Stillness Daily in the New Year
Podcast #79 — Aired January 4, 2016

This New Year, give yourself the gift of meditation and mindfulness. We’re speaking with expert Matthew Frum about the benefits of beginning a mindfulness practice and daily meditation. Frum will walk listeners through two meditations to get started and describe the difference the practice has made in his own life.

 

 

Donate $5 to Support our Podcast!

 

 Prev Episode Next Episode

Sign Up for New Shows & Updates!

Matthew Frum
Expert, Meditation & Mindfulness

Matthew Frum has been meditating for almost 20 years, and had the great fortune to live as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Matthew spent over 2 years in solitary meditation retreat in a remote wilderness hermitage near Big Sur, California. This experience fuels Matthew’s life and practice today. In 2008 Matthew left the monastic life, inspired to live as an “everyday monk” and to creatively share what he had learned. Matthew taught Buddhism and meditation at the Thubten Shedrup Ling Buddhist Center in Colorado Springs. He is a co-founder of CalmCare.org, where he teaches mindfulness and self-compassion to caregivers, and is currently the faculty meditation instructor for The Optimist Magazine’s year-long Transformational Studies Program. Learn more at http://www.StillnessDaily.org.

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
Hi, welcome to BetterWorldians Radio. BetterWorldians Radio is a weekly broadcast whose mission is to uplift and inspire you to make the world a better place. Im Ray Hansell joined today by my co-host and life partner MarySue Hansell. And by the way were the family team that created the popular social game on Facebook called A Better World. It rewards players for doing good deeds, while helping to raise money and awareness for charities. To date over thirty-five million good deeds have been done in A Better World by more than three and a half million people. These good deeds include expressions of gratitude, acts of kindness, and sending notes to real world sick kids, just to name a few. This week on BetterWorldians Radio were speaking with mindfulness and meditation expert Matthew Frum. Matthew has been meditating for almost 20 years, and had the great fortune to live as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Matthew spent over 2 years in solitary meditation retreat in a remote wilderness hermitage near Big Sur, California. This experience fueled Matthews life and practice today. In 2008 Matthew left the monastic life, inspired to live as an ordinary, everyday monk and to creatively share what he had learned. Matthew taught Buddhism and meditation at the Buddhist Center in Colorado Springs. He is a co-founder of Calm Care dot org, where he teaches mindfulness and self-compassion to caregivers, and he is currently the faculty meditation instructor for The Optimist Magazines year-long Transformational Studies Program. Hi Matthew, thanks for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio.

Matthew
Hi, thank you, its great to be here.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah, were excited, were going to have a really interesting show today, so our listeners should be very attentive and I hope very mindful along the way.

Matthew
Thats great, if not, well do a few meditations to help with that.

Raymond Hansell
We look forward to it. So how did you first become interested in mindfulness and meditation?

Matthew
Yeah, well, I was in my early twenties, I was living in Chicago at the time and I was an aspiring artist living in a really rough neighborhood where I get a cheap apartment and have space to paint in. And I was feeling really disconnected from my family and friends, and just from life, I kind of fell into a kind of mellow-haze I guess you could say, I was experiencing depression and anxiety and it was just this kind of crime ridden area of Chicago, and I just kind of, I guessed that there must be more to life, I couldnt figure out why I felt so stuck. And a friend lent me a book on meditation and I started practicing, I was sitting on my bed and my apartment was next to the l-tracks and the whole building would shake every few minutes as the train went by. And after a few attempts at just watching my breath, I had sort of a moment where I was just fully with my breath as it went out and as it came back in, for a few breaths and there was just this realization that my thoughts were the source of all this suffering. When I just let the thoughts go and I was able to just be with my breath, everything was just beautiful and perfect, the rumbling of the train and the flashing lights and the cracking plaster on the wall in front of me, and it was this real shift for me to find a source of peace on the inside. And it was just a very brief glimpse, but it made me very interested in meditation. And so I started meditating regularly and yeah, kind of pursued it from there.

Raymond Hansell
Now you had an experience with the Dalai Lama that really changed your life, can you tell our listeners about that?

Matthew
Yeah, yeah so soon afterwards actually I, the same friend who lent me the meditation book, you know, when he found out how much I was enjoying meditating said, you know, I heard the Dalai Lama is coming to Chicago, and would you like to go hear his public talk with me? And that sounded great, and we, you know, through a whole series of events just barely got the last ticket in the auditorium and both of us wanted to go. So we went down to the auditorium that day to try to get in, and we lucked out, when there were all these people looking for tickets, someone walked right up to us and said, do you need a ticket? And just gave us a ticket. And so, I got in to see the Dalai Lama and I happened to be in the third row up, so I was quite close to him when he came in and I just, I didnt even really know who the Dalai Lama was actually, I knew he was kind of a religious, spiritual figure, but I didnt really know anything about meditation or Buddhism, or the background of the Dalai Lama. But when he started talking, I just found myself blown away by his presence, and just this sense of humility, authenticity, humor and kindness. And he started talking about compassion in a way that just really blew my mind, I never really considered myself a religious person and I was actually quite skeptical of organized religion. And yet, when he talked about, he told a story that really blew me away, he talked about when, you know, the Dalai Lama had to flee from Tibet to India when Tibet was invaded by the Chinese, and now the Chinese still occupy Tibet and many, you know, actually millions of Tibetans were killed, it was very, very sad, and an awful lot of the monasteries were destroyed. And one of the Tibetan, old Tibetan Monks who was a close friend of the Dalai Lama was captured and imprisoned, and so he was in prison for many, many years and the Dalai Lama didnt get to see him, and finally, finally this Monk was released and escaped from Tibet into India and was reunited with the Dalai Lama. And they were talking about this Monks experiences in prison, and hed been beaten and tortured and all this horrible stuff that happened to him. And the Dalai Lama said he asked his friend, at what point during this whole, this whole time did you experience, did you experience yourself in the most danger? And he said that his friend thought about it and responded that there were a few times where he felt in danger of losing compassion for the Chinese. And that, when he said that, it just blew my mind. To think about somebody who had been, you know, their culture invaded, their monasteries and temples destroyed, and being in prison, and then responding to that with compassion to the degree that his greatest fear was losing that compassion for the people who were beating and torturing him. So that was just a breakthrough for me, if you can imagine that type of compassion.

Raymond Hansell
Almost losing your humanity at that point, that you know, you revert to something less than, you know, the best qualities of being human. Now you became a Monk yourself after that. So what was that experience like?

Matthew
Yeah, well, yep, it was really one of the, just really one of the best experiences of my life to get to be a Monk, I was a Monk for about five and a half years. You know, after that encounter with the Dalai Lama I got very interested in Buddhism and meditation, and I moved back to Colorado Springs where I grew up and I met a Tibetan Lama who was a disciple of the Dalai Lama, hes passed away now, but it was Geisha Felton. He had a monastery in Los Angeles and he would come out to Colorado Springs to teach there a few times a year and I started studying meditation with him and with the little group of meditators there in Colorado Springs. And Geisha Felton helped me as I discovered this wish to become a Monk, I met a lot of the Tibetan Monks who would come visit him from India, and I just felt so at home with them, I felt like they were my family. And I wanted to be a Monk, it just seemed like such a great idea to get to meditate for a living, just seemed kind of amazing that thats possible. So he helped me through that process, I eventually after about six years of preparation, six, seven years left for Nepal to ordain with Lama Zopa Rinpoche who had become one of my other teachers, hes a Tibetan Lama as well. So I took my novice vows with Lama Zopa Rinpoche at his monastery outside of Katmandu. And then at his recommendation I went on to take the full ordination in India with the Dalai Lama in his home. So that was, you know, that was just sort of mind blowing to actually be with the Dalai Lama in his home with all these other Tibetans who were taking ordination at the same time, there were about forty of us, and there were two other westerners, an Australian and I dont know where the other was from. But just to have this, just this opportunity to receive the vows and the lineage and yeah, it just, it was an amazing period of time because as a Monk you live with very few possessions and you uphold two hundred and sixty vows that its very extensive, the vows have been held in the same tradition going back twenty-five hundred years to the time of the Buddha who created the vows. And so theyre from a particular time and place, and in a lot of ways they apply to today, but there are lot of them that are hard, really hard to translate into todays world. But theyre all oriented towards supporting you in meditation. So they were all designed to, so you dont, youre not allowed to touch money, you dont sing, you dont dance, you dont do all sorts of worldly activities, youre supposed to only eat one main meal a day, like a small breakfast, then one main meal, and then not eat after mid-day. So that you have the whole rest of the day to sit in meditation without eating food and they are extraordinary vows. And living in the temples of Tibetans, and then later I lived with my teacher Lama Zopa in California for a year and then he sent me to do solitary retreat for two years in a wilderness area where he had a little piece of land and there were a few little cabins in a remote part of Big Sur. And so that was just, the whole, you know, the whole were many different life changing experiences over the course of those five years, but it really culminated in those two, two and a half years of solitary retreat. Where I got to just completely focus on meditation and yeah, it was a profound gift.

Raymond Hansell
Thats amazing. What about when you left the monastery, what did you hope to achieve? What did you hope to accomplish in that next stage of your life?

Matthew
Well, you know, the interesting thing was, you know, over the course of my time in retreat and the kind of the evolution of my practice, it was, you know, I had always thought that I was going to be a Monk for the rest of my life. It just seemed like I won the lottery, I couldnt imagine having a better job, you know, that all I had to do was meditate every day. But the funny thing was, at a certain point about six months before, you know, I came out of my retreat, I started to have this incredible uprising of creative energy and I think I was reconnecting with the creative energy that I always felt so strongly in my life, you know, Ive always been an artist, an inventor, and an entrepreneur and a writer, Ive always had an enormous amount of creative energy, and I had set all that aside to be a Monk and to fully focus on going inward. And all of a sudden, this creative energy was arising and then at the same time I had fallen so in love with nature, with our planet, you know, getting to live in the wilderness and not seeing or talking to other human beings for many, many months at a time, I would go seven to eight months without seeing another human being, and so the animals and the insects and the plants, they became my community, you know, I felt this deep sense of connection to the earth. And at some point I realized, wow this is how humans for hundreds of thousands of years lived, and its only in the recent two thousand years that weve separated ourselves and walled ourselves off from nature and seen it as something separate, when were completely interconnected with nature, and we can communicate with it, and its this beautiful community. So I fell in love with nature at the same time as I had a period of just deeply grieving what I saw happening to our world, that nature is being so imperiled.

Raymond Hansell
Imperiled.

Matthew
And that we as human beings, you know, are the cause of this great imbalance and just loss, whats being lost on our planet, the species and the wilderness areas, and the opportunity to connect with nature, it just felt heartbreaking for me. So its kind of, you know, long story short the realization that I was an inherently creative being and that I found this deep passion for our earth and for our planet and for other humans. And one other insight, which was, I realized that my meditation didnt need to be separate from anything. You know, it could be brought into any aspect of my life, any aspect of my day, I didnt have to set aside my creative energy, I didnt have to take a vow not to sing, or not to dance, or not to be in a romantic relationship or to be with my family. All of that can be brought into the practice.

Raymond Hansell
Into the practice itself.

Matthew
And I felt like it was really urgent to do that at this time. You know if we cant integrate mindfulness and meditation into an ordinary life, then kind of, whats the point? You know.

Raymond Hansell
Lets talk for a few minutes about, if we can, about mindfulness and meditation. Tell our listeners a little bit, what is mindfulness?

Matthew
Yeah, so mindfulness is one of many different types of meditation, there are really hundreds of different types of meditation. And you know, every type of meditation has one essential element which is the cultivation of attention. So no matter what type of meditation you practice, youre cultivating the ability to focus on a chosen object, or a chosen state of mind, or chosen experience. And so in mindfulness meditation what makes it unique is the object of focus is the present moment. And so its as simple as that. Its simply choosing to pay attention to the present moment and doing it with this attitude of opening to it as it is. Just looking at it as it is without judging, or resisting it. So if its a beautiful moment, just opening to it, not trying to hold onto it and make it last, just noticing the flow of it as it is, savoring, appreciating it. If its a really painful moment, then just also, again, opening to it as it is and looking at the details, discovering whats really going on in this moment, rather than trying to block it out, distract yourself, turn away from it. So thats really the essence of mindfulness practice.

Raymond Hansell
So many people they fail at meditation I think because they, they feel that they have to keep their minds absolutely clear. You seem to be saying something very different here, and having a different take on it. So youre bringing this in as opposed to trying to block things out that you think youre not supposed to be thinking about. Is that an accurate description or?

Matthew
Thats it exactly. Yeah thats it. You know a lot of us, you know, like I said there are many different types of meditations and there are types of meditation where you choose one object of focus, for example, the breath and whenever your mind is not aware of the breath, then youre not meditating. Youre not doing it right. And so, but, you know, there are different instructions and teachings that are not that extreme, but its easy to fall into this sort of rigid approach to meditation where its about disciplining the mind and making the mind, kind of forcing the mind to pay attention to one object, and whenever the mind strays, bringing it back over and over again. And in mindfulness theres this opportunity to give the mind, one of the meditation teachings says give it a wider pasture, Inekari Hiroshi is famous for that saying. Talking about giving a cow a wider pasture to graze within. And basically that pasture is anything arising in the present moment. So we can choose one thing to focus on, and its great to do that at the outset of a meditation session, to say, okay I think Im going to be aware of the my breath, or Im going to be aware of sound, or any of the five senses we can choose. Or as well, talk about were, you know, we can be aware of the sixth sense as well, which is whats going on in the mind. But, choosing an object and then if something else arises instead of feeling like thats a problem or a distraction or something we need to make go away, we can simply open to whatever is arising and whats drawing our attention. You notice it, and then were still meditating.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah, were still meditating.

Matthew
So were still aware of the present moment. And then at that point we can decide whether we want to continue absorbing that object in addition, or whether we want to bring ourselves back to our original focus.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah, perhaps in the western world we have more of a duality, where its on or its off, its up or its down, Im either meditating or Im not, as opposed to, being able to take a look at this from a wider perspective and saying no we can have this all and still stay in the meditative and mindful practice that were in. Were going to have to take a short break right now, but when we return well talk more with Matthew Frum and my co-host MarySue Hansell. And by the way, in the spirit of the holiday season, our game on Facebook called A Better World is now one hundred percent free through the end of the month. Through January 31st the only currency accepted are acts of kindness that you do both in the real world and in the game itself, and other social good that you may do in the game itself as well. Were challenging our players to perform one million good deeds totally by the end of that period, and when they do A Better World will release funds to provide new coats for children in need nationwide through our partnership with Operation Warm. Were getting close to our goal, but we need your help. So please go to Facebook dot com slash A Better World and play. Well be right back.

Raymond Hansell
Youre listening to BetterWorldians Radio. Were speaking with meditation and mindfulness expert Matthew Frum. And now let me welcome my co-host MarySue Hansell and Matthew.

MarySue Hansell
Hi Matthew.

Matthew
Hi MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
You know, for someone just getting started with meditation, as a matter of fact, the New Years around the corner, can you give us some tips on what to do to start a meditation practice?

Matthew
Sure, yeah. So as we were talking about mindfulness is a type of meditation, the primary type of meditation that I teach these days, and I would definitely recommend starting with mindfulness just because its known to be one of the easiest, simplest types of meditations. It doesnt really require any advanced instruction or any spiritual beliefs or anything like that. And so, I was describing how mindfulness is basically just paying attention the present moment. So I would recommend really setting an intention to try to do that for at least a few minutes a day, you know, when starting meditation we always want to start small, as with any big habit that we want to try to develop and cultivate over time, its great to start small.

MarySue Hansell
Now how small?

Matthew
You start with. Yeah, whatever feels easy, starting with whatever feels, you know, not a problem to do. Maybe its one minute, maybe its two minutes, and simply paying attention to the present moment. Whether its your breath, whether its sounds in your environment, whether its smells or tastes or, you know, or its just watching thoughts that are arising, happening in your mind. So thats the real basic seed of meditation. And by sticking with that over time, it just, it naturally grows.

MarySue Hansell
I remember in your course you call it, effortless meditation. Perhaps you can give our listeners an example and lead us through, you know, a couple minutes of an effortless meditation?

Matthew
Yeah, absolutely. So the effortless approach to meditation is kind of what I was talking about previously where we dont take this rigid or, you know, disciplining approach to our mind and trying to bring it back over and over again to the same object. We just watch the flow of the mind, we watch whats catching its attention, but we stay present with whats arising, and we can have an anchor such as the breath or sound, but we dont need to rigidly bring ourselves back over and over. Its just opening up to things as they are in this moment, whatever were sensing in our body, whatever were thinking in our mind, whatever were feeling in our emotions. So, we can do that right now and maybe well just do that for a couple of minutes.

MarySue Hansell
Sounds great.

Matthew
Great. So wherever you are, wherever you find yourself listening to this meditation. Meditation can be done in any posture, any place, any time. So just, one of the, you know, the two essentials of meditation postures that my teacher Rinpoche often talks about is being comfortable. So finding a position thats comfortable, so youre not feeling any strain or pain. And if you stand, if possible, have a straight spine, it will help if you can sit up straight. But only do that if you can be comfortable at the same time. So just finding a comfortable posture, and then, as long as youre not driving or doing something where you need to open your eyes, I recommend that you close your eyes, and then just tune into how your body feels right now. Just notice what your body feels like right now. Does it feel tense in any places, and if so, just opening to the tension, just opening to your body just as it is. And just noticing the breath, how do you know that youre breathing right now? What sensations are showing you the fact that youre breathing? And now with your eyes closed notice what sounds you hear in your environment. Notice any sounds that are close to you, any sounds that are far away. And noticing any scent, any smells that you can detect in the space around you, wherever you are, just inhaling through your nostrils. What does your environment smell like right now? Whether its good or bad, just opening to things as they are. And noticing any tastes in your mouth, youre moving a little saliva around in your mouth, maybe swallowing, just noticing what your mouth tastes like right now. And then opening your eyes, noticing what your environment looks like right now, just noticing the details, just as they are. The light and shadow, the different colors, the patterns and lines, textures that you observe. Noticing the movement and the stillness through your visual sense right now. And now just open to all of it, the sight, sounds, sensations in your body, tastes, smells. And see if you notice any thoughts arising, passing. These thoughts too arise in the moment, just like all the other sensations, theyre showing you the present moment just as it is. So letting your thoughts, sensations, emotions, all be just as they are right now. Opening to it all, through the opening of the six senses, this is effortless meditation on the present moment.

MarySue Hansell
Well that was wonderful Matthew. You know, thats one of my favorite ones that you do with the five senses. Now can that be done while walking also? If youre outside in nature.

Matthew
Yeah, I love to do that. That was one of my favorite practices as a Monk, walking on the trails in the wilderness areas around my retreat hut, and yet it can be done when were walking anywhere. As were walking on a busy street, just paying attention to the sights, the sounds, the smells, the movement of the body. Yeah, its such a wonderful type of meditation and all it takes it just setting that intention to pay attention to the moment, you know.

MarySue Hansell
Yeah, I was really surprised. Ive taken many meditation courses before and maybe I really didnt do a mindfulness, but really resonated with me and I thought the listeners would really enjoy it because it is effortlessness, you really dont have to sit with a cross legged position or feel like youre doing something wrong if a thought comes into your head. That used to get me, I thought, oh geez I didnt do it right, a thought came into my head.

Matthew
Right, right.

MarySue Hansell
So I think your technique is wonderful. Now youve written about mindfulness and self love and self compassion. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Matthew
Yeah, yeah thats one of my favorite topics as well. Its one of the real epiphanies I had in retreat as a Monk, you know, was learning to open myself fully through my meditation, and to fully accept myself in the present moment just as I was. You know, and that begins to happen naturally through meditation, especially through this effortless approach of mindfulness, just opening to things as they are without judging, whether theres thoughts, or whether were really stirred up and tense, you know, were feeling sad, were feeling angry, whatever is coming up, we can be meditating, we can be practicing mindfulness simply by opening to those sensations, thoughts and emotions just as they are. And its not always pleasant, so thats the key, that we may have this misconception that meditation is getting to some very peaceful, blissful state. Well, the only way we get to the peace is by learning to face the unrest, you know, to face the places where were unsettled in life, learning to open to those parts of ourselves with non-judgment first, is the first quality, you know. There are these five qualities of love that I like to teach about. The first one is attention, so learning to pay attention to these parts of ourselves, these emotions and these crazy thoughts that we want to make go away. But learning to pay attention, to just notice them. And second is non-judgment, opening to them without resistance, without judging them, without making them bad or wrong, just letting them be, just as they are. And then the third is compassion, tuning in to any suffering that is arising with a sense of care, just with a sense of kindness, like you would feel towards an animal who were injured or you know, a child. Just being with yourself when youre suffering with a sense of kindness, just gentleness, care, just watching it and holding it, observing it with that sense of love and care. Thats self compassion. And then the fourth one is love and kindness. Compassion is paying attention to our suffering, and love and kindness is paying attention to our happiness, and feeling good about our happiness. Caring about our happiness, instead of sometimes we feel bad about being happy, we feel guilty for feeling happy, we feel like we dont deserve to be happy. But love and kindness is practicing rejoicing and reveling and appreciating moments of pleasure and happiness in our life. And then, the last one, the last quality is appreciation. And its another word for gratitude. And I noticed you guys have done a whole series on gratitude.

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Matthew
Which I look forward to listening to, they look like some great interviews.

MarySue Hansell
Oh theyre wonderful.

Matthew
Yeah, and so appreciation its just this sense of opening to the beautiful qualities of the moment, just as it is, appreciating it, bringing this kind of warmth of gratitude and appreciation for the breath, appreciation for a body with blood that pulses through it, and appreciation for the birds, and the sounds, and our kids and the noises in our environment. Its all part of our world. And so, and appreciation for all the parts of ourselves, you know, the difficult painful parts, and these joyful parts, and you know, just appreciating the whole. And so thats by working through all of those five qualities of love in our mindfulness practice, mindfulness becomes a practice of self love, it becomes a practice of self compassion. Its not just paying attention and not judging, its bringing that warmth, that care, that appreciation into whatever were observing in the moment. If youd like we can practice a little bit of that.

MarySue Hansell
Sure, give our listeners a short taste of that, because they may not understand exactly what a compassion meditation is, and that would be really helpful.

Matthew
Yeah, okay, great. So wherever you are, once again, find a comfortable position if you can and bring your attention into your body. Sometimes it helps to close your eyes, if youre able to right now. Even if youre not able to close your eyes, if youre moving around or if youre driving, or if youre doing something else, just become aware of your body. And notice any places in your body where you feel any discomfort or tension or pain, and instead of resisting those places, just tuning in and opening to them with a sense of gentleness or care, kindness. Just noticing those sensations and those parts of your body where even the slightest bit of discomfort or tension. And then just relaxing in to the awareness of those uncomfortable sensations as if those parts of your body were like an injured child or an injured pet. Think how you would hold an injured child or pet, just feeling your heart open to these places in yourself where theres any tension or discomfort. And then you can think about a recent situation in your life where you experienced some stress or frustration or sadness, some type of suffering, just bring to mind such a situation and notice the response in your body, notice where you feel those emotions in your body. What if you just opened to those feelings, those emotions in your body, every emotion can be found somewhere in the body. What if you just opened to that emotion, whatever it might be, maybe its sadness upon hearing news of war or violence in the world. Sadness about the state of the environment or any number of things that you may feel. Just opening to the sensations of that emotion in your body with a sense of care, with a sense of kindness, gentleness, letting it be just as it is, just being with it, just feeling with it. Just as you would sit with a friend who was going through a difficult time, just being in caring way, being present with yourself. So this is self compassion meditation.

MarySue Hansell
Thats great. It seems like the emotions disappear as you open to the feelings, is that true?

Matthew
Yeah, thats a great observation. And one of the things about a brief exercise like this where we bring to mind a situation and we notice how our thoughts, the way that we think, by thinking about this situation in our life, in our world, how it triggers an emotion. So thats an insight right there, thoughts are what trigger emotions. And so by bringing to mind that thought, we trigger that emotion and emotions are always found in the body. So when were feeling an emotion, when we can learn to open to where were feeling it in the body, that automatically brings us back into the present moment, it brings us out of the realm of thought, which is what stirs up and triggers emotions, and it brings us back into the moment, because the body is always in the present moment. So whenever were aware of our body, were automatically aware of the present moment. And so by tuning into the sensations of that emotion in our body, were not resisting the emotion, were not denying it, or judging it or making it go away. Were opening to it, just as it is, feeling it in our body. And then on top of that when we can bring in the sense of warmth or care, that is a deeply nourishing, nurturing, healing state of mind. And as you noticed, you know, by coming fully into the emotion, opening to it as it is, sometimes it just dissipates and disappears, because were not longer activating it with our thoughts. And so thats a really wonderful insight, thats part of, thats a real insight into how to work with difficult emotions. Now in daily life when a difficult emotion is triggered and were really grieving or were really angry, or were really super anxious or upset about something, if we practice this in the midst of that experience, it can really help to calm us down. But it may not make the emotion disappear, because its so highly charged.

MarySue Hansell
Not all the time.

Matthew
Yeah and so, thats the practice is just staying with it, not judging it, not trying to make it go away, you know, just being with it. And as uncomfortable as it is, if we can be with it, then we feel it and it moves through, it will move through more quickly instead of getting blocked and blocking our emotions, as most psychologists will tell you, thats the root of all of our, all of our emotional imbalance and suffering. So if we can let them move through, then its incredible the amount of insight and energy and greater awareness, clarity, creative energy, inspiration and joy for life that can arise when we let our emotions be felt and moved through.

MarySue Hansell
Well this is probably why all these studies show that mindfulness can be so healing. Thats probably just one of the reasons.

Matthew
Yeah, absolutely, yeah.

MarySue Hansell
You know I see that you offer on your website, or youre planning to offer a whole year long course on meditation.

Matthew
Yeah.

MarySue Hansell
Tell us about that, maybe people would want to sign up to get a little more, you know, to really learn how to do it.

Matthew
Yeah, well thanks for asking about that. Yeah, Im really excited to, Im just getting ready to begin offering this to the general public. Its a course that I did over the last year for the Optimist Magazine, they have a transformational studies program and I was the meditation teacher for their year long program. And part of teaching that course was the development of this meditation course that I wanted to be able to offer to everyone. Because what I notice is that, you know, its so great to take a meditation class or to go on a retreat or to do something, and we may get so inspired and into our meditation practice, but then when were no longer taking the class, it can kind of fall away and we can lose that inspiration or motivation. And I wanted to create a way to help people to just bit by bit, day by day, stick with it over a longer period of time, to be supported and just gradually growing and nurturing a long term practice. And so this course, which people can find out about on my website its Stillness Daily dot org, its only ten dollars a month, you know, I wanted to make it affordable for anyone who wants to do it. And it includes a daily email, its just a very brief text, an inspirational, or motivational, or instructional texts, or sometimes I share little blurbs about, you know, stories about my meditation teachers or time as a Monk, or something like that. And so its a little brief texts and then a link to an audio guided meditation, and it starts out with five minute meditations the first month or two, and then it goes gradually, incrementally it becomes ten minutes, then fifteen minutes and you know, the rest of the course is twenty minutes of meditation. But, so it got, it was well received this past year and so now Im finally able to offer it to anyone who wants to do it. So if youre interested in info about that, please do check out my website.

MarySue Hansell
Well Ill have to share with our listeners that I was one of the students of your year long course and it is definitely worthwhile. I thought it was very easy to work with and made some very interesting changes, I know it helped me not be a worry wart that I usually am. So, yeah, so its really good for stress reduction and Im sure people will find a lot of different uses for it and just even to feel calm. And I liked the fact of that daily meditation because it keeps you on track, you know, as you say you can go to a course and then after the course, oh that was nice, and then you forget about it. But the whole daily meditation, I even put you in my gratitude journal that I was grateful for you.

Matthew
Awe, thank you, thank you for saying that.

MarySue Hansell
Youre certainly welcome. Now lots of other great resources on your website, Stillness Daily dot org. But I thought, if you wouldnt mind could you share some of the great testimonials, or what people said about taking the course. Theyve just heard what I said, but there must be some other things that people have said that our listeners would find interesting.

Matthew
Oh, thanks for asking about that. I dont remember any exact words or phrases.

MarySue Hansell
Sure.

Matthew
But its been really cool to just receive these messages of gratitude for the course, because it just lets me know that its actually been impacting peoples lives, that its helped them stick with it over time. And thats where we really get the benefits of meditation, cause you know, its like we, but hopefully everybody just by doing these couple, few minute practices, experienced a little bit of shift, a little bit of relaxation. And you can imagine how, as you do that over time on a daily basis, that result just multiplies and multiplies because, as we know now, our body, our mind, our brain, our body chemistry, our neural system adapts to meditation and actually supports it over time as we habituate to it. So thats, you know, its been cool to see, its kind of been an experiment doing this over the course of a year to see how, whether its really helped people stick with it over time. Because that kind of seems to be the main hurdle people face.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, absolutely.

Matthew
You know, with, to get the real benefits of meditation, you have to stick with it, you know, and its great to do anytime no matter how much you do it. But if you stick with it over months, or years it just becomes truly, truly transformational. And so Ive gotten great feedback and its, I know its not about me. You know every time I hear these expressions of gratitude, I just resonate with them, because Im so grateful for these teachings and these techniques that I didnt invent, I didnt come up with, I received these from the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa and my other teachers over the years. Ive had such amazing, inspiring teachers who, you know, you meet somebody whos lived their whole life, you know, just devoted to this practice of transforming the mind, transforming the negative emotions into positive emotions. When youre around people like that its just stunning, you know, its like, its almost like another class of human being. And yet, to me they feel like the most authentic expression of humanity, because theyre allowing their humanity to just fully be what it is, instead of just trying to stuff down the negative stuff and deny it, blame it on everybody else, and then get into this cycle of violence and judgment and fear. So yeah, so when we see these people who live a life of self compassion and compassion for others, theres just so much hope for our world and you know.

MarySue Hansell
Well that brings me to my last question. How do you think Matthew, that being more mindful can help make the world a better place?

Matthew
I love that question because thats to me, I feel like this is one of the most essential tools that our world needs. Of course Im biased, because its one of my favorite things to talk about and practice. But I really feel like mindfulness is a key, because its what helps us get to the root of our suffering. We can only get to the root of our suffering when we start to pay attention to our suffering. And our whole society is set up to distract us from our suffering. You know, were this culture of distraction, constant stimulation and you know, whenever were bored theres a million things to read, or movies to watch or music to listen to, or things to do and were on all these devices, and theres so much media and a lot of that. Like a lot of it can be fantastic, like the media you guys are producing, and its so hopeful to see positive media put into the world. But so much of it is just really about distracting us, or stirring up negative emotions, stirring up our fears. And so in order to really get to the root of the problems in our world, we need to get to the root of the problems in ourselves. We need to figure out why we each feel unsettled, unbalanced, ungrounded, why do we feel we have to go out and constantly consume in order to be happy. Why do we feel discontent when we live in such an amazing beautiful world where we really dont actually need that much in order to be happy. And so mindfulness helps us look inward in a way thats very gentle, very loving and open to whats arising and to see that our root cause of this suffering are these just, you know, rampant thoughts and beliefs that we just chase on and on unconsciously. So as we become more conscious through mindfulness, we can learn how to let those thoughts and beliefs go, we see through them, we say, oh I dont have to go down that track in my mind. I know thats only going to cause me stress and suffering and anger, and so I can let that go, come back into my body, come back into the moment in a caring way and then move forward from there. And so, it naturally becomes a self healing practice and that allows us to be a more healing force in the world, you know, when we heal our own heart then were able to be a healing presence for others.

Raymond Hansell
Changing on the outside starts with changing on the inside.

Matthew
Yeah.

Raymond Hansell
Matthew thank you very much for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio today. You can learn more about Matthew Frums great work by going to Stillness Daily dot org. As we end our show each week we like to share our BetterWorldians mission. Here at BetterWorldians we strive to make the world a better place by encouraging the very best in everyone. We focus on positive thinking, positive values, and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the BetterWorldian in everyone, so that we can all make it a better world. And so until next time, be a BetterWorldian.