Being a Better YOU Through Meditation
Podcast #6 — Aired November 14, 2013

Creating a better world starts with becoming a better YOU. This week on BetterWorldians Radio we’ll discuss how meditation can help you live your best life. Our guest this week is Dr. Robert Butera, founder of YogaLife Institute in Pennsylvania. Butera will get you started with meditation and discuss how it can reduce stress and improve creativity. Learn about six different forms of meditation and how to find the best technique for your personality and lifestyle. Tune in every week to hear new guests share how they are making the world a better place and to learn how you can become a BetterWorldian!

 

 

Donate $5 to Support our Podcast!

 

 Prev Episode Next Episode

Sign Up for New Shows & Updates!

Dr. Robert Butera
Founder, YogaLife Institute

Robert Butera, Ph.D., has studied meditation and yoga since 1984. As the Founder of YogaLife Institute in Devon, PA, he trains yoga instructors and yoga therapists and publishes Yoga Living magazine. Bob studied yoga at The Yoga Institute of Bombay and later obtained his Ph.D. in Yoga Philosophy a the California Institute of Integral Studies and a Masters of Divinity from The Earlham School of Religion. Bob has worked with teachers and students throughout Japan, Taiwan, India and the United States.

Episode Transcript

Gregory Hansell
Hi Mrs. Greg. Thanks everyone for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Let me just tell you a little bit about my dad you just heard from -- Ray -- hes a serial entrepreneur whose successfully founded and took public with MarySue a national marketing firm. Giving backs always been really important to dad. He supports cancer research, disabled children, disadvantaged families, among other classes. This week on BetterWorldians Radio, we are talking about being a better you through meditation. Well discuss meditation and how it can bring out the BetterWorldian in all of us.

Raymond Hansell
Bob, this is Ray. Its great to have you on the show, welcome aboard.

Dr. Bob Butera
Thanks Ray, lets do some good work.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah, I really appreciate that. Let me just -- lets do -- so lets get started with the basics if you dont mind. What -- what exactly is meditation?

Dr. Bob Butera
You know, its a really simple question Ray. Its -- its a simple answer. Is holding your mind on one thought for a period of time while sitting in a, you know, undisturbed position. That's kind of the -- the formal definition of meditation. Im going to try through our show to -- to really expand -- expand on that.

Raymond Hansell
That -- thats great. How did you get involved with meditation in the first place?

Dr. Bob Butera
Well, the story that you probably dont -- dont know about is when I was in college, I had -- I had played a lot of high school sports and I -- I was ready to try new things and I went to a karate class with one of my new -- new friends that -- in Philly -- and we went up to a martial arts studio and just kind of took a beginners class.

Raymond Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
And they were a very -- I didnt know this at the time -- but very traditional place and they sat in meditation on your knees on a wooden floor for about three minutes before and after the class. If youve never done that before, three minutes feels like a long time.

Raymond Hansell
I bet.

Dr. Bob Butera
And -- and quite frankly I really cherished those kind of beginning and ending moments of the class because I felt it really focused me.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm. Mmm, Now youve spent -- youve spent quite a bit of time studying in -- in the Taiwan, Japan. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Dr. Bob Butera
Sure thing. So -- that class as well as a few other -- few other interests and I think reading up on -- probably from a variety of Eastern sources where they talk about self-realization. Id always wanted to -- to figure out who I was, and, again, this was when I was in college. When youre truly trying to figure out maybe what career youre going to do, and I was thinking I was going to pick the wrong thing if I didnt know more about who I was as a human being.

Raymond Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
And thats how that whole meditation -- if you focus your mind, one of the benefits that was talked about -- and again this is where when you say what is meditation -- you could say sitting still but then finding your true self.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
So --

Raymond Hansell
And how -- how has that changed you since you first began studying meditation. How has that really affected you?

Dr. Bob Butera
Its interesting. What -- the thing I -- I -- when I learned meditation again in college I went overseas, and I started meditating each morning and each evening and I -- I learned from -- from this one -- he would be what you call a yoga monk or a swami**. And he gave me some individual lessons and pretty much the -- the -- the message is the same. I tell you that background because every time I clear my mind, it seems like I know who I am in that moment. I dont necessarily know the whole future but I kind of have a real sense of -- of clarity about what the next -- like what that day will be about if I meditate in the morning.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm. That -- thats amazing. Why dont -- why dont we talk a bit about your book, meditation for your life. What was your -- what was your goal in writing that book?

Dr. Bob Butera
Wow. A couple goals. The first -- the -- the main goal was to help people who hear all about the -- the -- the benefits of meditation because today there is -- there is numerous scientific studies that have come out in the past say 10 to 20 years especially -- its more intensified the later you get. And a lot of people that I find when Im teaching meditation have already tried it previously and then quit. And -- and they feel like they cant do it once they sit down so Im saying sit down and quiet your mind and feel some clarity -- but what if you don't feel the clarity?

Raymond Hansell
Mmm,

Dr. Bob Butera
You know, you almost then end up feeling frustrated because youve read these benefits and now youre not experiencing them.

Raymond Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
So -- so what weve done with the book is tried to -- to the best, you know, to the best of our ability -- is to eliminate that beginners frustration so a person can actually start to understand what to expect from meditation, figure out what you need to do to begin quieting your mind and then the third step, when you start to meditate, to choose the right way.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm, Now you also wrote a book called the Pure Heart of Yoga. How does -- how does yoga actually relate to meditation?

Dr. Bob Butera
Well. The question is -- its a really normal question. So when you say -- let me -- let me go back with a question for you.

Raymond Hansell
Okay.

Dr. Bob Butera
What do you mean by yoga? Like the yoga positions that most people are familiar with?

Raymond Hansell
Yeah. I think that -- thats probably what most people would relate to.

Dr. Bob Butera
Right.

Raymond Hansell
Is -- is the -- are those positions --

Dr. Bob Butera
I dont know. Yeah, if you mind, we spend a little bit on this question. So when we say, you know, Im going to yoga, we mean Im going to take a yoga class. Then youre probably going to do some stretching for it.

Raymond Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
And so then you -- of course the obvious question would be -- what does yoga stretching -- how does that relate to meditation? And the -- the one answer is well the stretching is usually coupled with breathing. Theres usually a relaxation pose at the end of the class which really helps quiet your mind down. And so the yoga pose part that most people familiar with is actually designed to quiet your mind so that you be fit for meditation.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah. So -- its -- its not like theres fitness benefits to yoga, but nearly every -- even the most strenuous yoga posture class -- whether doing really hard positions where people might break a sweat in the class -- even those classes end with a relaxation period.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
So -- if I can take it a little further?

Raymond Hansell
Sure.

Dr. Bob Butera
Another way of looking at yoga is looking at it in the broader perspective and if you do that youll -- youll run into something called the Eight-Fold Path.

Raymond Hansell
Okay.

Dr. Bob Butera
So theres -- you know how all these modern people have these lists. The five steps to success or the seven of this and the three of that or what have you.

Raymond Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
Well, this Eight-Fold Path in yoga is 2,000 years old. So its written in the yoga scriptures, you know, you can research it and read the Sanskrit and such. So this Eight-Fold Path -- number three would be yoga positions that were all normally talking about.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
Number seven is -- is meditation.

Raymond Hansell
Okay.

Dr. Bob Butera
So the yoga path is actually includes meditation.

Raymond Hansell
I see.

Dr. Bob Butera
Within its eight steps. Now the average person again -- only thinks yoga equal yoga posture with a guy twisting or bending or what not. But when you say the word yoga to them, the more academic person -- they would know about these eight steps. It would be something that most of the -- you know -- the -- anybody whos a yoga teacher or somebody versed in it would immediately know what I was trying talking about.

Raymond Hansell
Mmm, And yogas going to be --

Dr. Bob Butera
The question itself is kind of funny then if you think back -- how does yoga relate to meditation, well meditation fits into the path.

Raymond Hansell
I see. I see. Now yogas been a bit part of your life as well. Youre -- you are the owner of Yoga Studios and the founder of Yoga Magazine. Can you tell me a little bit about that work and how -- how that has integrated into that path.

Dr. Bob Butera
Sure. I guess we -- we try to teach people that -- that when you do all this stuff youre -- youre really trying to understand who you are as a human being. And I think when people start to do that and, you know, we tie into a better world here -- the better we understand ourselves then the more of our genuine true self -- our higher values tend to come out and become expressed.

Raymond Hansell
Excellent.

Dr. Bob Butera
And when were fearful or stressed or not living up to what we know as our potential, then all that -- that goodness can actually -- what would you say -- become repressed almost?

Raymond Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
So when we think about this work, were -- were trying to help people in all areas of their life to find a -- a balance, strength -- so that the best part of them comes through.

Raymond Hansell
I see. Weve been talking about -- for that -- and a number of the last weeks about really sort of becoming your authentic you, so --

Dr. Bob Butera
Uh-huh.

Raymond Hansell
Im excited to hear more about that as we -- as we continue this dialogue. We -- we need to take a break right now however and well be learning more about the six different types of meditation and just how to find the right one for your life when we come back. In the meantime you can learn more at BetterWorldians.com and follow our live tweets at twitter.com/BetterWorldians. Well be right back now. >> The Internets number one talk station. >> Number one talk station. >> Voiceamerica.com. >> How can we make it a better world? >> I think we can make it a better world if we had peace among each other. >> Everybody needs to help their neighbor and then it will spread from then on. >> I should do more. I could do more. >> I spend so much time on Facebook. >> How much time do I spend on Facebook? >> Probably more than I should be spending? >> I would definitely give back if I could find the time. >> Now, you can help others. Just by playing a game on Facebook. Its called A Better World. Share your hopes and dreams. Do good deeds. Make a difference. And have fun. Become a BetterWorldian. Join a community where all good deeds get rewarded. Login today to find out how you can make a difference every day. >> For more information, visit Facebook.com/a better world. >> Ask the experts. Call toll-free right now. 1-866-472-5787. >> Hello? >> And ask our all-star team to answer your question. Thats 1-866-472-5787. >> Thank you for calling. >> Voiceamerica.com. We recently launched a worldwide kindness campaign. Were challenging BetterWorldians around the globe to watch a two minute video that illustrates the power of kindness. When it reaches 1 million views -- which we certainly anticipate it will -- well -- we will release funds for surgeries that will allow ten kids in the developing world to walk for the first time. Please watch the video and share it with your friends at colorwithkindness.com. Thats colorwithkindness.com. And now lets welcome back Bob and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi, Bob!

Dr. Bob Butera
Hey, MarySue, how are you?

MarySue Hansell
Great, great. I know so many people are interested to learn more about meditation. You know, when people hear the meditation they feel like its something unattainable. Some say they arent spiritual enough or cant concentrate enough, but in your book, Meditation for Life, you say meditation can be for everyone. Can you elaborate on that for us?

Dr. Bob Butera
You bet MarySue. You know, a lot of times we -- we might pick up a book on meditation or an article and, you know, we see the person sitting and theyre meditating with this very peaceful look on their face and we hear that youre supposed to meditate 20 or 30 minutes a day and somebody just starts trying.

MarySue Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
You know, and you probably wouldnt even run a three mile 5k race by just seeing other people doing it and then put on a pair of running shoes and just go out and do it. You would train a little bit.

MarySue Hansell
Good point.

Dr. Bob Butera
So, you know, one of the -- the first things I really want to stress for folks is dont try to do what that expert Buddhist monk is doing when he writes this beautiful book or article. Start by just quieting your mind in an incremental fashion. Kind of like slowing the car down? You know -- it slows down incrementally. So if you do some deep breathing exercises or some relaxation or listen to some quiet music with your eyes closed. And just allow yourself to shift from the normal kind of working or, you know, interacting kind of level of consciousness where were all very alert to a more passive quiet. So, you know, in the book theres a whole lot of exercises. Breathing is one -- again the most effective anywhere. But do a little slow breathing or some -- some transition exercise before even trying to do the meditation.

MarySue Hansell
That sounds like good advice. What are some of the, you know, main misconceptions about meditation?

Dr. Bob Butera
Big -- probably that its -- that its. Its a good question. Im going to say that it -- that it works really fast.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, okay.

Dr. Bob Butera
Would you say thats one? What would -- what would be for you?

MarySue Hansell
Yeah, I would definitely think that one. I think another would be people think that you have to be, you know, very spiritual or, you know, it has something to do with religion.

Dr. Bob Butera
Oh, right. Right. Well -- it -- it -- it can for people who are religious. Thats great. But it certainly doesnt have to. You can think of it very scientifically for sure with the misconception about needing to be super spiritual or, you know, kind of if somebody said into that touchy-feely stuff or what have you. Some -- you know -- you know -- I guess -- how would I put this. If you think of it just as in terms of brain waves.

MarySue Hansell
Yeah, thats good.

Dr. Bob Butera
When you slow your brain waves down, you see that -- that happens to -- for anybody. And if youre -- if youre stressed out, we would call that speeding the brain waves up. And then if youre Sunday afternoon relaxing, your brain waves are just going to be slower. The beauty with our brain waves is when you start to practice, you can slow them down on Monday morning as much as Sunday afternoon. Or Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon. And that as a person starts to practice, theyll start to realize that, you know, at different times during the day they dont even have to do a formal meditation they just take a break.

MarySue Hansell
You know, some people dont really know too much about brain waves. Can you just say a little bit about what is the brain wave for meditation? You know -- is it beta, alpha, theta? I know a lot of people know those words but are not quite sure.

Dr. Bob Butera
Well. Yeah. The -- you can definitely research on this. I think youre typically going and doing alpha wave. When Im -- when Im teaching off and just draw the image and if you guys think of a -- think of the ocean or what not and when the oceans rough, you know, you have the spikes of a wave going up and down all over the place. And -- and then you have a kind of alpha wave watch is of course the calm day and if I was drawing on a little chalk board you would see one little crest on the board in that one line versus a whole bunch of, you know, jagged spikes going up and down. So rather than getting into all the terms because it kind of will -- I will depend on where a person starts to where their brain waves go. One of the things that I like to tell folks is that when you just sit down -- even for five minutes -- and you do some simple meditation exercise, youre going to notice relative to where you started, a decrease in those brain waves. And it will feel great. Every time you have that decrease a feeling of peacefulness ensues.

MarySue Hansell
Hmm. You know, Ive heard its said that meditation is kind of an exercise for the brain. Do you agree with that?

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah. Its -- it absolutely is. Except its -- its an odd thing. Its kind of a paradox. Its kind of like golf, I guess.

MarySue Hansell
I have an image --

Dr. Bob Butera
When you try to relax --

MarySue Hansell
I have an image in my head. (Laughter).

Dr. Bob Butera
(Laughter) So with your brain, we have all these -- well obviously I always like to footnote this. Sometimes we speak with absolute certainty because we have newfound evidence about how the brain works. And -- and then in ten years they come with a much more skillful way of describing something like the nervous system or the brain and then ten years after that they will -- so I dont want to speak in those terms.

MarySue Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
And Im certainly not a medical doctor. But when we -- the -- the -- the theory would be that when you quiet the mind, and you take away the clutter that your brain has the ability to do new things. So its kind of the opposite. Normally when you lift weights you stimulate your muscles and then the muscles say hey I need to be stronger cause my bodys going to adapt and its makes itself stronger. Well the brain gets stronger when it gets focused and it gets quieted. So the energy thats normally used in the -- in all those distracting ways I was discussing?

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Dr. Bob Butera
Like you could ask yourself the question, well if I only have one wave Im using very little mental energy -- what happens to the energy that was available to me? And thats typically what we would think of the -- the way I understand it -- is then we can regenerate and our brain literally grows with that energy. Now scientifically that may not be provable, but --

MarySue Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
I like to be candid and honest. Thats what I would bet. And thats what it feels like. For those people who meditate. They probably feel refreshed afterwards but -- but in a way similar to resting except theres also -- there also can be like heightened creativity -- problem solving occurs not while meditating but afterwards.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, I noticed that with myself.

Dr. Bob Butera
But you havent been thinking about your problem.

MarySue Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
It could be a relationship problem -- a work problem. And thats the same thing. A lot of artists, dancers, as well as fine artists, painters, sculptors. You know, they will sit and often just take a break and meditate, center themselves. And theyre not thinking about their project or their dance, theyre thinking about quiet. And then when they come back the mind or the brain has done something in their unconscious that we would call improving the brain.

MarySue Hansell
Right. Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
Thats the -- thats --

MarySue Hansell
You know what I want --

Dr. Bob Butera
That makes sense -- its kind of paradoxical, normally. You know?

MarySue Hansell
Yes, I see what you mean.

Dr. Bob Butera
Its not talked about very much.

MarySue Hansell
You know, Bob, most people would be surprised to learn that there are six different types of meditation. Would you tell our listeners what they are and briefly -- briefly describe them? I know you can really talk quite a bit about each type but --

Dr. Bob Butera
No I know. Well try to keep it brief.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, just give them a little teaser.

Dr. Bob Butera
Well. A really easy way to think about it. And -- and maybe -- the -- the first main point MarySue, more than knowing all the types is -- is for the listener to just know theres options.

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Dr. Bob Butera
And all the methods of meditation that you may hear about and that you read about are good methods. I pretty much dont know of many bad ones, you know? Theyre all good. The problem is theres different types and, you know, the obvious reason for all the types is that some work for some people but others work for other populations. So -- and theres no way to predict this unfortunately. I tried to work with a psychologist and I talked to -- a variety of people saying, do you think we could somehow figure out what would be the best way to figure whats the right meditation for someone?

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Dr. Bob Butera
And pretty much trial and error is only way weve learned this. But you want to know if you start trying to meditate -- and say you try mindfulness meditation. Okay. Thats where you -- you pretend to be the observer as if youre a spectator and the stadium and youre watching the game. You just sit back and watch all of your feelings and all of your thoughts but you try not to participate. That would be called mindfulness. And youre -- you act like the -- again like a spectator or a witness.

MarySue Hansell
So you kind of watch everything going on.

Dr. Bob Butera
Right. You watch everything going on. Some people use the image of a ticker tape.

MarySue Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
And then after youve sat there for a while at first theres a lot of writing on the ticker tape of all your thoughts. And then as you start to quiet the -- the thoughts become fewer. But you would just be watching them as opposed to talking and thinking about them. Now, I started with this mindfulness because we call that like a non localized meditation where youre just observing. And thats a very unique way of meditating. The other five types that Ill present to you briefly are what we call concentration types of meditation. Where you have a task and you give your mind a task. So some people like that type of meditation where instead of a task being so general as just observing, they might be focused on their breathing.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, the breathing meditation.

Dr. Bob Butera
And that would be the whole meditation. So thered be a breathing meditation would literally observe your breath going in and out but instead of observing your thoughts and your breath and your feelings like mindfulness you only observe your breath.

MarySue Hansell
Hmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
And if thoughts come about going to the grocery store or something at work, you would just say okay thought Im not really going to observe you right now. Im thinking about my breath and Im taking a break from all that.

MarySue Hansell
So its -- its quite normal to have these thoughts come in your head when youre breathing. I think people get worried about that.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yes. Thats one of the -- you -- you hit that on the head there. Most beginners -- sometimes make a joke in groups about this -- but most beginners think theyve failed meditation when theyve had a thought like that. Grocery stores lists, what have you. Well, the difference between the beginner and the advanced meditator, is that the advanced meditator no longer cares that they had that thought. Thats when everybody laughs usually. But I dont hear you laughing.

Raymond Hansell
(Laughter)

Dr. Bob Butera
Oh, thank you. Thank you.

MarySue Hansell
Hmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
Oh! We need a little laughter voice from the radio station.

Raymond Hansell
(Laughter) There you go.

Dr. Bob Butera
Oh, thank you! So you, you know, the beginner always tries -- makes it harder on themselves. When you pay less attention to those extraneous thoughts, they do start to drop away for the more advanced person. So if somebodys breathing or focused on the breath. Another type of concentration meditation would be visual.

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Dr. Bob Butera
Now, think of the difference now. Were only at the third one. Its completely different. You would visualize a color or a scene. You would not visualize a movie where youre like looking at a variety of pictures in your mind. You would visualize one specific snapshot if you will. Be it a color, something like -- light is a very common image -- white light. And that would be the whole meditation for visualization. So different than breath but similar because youre concentrating.

MarySue Hansell
How about the one that a lot of people think about, you know, ohm, saying a mantra?

Dr. Bob Butera
Yep. Yep. So a mantra is now a sound. So youve got breath, visual, and then mantra is repeating a syllable or a short set of words like an affirmation. I am love, you know. And you just repeat that statement over and over. Its typically either one word or no more than say two or three words like an I am statement. And that would be this mantra approach.

MarySue Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
The -- the -- the next one that we include in this that is somewhat -- its still a concentration method but its a little different is prayer. Or some sort of devotional focus. And this of course would be typically the more religious person. And one of the things that -- that yogis have said about meditation is that if you do have a strong religious belief, that that will really anchor your mind if you focus on one aspect of that through a prayer. So the difference here would be your prayer would often be something that you state at the beginning and then you sit in silence. But you remain -- your mind dwells on the prayer.

MarySue Hansell
Thats interesting. I dont know if people realize that prayer is meditation. Prayer can be meditation.

Dr. Bob Butera
Right. Well. When prayer is -- like typically a prayer isnt going to take very long, right? We say a prayer and it last for 30 seconds or a minute maybe if we -- if we say a prayer for peace. Almost the way you open the show -- its a prayer for a better world. For a more caring world. That is -- is a form of a prayer. Not religious per say, but --

MarySue Hansell
Right.

Dr. Bob Butera
We have a positive intention. A thought like that. Well, after youve stated it, then you can meditate on it. And you -- you literally think about that idea. So its a little different than the prayer where somebody is praying to God or something. Theres a level of silence there. And then that has the same physiological effects as would one of these other concentration or mindfulness meditation practices. The final one is -- is something called inquiry. Where you meditate on a -- a question. And the most popular one worldwide is the question, who am I.

MarySue Hansell
Hmm. Thats a good one.

Dr. Bob Butera
So, you know, and MarySue you -- you answer it, well, Im doing radio. Im in psychology and Im mother and Im all these things, and typically after about an hour, youve run out of who you are, and then you keep asking the question. And people will do this for years. And so once again, its not a thinking exercise as much as it is a contemplation. So those would be the six types. You have the concentration five, and then you have the mindfulness which is kind of this pure observation.

Raymond Hansell
Well Bob, thats -- thats quite a bit to digest. I do want to make a comment about the golf. Because I --

MarySue Hansell
(Laughter)

Raymond Hansell
Because I have attempted to do that activity. I -- I think people would call my version of that goof rather than golf but --

Dr. Bob Butera
(Laughter)

Raymond Hansell
I think the dilemma is that youre actually trying to do two things as you alluded to earlier that are sort of at odds. And one is focus and relax. When you think --

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah.

Raymond Hansell
When you think of focusing your hands grip the club, you tense your arms and muscles up and you -- and you really are exactly the opposite. You need to somehow get in a relaxed state and flow with it and do it in a -- in a -- but still at the same time focus all the way.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah. Yeah.

Raymond Hansell
So were going to take another break right now. When we come back well be talking more with Dr. Bob Butera about how to get started with meditation and some of the other aspects of it. Well also be asking Bob some questions after the break. You can do that in several ways. First you can call us at 1-866-472-5788. Thats 1-866-472-5788. You can also send us an e-mail at radio@betterworldians.com, or tweet us a question at twitter.com/betterworldians. Well be right back. >> Stimulating talk. >> It Gets those synapses in the brain firing really fast. >> All the time. >> The number one Internet talk station where youre opinion counts. VoiceAmerica.com. >> How can we make it a better world? >> I think we can make it a better world if we had peace among each other. >> Everybody needs to help their neighbor and then it will spread from then on. >> I should do more. I could do more. >> I spend so much time on Facebook. >> How much time do I spend on Facebook? >> Probably more than I should be spending? >> I would definitely give back if I could find the time. >> Now you can help others. Just by playing a game on Facebook. Its called A Better World. Share your hopes and dreams. Do good deeds. Make a difference. And have fun. Become a BetterWorldian. Join a community where all good deeds get rewarded. Login today to find out how you can make a difference every day. >> For more information, visit Facebook.com/a better world. >> Ask the experts. Call toll-free right now. 1-866-472-5787. >> Hello? >> And ask our all-star team to answer your question. Thats 1-866-472-5787. >> Thank you for calling. >>Voiceamerica.com.

Gregory Hansell
Hi, Bob, this is Greg, how you doing?

Dr. Bob Butera
Great, Greg.

Gregory Hansell
I want to focus on this last segment on, you know, the beginning meditator in our listeners out there that just want to hear the actual steps of just getting started, you know. I know you mentioned in your book that your disposition, your past experience, your personality type, background, can help you select the best method for meditation. You know, you mentioned those six kinds. How does the listener at home start with one?

Dr. Bob Butera
Well. Its a great question and of course we have so many different people listening. One thing you can do is take a moment and one of the exercises that you saw in the book is you literally sit down and think from childhood what were the things that you used to do when you were quiet? Did you read a book? Did you like to just sit outside? You know, did you ride your bike? Like -- and -- and what went through your mind at those times? And if you start to notice that it -- it might be hard, you know, to literally pick out your meditation type -- but that might give you a few clues right away.

Gregory Hansell
Well, I have to tell you I used to like to play with LEGOs as a kid.

Dr. Bob Butera
Oh, you did?

Gregory Hansell
Yeah and I actually built some really elaborate things. I loved that kind of, you know, fantasy world. You know, how -- what would you recommend for someone like that?

Dr. Bob Butera
Interesting. So then you built the LEGOs. When you -- when you did it did you lose track of time?

Gregory Hansell
Definitely.

Dr. Bob Butera
You know, and you just kind of went into a different world almost?

Gregory Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
What would seem like a different world but you were still being creative.

Gregory Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
So what you would think about then is how -- how did you do this? Did you -- did you see the thing? See were you more visual which would be one guess?

Gregory Hansell
Mmm, I think that was a --

Dr. Bob Butera
Did you think about strategy unlike us. See if I put this piece here then I need to do these 50 pieces -- you know.

Gregory Hansell
Mmm, Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
How did you approach it?

Gregory Hansell
I think it was both of those, you know, there was a little bit of a joy in the strategy but part of it was, you know, that visualizing. You know, what this was going to look like and -- and how that would take part in a particular, you know, play in my head.

Dr. Bob Butera
So you would almost -- because the way you said that you would, you know, you kind of -- you -- youd almost foresee the end product in your mind and then you would build into that?

Gregory Hansell
Mmm, Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
So Im going to guess visual could be really interesting for you to try, you know.

Gregory Hansell
Okay great.

Dr. Bob Butera
And again. I want to say that because I -- I -- for a while there when I was teaching -- I may have not -- not that long promised you but -- I started getting a little cocky thinking I knew what people would want to meditate, you know?

Gregory Hansell
Uh-huh.

Dr. Bob Butera
Because I got a few, right. So you might go home and say, oh, wow. I got it! Visuals great I never thought of that, you know? But not too long after that I had a long string of getting it wrong.

Gregory Hansell
Okay.

Dr. Bob Butera
So I started -- I started noticing about half the artists in the world -- this is just my own unscientific science. That half the artists in the world are really visual and the other half are anti-visual.

Gregory Hansell
Hmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
Like anything but because they -- they say that people have told me when I -- I started thinking I had some things figured out I thought I had computer guys figured out.

Gregory Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah. Well. I did for a little while.

Gregory Hansell
Okay.

Dr. Bob Butera
And then they started going all over the place. But what youll start to find -- you can see some trends. But some artists are like I want to use a different part of my mind for meditation since I am so visual when Im working.

Gregory Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
You know, even if its a hobby for them. So again its just kind of noticing what you did. I tend to think that -- that all human beings have what they call that down regulating activity that they really enjoy that relaxes them. And I just like people to think about that cause there -- they may think theyre a beginner in meditation but Im pretty certain theyve done things to quiet their mind whether they were consciously aware or not.

Gregory Hansell
How often should the beginner meditate, you know, what should be their goal?

Dr. Bob Butera
Fantastic question, cause -- whatever can be as consistent as possible on a daily basis. So the first answer is daily.

Gregory Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
But. The -- the ironic thing is five minutes a day --

Gregory Hansell
Yeah?

Dr. Bob Butera
Is better. And that -- that would only be 35 total minutes if you meditated for seven days in a row. Versus somebody sitting down for an hour which would be 60 minutes, almost twice as long. One day. Would be not as effective as five minutes every day.

Gregory Hansell
Let me ask you the question about that.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah, go ahead.

Gregory Hansell
When Ive gotten started with meditation in the past. And I would think okay this is the amount of time I need to meditate for. I would wonder in my head this would get me off track. Do I need the five minutes of the, you know, the -- the mindlessness or is it the five minutes including the interruptions of myself thinking about other things? Is it just trying period for five minutes?

Dr. Bob Butera
Its just trying period, yeah. And ideally theres -- just to finish that thought out -- most meditation groups are going to say 20 minutes. Once you get into it. And -- but to build yourself up to that, not just to necessarily sit down right away, but 20 minutes is a good -- 20 to 30 minutes is a good time limit range where after that. And again not everybody agrees in the same way. But majority of people will find 20 to 30 minutes is the optimal total amount. And then what I like to do is to do a few warm up exercises as I was mentioning. A little deep breathing, a little yoga, a little walking. Something to just relax you to transition into the meditation. As opposed to just sitting straight down and then trying to expect your mind to suddenly slow down.

Gregory Hansell
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
You know, rather -- you go ahead.

Gregory Hansell
No, no please.

Dr. Bob Butera
No its fine. Youre on.

Gregory Hansell
(Laughter) I guess I was just going to ask because we have to move to questions in just a minute if theres just one thing you wanted to tell all the listeners that are going to begin practicing. One thing they should do or one thing they should focus or not worry about. What would that be?

Dr. Bob Butera
Learn deep breathing, and, yeah, learn deep breathing. It -- its -- when we ask yoga students whats the best benefit of their yoga class. This totally surprised me. I thought it was maybe going to be strength or stretching or something. People out of the blue without suggestion it was just a blank question that you had to write in your answer it said, what were the benefits of yoga? Top three benefits. The number one was deep breathing. Because when -- as soon as you -- a deep breath equals a deep thought. And it also equals relaxed shoulders.

Gregory Hansell
Hmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
And as soon as you take that deep breath you start to collect yourself and you come back to yourself. And then you -- whatever has been stressful in that moment youll often be able to switch your perspective and take a new look on it and might not be as bad as you thought. So Im going to go with deep breath answer number one. (Laughter)

Gregory Hansell
Well, thank you very much. Were actually going to take some calls and e-mails. We actually have Andrea from San Diego on the line. Hello, Andrea?

Andrea
Hi. Can you hear me?

Gregory Hansell
Yes. Youre here live with BetterWorldians Radio.

Andrea
Okay great. Thank you. Well thank you so much for all of your wonderful discussion so far. My question is a little bit specific. I am a yoga teacher and I do have a regular personal meditation practice. And I have a new path that Im starting where Im trying to introduce the meditation in a group setting. And Id like to get your thoughts on, you know, whats the best thing to help introduce people on a group setting to meditation. Is it, you know, sitting, lying down, some other way. And then also of the different types of meditation that you were discussing earlier, what -- what do you think would be the best approach or approaches to take in a -- a group setting? To introduce people to the benefits of meditation.

Dr. Bob Butera
So Andrea, is this after your yoga class -- like -- within your yoga class? Is this separate meditation group?

Andrea
Its within the yoga class and Ive been playing around a little bit with the format but I always start with some breathing exercises and I was thinking about doing the meditation in the beginning but I also am open to, you know, doing it after the poses are completed.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yep. Is it a gentle or like a vigorous class?

Andrea
Its a restorative class.

Dr. Bob Butera
Restorative.

Andrea
Yeah. Its -- the title might help -- its called Sunday Night Serenity.

Dr. Bob Butera
Oh, cool. Thats great. So what I might do with -- with that situation is just like you said, start with a little deep breathing and then I might start with a -- a -- the person in the beginning just to spend maybe two or three or four minutes thinking about what they personally need in their life. And I sometimes use the image of going to see the Wizard of Oz. Do you need more courage? You know, do you need a brain? Sometimes I could use the brain, sometimes I could use the courage, you know, sometimes I could use some acceptance. Whatever the thing the person needs. So then when they go into the class they have a little direction.

Andrea
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
Then I would do the meditation after theyve relaxed and done all those restorative -- a restorative pose for those who dont know is when youre kind of reclining for a longer period of time and what we might say is an easy position, not strength building and youre just relaxing deeply into different parts of your body. And so then I would do the meditation at the end and what I think I would do if recommend when you -- when you have different people coming and going is you would say that theres many ways to meditate. Today were going to try and then I would just present one type and then the next week I would say and, you know, were going to do another one. And just let -- do this as an experiment in your yoga class to find out which one suits you.

Andrea
Mmm. Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
And that might be really stimulating to the folks. With the freedom, obviously, when you -- whenever a meditation teacher gives an instruction, if you could actually then take a survey of what the people did, theyre often going to do what they want anyway.

Andrea
(Laughter)

Dr. Bob Butera
Just because you tell them, I want you to focus on your breath doesnt mean that -- like -- Mr. Jones isnt going to do a mantra and Mrs. Jones isnt going to visualize. Do you follow me?

Andrea
I know that from my own meditation practice.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah, I mean, so -- so as long as you dont -- the other thing I would say is give them a lot of silence and not a lot of instruction. Let them just experience five or ten minutes and dont -- I dont usually recommend the whole talking meditation where people give a guided visualization or guided meditation. I like to say, hey lets focus on our breathing for today or lets focus on a visual image. Give it a try. And now were going to hold some silence for five minutes and Ill ring the bell at the end. So that they actually have time on their own as opposed to listening to someone s voice. That sound like a plan Andrea?

Andrea
That sounds like a great plan. You know, do you also suggest -- mentioning some of the things you said earlier about, you know, directing the idea that, you know, random thoughts are going to come into your head about, you know, the grocery list and what I have to do tomorrow but -- do you just -- do you tell them that before meditation. Peace begins?

Dr. Bob Butera
Sure. You know, depending -- depending on the type of people, you know, and their experience. But definitely. And when they do a restorative class theyll often hold these reclining positions. Do you hold them for five or ten minutes? Each?

Andrea
Roughly, yeah.

Dr. Bob Butera
So, you know, when -- when youre holding those its a very meditative experience for the person in the yoga pose. So you could even give them that instruction when theyre mind wanders in a pose too.

Andrea
Mmm.

Dr. Bob Butera
The thing I would just -- just remember is -- giving fewer instructions and just giving different ones each week because otherwise theres a temptation when youre teaching meditation like Ive just -- they have to restrain me on this -- on this interview from just talking about meditation when the joke is youre supposed to stop talking for a little while.

Andrea
(Laughter)

Gregory Hansell
Well actually on that -- on that note we have to take a few more questions. Thank you, Andrea, very much for the call.

Dr. Bob Butera
There you go.

Gregory Hansell
We also have a question from Jody in Chester. She asks -- she said she had such a struggle shutting her brain off when trying to meditate. Do you have any tips on how she can quiet her thoughts?

Dr. Bob Butera
Sure thing, Jody. Dont shut it off. Because if you try to shut it off, youre exerting force. Some sort of force and even if its if, you know, youre not cranking a pipe and youre closing the pipe, youre saying, be quiet mind! Be quiet! And when I tell my mind to be quiet and shut up if you will Im sometimes a little more direct with my mind. I just tell it to shut up.

Gregory Hansell
(Laughter)

Dr. Bob Butera
Yeah, thats great. Thank you for the laughter.

Gregory Hansell
(Laughter)

Dr. Bob Butera
Youre -- youre supposed to laugh a lot when you meditate and not take yourself too seriously. So what I might do Jody is tell you to laugh when youre thoughts come. But not resist them because any little bit of resistance is actually a fault wave. So its a paradox. If you feel like youre thoughts are just so intense and youre sitting down to meditate and they almost get louder? Then what I would say is dont do a seated meditation that day if you feel really distracted. Maybe take a quiet walk where you dont talk to people. And youre just in nature or -- or do something like a journaling exercise where you process -- say you have something on your mind -- youre going through a tough time in life. Some -- the people who are experiencing the loss of a loved one, you know, and some grief which is very common. Meditation can sometimes cause a person to cry too much. And when they dont really need to cry anymore. And what we say for situations like that is to again do a walk or do something that makes you feel settled and to remember meditation isnt making you feel settled talk to a teacher about that situation -- about your personal situation or do one of these other what we call mind quieting activities if the meditation itself is going to make you -- make your mind noisier or louder.

Gregory Hansell
Well, thank you, Bob, for that.

Dr. Bob Butera
Yep.

Gregory Hansell
And thank you, Jody, for that question.

Raymond Hansell
Bob, thanks an awful lot for joining us today. I just want to remind our listeners you can find out more about meditation by going to Dr. Bob Buteras website, yogalifeinstitute.com. Bob, once again, this was very enlightening. We may be taking you back to some really beginning stuff, but I think a lot of our listeners really appreciate hearing some of these really practical pieces of advice. So Id like to thank you for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio today.

Dr. Bob Butera
Thanks for having me. Its great to -- its great to know about your great -- your wonderful work.

Raymond Hansell
Thank you so much. Please join us next week for our show small acts of kindness make a big difference with film producer Dan Carsley. As we said before we have an excellent line of guests in the coming week and if you know an unsung BetterWorldian who you feel would make a great guest on our show, you can send us an e-mail at radio@betterworldians.com. Once again, wed like to also remind everyone that you also can be a part of a miracle this holiday season. Simply share our video challenge and help heal ten disabled children. Its that easy. Just go to colorwithkindness.com, watch the video and share it with your friends. Give these kids the gift of a lifetime. The opportunity to walk for the first time. Wed like to thank everyone today for listening. You can join the BetterWorldian community at BetterWorldians.com and until next time everybody please -- be a BetterWorldian.