S2E3 - Meditation Pt. 2: Set & Setting
Getting Your Meditation Space Right
Set & setting I: get your space right
Welcome to The Whole Phil podcast, I am your host, Phil Reese, the DJ, that's my Facebook name, Really Phil Reese, that's my Twitter and my tiktok, and Phillip J Reese, that's my Instagram, my twitch, my dot com and my real life. Tweet me right now, hashtag #getyourwholephil and tell me about yourself. I am a loving, lovable, chubby, queer, sober, spiritual, vegetarian, feminist radical leftist web developer, and deejay in DC. This is the podcast where you get your whole Phil. I talk about whatever I want, with whomever I want, and do whatever I want, because there's no rules, no format, and no fucking censors. Let's start the show.
Today is Monday, December 21, and we’re going to continue our talk about getting started with a meditation practice. This is the second in a whole new multipart series on beginning a meditation practice. In these episodes we will discuss the things a beginner to a meditation practice can do to make it worth their while. Again, what even is meditation, anyway? What’s it do? What’s it for? How’s it done? What’s it like? Well, meditation is simply the practice of becoming intentionally aware of your thoughts and feelings and focused on how your mind is working. It’s basically watching what’s going on in your mind. In order to watch what's going on in your mind, you're going to have to fully immerse yourself in it. And that means reducing or even eliminating all distractions coming from outside your mind. And at the very root if this is creating the right set and setting, or space and ambiance. As I said in the last meditation episode, “To get started with meditation, you will need to find a quiet spot with minimal distractions and you should set aside at least 15 minutes at first. The idea is to quiet your mind for a bit, so the more you can minimize external sounds and scents, and keep lights at a calming level, the better. We can call this set and setting." The deeper into your practice you get, the more you will learn what works best for you for set and setting, but start we can begin with a few baselines. Ideally, you're going to want your practice to be flexible enough to do anywhere, any time you need it, whether that be on the train, at work, or even on a noisy plane, but for now, let's start in the space we tend to have the most control over: our home. You may share your home with several people, including children who may not understand why you would need a quiet isolated space, so adapt these tips so they work best for your situation. But you should be able to find somewhere in your home that isn't the bathroom or the kitchen where you can be left alone for awhile. This is your ideal space for meditation. If there is no such space in your home, then a bathroom or walk in closet will have to do in a pinch, or maybe you have to even leave your home and find an isolated park, an empty church, or a local library. Wherever you go to meditate, though, make sure you're able to be comfortable sitting still there for awhile. You don't need anything but yourself to meditate, but some people find that they can make themselves more comfortable by adding some additional objects. Many meditators just sit cross-legged on the floor (usually on a rug or a mat), but you may want to sit on a large, thick pillow. I know I do this, as I'm unable to sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor for very long without something under my butt. There are also portable meditation benches -- padded or unpadded -- available on many online retailer sites. Barring these, you can meditate in a large, sturdy chair as well. Make sure your feet are able to reach the ground and remain flat. You can meditate while reclined in bed, though this creates the danger of falling asleep. You can't observe your mind if you're unconscious! In the next meditation episode I will have more tips about how to position your body in all of these posture modes in order to get the most out of your meditation -- and most importantly, not fall asleep or get a cramp! You've found your quiet spot and your sitting arrangement. Now let's further customize it to assist our practice. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want your space to reduce distractions as much as possible, not add distractions. Interesting music or incense may seem like perfect accompaniments to your meditation space, but if you're going to be thinking about the tune or the scent a lot, ditch it. At the same time, a subtle, persistent scent or repetitive but not overwhelming music and sounds can give you something to return your focus to your meditation with when a distraction hits. It's good to find a delicate balance through trial and error. My favorite meditation music is a very repetitive, simple melody of zithyr, harp and xylophone. The same 90 second melody repeats over and over for an hour. The repetitive nature of the melody can be hypnotic and act as a sort of mantra for my meditation. I have another beautiful one that is strings and whale sounds, but I find the whale sounds can actually take me out of the concentration. One good nature sound I've found for meditation is bird songs. Especially on repeat. They're distinctive enough I can move my focus from a distracting thought to these sounds easily but not distracting enough to be the reason I'm pulled out of my meditation. Whatever works for you! Just be sure the volume is high enough to cover up any other persistent and distracting noises but no louder. Even a clock or metronome, though, could work, if your space is quiet enough, just to give you something very soothing, repetitive and not distracting to bring your focus back when your mind wanders. I also really like to burn incense, but I find classic scents like nag champa, white sage, patchouli, frankincense, or cedar work much better to not cause distractions than more modern scents like "lemon vanilla rosemary," or "rose cucumber bergamot." I’ve even just picked some wild good-smelling flowers on my morning walks to provide a little bit of happy smelling in the past. When I get distracted, I can focus on the smell of them to bring me back to center. Make sure your lighting is low enough to allow you to not detect shadows and movement through your closed eyelids, as this can also take you out. Your space doesn't have to look like the lair of the phantom of the opera, but it needs to be low enough light to further assist your locking out distractions. Finally, drink some water beforehand, to cleanse your palate, and just because water is good for you. But be careful not to drink so much you're going to have to pee! ----- That's it for today. I hope you're enjoying the show. If you like what you hear, please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, just search Whole Phil or go to bit.ly/findwholephil, and please drop me a rating. Tweet me at @reallyphilreese with topic ideas you think I should cover. Follow my Facebook page, Phil Reese the DJ, or my Twitter and tiktok, @reallyphilreese. My facebook page or my website is the best place to see when my upcoming virtual dj parties are coming up, like my new Tuesday and Thursday afternoon short live sessions, Club 45. My instagram and my Twitch, where those DJ gigs are livestreaming, are phillipjreese. And, remember, if you enjoy what you hear here, you can throw me a tip via Venmo, to help support me while I'm out of DJ work. My venmo is at phil-dash-reese. That’s at p-h-i-l-dash-r-e-e-s-e. I’m going to close the next few episodes out with a few minutes of just soft sounds and music with no talking, that you can hopefully use for practicing these meditation tricks with. For this first one, just get comfortable somewhere, close your eyes, and just try to focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, come back to studying everything you can about your breathe. That’s all you need to do for now! And, finally, remember, be good to yourself, love yourself, and we're all in this together.
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