A brief case for patience

The busier I get, the less patience I have for the learning curve of others. On one of these packed afternoons, I felt so annoyed because my older daughter couldn’t figure out how to work the speed dial after I already showed her one time!

[Sigh] How often I structure my days to depend on every single thing working out, the first time.

But meditation and the Alexander Technique and parenting teaches that life builds towards something better when we stop being so results-oriented. …

What if meditation felt natural?

Imagine having a practice that began with spaciousness and appreciation. There is a popular narrative that after a long hard struggle we may find a peacefulness in meditation. But the secret of meditation experts like Thich Nhat Hanh or Chogyam Trungpa is that they teach us to start with an attitude of kindness. If we don’t bring aggression into our meditation practice with unreasonable expectations then it’s unlikely to become a war.

I gave this talk, “Your Body Is Your Practice,” a few weeks ago at an event hosted by the New York Shambhala Meditation…

And the monk who empowered me.

Join me tomorrow night, Tuesday, for a public talk titled, “ Your Body Is Your Practice ,” hosted by the Shambhala Center of NYC.

The first person to teach me meditation was a towering Australian named Thubten Gyatso. He was living in Mongolia, as I was in the spring of 2003, and he just happened to open the door at the Federation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) when I came knocking one afternoon. He was wearing the crimson and gold robes of a Buddhist monk and the sight of his bare arms took me back. I was…

Instructions for a 12–15 minute session

[Listen to a guided audio version]

Find a Place: Depending on how many people are home on any day, I meditate either in my kids’ room, which is quiet and large (and not drafty), or in my wee office. In olden days, I would practice meditation for a minimum of 25–30 minutes but at this season of peak parenting, I often sit about 12–15 minutes in the mid-morning once the flurry of breakfast and getting people dressed has subsided.

Set a Timer: After the usual procrastinating has run its course, I set a timer on one of the various surveillance…

In case you weren’t on a cross-country flight in the early 2000’s, here’s the plot of the movie Maid in Manhattan: J. Lo is a maid with movie star looks toiling at a Waldorf-Astoria type hotel who gets onto senatorial candidate Ralph Fiennes’ gold-plated radar despite her low socioeconomic status or, perhaps, because of it (Fiennes says with a surprised grin, “No woman ever speaks like that to me!”). The movie begins as a comedy of mistaken identity and resolves itself with J. Lo and her son being helicoptered out of poverty’s narrow choices into a wide-open life with Fiennes.

And what a truce with pain feels like.

I’ve been in pain the last several days. The phrase “ in pain” relays the immersive experience of it, as if you were in an aquarium tank going in circles. Currently, the muscles up around my spine feel like a twisted geyser and my head seems to be pulling to the right.

Without quite realizing it, I’ve been practicing the ‘Getting Through It’ mentality. You know, you’re walking around kind of on fire and yet you have to keep calm and complete the day’s itinerary. I get like this sometimes. My world narrows to a long, darkened hallway and there…

A Four-year-old’s Perspective on Illness

Last week, I discovered this handwritten message that had been taken off the wall of my daughter’s Pre-K classroom. My daughter had said these words during a classroom meeting when her teacher wanted to know why a “Doggy” game had led to so much arguing and crying.

As far as the game, I think you get the idea: the kids take turns acting like a dog, crawling on the floor, rolling over, barking, and sometimes being sick and needing to be taken care of. To be an “owner” was more responsibility. …

Listen to the podcast here.

On my Alexander Technique training course, you’d often see trainees laying on the floor with a book under their head as if charging themselves from an unseen outlet on the ground. “Constructive rest” as it’s called, is a regular part of my week and my health toolkit. I’m sharing it today because this practice can calm a jangled nervous system.

It’s drawn from the repertoire of the Alexander Technique because it also stimulates our natural postural system. Normally gravity works in a direction down your spine. Here though, gravity has a spreading effect, like a…

A Teaching on the Classic Obstacle of Disheartenment

[Quick note: I’m delighted that my essay on fatherhood, masculinity, and disability was just published on Fatherly. You can read it here.]

Just so you know, it’s not like I wake up even keeled and wanting to commune with the rising sun. I’m usually ejected from sleep by one of my daughters, petitioning for breakfast or lobbing outlandish requests while my defenses are weak: “Can I watch a movie before school? Can we have a doughnut?” When I have finally done the hundred things of breakfast, lunch, and school drop-offs, I often think about gliding right past my meditation cushion.

And a practice to find direction from within it.

Let’s face it — none of us are where we want to be. My floors are all scratched up. When I run, I hear a weird clicking noise in my knee. I should read more books. I’m going to have to forage in retirement. The list goes on, and it has been going on for thousands of years.

In the 4th century BC, Plato wrote that truth, beauty, and perfection exist only as ideas and that this world, which we know through our senses, is a fallen, shadow version of reality. Plato is credited with setting the stage for later…

Dan Cayer

Meditation + Alexander Technique teacher. Author of “Don’t Get Better,” forthcoming guide to sanity, humor, and wisdom during illness. dancayer.co

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