Discovering Meditation, Happiness, and Inner Peace with Meditation Teacher Chad Foreman
This episode is brought to you by uBiome. Get 10% off on a uBiome kit to test your microbiome and understand yourself and your body a little bit better by visiting https://ubiome.com/superhuman.
If there is one identifiable common thread shared by many of the world's top performers, it's probably meditation. It's not a coincidence that one of the first articles on the site was an invocation that Meditation is For Everyone. Indeed, in many past episodes such as that with Dr. Andrew Hill, meditation has come up time and time again as one of the most powerful techniques to improve your cognitive, spiritual, and emotional health.
For this reason, we scoured the web to find some of the most influential and respected thought leaders on the subject. Our search lead us to Mr. Chad Foreman, a Tibetan Buddhist monk from Australia. After spending 6 years in a monastery studying from the most respected gurus in the world, Chad began spreading the seeds of their wisdom. Since 2004, he has amassed a following of 1.5 Million people for his organization, The Way of Meditation, and continues to touch lives and inspire through workshops and one-on-one training.
Whether or not you currently have a meditation practice, this episode will offer you a lot of tips and inspiration to start or improve it. Chad is a truly inspiring and thoughtful speaker, and I am confident you'll enjoy listening to him as much as I enjoyed interviewing him.
In this episode, we discuss:
- What motivated Chad to change his life path from athletics to Tibetan Buddhism
- The differences between the two general categories or sides of meditation
- The basic principles of meditation, and a few different ways to do it
- The long list of benefits that meditation offers
- Is the idea of “improving” in meditation a misnomer?
- What is “enlightenment?”
- Is meditation as effective if approached from a secular standpoint?
- What role does paradigm shift and seeing the world differently play in meditation?
- How important is posture and positioning when meditating?
- How do substances like medication, nootropics, caffeine and alcohol help or hurt meditation ?
- Can psychedelic drugs help you explore your mind? Are they worth exploring?
- What is the pineal gland, and is it something Chad thinks about?
- As a beginner, how can you know that you're on the right track?
- What is the role of thought in meditation?
- How valuable is guided meditation, and how should you use it?
- Does Chad have a step-by-step prescription for starting out?
- When should you meditate, ideally?
- How could meditation change the world?
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Tibetan Buddhism
- Sam Harriss (his blog, podcast, and books)
- Meditation stools
- Zafus, or meditation cushions
- 3M noise blocking earmuffs – great for meditation!
- Our previous interview with cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Hill
- “Drugs and the Meaning of Life” by Sam Harriss
- Alan Watts and his book
- The pineal gland
- Terrance McKenna and his many books
- Meditation apps for your smartphone, (like Headspace and Calm)
- Chad's Facebook Page, Meditation Masters
- Chad's website, The Way of Meditation
- Our episode sponsor, uBiome
Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
Jonathan Levi: What's up SuperFriends. Welcome to this week's show. You know, meditation has come up a lot in past episodes. And it seems that a lot of the world's top performers are using meditation to find emotional clarity. To find mental performance or just generally to improve their minds health. For this reason, I'm so excited to welcome my guest today.
He's becoming one of the foremost experts on meditation and he spent 11 years helping over one and a half million people start or improve their meditation practice. He's an incredibly interesting guy. I mean, he spent six years in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. And was ordained as a Buddhist monk, but he had so much to share with us about meditation and its benefits and how to integrate it into your daily life.
That we didn't even get a chance to talk about what life on a monastery was like.
This episode is brought to you by uBiome. Did you know that your body is covered in trillions of bacteria? uBiome lets you learn about your inner world, how you compare to others and to yourself over time, go gluten-free and see how your microbiome changes.
Is your probiotic working. Check them out @ubiome.com. I know you're going to take away a ton from this episode. So I'm really excited to introduce you guys to Mr. Chad Foreman.
Morning, Chad, welcome to the show.
Chad Foreman: Thanks, Jonathan. Pleasure to be here.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, we're very, very happy to have you. So Chad, I'm very, very curious. The first thing I wanted to ask you, because it's always something I wonder when I see someone who's spent time in a monastery or a monk, or kind of really devoted their lives to this practice.
What motivates you to devote your entire life to meditation? Could you maybe share a little bit of your story with us and what happened in your life that made you say, Hey, I want to go join a convent? I want to spend hours a day meditating.
Chad Foreman: Sure. I guess it was a long process pose as an athlete, as a tennis player, growing up, trying to break through the professional circuit.
And it was through that training that I became familiar with mental training. The sports psychology, controlling your mind for the best result on the court and that sort of thing. And I came across Tibetan Buddhism while I was coaching. I'd retired from my uh, Korea if you can call it that. And I was coaching and I was helping other people with that as well, but it was coming across Tibetan Buddhism with they're all about mind training, training, your mind to be calmer, clearer, happier.
I really took to that on the level of training skills. It seemed to me, and also, I guess, where happiness came from, there's a short answer to this is I wanted to be happy and pursue my highest happiness. And I came across the idea through Buddhism. That happiness comes from the mind and not so much from your possessions or anything else, and then intrigued me.
And it seemed that you could train your mind to be happier through meditation and mindfulness and mind control. And as I said, from an athletic perspective, I thought I can do this. I can try my forehand to get better. I can train my muscles to get stronger. Why shouldn't I be able to train my mind? To get happier.
Jonathan Levi: Is happiness something that you struggled with previously?
Chad Foreman: I was an average guy I guess I come from a middle-class family. I was pretty well off here in Australia. So no, I never, never really sunk down into depression or anything in my early days. I think anger was something I struggled with on and off the court, a short temper and getting frustrated, and things like that.
And that's what attracted me again to the Buddhist side of things, where they sort of have promises where you can reduce your anger to be happier. So it was more trying to excel at happiness and get the highest happiness. Rather than, you know, being miserable and trying to come out of that.
Jonathan Levi: So that's a major, major benefit to meditation, but for those who maybe haven't been exposed or are kind of new to the idea, could you walk us through some of the basic principles and maybe dispel some of the misconceptions about meditation?
Chad Foreman: Sure. Well firstly, there's many different types of meditation. I come from training and the Buddhist background. I think there's two general categories of meditation and that is a relative level of meditation, where you train skills and develop your mind. And that's more skill-based training where you can improve to get better at it.
And then there's another side of meditation, which is more to do with identity and self-awareness of your actual nature self-inquiry and those sort of meditations for that. So that there's two types of meditations that mainly taught in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and in the Buddhist traditions is mindfulness.
What's called calm, abiding. And special insight, uh, I guess for beginners, the best way to start is with concentration. And there's different things you can put your attention on. The classical one is the breath. I think the breath is a very skillful, use it in meditation. It's a very skillful way to meditate is watching the breath.
And the reason being that the breath is something that you can both control and allow to breathe. Naturally, allow your breath to breathe itself. So there's a certain mechanism in letting go of control. When you watch your breath to just to watch it do its thing. That's an important facet in the beginning stages of meditation.
Or you can use a candle or usual object just to stare at, to increase your concentration. Some people use a mantra, repeating a phrase over and over again in their head, or simply awareness of the bodily sensations as well. Is another type of mindfulness. All these practices improve your concentration, which improves your clarity.
Another huge benefit of that is it improves your ability to drop your last thought and not get into your thoughts and head too much. So the skill of being able to drop your thought and come to what you want to put your attention on is a very important skill at the beginning as well. So for people just getting into meditation, sitting down for 10 minutes or 20 minutes sitting, still watching your breath, and trying not to be distracted.
Meditation is one of those things that, uh, easily said. But more difficult to do. So it sounds like an easy thing to do just to sit still for 10 or 15 minutes and watch your breath. But once you sit down and try to do that, you realize how agitated your mind is, how it refuses to sit still or stay on the one topic or stay on what you're trying to concentrate on.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. It can be incredibly frustrating. I mean, I'm a relative beginner to meditation, but it's been remarkable to me just how far I am from where I would want to be. The question that I always ask myself is a large part of meditation. As I understand it is about acceptance and calm.
So is the idea of becoming better or improving or making progress a silly one when it comes to meditation, should you have goals when it comes to meditation?
Chad Foreman: This is a key question. Yeah, I think it's a key question. What you're asking here and there's different schools of thought on this one. Um, there's the non-dual perspective, which says it's more about that second type of meditation of discovering what's already there.
That's called the direct path and it comes from just looking within turning your mind and attention around and seeing what's there. So in that sense, you're not developing anything. You're more finding something and the great masters and people who have meditated for a while, but they can find this thing that's always there.
And for one of a better term, it's simply known as awareness. And this awareness is already peaceful. It's already accepting and it's already open. So it's a matter of contacting that. So you can get better at contacting it. I think so you can improve yourself by being able to come from that place and find that place.
So that's the highest type of meditation. And what I think is what enlightenment is discovering, who you really are discovering the core of your being. But in saying that at the beginning of meditation, as I mentioned, was concentration or uh, maybe mindfulness. And that is something that you can develop.
You can get better at your mind can be honed and tuned into concentrating better and to not being distracted being I'll stay on the one object. And the manuals are very much an improvement thing. You start with just being able to stay in your object for a few minutes. Uh, actually only a few seconds the manual say, and then you develop that.
So eventually you can stay on the object of your meditation, like your breath or your mantra without being overly distracted for up to an hour or even two hours. And that comes with some special sort of results as well. So I think there's two levels to meditation. One is very much can develop yourself, improve yourself, develop skills, improve skills.
And then there's another level where it's more just discovering who you are already. So the language of improving when it comes to talking about discovering who you are already can be problematic, but it's a huge field.
Jonathan Levi: It almost sounds as though either way, there is an element of improving, but if it's a matter of discovering who you are, it's kind of clearing off the layer of dust, that's preventing your true self and that calm, inner core from coming out.
Chad Foreman: Yes. Yes. And this is a paradox. You're not actually achieving anything. You're more removing things. There's some popular quotes on Facebook, whether or not Buddha said it or not, but that he didn't achieve anything from enlightenment. He got rid of his anxieties, anger, and depression, and so forth.
So those things were stripped away. And what was underneath them was this immaculate luminous nature. So yeah, the process of meditation could be viewed as a purifying one. Well, that classic example of dusting off the mirror that you just said.
Jonathan Levi: So I'm very curious because I've listened to a lot of work by Sam Harris, who advocates a detachment of meditation as a wonderful practice for secular people or people who have no connection to Hinduism or Buddhism.
Obviously, you've spent a great deal of time in the Buddhist faith. So I'm curious as to your thoughts on, you know, is meditation for everyone? And is it as effective if you approach it from a secular? Perspective without a lot of the ideologies that come along with it?
Chad Foreman: Good question. You asked me before about dispelling the myths.
So I think it is a myth that it is a religious practice. For me fundamentally, a meditation is driving you sane is high I like to put it. We know the idea of getting driven, insane. Meditation drives you sane, and it's this sanity of having a clear mind or be able to look at things clearly openly and without prejudice or preconceived ideas, which is what I'm calling sane.
And without meditation often we get so fused in our thoughts that we don't see things clearly. We see things how we want to see them due to our past conditioning, the filters that we have between us, and what's happening. And in that sense, we can go quite insane and be really stuck to our opinions and our beliefs and live.
Sort of by a story we have in our head rather than the sanity of the present moment. So I don't think meditation, even though it's found in religion and it's been cultivated in religion. It's not a religious practice. I think it's much more suitable to be called a psychological practice, mental health practice, or even spiritual health sort of practice.
I think it's a misconception to think that you have to be religious. In fact, it's my kind of aim to remove it. From that context and bring it into a secular context or anyone can practice it for whatever reason, wherever they find themselves. Now, in saying that, Jonathan, I think it's quite important to have a meditative view or how would I say different view of the world, a different paradigm.
And this is where non-dual teachings and spiritual teachings come into a little bit more. If you're meditating and you think that you're a material sort of being in separate from everything else and meditation simply just improves your brain cells and things like that. I don't think coming from that view and practicing meditation, you will get the results compared to taking the view that the core of your being your fundamental core is consciousness.
And it's a bit of a paradigm shift in the West in the sense that in the West physics says that there's the brain and from the brain comes consciousness. It's a bit of a flip on that idea in the Eastern traditions. Its sort of the other way around that consciousness is primary. And from that comes the brain and the body and everything else physical.
So I think to look into things a little bit more and to look into your beliefs and how you think the world is, can really benefit your meditation, taking it to all the way. Well, of course, if you've got no interest in taking it all the way and you just want to improve your concentration and your productivity and handle your emotions better, there's no problems with adopting just a normal sort of materialist view of the world.
But to really go all the way, I think you have to question your view deeply, and that's your view is a very important part of what meditation practice is.
Jonathan Levi: So Chad, we've covered a lot of the benefits. And I think at this point it's probably pretty clear to most people that it's very worthwhile to go into meditation and at least give it a try.
On the other hand, as someone personally, who spends a lot of time weightlifting, I know a lot of our audience spends a lot of time sitting. Flexibility can be really lousy and being physically comfortable can be very difficult, especially in the cross-legged position. So I'm curious what the effect of different postures are?
How important is your seating position essentially? You know, leaning against the wall, detracting from your experience is sitting in a chair, detracting from your experience.
Chad Foreman: I think it is important. Your meditation posture, if you can sit up straight and sit cross-legged, I'm a bit of a traditionalist like that.
I think there is something to it in Zen meditation. There's not a lot of instructions given once you're in that sitting position, it is just adopting that sitting position. But in saying that everyone's different, you know, if you're a weightlifter like you mentioned, and you're a bit stiffer or you're a little bit older, or you have inflexible hips or whatever it may be, or you shouldn't torture yourself into a position is probably a misconception that you need to sit cross-legged to meditate.
I think there's other factors why more important than the sitting posture. And one of them, I think that people forget about is the sitting still, the sitting still, I think is a very important factor in meditation. Having a balanced, comfortable posture is important and that's comfortable and balanced.
So however you can get into a comfortable position, you can use a stool there's kneeling stools, which make it easier. I think you can sit on a chair without using the back on the edge of the chair. All these postures don't attract from meditation at all. I think if you can sit up straight and sit still.
These are the key factors.
Jonathan Levi: Do you have some kind of recommendations? I know there are different kinds of mats, different types, and brands of stores. Is there anything that you recommend, particularly for Westerners who spend a lot of time sitting in chairs as opposed to squatting or kneeling?
Chad Foreman: Yeah, the still is a great one.
The zen cushions are called Zafus, just those round cushions. They're great to sit on. But I think when you're getting your posture right, you have to have the cushion just angled forward a little bit. That really helps. And not so much sit on top of the cushion, but get a nice angle at the front. So you get your hips in a good position.
There's lots of things like that you can use. But for Westerners, when I take my guided meditation classes, people sitting chairs very. Happy for people to sit in chairs on the edge of the chair. Like I say, so you just sitting up straight but also setting up a place in your house where it's like a sacred little meditation place purposely for that.
I think that can help you with discipline in a regular routine as well to have a special place. And therefore like have a little special cushion and a special mat.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. I'm looking at mine right now. I have a few rolled-up towels, a yoga mat under it. And in front I always place, I have these great 3m noise-blocking kind of earmuffs.
They're actually for construction work. But let me tell you if you're a beginner to meditation, the slightest sound can throw you off. So I put these things on and the only thing I can hear is my heartbeat, which is really super helpful for me, at least.
Chad Foreman: That's perfect. I mean, back in the day, the month didn't have $120 cushions. You know, to sit on you, but whatever you can do to raise your hips up a bit and sit down that that's good enough.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. Chad, I'd also be interested to hear your thoughts about substances and meditation. And I'll explain why in the past, we've had a neuroscientist on the show, discussing nootropics or smart drugs. We discussed a little bit about ADHD, medication, different substances, and how they affect the brain.
And he was also a big advocate of meditation. On the other hand, I know a lot of monks use tea to keep the mind alert. And in fact, I think both cappuccinos. Coffee and beer were invented by monks to use during meditation. At the same time, I know a lot of practitioners of meditation and a lot of different faiths believe that consumption of any stimulant or any alcohol clouds the mind.
So that's a long-winded way to ask what are the interactions between substances and medication or some of them advantageous to use during meditation?
Chad Foreman: So you're talking about like psychedelics as well and things like that.
Jonathan Levi: Well actually, more thought in terms of tea, coffee, if you're taking nootropics or prescription medicine for attention deficit and also alcohol, but I would also love to go into psychedelics as a way to explore meditative states. If you'd like to go into that.
Chad Foreman: Yeah. I mean the classic texts will say not to take any substances. I know you mentioned them. The monks having tea, I've even heard things that the incense they used in some of the monasteries were based on the cannabis, roll up her cannabis herbs in their incense, which would aid in their chanting and things like that.
Uh, it depends what you're trying to do with your meditation. I think in a way, drugs can cloud the mind, and alcohol and those things can cloud the mind in the sense of covers up, what's naturally pure and clear in your mind. You sort of throwing more dust on the mirror in a way. So mostly I'd say it's not beneficial to be taking those things.
If it's daily medication and you can't do anything about it. Well, of course still meditate to the best of your ability and you might have your own obstacles and personal issues with that, and you sort of have to work through it. Uh, when it comes to psychedelics, I think these things can give you glimpses into other states of consciousness.
Sure. Very similar to a mystique states that meditators and yogis have experienced the reports from both people, people who have taken psychedelics and people who have meditated a very, very similar. So I think there's something in that and there's research coming out more and more on these sorts of things, getting into it. I think it's controversial area, but something that I hope a lot more research has done it.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. Have you listened to or read Sam Harris's post called drugs in the meaning of life?
Chad Foreman: No, I haven't
Jonathan Levi: Well I'll summarize it and I'll put a link to it in our show notes, but basically it's kind of a very provocative article where he explains, you know, there are different substances and I have two daughters.
And if they experiment with this one, I'll be devastated. And if they don't experiment with certain other ones, such as enjoying a beer with friends or experiencing psychedelics, he says he would feel that they'd missed out on a life experience. And the reason he says that is with years of meditation, you are highly likely to experience a separation of the mind and body.
He says with psychedelics, you are guaranteed to experience it. So it's kind of a fast track to understanding a lot of things that can be understood or should be understood through meditation. What are your thoughts on that?
Chad Foreman: I think the subjects are saying should be discussed and then shouldn't be taboo.
I think some of the great scientific discoveries in the West are probably come from people being intoxicated in some way. It does give you great insight into your mind and consciousness. I think one guy, I forget who said it, a scientist is until we're free to experiment with our own consciousness, but we're not really free at all.
So it's our minds, it's our consciousness and it's still quite a mystery what's going on in there. So I don't think we should be as narrow-minded that is to play certain drugs in the taboo range and then say others are okay. And pharmaceuticals, I think we should just open it up and listen to the people who have done the research and had had these experiences.
In saying that I like what Alan Watts says about it too. Once you get the message, hang up the phone. I think that's good advice as well. I think there's danger in becoming addicted to these drugs and the experiences they bring. They're not sustainable. Any drug user will tell you that the experiences get diminished over time and you just can't keep producing these, uh, chemically induced experiences.
Uh, three alive. So in that sense, I don't think they're sustainable. They're good to get a glimpse of perhaps another other reality to break through your conditioned beliefs in what you think reality is. So it can really shake up your whole world view and look at things differently and encourage you to explore your consciousness more.
But I think there's a danger in taking too much of it and relying on it. Some teachers say to getting back to like purifying the mind, the meditation isn't a state of consciousness. It's more of a no state. We get a bit paradoxical here, but it's not a condition state of mind that you create through either mental gymnastics of meditation or through psychedelics or drugs, these states of temporary impermanent.
And they come and go. What you're looking for in meditation is to find something a lot more fundamental. That's there all the time. That can be relied upon in that sense. I don't think drugs can be relied upon as much as self-discovery and finding this fundamental core of your being within yourself.
It's there all the time. It doesn't need to be induced by meditation or drugs. It's something you can find even in this moment right now.
Jonathan Levi: It's funny you say that because I had an opportunity while I was in India to meditate actually with someone who was ”enlightened” and certainly seemed very enlightened.
And that was the exact piece of advice he gave me when he saw me fidgeting around and having discomfort was even when you're experiencing this discomfort, there is. This calm core within you and meditation is just a practice of finding that through whatever means, whether it be the breath or a candle or..
Chad Foreman: Yes, a lot of the concentration stuff. Like we said, it was just clearing it away so you can see what's there. So you can look within and see exactly what's there. And it also helps you see the world clearer as well. So you can look with honesty into the world and be better adjusted to it, more sensitive, so to speak. Yeah, I agree with that.
That it's the core of your being is here right now. And it can be discovery can be made in every moment.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. In fact, I recently saw a video which was admittedly a little bit sensationalist about the brain's pineal gland and how it's important for us as a sort of spiritual antenna. And it went on to talk about how modern diet and fluoride in our water and so on.
Calcifies the pineal gland. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on that. And is that a real thing? Is it's something we think about with meditation as improving or improving the health of that pineal gland?
Chad Foreman: I think it's problematic to pinpoint out organs and things which are meant to be antennas or conduits or something of consciousness that reminds me of love saying, Rob Jane. It was a famous book about enlightenment, I think in the seventies or eighties. And you got to your third eye by pretty much lobotomizing yourself. They literally chisel out your third eye and tap you in the forehead there. That would open it up sort of thing. I'm just a little bit skeptical about describing states of consciousness so physically and finding them in your pineal gland.
In spiritual practices, the heart is talked about a lot, having an open heart, having a warm heart, having a kind heart. They're not actually talking about the throbbing organ that pumps blood throughout your body, that they're talking about something more to do with consciousness. Now in saying that the same with psychedelic drugs and chemicals and serotonin and how these chemicals affect us.
I think that's all still a bit mysterious. Terence McKenna is probably the best one to read on that sort of thing I reckon, but he just talks about the magic of chemicals and how they gateways. Into other dimensions and alternative realities and the pineal gland being like a Stargate into other dimensions.
I really am not sure about all that. Like I said, I'm skeptical, but I'm open to it. It certainly hasn't helped me one way or the other believing or not believing in the pineal gland when it comes to my meditation. It's not the sort of thing that I need to know or develop or anything else. Yeah, but it's exciting.
I think the more research again, are there, they should be, these things should be discussed openly and researched.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. And I think, especially in Western society, we've become kind of a little bit spiritually bankrupt or spiritually malnourished. Is what someone once said to me. And I think meditation is one Avenue among many, I mean, you know, charitable giving, volunteering, things like that.
They're really ways to just explore the sense of spirituality and feel enriched by it.
Chad Foreman: Yeah. We're very fragmented and our bureaucratic rational sort of modern world and often very alienated, even in big cities, surrounded by millions of people and meditation. This core that we're talking about, I think is a sense of wholeness.
And a completeness that it has no boundaries. So it very much counteracts the idea of alienation and fragmentation and helps you to bring all of yourself into a wholeness, into a being without boundaries so far. So I think really meditation is a great tool. To help with that, um, spiritual malaise of our times.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely.
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Jonathan Levi: Chad, I'm curious. I once heard someone who was very experienced in meditating say that the first year or so he wasted because he thought he was meditating. And in fact, he was sitting in thinking. So what I would find valuable and probably our audience would find valuable is how do we know what should we start to feel as we begin, I guess, improving, or as we begin meditating more consistently? How does one know that they're on the right track? That they're, I mean, should they be thinking about that? And if so, how do we know what should we experience that says, look, you're productively meditating? You're getting the full benefit out of this experience?
Chad Foreman: Yeah, I think there should be science and there should be benefit. I know what that guy means when he means wasting your time. So you're thinking that there is a big difference between sitting still for 10 minutes and daydreaming and sitting still for 10 minutes and meditating.
So you have to make the distinction. I think the major thing you're dealing with in meditation is your thoughts. I think there's a common misconception that to meditate or to find peace, you have to stop your thoughts. And have no thoughts and that's where peace comes into it. But I think that's a misconception and it's very difficult.
The thoughts will always be there. It's just a new relationship you have with thoughts that I think it's vitally important to know the distinction between being caught up in your thoughts, the word they use in mindfulness therapies fused, you sort of become just one with your thoughts. You can't find any separation.
Know the difference between that feeling and the feeling of being separate from them. And being able to watch them as a witness and having some detachment from them. So I think that's a very important skill to know whether you're meditating or not is whether you're caught up in your thoughts and completely going off with them or whether you're detached from them.
And that detachment brings peace. It really does. When you're not caught up in your thoughts or your dramas. And particularly not taking your thoughts seriously. You're not believing your thoughts. They just become a pheromonal, passing and transient. You don't really pay that much attention. That itself brings a sense of peace and calm and non-agitation, ability to have clarity focus mind.
I think also with meditation, you become kinder and less reactive because you're not so caught up in your thoughts. You're not controlled by them. You create a bit of space between you and your reactions. So you can sort of just have a bit of distance from your thoughts and what's going on and perhaps make a wiser decision about the best way to act or in that present moment.
So I think these are the sorts of things that you should look out for, but particularly in relation to your thoughts, how, how is that going in your meditation? And that way you become your own guide, you become your own meditation teacher. You know, when you've been watching your breath and you've been fairly concentrated and you should know when you've been distracted and going off, that's one of the main skills that you need to develop. Yeah.
Jonathan Levi: So as I understand it, when someone, as experienced as yourself, meditates, you were having thoughts, but those thoughts are primarily just about the sensation of your breath or the candle there aren't emails jumping in there. Aren't thoughts about what someone said to you, jumping in every, you know, five seconds like a beginner would experience.
Is that correct?
Chad Foreman: No. No. That's, that's not correct. I have the craziest thoughts. I think about the past, what people said, it's the same as everybody else. I think that's another misconception that people who meditate for a while, don't have all these random thoughts. It's what our brain or our mind does.
It's thinking it's planning, it's judging its problem-solving and it's 24/7 and saying that I have quieter days than other days, but if I'm having a big week, a lot on my plate, my mind's as frantic as anyone else's. It's being able to find that space and not take them seriously. It becomes just like a radio in the other room.
You're not really paying attention to you, you know, there's sound there and there's stuff going on, but it's of no interest to you. Yeah. So you create space by knowing that the thoughts aren't the only thing happening in your mind. There's just so much room and then other things going on that are more primary, more fundamental, bigger.
So skylight mind is the way the masters describe it sometimes. So you rest in the sky and your thoughts just become the weather passing by the clouds sort of going through the sky. But the main thing you identified is with the sky. And that's a good way to be able to find that space when there are thoughts there.
And that way during the day, when you're not sitting down calmly and sitting still, you're able to find that space behind the thoughts all the time. So there's no reason to try to get rid of your thoughts or stop them all together. From what I understand, that's near impossible. They do slow down the karma you get, which can be nice.
But yeah, they're always going to be there. I think.
Jonathan Levi: That's very interesting because when I arrived in India, I met someone who was going to kind of be my guru for the week. And the first thing he said is, ”what do you want to take away from this experience?” And I said, ”I'd like to work on having fewer thoughts.”
And he said, ”Oh, well, I still have many thoughts.” But what I understood was that. The goal was to make those thoughts fewer and further in between and make them about the breath or essentially be deliberate in your thoughts. I hadn't realized that you're still allowing them to come very freely.
Chad Foreman: Yeah. It's because resisting your thoughts creates this tension within you.
So if you're trying to push your thoughts away, you'll never really relax. So to fully relax. One meditation teacher says it's like leaving a wild horse. You leave it in a big paddock. You just give it lots of room to move around. It will tire itself out. So thoughts are a bit like that. You just give them a lots of space to run around and to think whatever.
And by not giving them attention, they do slow down. I think at the initial stages too, you can have a really deep, enlightened meditation on your first try as well. It's another misconception that it might take years and years and years to get anywhere. It's not like that. It's not like playing the piano where if I played for 20 years and you hadn't touched a piano, I would be better than you.
But with meditation, we all have this core this aware core. And sometimes I might have too much covering up and somebody else might glimpse it. Who's just a beginner so that there's no waiting years to find it. It's right there. That's important to go straight to it within meditation. And to find that core at the beginning stages to get to it at the beginning, you can point out that it's between your thoughts, that thoughts aren't everything that there is an ending point of one thought.
And before the next thought starts as a tiny gap. And at the beginning, that gap is infant testimony. It's very small, so it's difficult to find, but if you can calm down, that's what a lot of the breathing and relaxation stuff. Is if you can calm down, your mind and your thoughts do slow down, and then you might notice that gap, like, wow, You know, sinking is not all that happens, that there is a gap and I am still aware and I am still alive.
And, you know, I didn't, I, because I not thinking, and initially you find that gap and you experience it and you get a taste for it, but then you realize that what you find within that gap doesn't disappear. Uh, when you're thinking it's still there behind the thought. So again, at the beginning stages, it can be very helpful to reduce the thoughts by calming right down and relaxing and breathing deeply and then finding that awareness behind the thoughts.
But then once you've found that awareness, it's not as important to slow the thoughts down, to find it. Cause you, you sort of recognize it more. You're familiar with it and you can sort of taste it whenever you want.
Jonathan Levi: And in some sense, you're still thinking, because you're focusing on bodily awareness, you're focusing on your breath. It's just a different sort of thinking it's observation and consciousness. If I understand correctly.
Chad Foreman: I like to call it thinking. I think you need to make the distinction between bare awareness and thinking that there's a big difference between looking at your emotions or your sensations, or what's going on in the room right now and thinking about it and seeing those things through your thoughts and judgments and preconceived ideas compared to just holding them in your awareness. Without thinking about them, judging them, comparing them, just being able to hold them in your bare awareness. And this is the key at the beginning is to know the distinction between when you're aware and when you're thinking that I was talking about before. And it's this bear awareness, which is the entry point into finding that peaceful core.
Jonathan Levi: Chad, what are your thoughts on guided meditation versus solitary or some of the very popular meditation smartphone apps that are out right now,
Chad Foreman: I think guided meditation is important, to begin with, to give you that taste and to have someone point out what you're trying to do coming from a sports background.
I see it sort of as a bit of a coach, someone who's to encourage you point out what you're doing right and wrong. And just to guide you a little bit, But ultimately, I think you have to become your own meditation teacher. And from the outside, like looking at people meditating in front of me, I have no idea whether they're lost in their thoughts or whether they're just very present with their breath and their bodies.
So you have to become your own meditation teacher. So I think for beginners guided meditations are excellent way to experience meditation, get a taste of it, find out what everyone's on about what am I actually trying to do here. Just have that guidance. But eventually, I think it's important to have your own practice.
For your own teacher and the discipline to sit down for 20 minutes a day. And also during the day, try to bring awareness into your present moment. You can't have someone with you all the time telling you to watch your breath and let go of that thought and, uh, bring your mind home to the present moment
so I think, yeah, it's important at the beginning, I think really important, but eventually, you need to be able to be your own teacher, your own guide and, uh, Take it from there, so to speak.
Jonathan Levi: Are there any resources that stand out to you as particularly excellent, whether they're books, recorded meditations, apps?
Chad Foreman: Well, I'm a bit of a Buddhist geek, so I study a lot of the texts myself. I don't read a lot of general stuff. I would say my page, my Facebook page Meditation Masters. In my website, The Way of Meditation. I try to have resources there, instructions on how to practice mindfulness. I think the apps are great, uh, modern technology getting involved.
Yeah, I think all that can help remind people to meditate, help people to meditate. Like I said, at the beginning, you need as much help as he can get to get you on the path. And once you walking on the path yourself, you can take it from there.
Jonathan Levi: That is certainly true. I started out with Headspace and I found that the daily ritual of tuning in. Watching a quick video clip explaining some concept and then listening to this common voice got me into the practice. And I was then able to wean myself off of it.
Chad Foreman: Yeah. Yeah. I've heard about Headspace as well. Good things about it. And this is bringing it into the mainstream as well and making it accessible for people and taking it out of a religious context as well.
Like we were talking about. I think these are all positive developments, but like anything, uh, even we're talking about drugs, you know, that'd become a crux and you become attached to them. And if you can't meditate without your app, Not really progressing to a state of self-responsibility and self-awareness so I think they're good for beginners and to get into the practice, and then eventually it's all you.
Jonathan Levi: I love that. So one more question I really want to ask. I know you're very busy. If you could give a prescription to everyone, a generic prescription, and this number of 20 minutes has come up, not only with you but also with the neuroscientists we spoke with what would be your step-by-step prescription for someone to start out.
You know, from time of day to length, to which type of meditation you would recommend.
Chad Foreman: Okay. It's difficult to be prescriptive for everyone that the one prescription suits everyone, you know, just like a normal one. So I hesitate. I would be flexible within what I told people. For instance, I love meditating at night.
I'm not much of an early riser people assume I am, cause I'm a meditation teacher, but I'm not. So time of day that classically, they say either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, and to make it a regular time's important for discipline. And just that's the time of day that I sit down to meditate.
So to be prescriptive, I would say to set a time set a length of time. And for me, I prescribed combining both the mindfulness and the more presence or non-dual presence together. So sitting down into a meditative posture with a good alignment of your spine, sitting up straight and sitting still for that length of time and concentrating on your breath and detaching from your thoughts.
So these are simple instructions. All we've done is sat down, sit still, watch your breath, let the thoughts go. As they bug you as they come up, just make an effort to drop them and come back to your breath. And the ones you've calmed down a bit with that, I really think it's important to bring in a sense of being or like I said, presence that you can find, and it's just sort of greater space that surrounds your entire meditation.
And in this way, you're not trying to do anything or force yourself. To achieve something like a goal. You get used to this other way of being, which is not a doing it's more just being relaxed and simple in the present moment. So that's not too convoluted. It's just sitting down, sitting- still setting a timer, watching your breath, letting go of thoughts and trying to relax into this sense of being, which has to be experienced a bit it's a little bit more difficult to explain.
But some teachers call it contentment, not trying to achieve anything, just sitting with your breath. And it's just very ordinary way of being, but we find out how restless we are and how much we strive and not happy in the present moment. When we try to eat just as simple practice. So that would be my prescription.
Those instructions are on my website as well as laid out in six points. Yeah. To go into a bit more detail. So it's just, yeah, that would be my prescription. I think if everyone did that, it's offering peace to the world as well. When you meditate, it's not just for yourself, but you becoming calmer and wiser, less reactive.
So when you sit down to meditate, remember that you're doing it for everyone. That's going to be in contact with you. And it's like a peace offering. I like to call it to the world. You're disarming your own reactivity and anger and frustration and becoming a wiser, more peaceful person which can do only, uh, help create a wiser and more peaceful world.
Jonathan Levi: That's a very beautiful point to close on. Chad if people do want to reach out to you, get in touch with you, book a private lesson, check out those great instructions and resources. You mentioned, what websites should we direct them to in the show notes.
Chad Foreman: My website is thewayofmeditation.com.au and that's got all my instructions. It's got some of my guided meditations from my classes and the I am available for meditation mentoring. So that's all of the website, thewayofmeditation.com.au. And I'm on Facebook every day. Popular page “Meditation Masters”. We've got nearly 1.5 million followers. It's a great community online.
And I post just inspirational reminders every day, mindfulness and meditation, and inspiring philosophy. And that's Meditation Masters on Facebook. So you can find me there and ask questions and interact with other people on the page as well. If you're on the sunshine coast in Queensland Australia and come to one of my classes.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Awesome. So Chad, thank you very, very much for your time today. I already feel calmer and I haven't even sat for my meditation, so I really appreciate it. And I know our audience does as well.
Chad Foreman: Thanks, Jonathan. It's a pleasure being here.
Jonathan Levi: All right. Well, you have a great day.
Chad Foreman: Thanks, Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: Bye-bye.
Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast for more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast.
We'll see you next time.