Frequently asked questions:
Can meditation cure my anxiety and depression?
It’s important to never meditate with any expectation for this or that to happen, but I can assure you these things will arise less frequently the more you develop in the practice. We all have our own unique things we deal with but if we confront them and see their true nature, at the very least, they won’t have the same affect over us.
I don't have time to go on meditation retreats, will I be able to progress at home?
Absolutely, but it takes a daily practice. Anything worth doing takes time and if we don’t put in the time, we won’t get the results we’re looking for. Wherever you choose to put in the time doesn’t matter. Whether it’s at your home or on the top of a mountain.
When I meditate for longer periods, I experience lots of physical pain or my legs go numb. Am I causing harm to myself?
A good rule of thumb is that when you get up after you’re done meditating and the pain mostly goes away, that you’re not causing yourself any harm. It just might be where you are in your meditation practice. If you're concerned that you might not have a good meditation posture, I'm sure there's lots of instructional videos online you can find.
How do I know if I’m capable of meditating properly?
If you have a mind and body you can meditate properly. You don’t even need to be smart. It just might take some people longer than others to understand the practice properly, but once you do, it’s off to the races.
Do you support the LGBT community?
I will never not recognize someones existence as a human. However, gender or who you choose in a partner has nothing to do with being awake vs. being asleep. All I do is teach meditation and this kind of meditation will take you beyond worldly identities. I have no interest in politics, religion, or food philosophy. Equality can only come if you treat yourself as an equal first.
How does meditation differ from going to therapy?
Therapy helps people, I don’t want to deny that. However, I’ve found that therapy seems to encourage the patient to remain in the world of concepts, stories, and self-narratives. As Anthony De Mello puts it, “Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money...etc.” Meditation is getting to the root of the problem and confronting your issues at the deepest level. Not perpetuating the idea of I, me, and mine. I think they can complement each other well, but of course I’ll always have a bias towards meditation!
Do you teach the law of attraction or manifesting our desires through visualization?
I teach the complete opposite. I teach awakening to who you really are through non-clinging and integrating this awakening in daily life. I do like to say though that someone who lets go of everything, gains the entire world.
Will meditation allow me to get more work done?
In theory, yes. It should help your mind become more balanced and less stressed, which leads to more mental clarity and energy. However, it's a possibility that continuing to do something you’ve never been passionate about, that you’ve only just done for money, might conflict with your meditation practice at some point.
I'm so busy, I never have time to meditate. What should I do?
Everyone has time to meditate. If you’re reading this FAQ, stop and meditate. Initially, you might not have the time you would like to, but if you have faith that it will be of great benefit to your life, sacrifice some time that you spend doing something else. Netflix, YouTube, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram etc. are typically good things to substitute. I used to meditate at my old job in a shared bathroom that smelled absolutely horrible, while other co-workers would be coming and going in the stalls next to me, but it was the only time I had until before I went to bed at night, so I made the sacrifice!
Do I need to become Buddhist to meditate?
Nope. You can remain a part of any religion or any culture and still meditate. It actually helped reconnect me with my Christian upbringing so I’m sure it can do the same for whatever religion you’re a part of.
Whenever I meditate and my mind starts to calm down, I get scared. Why is this?
This is your ego. It tries to raise its head any chance it gets when it feels you letting go of it. You’re beginning to see what it’s like to have a calm and balanced mind and sometimes it takes some easing into. It’s like rollerblading down a big hill. You get to the edge and you pull back because you’re afraid. Sooner or later, you just go for it and you might fall a few times because it’s unfamiliar. Eventually, you’re able to go down no problem and enjoy the ride. The same goes for meditating. Eventually you’ll be able to let go and let the mind relax.
Why do you charge money?
Unfortunately, I have to charge money at this time or I won’t be able to teach. I’m not independently wealthy and by working other jobs, I wouldn’t have the time. I will continue to put out guided meditations and make myself available as much as possible but I’m unable to do it everyday. In theory, everything I put out should be more than enough to get started and progress in your practice. It’s also important to remind everyone that the teaching is free and will always be free, but currently, my time isn’t.
What does my donation go to?
It goes to allowing me to continue teaching full-time and pays for students who have been wanting a one-on-one session but are unable to afford it.
What is insight meditation?
Insight meditation is using your awareness to notice the truth about your experience in real-time from moment to moment. You will notice how everything is changing, is ultimately unsatisfactory, and isn’t you. This will lead to a stronger balance of the mind and you’ll progress from gross, solidified, apparent reality and move to subtler refined reality and eventually, realize the truth of God, Nirvana, Zero Point, whatever you want to call it.
What is loving-kindness meditation?
Loving-kindness meditation is putting insight meditation to use. It’s tapping into our natural, selfless nature and generating love and compassion for ourself and others. This not only can help in our daily life encountering difficult people, difficult situations etc. but it can also be used to relax the mind and body for your insight practice.
How do I get rid of my ego?
By tossing it in the trash. Kidding. The ego isn’t the enemy, clinging is. With more and more practice it will become increasingly easier to notice it and it will naturally become less of a hindrance.
If desire leads to suffering, how am I supposed to live and desire anything in life?
Desire is desire. Clinging is what leads to suffering. Desire is a natural occurrence and with mindfulness we can decide if the desire is healthy or not. Or if we don’t end up fulfilling our desire, we don’t lose the balance of our mind.
How long do I have to meditate before I become enlightened?
It’s different for everyone. It will happen when it happens. However, in the mean time we can practice to help create the causes and conditions for it to happen. I like to think that if you understand the practice, have a strong foundation, and have strong faith, that if you went on a 3 month retreat, you'll most likely experience the first stage of awakening.
I’ve been meditating for years and it was great at first, but now I feel stuck. How do I get unstuck?
This is common for everyone. At some point our practice will become stale and stagnant and it will feel like we aren’t making much progress anymore. Everyone is different and it really comes down to experimenting and figuring out what works for you. It’s most important though to not give up and just surrender to the process. What’s worked for me in the past is to stay as objective as possible as to what’s working and what’s not. And from there, let go of everything I thought I knew about meditation and start again. If you have faith in the teaching and want to realize the truth of who you are, you’ll make it through.
Is meditating dangerous?
There can be certain destabilizing side effects, definitely, but getting trapped in the giant casino of life and aimlessly wandering with no direction or purpose is more dangerous. Everything is impermanent and I’ll take difficult states of mind over never ending lives of chasing pleasure and avoiding pain any day. Although, it’s important to mention that some people have severe mental illness and I’m not a doctor. All I do is teach meditation.
I’m a Christian and we’re taught that meditation is a sin and we should only pray to God. Doesn't that conflict with meditation?
I was raised Christian and it was very difficult to buy in to it all; a lot of it just didn’t make sense to me. Now that I’ve developed a meditation practice, I feel closer to Jesus than I ever have before. He showed humanity that God isn’t outside of us. God is within every one of us and to realize this, we have to repent. Repentance is nothing more than insight meditation. Purifying our hearts and minds. “Be still and know that I am God” -Psalm 46:10
I’ve been practicing for a while now and I’ve noticed that I don’t enjoy doing the same things I used to. I don’t even know who I am anymore. Is that normal?
The things we create our identity around aren’t who we really are and it’s a natural process for us to find new hobbies, friends etc. In relation to meditation practice, it just magnifies this truth. We aren’t who we thought we were, so just keep letting go of what’s not you and only accept the part that doesn’t change.
I used to care about politics and social justice before I started meditating and now I don’t as much. Am I becoming apathetic?
Most of the time when we’re involved in these types of things, it’s motivated by fear or anger. We fear that someone or some group is going to do something against our wishes or we’re angry about some great injustice. When we meditate we realize that we’re not really helping the cause if we’re making decisions rooted in these negative emotions. We’re only making things worse. So at some point we decide to take responsibility for ourselves first and realize that in order to truly help causes we’re passionate about, we have to be a living example of what we’re trying to change. Not just an angry person attached to our intellectual ideologies.
I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor. Can I meditate in a chair?
Nope. Kidding. Of course you can. I know quite a few people who have been very successful in their meditation practice while only meditating in a chair.
I’ve tried meditating before but I have too many thoughts and I can’t concentrate. Am I doing something wrong?
Welcome to the world of meditation. It’s no different than anything new we try that we aren’t any good at yet. Think of a job you do or a sport you play. Imagine going into work for five minutes on your first day and saying I don’t know how to do any of this and just walk out. Or pick up a basketball for the first time and immediately give up because you don’t know how to dribble yet. You're finally getting a glimpse into how wild the mind is. Feel it out and have a look around. Like anything, it comes with practice and initially it’ll be tough. But if you stick with it, you’ll definitely be able to meditate.
Is meditation good for kids?
Most definitely. I wouldn’t send them on a 3 month retreat or anything but it can be fun to do with them as a game or at home together as a family thing.
I had this amazing awakening experience where I felt one with everything and now it’s gone. How do I get back to feeling like that?
You don’t. It happened, it was fun, and now it’s over. Meditation is about accepting what you’re experiencing here and now without trying to hold on to it or push it away. Eventually, an experienced meditator will realize that these magical, blissful experiences we have, are no different than pain, pressure, or heat. It’s all just sensory contact and it all has the same nature to arise and pass away.
Can I meditate lying down?
You can meditate in any posture whether you're sitting, standing, walking, or lying down. However, since all we've ever done our entire life while lying down is be lazy on the couch or go to sleep, I recommend sitting for your daily formal practice. And to keep the continuity of your practice, I recommend walking meditation. If you have to lay down due to any reason during meditation, try to be as awake and aware as possible.
Do you recommend any drugs, alcohol, or any psychedelic substances?
If you want to progress in your meditation practice, no. There's nothing inherently bad about any of these things but they don't lead to self-realization through non-clinging. In some cases, they might even be the reason you're interested in meditation, so I don't see a problem with them when done recreationally and you're not harming anyone while on them. But in my experience they dull your consciousness and it's hard to develop any real momentum in your practice.
What techniques of meditation do you teach?
I teach two main types of meditation. Insight meditation and loving-kindness meditation. The different techniques of insight meditation that I teach are what I call the "body-scan" technique, the "body-breathing" technique, and the "do nothing" technique. The technique of loving-kindness is pretty generalized. I give basic suggestions for generating love and compassion and the student can choose which ones work best for them. Check out my guided meditations for a more detailed, in-depth description of what they all entail.
Is it too late in life to start meditating?
It's never too late. There's no telling when someone will finally be ready to let go of the world and direct their attention inward, but when they are, I can assure you their efforts will never go to waste. The Buddha said, “Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.” So even if you had one day left to live, it still wouldn't be too late.
What is meditation?
Meditation in layman's terms just means putting your attention on something. What I teach is to meditate on the 3 characteristics of existence which are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and no-self. Meditating in this way will wake you up from the spell of delusion you're under and awaken you to the truth of who you really are. While you'll most certainly still make mistakes, you can never again be manipulated or misguided by any malevolent forces. You've found your way back home.
Can you meditate in a group?
Of course. It can actually be really helpful in the early stages of your practice. If you want to quit and get up from your sit, you might think twice if you're meditating with other people. However, while it's not a necessity, when you reach a certain stage in your practice and have a strong foundation built, I would recommend finding a situation where you can practice alone with minimal distraction to deal with the different subtleties you'll encounter.
Is it bad to mix different meditation techniques?
On the surface, no. But if you keep jumping around trying a little bit of this and trying a little bit of that, you won't get very far in the practice. Intuitively, you'll know when it's time in your practice to try something new but when you're first starting out, I recommend trying a few different techniques, pick the one you like best and practice it diligently. Essentially, all you're doing is relaxing your body and mind, keeping your mind collected on your experience from moment to moment, and noticing how it's impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not you. At the end of the day, I wouldn't become overly obsessed about technique. The Buddha said there are 84,000 Dhamma doors. I'd like to think that you'll stumble across one of them and it'll work.
How long should I meditate everyday?
Whatever your current schedule allows. The time you put in can never go to waste and can only go to your benefit so keep that in mind. It's not like working really hard at your job and hoping to get some big promotion, and then it's given to the boss's lazy son. The practice is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end and every effort you make will give you results. Ideally, I would suggest finding time to go on a meditation retreat and experience what it's like doing it full-time for an extended period of time. When the retreat is over, you can decide how much you want to continue practicing in your daily life.