Three Ways to Train Your Attention

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This talk explores three attentional strategies that can dramatically impact your meditation practice as well as the rest of your life.

You’ll learn the importance and impact of Focus (concentration), how to cultivate Flow (to develop your capacity to be the witness of what is changing) and the importance of Letting Go (cultivating your capacity to relax and open to the mystery of life itself).

http://traffic.libsyn.com/jonathanfoust/3_Ways_to_Pay_Attention.mp3

 

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Greetings from Jonathan Foust: Pragmatic Dharma... A Day of Intense Practice... Fresh Photos... and More

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  This time of year can be a bleak.

The fall foliage was muted and dull. Then two days and nights of intense wind sucked away the remaining leaves and on a bright and clear morning and the front moved through it was suddenly 'stick season.'

Other than a few Buffleheads who've migrated south, it's pretty barren on the river. An owl or hawk wiped out all the birds at our feeder. Things look a little bleak in our society, too.

But as we hit the holidays there's an opportunity to drop below the seasonal platitudes about gratitude and generosity.

We can actually remember to contemplate and cultivate these qualities of the heart.

When I do, everything changes. Life feels magical again.

I wish you well into the holiday season.    

Pragmatic Dharma

  For a board-certified introvert, I talk a lot.

I'm actually pretty quiet, but I do offer about 45 public talks each year.

I'm not a scholar. I don't spend time scouring original texts or teasing out the finer points of different schools of philosophy. What fascinates me is what I think of as "Pragmatic Dharma."

How do you apply these classic and perennial teachings to your day-to-day challenges in a way that not only makes your life easier, but may actually point toward freedom?

That's the theme of the talks from this month: Wise Action.

Here they are if you're interested:

From Anxiety to Wise Action From Anger to Wise Action From Conflict to Wise Action

My talks are available on iTunes as well as YouTube.      

A Day of Intensive Practice

  A Meditative Journey: Dynamic Meditation December 16, 2017, Bethesda, MD

Created in 1970 by the teacher, Osho, Dynamic Meditation is a powerful method of releasing deep-seated tensions and cultivating a state prime for meditation. Jonathan offers a variation consisting of five phases: * Phase 1: Energetic movement

* Phase 2: Free flow movement

* Phase 3: Chanting

* Phase 4: Sitting meditation

* Phase 5: Deep relaxation

Dynamic Meditation is safe and and the same time, deeply engaging. No prior experience in yoga or meditation required. The second half of the day will follow a more traditional format. To deepen your day of practice, much of the day will be in social silence.

For more information and to register online, click the pic:

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Fresh Photos

  Despite the dull foliage this fall, a few moments from November:   Every now and then, you get a heart-stopping sunrise like this.   spacer-25 Murmuration in action.   spacer-25 All there is left on the trees are these Beech leaves.   spacer-25 An empty nest on a cold morning.   spacer-25 But they’re back for another winter!   spacer-25 Some mornings are like this.   spacer-25 And some are like this. Note the eagle’s nest on the right side, on the island.   spacer-25 Headed into infinity.   spacer-25 Massive morning murmuration.   spacer-25 This time of year the Sycamores seem to pop out from the riverbanks.   spacer-25    

Video: Wise Action with Jonathan Foust at the IMCW

  I have a 'face made for radio,' but if you're interested in actually watching a talk, I recently subbed for Tara's class offering this talk, "From Anxiety to Wise Action."        

You can help bring mindfulness to Richmond, Virginia

  The Chrysalis Institute in Richmond, Virginia is the business of offering transformational programs for the greater Richmond area.

https://www.chrysalisinstitute.org

If you are inspired to help this group of volunteers create a safe sanctuary for healing and growth, check out this crowd-funding video:

Click the pic to learn more:

spacer-25 I can vouch for the dedication, love and wisdom these folks bring to Richmond to create a more compassionate world. They are dedicated to serving the underserved and making these practices available to all.    

Latest from the Blog




From Addiction to Wise Action

Your Man in Washington

From Anxiety to Wise Action at IMCW

Starlings on the Move

From Conflict to Wise Action

From Anger to Wise Action

From Anxiety to Wise Action

The Power of Restraint

Back in the Saddle Again

     

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please signup here.

      iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Meditation: Stretch, Slo-Mo, Scan, Sit and Surrender (25 minutes)

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spacer-25Special PODCAST: This meditation starts with some simple stretching and explores a slow motion release of the hands.

You’ll then move into a guided body scan meditation, a period of self-observation and a final inquiry into effortless awareness.

Subscribe to Jonathan's podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jonathan-foust/id455422434?ign-mpt=uo%3D4        

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

From Addiction to Wise Action

This talk explores how you can free yourself from life-depleting habits.

You’ll learn how addiction is about seeing more clearly as to how you try to escape reality, how these habits can be as subtle as your thoughts and how some essential strategies can create more freedom and new possibilities in your life.

 

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Your Man in Washington

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spacer-25It’s been a privilege to offer, along with my wife Tara and with fellow teacher Hugh Byrne, a series of live-streaming classes on "Mindfulness at Work" at the US Senate.

These eight hour-long classes are available to all the US Senate offices in DC and around all offices around country live, through archives and through an app.

I’m happy to be offering some direct support in these stressful times.     At the Hart US Senate Office Building.   spacer-25     Lights, camera … all we need is action.   spacer-25     iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.    

From Anxiety to Wise Action

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spacer-25Special PODCAST: This talk explores how you can transform your relationship to anxiety.

You’ll learn how anxiety is natural function of human evolution, how to identify the source of your anxiety and a method of directly inquiring into what’s between you and feeling happy.

Subscribe to Jonathan's podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jonathan-foust/id455422434?ign-mpt=uo%3D4        

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Greetings from Jonathan Foust: Resources for You From the Fall Retreat... A Day of Intense Practice... Fresh Photos... and More

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  It’s kind of freaky to do an evening walk outside in late October and hear the crickets still chirping at full volume and with such gusto.

By now they are usually long dormant.

I guess this is just one of the many adjustments to this changing climate.

On the river I’m happy to report the eagles have returned and are keeping vigil at their renovated nest. Cormorants and most of the Great Blue Herons have left for warmer weather and the main movement these days is the murmurations of starlings and the various sizes of the Canada Geese wedges passing overhead.

Robert Frost offers this line:

"In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on."

Best wishes to you in the new season.

   

Resources for You From the Fall Retreat

  Imagine seven days in silence. No cell phone or media. No reading. A regimented schedule that never varies from day to day with bells that guide you to the next event. Your meals are provided for you. Folks clean up after you. There are people who's full time job is thinking about you and supporting you.

Your job is to relax and pay attention, moment-to-moment, as best you can.

During the course of a meditation retreat you ride a roller coaster from deep fatigue to increasing vitality. From emotional lows to sometime expansive highs. From a sense of dread to a sense of awe. The 10,000 joys and sorrows of your life open up and flower in a space like this.

I thought I'd share a few talks and guided meditations from this recent retreat. These are also available on my podcast as well as my youtube channel. I hope you find them helpful.

Day #3: Morning Instructions (Mindful Movement, Body Scan and Anchor) This meditation begins with seated mindful movement, moves through a body scan (8:30), guides you to an anchor of your choice (14:24) and focuses on cultivating attention to the present moment.

Day #4: Evening Talk: Polishing the Lens of Perception You'll learn the distinctions between energy and feeling, thoughts and thought-forms as you can expand your capacity to see clearly and with an open heart.

Day #5: After a short introduction on this unique technique you'll be guided into open focus meditation and an exploration of spacious awareness and loving presence.

Day #6: Evening Talk: Qualities of an Awakened Being The final evening of the retreat. You'll learn how to determine your progress on the path, how an awakened being accepts this life with full responsibility, actively investigates the shadows and cultivates a world of new possibility.

You'll also hear me chant a little Sanskrit as part of an homage to the Diwali celebration (the festival of lights celebrated by millions) which started that night.      

A Day of Intensive Practice

  A Meditative Journey: Dynamic Meditation December 16, 2017, Bethesda, MD

Created in 1970 by the teacher, Osho, Dynamic Meditation is a powerful method of releasing deep-seated tensions and cultivating a state prime for meditation. Jonathan offers a variation consisting of five phases: * Phase 1: Energetic movement

* Phase 2: Free flow movement

* Phase 3: Chanting

* Phase 4: Sitting meditation

* Phase 5: Deep relaxation

Dynamic Meditation is safe and and the same time, deeply engaging. No prior experience in yoga or meditation required. The second half of the day will follow a more traditional format. To deepen your day of practice, much of the day will be in social silence.

For more information and to register online, click the pic:

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Fresh Photos

  I was away on retreat this month and thereby without a camera in hand, but I do have a few images from this month commemorating October:   A still, fall morning on the Potomac.   spacer-25 Muted colors this year in the mid-Atlantic.   spacer-25 Post-flood foliage on an island.   spacer-25 Floating down the river in a thick fog, my first siting of the Bald Eagles this season.   spacer-25 Later, when things cleared up, an eagle keeps vigil over the recently repaired nest.   spacer-25 One of the remaining herons, preening at first light.   spacer-25 Just one of the many shots from my Left (from the) Behind series.   spacer-25 Our awesome fall retreat crew. Pat Coffey, Janet Merrick, La Sarmiento, Sebene Sallasie, Gary Hillesland and moi. (Missing Jess Frey.)   spacer-25 All Souls Church, downtown DC, just before the IMCW 20th Anniversary celebration.   spacer-25 A great collection of souls at All Souls Church.   spacer-25    

Video: Murmurations

  A short reflection on inter-connectedness while watching flocks of starlings gather on an island on the river.        

Is There a Topic You’d Like to Me to Explore?

  I'm working up new dharma talk titles for the next six months.

Is there a particular topic you would like to hear me go after?

If so, please shoot me at email at jonathanfoust@mac.me. I'm happy to entertain your suggestions.    

Latest from the Blog




Qualities of an Awakened Being (Retreat Talk)

Polishing the Lens of Perception (Retreat Talk)

Meditation: Open Focus and Loving Presence (Retreat Meditation)

Meditation: Morning Instructions on Retreat (Mindful Movement, Body Scan and Anchor)

Why I Dislike the Word ‘Mindfulness’

Retreat

Going with the Flow

     

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please signup here.

      iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Qualities of an Awakened Being (Retreat Talk)

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spacer-25Special PODCAST: This talk explores how to be awake in the world.

You’ll learn a little about the Diwali celebration, how to determine your progress on the path, how an awakened being accepts this life with full responsibility, actively investigates the shadows and cultivates a world of new possibility.

This talk is from the 2017 IMCW Fall Retreat.

Subscribe to Jonathan's podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jonathan-foust/id455422434?ign-mpt=uo%3D4        

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Meditation: Morning Instructions on Retreat (Mindful Movement, Body Scan and Anchor)

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spacer-25Special PODCAST: This meditation begins with seated mindful movement, moves through a body scan (8:30), guides you to an anchor of your choice (14:24) and focuses on cultivating attention to the present moment.

This meditation is from the 2017 IMCW Fall Retreat.

Subscribe to Jonathan's podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jonathan-foust/id455422434?ign-mpt=uo%3D4        

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Why I Dislike the Word ‘Mindfulness’

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spacer-25Special PODCAST: This talk explores my antipathy toward the word ‘mindfulness’.

You’ll learn what mindfulness is not, some alternative names and a review of the fundamentals of this practice which can lead to greater aliveness and freedom.

Subscribe to Jonathan's podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jonathan-foust/id455422434?ign-mpt=uo%3D4        

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Retreat

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spacer-25Just back from the weeklong Fall IMCW Retreat.

I’m always blown away by the power of pausing.

Do plan a retreat if you can. There’s nothing like slowing down and in silence, training yourself to be fully present.

Day after day after day after day ….     spacer-25   spacer-25 With fellow teachers Pat Coffey, La Sarmiento, Sebene Salassie and moi.     iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.    

Going with the Flow

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spacer-25Today we got .72 inches of rain.

The river fluctuates as much as ten feet on a regular year, from typical flooding to droughts. This has been a time of little rain, particularly in West Virginia, which feeds the Potomac.

In the shot above, taken on a foggy morning, you can definitely see which way the water flows. And you can see how the river dramatically low. Imagine the trees on that island up to their necks in raging water.

From the looks of things, a lot of rain fell in the mountains in these last days which means the accumulated drek: algae, scum, leaves and other detritus will get washed through.     spacer-25 Since the drama of wind, it’s been days of fog.     iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.    

Greetings from Jonathan Foust: Three Ways to Train Your Attention... Don't Just Do Something - Sit There!... Fresh Photos... and More

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  Focus on being present in meditation and you'll automatically become aware of how you are scattered and distracted.

Focus on kindness and you'll notice how you can be petty, judgmental and mean.

This month has been dedicated to writing.

I've been fantasizing about these four weeks when I could take a deep dive into my book proposal, undistracted and in a seamless flow of creativity.

Hah!

I picked up a bad chest cold flying back from California so the first ten days were dedicated to coughing and phlegm production. When that started clearing up I was beset with computer issues.

Finally I hit a rhythm and even though writing can be hard, I've had a few spasms of insight and rushes of enthusiasm.

I keep returning to one of the best mantras I know: "Keep Going."

Hurricane Jose brushed against Cape Cod so much of our weather was grey and windy.

The bad news? No swimming. The good news? No shark attacks.

I hope this finds you well and in a good groove.

   

Three Ways to Train Your Attention

  As I spent the last month on Cape Cod, I thought I'd explore three states of paying attention in relationship to swimming in the Atlantic.

Focus Have you noticed how often the happiest times in your life are when you are fully engaged?

The other day I was plotting out a long distance swim. Hurricane Jose had blown in intensely cold water. I knew that in order to swim a mile or more in cold chop, I had to really pay attention.

As I focused on the rhythm of the breath and the details my stroke, the more I felt a sense of absorption and intimacy in each moment. What started out scary ended up feeling blissful.

Flow Have you noticed that sometimes you experience life like a movie, one moment opening right into the next?

Some describe the ‘flow' state as being aware of change but at the same time, allowing it to be. Some report these experiences when they are engaged in sports, absorbed in a task, in moments of intimacy, being in nature, making art, sometimes in yoga, prayer or meditation itself.

I started my swim with a focused intention on not dying. That moment-to-moment hyper-focused attention gradually led to relaxation and then opened up into the flow state.

I became the observer of all the details, somehow both outside my experience, but at the same time, deeply connected.

Let Go Have you noticed sometimes you can feel completely, deeply relaxed but at the time time, intensely and vibrantly alert?

I got back to shore, still in my wet suit, wrapped up in towel and relaxed. The sun was dropping toward the horizon. Gulls gathered in front of me squabbling over fishing rights. A seal popped to the surface. All seemed perfect in the world.

There was nothing to add, nothing to take away.

Each of these states provides particular qualities that can be useful in your life.

Focus collects your attention in the here and now.

Flow cultivates your capacity to be the witness of change.

Let Go develops your capacity to surrender into the mystery of life.

To hear more about these qualities and how to develop them, you can listen to this talk here on my iTunes podcast and here on youtube.      

Don't Just Do Something - Sit There!

  There may still be a space for you in our fall retreat.

All great traditions speak of the power of slowing down and pausing.

When you do, the most amazing things can happen.

For more information and to register online, click the pic:

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Fresh Photos

  Me keeping an eye on Hurricane Jose.   spacer-25 Fresh crab AGAIN?!?   spacer-25 Longnook Beach before the storm.   spacer-25 Longnook Beach under duress. Hurricane Jose brought some drama with 65mph winds. It’s almost impossible to imagine winds twice this much and more further south.   spacer-25 The pastels of late summer. The sun sets behind a bank of clouds.   spacer-25 Another day of grey.   spacer-25 Tara in way over her head.   spacer-25 At low tide a seal settled on this rock just under the surface. It must have fallen asleep, then woke up a bit stranded.   spacer-25 The infinite horizon.   spacer-25 After the seal left, another resident arrives.   spacer-25    

Video: Take A Few Moments to Hang with Some Bathing Geese

  Early in the morning on the river I encountered these two geese doing their morning ablutions when a Great Blue Heron chose to stroll through the scene.

Shot with my Lumix GH5 at 35% speed.        

Video: 12 Breaths Meditation: Images from Cape Cod

  Explore the effect of a few minutes of Coherence Breathing and if you would like to keep your eyes open, some footage from Cape Cod.        

Two Apps That Help Me Focus

  Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?

I've been using this practice for a number of years now. This month especially, slogging through designing a book and writing, I used it for much of the day.

If you have trouble keeping exclusive focus on one topic at a time, consider giving this a shot.

It's pretty simple.

* Choose a task. * Set a timer for 25 minutes. For those 25 minutes, focus all your attention on that one task. * Take a forced 5 minute break. Even if you're on a roll. * Do it again. * After a certain number of rounds, take a longer break.

Twenty five minutes is a decent amount of time for me to focus. If I'm on a roll and skip the forced break, I tend to burnout and throw myself off balance.

You can read about the process here - and find out how it got the name "Pomodoro".

An even better way to help you focus?

Add either dual binaural beats or a scientifically-engineered soundtrack.

The two apps I highly recommend:

Brain Wave This is for iOS and Android, both iPad and iPhone. You'll find a number of dual-binaural beat programs that range from high focus to meditation and deep relaxation.

Link to the iTunes store.

Focus@Will I've been using this app all month. It's been enormously beneficial in helping me sustain focus.

Focus@Will has done a ton of research into acoustics and their effect on concentration and removing distractions.

This is web-based as well as an iOS app. It struck me as pretty expensive, but there's no question that I've already gotten my money back through my increased productivity.

This link gives you a free trial and a $20.00 discount if you sign up.    

Latest from the Blog




12 Breaths Meditation: Images from Cape Cod

Home Again

Hurricane Jose

Seal of Approval

Bathing Geese

Watching the Storm

     

To receive a monthly newsletter,
please signup here.

      iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.

Three Ways to Train Your Attention

3waystotrainyourattention-jonathanfoust.jpg

This talk explores three attentional strategies that can dramatically impact your meditation practice as well as the rest of your life.

You’ll learn the importance and impact of Focus (concentration), how to cultivate Flow (to develop your capacity to be the witness of what is changing) and the importance of Letting Go (cultivating your capacity to relax and open to the mystery of life itself).

iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.