for
sale if you--if you want to--after this talk right over there and I think that's it. With
that, please welcome my friend and our friend, Bob Stahl.
>> STAHL: Thank you. You all hear me okay? So, very nice to be here and thank you for
making some time out of your work day to come and hear about mindfulness which is what I'll
be speaking about today. And maybe, I'll just start by sharing a little bit about my own
personal journey, how did I end up becoming a "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction" teacher.
And my actual journey began quite young in life when I had an experience when I was four
years old. I was riding in the back seat of my parent's car and I had this realization
that I or anyone could die at any moment. It was a very powerful realization at four
years old and I brought this up to my mother and father and they said to me very lovingly,
"Don't worry, Bobby," I was called Bobby then, "Don't worry, Bobby, it's not going to happen
for a long, long, long, long time." And I actually could tell by the sound of their
voice that they were being very loving and they were trying to protect me but I knew
what I knew and what I knew was that they were not telling me the truth because what
I knew was that death could come at any moment to anyone. And that was a very shocking realization
at four years old to realize this and unfortunately to say by the time I was nine years old, I
lost a younger brother who died of a disease. My best friend, Ellen, who lived across the
street from me, I played with her everyday, went into a diabetic coma and passed away
one evening and downstairs, in the family house that I was living in, my grandfather
died of a heart attack. And so, growing up, I experienced a lot of confusion and despair.
What is this life and this also coincided with the--the 1960s and as, you know, the
times were a-changing and the Beatles grew their hair long and there was social unrest,
there was lots happening; I grew up outside of the Boston area. Well, after graduating
high school and my sole purpose was to get out of high school because school didn't make
any sense to me and I decided that I needed to do something after discovering that my
friends had all gone to college and thought "Well, maybe I should go to college." And
so, I ended up going to school in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, a small state college.
I was really into downhill skiing and I thought, "Well, this would be a good place to go,"
like, you know, ski area. And started school there and I was having a good all time partying
and after flunking out in my sophomore year and being [INDISTINCT] made it back on warning,
I decided "Well, maybe I should take a look at what's actually on the course catalog and
see if there is anything interesting there that I would like to take and for whatever
reason, very funny enough, there's this course called Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Zen.
I had never taken a class like this ever before in my life and I figured that I had nothing
to lose. I've had experiences growing up in Boston with the orient Chinese restaurants,
ironically enough and that was a very different feel there and I was alert to the East in
many ways not only with the food but with the art and so, I took this class, Hinduism,
Buddhism, Taoism and Zen and when I went into the class, I was shocked to discover that
my professor was sitting on top of his desk in a full lotus position. Now, I had never
seen a professor like this before. Most of them had suits, jackets and ties and they
were pretty straight and pretty uptight. But this guy was sitting on top of his desk in
a full lotus and he began talking. And when I--listening to him, I realized and sensed
that he knew something that I didn't know and I wanted to know what he knew. There was
something about him. I never met a person like him ever before. And we began studying
the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, a way of life and I just fell in love with the Tao and I
never realized that people thought about life in this way. My education thus far was about
reading and writing in arithmetic and it made really no sense to me because--and I've looked
back on this, I was really in a place of a lot of despair and confusion. I was very lost
and didn't even know that I was lost, that's how lost I was. Well, after reading the Tao
Te Ching and coming across epigram number 47, where he said "There's no need to look
outside your window, everything that you need to know is inside you." And when I read that,
it was this--almost like a redwood tree hit me over the head and woke me up and I recognized
that I've been spending most of my life looking outside of myself for answers and then if
I wanted to know anything, I needed to begin to look inside here and that really began
my journey of meditation which is now over 35 years ago and kind of amazing when I look
back at it at this point. That class began a journey, a spiritual journey if you will
for me and I ended up moving to San Francisco and--and getting--going to graduate school
in Counseling Psychology and getting introduced more formally to the pasana of mindfulness
mediation. And from there, that led me to studying with a teacher and she said "Why
don't you come with me to Burma and meet my teacher, Venerable Taungpulu Sayadaw who is
a Theravadan forest monk and Burma is now called Myanmar. And so on November 9th, 1980,
I embarked on a plane to Southeast Asia to Burma to become a forest monk for a temporary
period of time. Life was very different in Burma and the life of a forest monk is a lonely
life but it's a very powerful life of very intensive meditation practice and I really
loved that life at the time that I was there. Then we moved--we were invited to come back
to the United States and we brought our teacher, Taungpulu Sayadaw and we founded with a group
of us, a monastery in Boulder Creek right here in Santa Cruz County, not too far away
and started a monastery by Big Basin state park called Taungpulu Kaba Aye Monastery and
I ended up living there for over eight and a half years practicing very intensively.
And after leaving the monastery, entering into the advanced practice, getting married,
having two children makes the monastery look easy. I needed to get a job and I was fortunate
enough to get a job working at the Cabrillo College Stroke Center in Santa Cruz, working
with people with strokes and Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, other orthopedic and neurological
conditions and my job being hired there as a counselor was to teach meditation, relaxation
as well as interviewing prospective new students and so forth, assessing students. And I began
to teach mindfulness at the stroke center and I used to get feedback from various students
saying "This mindfulness is really helping me." And I remember this one old lady saying
"Yeah, this mindfulness is really keeping me out of a nursing home," and I said "What
do you mean?" she said "Look at me, I'm an old lady, I got to pee in the middle of the
night, you know, and every night I have to get up and I have to walk to the toilet and
so when I walk to the toilet, I'm mindful lifting my foot up, moving it forward, placing
it down. I'm being mindful of each step because if I'm not mindful, I'm going to end falling
and breaking my hip and ending up in a nursing home." She had had a stroke, so she was very
unsure on her feet. And I would hear many other very practical aspects of mindfulness
bringing it into one's life or health and well-being. While I was at the stroke center,
I was sharing some of my work with an ex-monk friend of mine that sent me eventually a book
called "Full Catastrophe Living" by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and I read this book and I said
"I can't believe that somebody has created a whole program based on mindfulness and working
with stress, pain and illness, I want to do this." And I wrote Jon a letter, this was
back in 1990 and a couple of weeks later, Jon called me on the phone and thanked me
for writing him the letter and then inviting me to come to UMass Medical Center to meet
with him and see the center and as my family is from the Massachusetts's area, it was actually
in a couple of moths later I was--I came to the UMass Medical Center. This was all before
Jon became much more famous in 1993, "When Healing of The Mind" was featured with Bill
Moyers. He's got very busy since then. But it was wonderful to meet Jon back in the early
1990s and he was very supportive with me starting a program and so, I was very fortunate when
I came back to Santa Cruz that I began a program in 1991 at the Cabrillo College Stroke Center
and then later at El Camino Hospital here in Mountain View in Santa Cruz Medical Foundation
where we actually involved in starting the first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs
in California and I've been teaching at these medical centers and more ever since. So, I
feel very grateful to Jon Kabat-Zinn and this work of mindfulness and bringing it into mainstream
America and I really appreciate the genius of--of this practice in how we can--here I
am now at Google speaking about something that I went off to Asia far and many years
ago and--and how that mindfulness has proliferated in our culture and it's so amazing that when
we hear about mindfulness, its effects with as we search in neuroscience, in education,
in psychology, mindfulness is spreading its wings in many different areas and it's currently--well,
it's kind of a hot item, mindfulness. I understand that mindfulness is also offered here at Google.
I'm very happy to hear about that. I understand there's a new eight-week class starting this
Thursday with my colleague, Renee Burgard and I understand the class is full, in a waiting
list but don't worry there's going to be more classes. So if you're interested, you can--you'll
hear about them. But as a working definition, I want to--maybe just speak a little bit about
mindfulness, what is it? How does it relate to stress reduction? And I'd also would like
to do some practice and I think that this is a perfect place to do practice, right here
in the midst of the work day. But first I'll just begin with what is mindfulness and so,
we've heard of this word a lot and I trust if I--how many of us here are familiar with
mindfulness practice. So there's a quite a number of hands up. This is wonderful, if
I asked this question about 15 years ago, I might find one person. So, this is very
wonderful. And so, perhaps some of this will be a--you will hear some of what I have said
before but may you take it as in a new way because mindfulness really teaches us about
beginner's mind, seeing things fresh and new and in the moment. And when we speak of mindfulness,
we're really speaking about learning to be more present in our moment to moment, day-to-day
life and when you consider the only moment that we actually ever really live in is the
present moment which is right now, you're listening to me, we're here in this room,
this is what's happening. Yet at times, and I trust that we'll would probably see in the
workings of our own mind that it's difficult to actually stay present and we might be thinking
"I really hope this guy gets done at 2 o'clock because I got to go back to work and I got
to do this and that or maybe he's thinking about what happened earlier in the morning.
Maybe, it's no coincidence that John Lennon once said "Life is what happens while you're
busy making other plans." It's a very funny wonderful statement but sometimes if we take
a look at the workings of our mind, we see that it's often occupied in future thinking
in past memories and often missing what's happening in the moment. A psychologist friend
of mine once remarked after beginning his mindfulness training that her mind often worked
in two modes of operation and I said, "What do you mean?" Because, yeah, my mind is either
rehearsing or it's rehashing. Rehashing or rehearsing? I love that. And when you think
about all of the energy that we put into rehearsing about future, rehashing about the past, we
could actually bottle them as an energy source. We would have no energy crisis. We are so
much of the time living somewhere else other than this present moment. So, in mindfulness
training we're training ourselves to be more present in our moment to moment, day-to-day
life. For those of us whose sort of a perfectionist you can forget about it right now about being
mindful every single moment. And if you approach it that way, it would probably be maddening
and you'll probably end up quitting. But if we can bring more mindfulness into the moments
that we have and make it a practice, we'll find that our mindfulness will begin to grow.
Mindfulness, again, is this quality of being present. There's actually two types of practices
in mindfulness. But even before, the two practices we would say it's a way of life. But it can
be practiced formally or informally. Formally is taking time out whether it's five, fifteen,
twenty, forty-five minutes of doing a very formal practice; the mindfulness of breathing
or a body scan meditation or a sitting meditation that spans the field of awareness to listening
to sounds, body sensations, mind states. These are formal practices of mindfulness where
we're still and we're really going into the body and mind. The informal practices of mindfulness
is learning how to be more mindful in our everyday life. There's so many moments that
we, you know, different activities today that you're living that we're dealing everyday
that are often doing unmindfully. So for example, like when we're eating, let's be mindful that
we're chewing and tasting and swallowing; when we're showering or sitting on the toilet,
let's be present to that; when we're having conversation with someone, why not actually
really be there and listen to what it is that they're saying; and if we're walking down
the road being aware that we're walking down the road; if we're driving being aware that
we're driving. So many different activities of day-to-day to living are often going unnoticed
because we are so much thinking ahead about the future or going back in the past. And
so in our mindfulness training developing as a way of life, we're working and trying
to be more mindful of what we're doing from moment to moment as well as the formal practices.
We may find that practicing this mindfulness in our day to day life can really in many
ways help to build our efficiency of work and also some precision and also learning
how to take care of ourselves. Sometimes I have a little acronym and I actually put it
on the board behind me and the acronym is called "STOP." And we invite people during
the day to practice this. So, S stands to stop for a moment, even in the midst of your
workday. I have a friend of mine that has a computer on her desk, like, probably many
of us, and she has a program for once an hour all of a sudden will come the word stop. And
that moment, she'll take one minute, she'll stop. And the T stands to take a breath. A
breath in and a breath out, maybe we can do that right now, stopping, taking a breath
in and a breath out. Observing for a moment how you're feeling physically, mentally, and
emotionally and acknowledging what's present. And P, proceeding on with what you're doing.
Many people discover in that moment of stopping, taking a breath and observing that perhaps
their shoulders were up higher than their ears and at that moment that you see it, you
can let them down. Maybe you've been playing the email, what I'd like to call the "email
urination game," just one more email, one more email, one more email, ride that bladder.
And so many times perhaps that we might be working on a project and we're going nowhere
and all of a sudden, we need to stop and take a breath and realized we haven't eaten, we
haven't stretched and then we take care of ourselves in those brief moments, recalibrating,
taking a snack, going for a walk, going to the toilet, whatever it is that we need to
do, and all of a sudden, we're feeling refreshed again; we're feeling more clear, more centered.
So, our practices of mindfulness can be very, very helpful to help recalibrate us during
the day. So it really--would invite you all, even in your work days here, can you take
a few moments every now and again to stop, to take a breath in and a breath out, observe
and acknowledge how you're feeling physically, mentally, emotionally; how am I feeling in
my body, my thoughts, my feelings and acknowledging what's present and then P, proceeding on with
what it is that we're doing. I remember an engineer at El Camino once remarked that when
he first began the class, he was going to work everyday at six in the morning and coming
home at eight at night, not liking it and his family was not liking it. And by the end
of the eight-week class, he was going to work at eight and getting home at six, that was
a four hour differential, and yet he was feeling like he was getting just as much work done
and he attributed it to being more mindful on the job; recognizing when he was going
off on tangents, recognizing more earlier then being able to come back into center,
that was really helping his efficiency and precision. So, we're hearing a lot about mindfulness
and how it can help but maybe I'd like to just spell out a little bit more about this,
as far as how does mindfulness work with stress reduction or stress management. And in the
last 25, 30, 40 years, this growing interest in the mind-body connection, we hear these
words a lot; mind-body connection. Neuroscientists are very interested in the mind-body connection
in that, what is this connection between our thoughts and our emotions in our physiology,
our bodies. And it turns out that neuroscientists have begun to chart out various neuro pathways,
connections between our thoughts and emotions in our bodies and that our thoughts and emotions
of course are made of chemicals, electrical aspects that begin, there's a communication
between our thoughts and emotions in our bodies. These are found in the neuro pathways. There's
actually a very interesting book called, "Molecules of Emotions" by Candace Pert that goes into
some of this. It's quite interesting. But the evidence appears to be very overwhelming
of this mind-body connection that our thoughts and emotions are connected with our body.
Now, if I did something perhaps very embarrassing up here, perhaps your faces might begin to
blush and turn red. If I got kind of psycho and kind of crazy and then maybe hair would
begin to stand up on edge and would be rearing to fight, flight or freeze mode, there's different
physiological changes that are beginning to happen--oops! Oh, I guess I'll catch that
on the video later what he did. Anyways, there's different type--now you're--we're laughing,
you're hearing me say something and all of a sudden there's laughter. If I said something
very sad, maybe water starts coming out of our eyes. So we understand there's a mind-body
connection that our thoughts and emotions are affected to our bodies. This is—-the
evidence is overwhelmingly clear. And what's important is that if indeed our thoughts and
emotions affect our bodies, then it would serve us all very well to be more mindful
of the thoughts that we're thinking and the emotions that we're feeling. If indeed this
do affect our body then practicing mindfulness could be very, very important to help us to
become aware of what's going on. Now, there's times we may not be aware of the different
reactivities that we're engaging in, for example, we live here in the valley and, you know,
maybe we're riding on 101 and we're trying to get to work and it's a traffic jam. And
it's like, "Oh my gosh. I'm not going to get here on time, I have a meeting at nine o'clock.
What am I going to do?" And then that's going to snowball the whole day. And so we might
become aware that we're in a traffic jam and that what am I going to do but we might not
be aware of actually how that stress is affecting us inside our own body and mind. We often
are getting so caught in the story about lateness and what am I going to do that we neglect
to become mindful of how it is affecting us in the inside. And this is where mindfulness
can play such a strategic role in helping us to come back in the balance. We may, unbeknownst
to us, begin to react to this stressful event by beginning to hold the steering wheel so
tightly that our knuckles are turning white. And this is causing all these muscles go with
tension within our bodies and because of that increased stress, there's some anxiety or
irritation and often our pulmonary, our lung system begins to react by breathing more rapidly,
more irregularly and, of course, our lungs are connected to our heart and because of
this increased respiration, our heart rate and blood pressure, temperature of our body
begins to elevate, we're in a stress reactivity. And we're often not even mindful that this
is going on because we're so consumed in the story of our lateness. And so we're--so what's
important about mindfulness is that once we become aware that we're holding tightly, we
can release the grip, it's that simple and yet that far away. But once we become aware
that we're holding tightly, we can release the grip. Once we become aware that we're
breathing more rapidly and more irregularly, that's forcing our heart rate and blood pressure
to elevate, we can begin to practice mindful breathing often trying to bring our breath
into our belly area and as our breathing begins to regulate, naturally, our heart rate and
blood pressure, temperature of our body begins to come back into balance. And so this is
a very, very important aspect of mindfulness is that it's helping us to recognize where
it is that we are. So, I'm going to get up and just show you this on the board, a little
illustration, this is very low-tech. But what--for those--I don't know if you can read, but it
says, read this far but is says--oops! Unawareness with an arrow to disconnection and disconnection
there's an arrow to out of balance. When we're unaware of what's actually happening to us,
we're disconnected from our experience. And when we get disconnected from our experience,
we potentially can spin out of balance and so the example of getting stuck on the highway
101, we're unaware, we're disconnected, we've begun to hold the steering the wheel so tightly
that our knuckles are turning white, our body is spinning out of balance. How do we get
out of this mess? First thing is we become aware. And as soon as there's awareness, I'm
connected again, I'm back, I'm here, I'm present, and now I'm seeing much more clearly, I'm
holding tightly, my body's spinning out of balance and I begin to soften the grip, I
begin to do some mindful breathing to get my body and gradually I come back into balance.
So, while we can say is that awareness promotes connection and connection promotes balance.
Conversely, when we're unaware, we're disconnected from our experience and we can spin out of
balance. It's difficult to change our ways, our patterns. Often, we become habituated
in certain ways of reacting to stresses or different events that become conditioned responses--conditioned
reactions I should say. If we've had experiences in the past of getting stuck in highway 101
and getting annoyed and irritated the probabilities of that happening later today if you were
there are very great and life goes on. Once we become mindful, we recognize that there
maybe some choice and we can begin to respond differently. This is very empowering about
mindfulness and there's actually an incredibly beautiful quote by Viktor Frankl who was a
concentration camp survivor, psychiatrist, an author of Logotherapy; man's search for
meaning. But he says this, he says that, "Between the stimulus and the response, there is a
space and in that space lies our freedom." Between the stimulus and the response, there
is a space and in that space lies our freedom. If we are not mindful, we are not aware of
any spaces between our stimulus and response, we are reacting in an impulsive reactivity.
If we become aware, we have a choice to respond differently. So, perhaps I will say that there's
a separation between impulsive reactivity and mindfully responding to a situation. So
there's a big difference between impulsive reactivity and mindfully responding. There's
actually a very clever and beautiful poem by Portia Nelson that speaks to this and it's
called, Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. In chapter one, she says, I'm walking down
the street. There's a deep hole in the sidewalk and I fall in and I'm helpless. And it takes
a long time but I finally do get out. In chapter two, I walked down the same street. There's
a deep hole in the sidewalk and I fall in again and I know where I am, it's my fault
and I get out quickly this time. Chapter three, I'm walking down the same street. There's
a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall again, it's a habit, you know, this is kind of what
I do. Many of us can live in chapter three for a long time. But remembering that quote
again from Viktor Frankl, between the stimulus and the response there is a space and in that
space lies my freedom to choose. In chapter four, I'm walking down the same street. There's
a deep hole in the sidewalk and I walk around the hole. Chapter five, even better news,
I walk down another street. So there's--the potentials of changing our behaviors, our
responses drew awareness but we have kind of this strong default buttons, just when
we're not looking, we maybe impulsively reacting again to familiar situations. But when our
awareness grows, we can begin to change and possibly develop more constructive ways, if
you will, of dealing with stress rather than destructive ways. And the destructive ways
again are more associated with impulsive reactivity and constructive ways are when we have a mindful
response. When we can recognize what's here and choose another way. So I've been speaking
for bet and I thought it might be nice to do a little bit of practice if you're all
up for that. Will you be--would that be all right, like, maybe about 5, 10 minutes? Okay.
So, I maybe invite you if you wanted just standup and stretch for a second and get yourself--if
you feel your body needs to stretch a bit, feel free to do that. And then whenever you're
ready to come back into a sitting position. [PAUSE] And so, let's just begin by just taking
a moment to--just to acknowledge that we're going to take some time here just to be present
with ourselves in the midst of the work day. [PAUSE] And I think I'll begin with a beautiful
poem by Mary Oliver that speaks to the importance of taking care of ourselves, it's called "The
Journey." "One day, you finally knew what you had to do and began and though the voices
around you kept shouting their bad advice and though the whole house trembled. And each
voice cried out to you. 'Mend my life. Mend my life. Mend my life.' Each voice cried.
This time, you didn't stop and you knew what you had to do. And though the wind pried with
its stiff fingers and the melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough and it was a wild
night. And the road was full of fallen branches and stones. And little by little as you left
their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of the clouds and there
was a new voice that you slowly recognized as your own. And it kept you company as you
strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do, determined
to save the only life you could save. And there was a new voice that you slowly recognized
as your own and it kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world determined
to do the only thing you could do, determined to save the only life you could save." I'm
taking some moments now to the mindful and just begin to check in, feeling your body
sitting in the chair, feet on the floor, becoming connected to the body. And begin to just acknowledge
what you're feeling in the body physically, lightness, heaviness, any aches, itches, tangles,
tiredness, maybe fullness from lunch. Checking in with the body and acknowledging what's
present physically. [PAUSE] And gradually as you feel in to your body and acknowledging
any of the physical sensations, feel into the physical sensation of your breath. You
might feel it in your abdomen, in your belly, or your chest expanding as you breathe in,
contracting as you breathe out. Or perhaps feeling and being mindful of the breath in
the nose feeling the coolness of the breath as it enters into the nose and the warmth
of it coming out. Finding a place in your body where you can become mindful of the breath
where the breath feels prominent and distinct. And then just begin to rest your awareness
at that point whether it's in the nose, the chest, the belly or perhaps another place,
and just becoming mindful that when you're breathing in that you're aware that you're
breathing in. And as you breathe out, you're aware that you're breathing out. There's no
need to manipulate your breath or count it or visualize it or analyze it, just breathing
normally and naturally, breathing in with awareness and breathing out being present.
[PAUSE] And it's inevitable that our minds may wonder off into some future thoughts or
past memories. And when you become aware of that, acknowledge where you went and with
great patience and kindness coming back to the breath in and the breath out. So easy
does it, taking our lives, one inhalation, and one exhalation at a time being present.
[PAUSE] You're welcome also if it seems like the sounds are becoming prominent, let that
be part of the meditation and you can just shift to hearing, just listening to the different
sounds in this room. And noticing their ephemeral nature that they arise and they pass away.
So include in sounds of those become prominent and if not then just stay with the breath
being present. [PAUSE] And now, letting your awareness begin to expand to just a sense
of checking in with yourselves. So we've been feeling into the body, the breath and sounds,
and letting yourself just begin to acknowledge any thoughts and emotions that are coming
in awareness. We call this a mindful check in just acknowledging what's coming up for
you physically, mentally, emotionally. Maybe there's memories of what happened earlier
today, or concerns about what's going to happen later in the day and just taking some moment
to acknowledge your different thoughts and emotions, any physical sensations being present,
checking in with yourself with awareness and letting be. You don't have to fix anything
or analyze, just acknowledging in the body, in thoughts, emotions being present. [PAUSE]
And now as we come towards the end of this meditation, bringing awareness into the chest
and into the heart area, and we'll do just a little bit of some loving kindness. In our
mindfulness practice, we work with two types of meditations: insight practices of mindfulness,
and the heart practices of loving kindness. One of the insights that we sometimes get
when we're practicing mindfulness is how hard we can be on ourselves, and judgmental to
ourselves and to others. So the loving kindness is a beautiful practice. It softens the hardened
heart. And so just taking some moments and just feeling into your own heart with the
sense of kindness and compassion. I know we all understand these words from a dictionary
point of view and it may be another thing to open into our hearts to experience these
words, just feeling into our own hearts, wishing for our own health and well-being. May there be reconciliation with our past
that meets the present moment. It's all led us into this moment, may we be at peace. [PAUSE]
And letting this goodwill extend outwards to those of us here in this room and in this
building, and to this Google campus. Everyone here at times experiences the 10,000 joys,
the 10,000 sorrows of life, spreading this goodwill to all of our fellow human beings
throughout this world, may all beings be at peace. [PAUSE] Spreading this goodwill above
and below in all directions from here and throughout this universe, may all beings without
exception be safe and at peace. [PAUSE] And just as we've extended it outwards, bringing
it back inwards into our skin and flesh and bones, to the organs and to the molecules
that make up the cells, into the atoms. Behaving ourselves in the heart of loving kindness,
may we be at peace, may all beings everywhere be at peace. [PAUSE] And now, very gently
beginning to wiggle the fingers and toes and opening the eyes and just being fully present,
awake, here and now. Thank you very much. So we have a little bit of time for any questions
that you may have. So we'll have a little period here and maybe to help work your vocal
cords again after having some silence for a bit. Maybe taking a breath in and stretching
up and giving a nice inhalation and a sigh, hear your voice, "Hah." So, I don't know if there's another microphone
or if there's–-I can surely hear but if it needs to be recorded, we can...
>> We're going to be [INDISTINCT]. >> STAHL: That will going to really get a
whole bunch of people up here. >> You can repeat the question.
>> STAHL: Actually, I can--yeah, I can just repeat the question. Thank you. Or a comment.
Please? >> How do you teach mindfulness to your kids?
>> STAHL: So the question is how do I teach mindfulness to my kids? So there's an old
saying, "Don't be a Buddhist, be a Buddha." And so, I say that in the sense that my wife
and I try to live by example. So we don't necessarily try to force-feed them meditation
and mindfulness but live by the example of living it. And also, of course, they have
to find their own way in life. And so, they're familiar with some of the practices of mindfulness,
use what feels appropriate to them, and we essentially give them space. But we want to-–we
have a strong value in our family of living--trying to live with kindness and with integrity.
And may they find their way. This is going to sound kind of funny to say but I think
there's a thread of truth to this, but I don't say it's the whole truth. My kids also haven't
suffered enough yet. And it's not that I wish for them to suffer but--I'm sorry to say that.
From my path, it took a lot of suffering for me to finally turn deeply inwards. And, you
know, and I don't wish my kids a lot of suffering but, you know, growing up we'll get–-we'll
have our own share of suffering with whether it's not being seen and accepted and being
picked on and so forth, then, you know. Anyone else or–-come, please.
>> [INDISTINCT] that the opposite of [INDISTINCT] so it seems to be different [INDISTINCT].
>> STAHL: Yeah. >> [INDISTINCT].
>> STAHL: Great. Thank you very much. I'll see if I can repeat that in a summarized version,
but as a programmer, you're using your mind to really focus very deeply on a project but
not on a broad way of knowing what's going on around you. Is that-–is that-–would
that...? And so the--and any reconciling with that if you will. You know, in some ways,
we speak about mindfulness that it can be practiced in like a laser beam and a flat
light. And so there is certain types of practices where we are really using our laser beam of
concentration to absorb our mindfulness on the object that will bring the attention to
so that we can begin to sustain it for longer and longer periods of time until potentially
we'll be almost become at one with it. This is some of the prescriptions for concentration
and meditation where you enter into levels of absorption. In Pali, they called Jhana.
And--but these are very concentrated states where you become at one with the object. And
there's a lot of benefits to that type of a practice where you're getting very concentrated.
And at the same time to help ease the practice, we work with concentration but we also can
work with the flat light in becoming aware of the greater surroundings of things. And,
you know, I can appreciate as a programmer really the least distractions and the more
absorption into what you're doing bears good fortune, goods results. And, you know, I think
what we would say is, "Can you remember from time to time that you–-that there is a body
here and it may need to stretch, go to the toilet, need to eat, needs to do what it needs
to do." And can there be times where we can mindfully like, "Okay, I'm really working
on this project, can I stop for a moment and take a breath and observe and then I proceed
on with what I'm doing." So is there ways to work with both? And, of course, when you're
working with that concentration, you're doing the concentration. And when you're not doing
that, can you be mindful of whatever else that you're doing when you're doing it? But,
you know, I think it could be helpful in the spirit of self care to check in with yourself
from time to time when you're in that real incredible phase of, you know, really in your
project to every now and again to stop for a moment, just kind of--and like a meteorologist,
kind of check the weather, you know, like what's the temperature, where's the wind coming
from, just a sense of getting sense of what's going on in your own body and mind that you
might find in the long run that's going to be a greater recalibration to even go further
into your process because your mind is more sharpened, more clear, and more refreshed.
How was it to do the meditation for a few minutes? Any before-after comments in the
midst of Google? Please. >> So I tend to do the same thing with [INDISTINCT]
what I'm working... >> STAHL: Uh-hmm.
>> And I do think it's one of the process, they're often very [INDISTINCT], enjoying
helps me [INDISTINCT] today since I [INDISTINCT] there, that's when I know that there [INDISTINCT].
So thank you for [INDISTINCT]. I do have more questions.
>> STAHL: Please. >> You were mentioning working with [INDISTINCT]
people who work themselves trying very hard to recover. Have you worked with people who
were in that [INDISTINCT] where they don't see any way out, you know, [INDISTINCT].
>> STAHL: Uh-hmm. >> Have you work with those [INDISTINCT]?
>> STAHL: Absolutely, many, many people. And I think what's very powerful is the recognition
that there is another way of seeing. One of the things that we teach about in MBSR--the
question is, when we get stuck in chapter three and we're just in the strong habitual
pattern of non-changing. And one of the things that we'd like to try to challenge people
is being open to seeing from another perspective. And it's very difficult when we get really
rooted in the way that we see things. So sometimes if I--I won't do this to you but there's probably
about 50 chairs here. So we can start switching chairs and begin to see that every chair we
sit in there's going to be a different view. But yet, we get very stuck in the chair that
we're sitting and thinking this is the only way of seeing it. And so we'll work with really
helping people to expand beyond their perceptions of how they see things. And actually I love--Jon
Kabat-Zinn has a very beautiful definition for healing and it's, "To come into terms
with the way things are." And so we can say in some ways, there's a difference between
healing and curing, so that some people that will have a stroke that may not necessarily
have a lot of improvement with their ability to regain some movement. However, one can
begin to heal and come into terms with the way things are and be able to live with themselves
in their lives in a way that is much more meaningful and feel less than a curse. It's
going to involve, though, really being willing to embrace and acknowledge the parts of ourselves
that we're having a hard time with. And one of the gateways in it when I'm teaching MBSR,
working with people with stress, pain, and illness, you know, mindfulness doesn't mean
developing a positive mind. So that's something that's very important, we want to understand.
Mindfulness is about seeing things as they are and acknowledging what's present. And
so, sometimes with the gateway for the beginning of a healing work is for people to first begin
to acknowledge how much they hate the situation that they're in, how much anger that they're
feeling, how much sadness, how much fear, and what's going on. And as we begin to develop
a relationship with our pain by acknowledging it, we can begin to transform it. There's
a wonderful saying that, "Whatever you flee from, it will pursue you. Whatever you welcome,
will begin to transform you." And one of the principles that we worked with mindfulness
is that when we have resistance to what's here, we will inevitably increase our suffering.
When we can learn how to go with what's happening, our suffering can begin to dissipate. So there's
actually a very powerful line from a Dana Faulds' poem that says, "Resist, and the tides
will sweep you off your feet. Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground." And so we're
working within this practice to recognize when the resistance is there, acknowledging
the resistance, and see if there's a way that we can begin to work with that, begin to open
to it. So, our time is just about--yeah, one more, please.
>> Asking for your perspective, somebody who grew up in the West, you know, but in [INDISTINCT]
higher school and all that, then, how did it-–how can you relate with that and then
like going off in the woods and being [INDISTINCT] and I found that's really believable [INDISTINCT].
But, you know, [INDISTINCT] and I think that this sort of help me with the rest of my real
life [INDISTINCT]. But I don't understand those sorts of [INDISTINCT]. Tell us, how
does that work for you? >> STAHL: Oh, the question is–-I'm not sure
what the question is. Quite about-–about the productivity in the West and like, you
know, and that finding that the mindfulness class is very helpful in applying to the rest
of one's life. But what would it be like to be on a monastery, and...
Well, how do you--I mean, what was your view of a mindset that's mostly about meditation
and sort of inner... >> STAHL: Yeah.
>> Inner [INDISTINCT] as opposed to [INDISTINCT]? >> STAHL: Well, actually--so what's my view
between both worlds and–-actually, to be very honest, as time has gone on, my life
is the monastery. And whatever comes up in my life is the practice. And that–-I don't
feel as much, personally, any separation between the monastery life and my householder life.
I can, no doubt, find a lot of different dual reasons why one should be better than the
other. But ultimately speaking, I really recognize, it's really one and the same as-–actually,
another one of Jon Kabat-Zinn's book is "Wherever you go, there you are." And so wherever I
go, there I am; no matter whether I'm in the monastery or sitting here in Google or driving
on Highway 101. I'm–-this is it. Here I am. And how can I work with this practice
to be present to whoever it is that I am. That to me is where the rubber meets the road.
And there is times in my life where I have spent, no doubt, many years in intensive meditation
practice and that has been incredibly beneficial, something that I feel so immensely grateful
that I have that time to do that. I hope, actually again to take off for about year
and do a year-long retreat. I feel like, you know, there's times of going in and times
of going out. But ultimately speaking, our life is the practice. And when we get that,
then everything that comes up in our life is part of the practice. And so, that is wonderful.
So--and I'm not saying wonderful in a peachy coochy way because sometimes we come across
things that are very difficult. Actually about 13 years ago, I nearly died of flesh-eating
bacteria or necrotic fasciitis. And I was incredibly grateful that I had this practice
to open--to work with them as it was arising. And so, we find-–we can bring this practice
to all types of situations. Well, I want to honor our time. It's just about-–it is two,
2:01 to be exact, at least on my watch. So I don't want to keep you. I want to thank
you so much for your time and interest in listening in heart here. And I wish you well.
And I want to personally invite you every Thursday of the year, except for Thanksgiving;
we have a free drop-in group at El Camino Hospital for meditation on Thursdays, 5:30
to 6:30. This is a free on going drop-in. If Google doesn't have a drop-in weekly, you're
welcome to come to El Camino and sit with us. And you can look on my website, it's
Thank you very much. I wish you all well. Have a wonderful day.