Less Is More: The Holiday Edition

Episode 15 December 15, 2020 00:24:19
Less Is More: The Holiday Edition
More Happiness Less Suffering
Less Is More: The Holiday Edition
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Show Notes

Join Dr. Monisha Vasa and Senior Meditation Teacher Cayce Howe as they chat about the speed of life (especially during the holidays) and how we can bring some balance to the chaos. 

More Happiness, Less Suffering
Website: mhlspodcast.com
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight. Speaker 1 00:00:07 And I'm Dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange County, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to the more happiness, less suffering podcast as always. We're so glad that you are joining us and spending some time with us. Um, so thank you as always for being here. Thank you. Thank you. And today it's going to be just me and Casey. We actually don't have a guest today. Um, and, uh, we will start with a poem like we usually do, and then jump into our topic, um, which today we are going to be talking a little bit about the holidays and maybe how we're navigating kind of the overload and overwhelm that comes with both the internal and external stress of the holiday time. Speaker 0 00:01:11 Yeah. So here's a poem that I'd wrote just the other day. If when meeting a thought I'm hardened as stone, it will meet me such if I meet it with Rose pedal softness, it will meet me as such. And if I resend the invitation altogether.dot dot, and what happens and then what happens. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:01:42 Yeah. So tell us what led to you writing that poem. I'm always so, so curious whenever I read a poem to know kind of what, what was the story behind it? Speaker 0 00:01:53 Yeah, I think this is a kind of a fundamental experience I can in meditation of recognizing how I meet what's arising. So if to, to watch that balance, I think it's also interesting to notice where does that, that phenomenon, where do we meet the phenomena and how do we meet the phenomena? It's interesting that this whole inside, outside, um, experience set, we know that we've, we feel like a sound is outside Mo we experience a sound inside and, uh we're um, where does, where do they meet is interesting. Um, how did they meet and then how is it actually quote unquote, you know, processed, um, because there is this processing that happens almost immediately and without our awareness is very hard to experience something, uh, just as it is. I think it takes a while I can meditation to allow just to actually arise from their own. Speaker 0 00:03:02 And so that's what this is speaking to is that as inherently from its own side, a thought of course is completely non substantial. So, um, I have to give it its harshness, or if I have to give it its softness, uh, or what if I actually don't meet it, but I allow, allow it to exist as something that, that is that, that I'm aware of, but I actually don't need to participate in any way with it. Um, it could just be, it could be something that's existing. Like I don't have any self identification, for example, in a sound outside of myself as a sound outside of myself as a sound. I have no relationship with that sound. Um, you know, I might label it good, bad, indifferent, annoying, peaceful, whatever, good music, whatever, but I don't need to actually come into contact with it much, but there's some thoughts that we actually mingle with to the point where we're really become that. Um, so it's just interesting to look at what we, what we give the thought, what we give them an emotion, what we give a body sensation, but we give yeah. All of our reactions, what do we give them an and how does that play into our experience of them? Speaker 1 00:04:35 That's a really interesting thought because I think it's something that we're not necessarily aware of on a moment by moment basis. You know, I think we tend to think of kind of like in your poem, like the thought is a good thought, the thought is a bad thought. The, you know, the thought is a challenging thought or, uh, a positive thought or a happy thought. And to, to realize that part of our experience of that thought is the energy with which we're meeting it and what we're bringing to it. Um, I think we're often not aware of our role in co-creating our experience of the thought. We sort of see it almost existing as such, you know? Um, and, and so I think it's really interesting to, to just bring that awareness of like, how are we, how are we meeting these thoughts that are arising? And, you know, I think you and I have talked about how even just, it feels like, especially around this holiday time, the pace of everything is increasing so rapidly, that it often feels like even with our thinking, we're thinking so many thoughts, you know, so many more thoughts, um, that are coming internally and that also are coming to us from outside as well. Speaker 0 00:05:46 Yeah, I think before, before something actually is known, there's so many, many steps before that, before an impression is made like consciously, like before a label is given to something it's interesting part about meditation is kind of, we're going backwards and understanding these subtle impressions. And, um, we, we really live in the fruition of, uh, of these, uh, lots and lots of small events happening on very subtle levels and layers. And we're looking at the result of those many, many things that are happening. And then when we see it, we're like, Oh, this is a concrete thing that I'm experiencing. And we don't see all those different things that, that happened in the background almost of our consciousness. And it could be body impressions. It could be all those different things come up. And then all of a sudden we see this surface level something, and some things like you were saying, it could be, um, you know, triggered by one little piece of data, you know, and, and yeah, talking about this, the busy-ness, you know, I gave a talk on Sunday about, um, just data points, just new data. Speaker 0 00:07:11 This is data, this is infiltration of data. And our society has been com is like, we're in that, you know, that the information, the era of information and information sharing, and this is where the technology is, is really, um, heading it's all about the sharing of, of information and, and the technology, you know, a few decades ago was all about more appliance-based, you know, the microwave's and the dishwashers and the, um, clothes washers and, you know, food making stuff and all that. And so we could see that really sped up, um, our life. It didn't make things easier, but it sped everything up, as we know, but now we're getting to the point where I don't see that we're anywhere near, uh, this making its way into the fabric of our life, like this information. So we're communicating more and we're more busy mentally where those other things made us busier physically, right? Speaker 0 00:08:18 Like making dinner in five minutes where we used to, uh, allow for an hour of that. But now we're communicating the a hundred times an hour. Now this is like a normal, we have all these different ways to communicate. And so each one of those communications, and they don't need to be conversations, they could be just looking at something on a social media site that all influences the mind. There's these impressions upon the mind. And let's say in meditation, or just in life, where we find peacefulness in is in that silence or stillness, that which can be awake and aware of all of this data and all and everything, but it's not becoming a part of it like that poem, right? Like I could be with you, but not follow you. I could understand. I understand that I'm aware and I'm awake, but I don't need to engage with you now. Speaker 0 00:09:16 That's very difficult to maintain that awareness when you have so much data coming in, can you do it absolutely. Right. Yeah. We can maintain Wakefield, nonjudgmental, compassionate awareness any time. But with all that data coming in, it's really, really difficult. And right now it's not expected really. Like it's more of a choice, a choice we often make to, to look at all that data. Right. But it's still a choice. Right. But I don't, I think we have to really be careful. Cause like in the holidays, for example, this is one, um, this one, um, time of the year for that, this ramps up like data sharing can be in within family structures and stuff, uh, is, um, increased. And then we have to really, uh, uh, move into these technologies for shopping because we're all in COVID now too. So now we're communicating with websites would retail and all that, which we've been doing for years. Speaker 0 00:10:24 Right. Online shopping and all that, but it's just increased. So the level of stillness in the mind, uh, is definitely harder to see. Of course it's always there, but it's harder to see. And then I think long-term wise, there's going to be a point where those hundred pieces of communication an hour is going to be the norm. Like you and I were talking before we got on here, like at work, you didn't used to not like text people at work or, you know, or it wasn't, you wouldn't, you wouldn't think that somebody is going to, uh, expect you to respond, right. Or a group of people to respond and, you know, 10 minutes or half an hour or something or less. Right. So we're expected to respond and, and all these ways and to communicate and basically be engaged with that information at a certain level, at a cognitive level. Speaker 0 00:11:25 Um, and so, yeah, we just, we, we need to be aware of all this. So we could also be aware of the, the, the times that we disengage that we do unplug it, it becomes more and more important to now that we realize this to take the time out of your day. And, you know, I recommend all my one-on-ones and stuff like, Hey, you set your alarm. Sure. I said it on the podcast before set the alarm on your phone, use that technology for you, set your alarm on your phone every hour, five, or, you know, five times a day. And every time it goes off, just chill. Right. You know, for a minute or so. Speaker 1 00:12:16 Yeah. And I think it's challenging, like when I think about it from a mental health perspective, because I think every one of those impressions, you know, it's an opportunity for our mood to be shifted or our mode to be impacted. You know, I realize oftentimes like if I have a couple of minutes of downtime, I might just get on Instagram or Twitter or something and kind of scroll. And I think it's sort of a form of disconnection, or I might even convince myself it's relaxation, but I might see something that feels triggering or that is upsetting, or, you know, I, I started feeling FOMO or whatever the case may be, and it impacts my mood. You know, I might in subtle ways and overt ways. I might notice after that couple of minutes, which was supposed to be just an opportunity to disconnect, you know, all of a sudden I'm feeling, you know, sad or unworthy or upset or angry about something or other. Speaker 1 00:13:09 And it kind of shifts the course of my energy and my emotional state. And when, you know, when we're having, as you said, hundreds upon thousands of those types of impressions and inputs over the course of the day, it becomes really important. I think, to make really intentional choices about how we're spending our time and energy. And maybe when we're choosing to really take in some of those at least external inputs, um, um, so that we're either creating or cultivating those opportunities for stillness or the opportunities to just have our own thoughts without being influenced by our external, you know, these external environments that we're a part of. Um, and you know, I know oftentimes at the end of the day when I'm kind of thinking, okay, did I return all my calls? Did I return all my text messages? Did I reply to my important emails? Speaker 1 00:14:01 Did I reply to my Instagram? Do you have, is my Facebook messenger? DM is my, or my LinkedIn, you know, messages, all these things. And, you know, really, there's kind of a sense of fragmentation of one's energy and attention. And, you know, even though we're sort of responding and all of those ways, we're not really truly fully present, I think, um, in those interactions. So I think it not only affects sort of the quality of our own stillness, but I think it also impacts the integrity of the relationships that we have with, with all the people that we're engaging with, um, in those communications. Speaker 0 00:14:44 Yeah, absolutely. I, I don't remember where I heard this, but I heard at some point, this was a long time ago, you know, human beings have the capacity to have so many finite number of intimate relationships, quality relationships. I don't know what the number was. Was it 15, 20, 30 people like in the outside community or whatnot. Um, but now with, with these technologies, we, like you mentioned, we're communicating with these technologies that have infinite capacities of databases. And we forget, I think that we're part of the network. If you, if you're, if you're in or have access to these large databases, it could be social media, it could be at work, these CRMs and you know that how how's contacts for your company or you're an HR or something. And you have access to these, you know, massive databases. And these databases are getting intertwined in our daily lives all the time that we're part of those networks. Speaker 0 00:15:58 And those networks are moving through our own brains. Like we're a data point on in those networks and those networks are infinite and those are just, you know, the computers. So they could hold a whole bunch of data. And in there, there, that data is flowing through us. And we're these little humans and we're looking for berries and, uh, you know, making want to make some fire, you know, and these very basic things that if you look at, of course, like early 19 hundreds or something like how much data was going through these people back then, and, or even recently, like if you look at, um, more indigenous people or, or some, some where like an undeveloped country, like, like Tibet in 1920, and it's not that long ago, right. A hundred years ago, it's one lifetime, you know, a hundred years in a hundred years ago, we had very little data, but now just driving down the street, it's a ton of data to take in and, Speaker 1 00:17:06 Or sitting at home with a device, not even driving down the street. Right. Speaker 0 00:17:11 And it has literally infinite amount of data. So we have to that's okay. Like opportunities to have no data coming in are still there. So we don't need to, we don't need to have that constant data. We can find that, Hey, Speaker 1 00:17:34 I'm okay. You know, without all Speaker 0 00:17:37 This data, because of course we have, we all, we already had thought addiction. We love thoughts already. So no matter even before technology, obviously we all love our thoughts. We love thinking mind and meditation is weaning ourselves off of that addiction to follow thoughts, right. Thinking's not a problem. Following them. Habitually is a problem, right? Because we're not controlled where they take us. So we could do the same thing with our devices and information coming in and, and really it's all about, it's all not a problem. Right. It's just, if you're not conscious, then it's a problem. If, if you're reaching for your phone and you don't know that you're reaching for your phone, that's a problem, right. Because we're not, you know, in, in control of our own own decisions. Right. So it's all about that conscious awareness and maintaining that conscious awareness and understanding that I have a choice. Speaker 0 00:18:38 So I make personally, my phone is a meditation trigger for me. It's a mindfulness trigger because it happens all the time where I make movements towards my phone. And so anything that comes up in your life that you do all the time, make it and mindfulness trigger. So now when I, I watched my, my, it, I watched the impulse to go towards the phone. I'd recognize this. And I make a conscious choice, you know, uh, hopefully if I catch it or I might catch it mid opening, or like I'm already in something and be like, Hey, what are you doing? You know, when you get a conscious choice or it doesn't mean that you don't actually reach for your phone, you may still need to, or want to, it's just that you're aware. Totally. You know, reaching out on the phone. I know that I'm reaching for my, yeah. It's like an itch, you know, in meditation, like, do I need to scratch that, you know, now, or now or anything, but when you do is conscious, right? That's not, it's not unconscious behavior. Yes. So maybe we can do a little phone meditation. Yeah. Let's do it. Let's do it right now. Uh, a little disengaging, little unplug meditation. So wherever you are, if you can join us, please do it's safe to do so. Speaker 0 00:20:10 And then if you can, and you can allow the eyes to close, Nan, just being awake to wakefulness and noticing something. So incredibly simple is so incredibly powerful because this is the part of yourself Speaker 2 00:20:48 That we'll know reaching for that phone or any other subtle tendency to move in a certain direction, just as pure wakefulness. And I noted noticing that this awareness could be aware of anything, sound, sensation, thoughts, feeling tones, same awareness, and also notice that everything that awareness is looking at all those things. I just mentioned, we're all on permanent. This is how you know, what is awareness and what is not as awarenesses therapy before, during and after you can leave awareness, but awareness never leaves you, you check in, it's always there. And it's always at ease, not craving anything, not pushing anything away, not labeling anything good, bad or indifferent. This noticing. This is where your power is. And also your refuge letting everything and letting everything out, all beings everywhere. Realize this. They have a choice to stay in awareness in their heart of hearts. May all beings everywhere where that exception, maybe I'll be happy and free from suffering.

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