Beginning a Daily Practice


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robertomainetti's picture

to reorganize the skeletal neuro muscular through enhancing alert sensory listening. to pile vertebra on vertebra and feel the up where to pose the skull and let the jaw hung. letting the lips glue in a gentle lengthening line. the lotus position is a work on progress and we could start from where we have comfortable awareness of the whole lowering in time to reach the floor with the sit bones and have the opposition lengthening of the torso to legs. we are working in a puzzle...

Sophie3's picture

I meant 'blog' of course

Sophie3's picture

Hi Brad, not sure if you are still checking inhere but just wondering if you could expand on eyes open vs. eyes shut for meditation as I noticed the instructions you mentioned were eyes open.
I have really enjoyed your teaching and will follow you up on your blob

Eternal Sunshine's picture

Hi Brad - just watched the first video - great work, very informational, Thanks. Any more talks over here in England this year?


mspicken's picture

A very cool retreat. However to the Bruce Lee thing: He was a martial-artist first, actor second. The quote you mention is in reference to fighting, not meditation. Let nature take its course, what will happen will happen, flow with it and take your advantages where you can. He actually had a very well thought out philosophy regarding meditation and living in general.

Dechen Khadro's picture

I would like to recommend the Insight Timer meditation app. I started using it one year ago, tomorrow. Using it has helped me keep with a commitment to meditate daily- a few days have accidentally gotten away from me, but it's been 336 days, something I've never been able to do in30 years of being a Buddhist. And meditating daily has changed my life!

katharyn's picture

Thank you so much for this recommendation. I just LOVE this app. It makes it possible to stop peaking and stay in my focus! Thank you!

Brad Warner's picture

I sometimes use those kinds of things. But mostly I just look at my watch. Ancient Buddhists would burn a stick of incense and just call it finished when the incense was burnt all the way down.

randharma's picture

Read Hardcore Zen eight or nine years ago and connected with the author; and where Warner was coming from. rebel buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop had a similar connective feeling. Really awesome to see Brad Warner talk of zazen in this venue, thanks tricycle, and Mr. Warner.

Brad Warner's picture

Thank you!

ryogan's picture

I began sitting again this morning after listening to you. Thank you.

ryogan's picture

Studied for a long time with my teacher. When he passed, my practice deteriorated to occasional sitting. I have made half hearted attempts at returning to daily zazen ...This retreat has given me new resolve for doing just that...just sitting. Gassho. _/I\_

David Gould's picture

This was really helpful - especially the emphasis on using posture to recall us to our practice.

tkueny's picture

Excellent retreat and discussion, thank you... what was that?? a squirrel !!

Brad Warner's picture

Chase it!

myers_lloyd's picture

My teacher is 85 now, in much pain, attends seven day sesshins with us as much as he is able.
My one, my only Zen teacher.
You share the heart of my teacher.

Brad Warner's picture

Aw thanks!

Esby728's picture


I love the retreat so far. Just wanted to say that you and Charlotte Joko Beck are my favorite two Zen teachers because you're able to explain concepts in ways I can actually understand. I've gotten so much more out of practice because I seem to be "getting it" better. Granted, part of that might be from the actual practice, but you've really helped me in significant ways.

Thanks, sincerely.

buddhajazz's picture

I started with Joko Beck too many years ago, the attraction was the simplicity, no fancy language and she is still my touchstone for starting over when I fall and fall off the cushion. Brad too has this every day attitude, brings me back to just doing it. :)

Brad Warner's picture

Thank you. Charlotte Joko Beck was one of the best!

veganhillbilly's picture

This is great timing! I've had a starting, stopping, stuttering meditation practice for a few years now, and I have very recently decided to commit myself to a year of daily practice. I always start out dedicated to my practice, but after about a month or so of daily meditation I start to skip the cushion in lieu of all these "important" distractions that come up. The most frustrating thing about it is that I don't loose my enthusiasm for meditation- I don't consciously decide not to meditate. I keep meaning to get around to it, then before I realize it's been a week and I haven't meditated. I'm not sure why this happens but there's definitely seems to be a pattern to it, and it's too precise of a pattern to be extenuating circumstance... somehow, and for some reason, I keep tricking myself out of a consistent daily practice. I look forward to the rest of these videos, hopefully something here will help me get past this.

Brad Warner's picture

Yeah... That's always a problem. After 30 years, I still have that problem. But I've also seen how things only get worse if I skip my zazen.

myers_lloyd's picture


JulyJackalope's picture

Thanks for this video, Brad. I found that the mudra really helped me out. As a yoga practitioner, I have been meditating with my arms on my legs, hand on knees (up or down, mood dependent)
I find that using this mudra today made me feel a lot more centred, less like I was leaning forward, and therefore fighting the lean.
Could just be me, I'm lanky, and therefore sometimes feel tippy, but this really helped me out.

Brad Warner's picture

I think there's something to that. These mudras weren't chosen at random. They developed through trial and error by many people over centuries.

stonio's picture

Speaking as both practitioner and therapist, I am aware of some groundbreaking work that is arising in the field of psychedelic psychotherapy. At a recent conference a Swiss doctor shared convincing accounts of treating PTSD with MDMA and a Russian researcher gave strong evidence showing how the right levels of Ketamine solve the problem of heroin addiction long term. I also know or reports that meditation can be a horrific experience for those unprepared. We seem to buy into 'drugs bad meditation good' and although there is basic common sense in this, what do we dismiss out of hand?

In both of the above cases I would argue that what is needed is the appropriate container and cultivation. In this way I feel that we can cultivate karmic conditions to allow for the best possible growth. Even when we dig the ground and water the seeds, there is no promise as to what will grow of course, but with compassion and wisdom I feel there is potential for experiencing love and clarity in any set of circumstances.

Thank you for the talk Brad, I often share meditation with clients when it feels appropriate and it is always good to hear different approaches.

Brad Warner's picture

I don't say psychedelics are without uses. But they're medications and medications are very, very different from meditation (even though the words are spelled almost the same).

What worries me is that so many people seem to believe they are the same thing. I run into young people all the time who still repeat that old Sixties motto, "Why walk when you can take a jet plane?" As if drugs are a faster and more efficient way to the same goal as meditation. Did the Sixties and Seventies tell us nothing at all? Or perhaps these people are too young to remember and too lazy to do a bit of research.

jgrist's picture

Brad, I struggle with sitting and found your suggestion to sit until you can't stand it anymore and sit for another five minutes very helpful. Thanks for such clear instructions. I look forward to the next instalment.

Brad Warner's picture

Thanks! That's just what I do!

janinehills1's picture

I have accessed the first day's session, but that's do I continue each new day's session? I am a tricycle member.

barry.wharton's picture

I think it was advertised as weekly Janine. If I am mistaken I would like to know too. :)

Brad Warner's picture

The videos are a weekly thing. But I'm checking in as often as I can to field comments.

wsking's picture

Hi, I have to tell you this story: In 1974 in Dharamsala, Geshe Rabten told me, (Gonsar Rimpoche translating) "Please don't do drugs. They destroy the pure power of your mind and your nervous system. Once they destroy you there is no going back. They will prevent you from being able to develop subtle states of mind and concentration in meditation. Not only that, but they lead you to negative friends, whose energy will bring you down, trap you, and destroy your life. Please don't do drugs."

I pass that one on to you from a great meditator, scholar, and yogi. However, I personally found my initial experience with drugs in college to be helpful to me. It pointed out the nature of mind and the nervous system, God came roaring into the room, dissolving all my doubts in a shower of light and incredible love, and I went to India looking for answers. However, I was a serious student and never had time to get into the drug scene, nor liking for that kind of thing. You could say homework saved me! LOL!

Brad Warner's picture

I think sometimes drug experiences can act as a catalyst to doing real practice. That certainly happens.

But I agree with you. Aside from that initial spark, there's not much point in continuing with them.

stevenorthcounty's picture

Brad - very nice and down to earth. I particularly like your emphasis on the practical nature of practice and the universality of what problems we might encounter as human beings, in particular thoughts as brain secretions. Looking forward to the next installments.


Brad Warner's picture


kamnicka's picture

Generally a sound and basic talk on zazen!

lizcaine's picture

I forgot to add that in the right set and setting, psychedelics can be very helpful, although I would be careful in comparing them with meditation. I would use them together. What we're getting at here is psycho-spiritual integration: where does my personal psychology meet (or get in the way of) my spiritual path? Working through psychological issues concurrently while being on the path is very beneficial and psychedelics support an individual's growth and development.

Brad Warner's picture

The "set and setting" thing troubles me. I've heard it a lot. It's an acknowledgement that drugs can be dangerous and problematic.

Of course, meditation can be too. The problem with drugs is they rip you violently and aggressively out of your usual mindset. I don't think that's very good for most people, even though it can be exciting.

In Zen, we look at our lives and notice that there is a usual or ordinary state and that we spend most of our time there. That's a clue. That's nature telling us that the so-called ordinary or usual state is the one we ought to be paying attention to. It contains everything.

All psychedelics do is filter the ordinary state. They let you look at a small slice of it in great, often frighteningly great, detail. Why not take in everything?

lizcaine's picture

In Charlie's defense, (not that he needs or maybe doesn't even want defending) he has since changed his mind on the topic. He has written at least one book on the subject: Waking Up. He is a researcher and professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

And thank you, Brad for the support to reengage my daily practice. My practice has been irregular while (ironically) writing a dissertation on religious/sacred versus secular/search for meaning approaches to meditation. No matter how much I think I know, going back to the basics is always helpful.

Micklest's picture

I'm sharing this. Very clear, good for beginners, and a succinct reminder for myself as well.
The old A.D.D. and various bad habits associated with growing up undiagnosed often leave me walking by the cushion in favor of juicy distractions. But when I've sat daily, I found that the A.D.D. was much more manageable.
A.D.D. often has me overcomplicating things in my head. That's when it's best to come back to the basics. Thanks. I needed that! :)

Md21's picture

Thanks Brad, I really appreciated the basic explanantion of meditation, a lot of resources presume you know the basics, and learning how to sit with what where was really useful. Daily meditation is one of the best (and hardest) aspects of my practice, and this has inspired me to practice daily,

mashahinda's picture

A problem I have with the Charles Taft quote is that it assumes meditation doesn’t include daydreaming, rebuking oneself, getting nowhere; that it doesn’t include hyperactive minds and complex psychological dynamics. The quote implies that quieting and disciplining the mind is not part of practice, and it uses the phrase “real progress along the meditative path” as if there is a linear progression from A to Z that should look a certain way, and if it doesn’t, then the option of choice, the reasonable way to get to, what, the peace Taft is assuming practice brings?, is drugs.

Brad Warner's picture

I think his name is Tart. Did I say Taft in the video?

But anyhow, I agree. Our ordinary state is what we want to focus on. It's right in front of us telling us all we really need to know.

Progress is an illusion. In the here and now, there can be no such thing as progress. Progress is just what happens when you compare your state now to what you remember about how you were before or to what you anticipate might happen in the future.

I don't think my memories of my former states are entirely reliable, nor do I trust my own imagination of what's possible in the future. So I think the only sensible thing to do is focus on what's going on right now.

donna10707's picture

Thank you for this comment, Brad. In meditation (and in yoga, too), especially, we all spend so much time judging ourselves on what it was like the last time we sat, or what we used to be able to do, or what we want to do instead of what we are doing right now. Your comment makes this concept of the importance of staying here in our minds easier to grasp.

rgneuman1's picture

Here, here. The path looks different for everyone (because everyone has a unique combination of challenges to successful practice), and many of us, myself especially, spend a disproportionate amount of time leaving the path to chase squirrels.