Meditation Goes Mainstream | inStudio | WSRE

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– [Announcer] This
original WSRE presentation is made possible by
viewers like you. Thank you. – It’s something we hear more
and more about, meditation. In fact, you might even say
meditation has gone mainstream. Has it? We’ll discuss that and more. in Studio begins right now. (dramatic theme music) The art and practice of
meditation is ancient. The exact date of meditation’s
origin is not known, but most scholars and architects
agree that it’s been around for at least 5,000 years. We’re hearing a great deal
about meditation these days and learning that
our family, friends, and business colleagues
are meditating. Many of you may be meditating. Still others are wondering
what exactly meditation is and why it’s become so popular. Has meditation indeed
gone mainstream? Here to talk about that is
someone who has been hoping that would happen for
over three decades and has done so much
to further that cause, Dr. Michael DeMaria. Dr. DeMaria is on a mission
to help guide others to what he calls
the ocean of peace that lies within
each human heart. He does this work an in
integrative wellness consultant, yoga, meditation teacher,
and above all as a musician. In fact, his music is heard over a quarter of a million
times each week across the globe and Dr. DeMaria has numerous
awards for his music including four
grammy nominations, six number one albums, and more. He’s also the author
of four books, three of them best sellers. We welcome Dr. Michael
Brant DeMaria to in Studio, and I mean that. And I said so much about
you leading into this and there’s a lot more because
I want our viewers to know who you are, what
you’ve been doing. You know Pensacola keeps
growing and growing, doesn’t it? And we get new people
and then people go and not everybody
knows everybody, so. – It is so true and it’s just
a joy to be here, Sherri. I always love what
you do with in Studio and it’s an honor to be here. And you’re right, I have
been waiting three decades for meditation to show up more
mainstream like its doing. – What do you think has
been contributing to that? – I think a lot of things. I think things reached
a tipping point. Meditation as you
mentioned is ancient. Going back 5,000 years,
every culture has some form of what we might think
of as meditation. And the research, the science, as well as just getting into
popular culture has reached a point where all of a
sudden we’re realizing there really are great benefits. And I think people
understand what meditation is more than they used to and they understand
the benefits of it, particularly in today’s
high-stress situations that we are living in. – Yeah, isn’t that true. Well, now you got
involved in this in 1993? Or you went on a vision quest? Or earlier than that? – 18, I was. So, 19, gosh I will date me. 1980, 1982 when I first formally
learned how to meditate. But I realize I was
probably doing this since I was seven years old after a difficult
abdominal surgery. I would hit one note
on the piano at a time, close my eyes, and let that
note dissipate off into silence. And then I would do it
over and over again. And looking back on it, as
a psychologist I realize I was self-soothing but I was
also meditating with sound. And I think some children
do this naturally. But it’s really powerful
because it really helped me deal with a lot of the
disconnection and trauma I had from the surgery. But many years later
I learned what it was to formally meditate
in a class here at University of West
Florida with Dr. Mikulas, who’s been a meditation
teacher for me for 36 years. – Wow, is he around and
he’s doin’ that now? – Yes, and so we met
last week and we meditate an hour or two together
whenever we get together. He’s retired now, but he
has turned a lot of people on to meditation in this area. And, again, it’s
been around a lot. What you’re referring to
1993 was what is called a vision quest, and it’s
really wonderful to realize that this was a Native
American process that involves meditation. A three-day meditation
without food or water. So, I was really glad I
had actually 10, 11 years of meditation practice just
so I didn’t go insane (laughs) knowing it was out there. – I would imagine that
would be easy to do. Why would somebody put
themselves in that position? – Well, what’s
called a vision quest actually the native
word, hanbleceya, means the lament or
the lament in the wild. And all cultures, again,
traditional cultures or indigenous cultures, have
some form of what we would call a rite of passage. And most of these rites
of passage usually involve solitude, nature,
exposure to the elements. And their understanding
to become a true adult that you have to really
get to know yourself and be really quiet
with yourself. One of the understandings
in Native American culture is what they would
call sacred silence, entering sacred silence, which
is really just meditation. It’s quieting your mind,
opening your heart, being present in the moment
to something greater. With a vision quest, you’re
actually also listening for a vision for your life, a sense of direction
for your life. So, most cultures somewhere
between 15 and 25, you do some form of rite of
passage that would help tell you why you’re here, what your
inborn gifts are so you can give them to your people,
bring them back to your people. And having that time of
solitude, so you’re tuning out all the noise from your
parents, from culture, from teachers and really
getting quiet with yourself. And that’s what we actually do even when people
begin to meditate, sure there’s all kinds
of, we’ll talk about this, physiological benefits,
psychological benefits, but it also helps you get to
know yourself more deeply. Who you really are underneath
all that mind chatter. And that’s what really
gives us a sense of I think of it as
heart-centered, soulful living. Because we get in touch with
something more essential inside of ourselves and it
makes you more resilient, it makes you more creative,
it helps you feel more capable of connecting with others. I don’t think I would
have had the guts to put my music out there
if I wasn’t able to tune out all the negative self-talk
that kept me from doing it for so many years. – Yeah, that’s amazing. So, most people don’t
do a vision quest. They don’t, so
when you’re 13, 15 and you’re in this
culture you just boom, go straight into life
and maybe sometimes don’t even get to know
yourself until later. How important could it
be for all of our youth to have some version of that whether it’s 20
minutes in school? – Oh, that’s one of my huge
missions on the planet. There was a book that
came out years ago called The Sibling Society,
and the message of that book is that we don’t have elders. Or we really don’t have
mature psychological adults in our culture
for the most part. I mean look who’s running
much of the show sometimes, that we can get very discouraged because we don’t know who
we are in a deeper way. So, I feel all kids, a lot of the adolescent
storm and stress could really be eliminated,
or at least reduced if kids could have a very
meaningful rite of passage. And give them that chance
before they jump into college, because most people are doing
what a teacher or a parent wants them to do, or they
think will make money, but really having a sense
of direction and mission that comes from deep down
inside, a why to their life that feels deeply
personal to them. ‘Cause you know, being also
a psychologist for 30 years, I see so many people in their
40s and 50s that come to me and they get to the
top of the ladder, and they say it’s
against the wrong wall. They say, you know
I’m not happy. I have money in the
bank, but I’m not happy. So, that’s when
we do things more from this place of heart or
soul that I like to talk about. And meditation, even
a simple meditation can help us get there,
but you could think of a rite of passage is a massive
dose of that meditation. – Yeah, that’s just amazing. So, then you went
into psychology and you had a lot of clients
and throughout it all were you practicing your music? How did your music
become your source, your means to
identify with people? – Well, that’s a great
question, Sherri, and it bears to reflect on
just what I talked about because when I was 18, I
really, I told my parents I wanted to be a musician. I really wanted
to explore music. And my father was an
immigrant from Italy, came here with nothing
at 20 and selling rags on the streets of Brooklyn. My mom grew up in foster
homes and I was told by my dad in no uncertain term,
you’re gonna be a doctor. Your kids can be musicians. So, I was trying to figure
what kind of doctor can I be and still explore music? And I heard about music
therapy, et cetera. So, I explored that, but
I didn’t share my music for many years. I was doing relaxation
tapes and meditation tapes for my clients and I would
do my own soundtracks. And I was really more
interested in that, probably, than anything. But it was on my vision
quest that I first heard the Native American flute and
it just broke my heart open. And when I was out
there, no food, no water, nothing to distract
me, I really connected with that deep wellspring
of love and care and connection to music. And I found myself singing
and chanting out there and it was very much
a sense of the vision of sharing my music. It was still almost 10 years
til I actually had the courage to produce my first album. So, it really, though, was a
way of bridging those worlds of healing and music
and art and psychology. And to this day, my music
is primarily for healing and meditation. You know I hear
people going and say, well I went to a massage
yesterday, the music came on. Or I was in a spa in Alaska
and I heard your music. Or I went to meditation class
in California and your music came on Pandora. So, which thrills me because
I meditate while I’m playing. It’s a form of meditation, a
form of sound-based meditation. Which I was doing at
seven when I was hitting that one note at a time. My parents just thought
I was autistic. (laughs) I was– – [Sherri] You were
figuring it out. – Yeah, I was figuring it out. – Well, and so then you’ve been
able to take certain sounds to evoke certain types
of emotions in people. I’m putting words in your mouth, but it’s kinda
sounding that way. – Yeah, I think that’s accurate. There’s such a movement now
even called sound healing. I have a yoga therapy sound
healing room at my office where I do sometimes just
a sound healing practice or session. And it’s deeply meditative,
it’s like a sound bath or a sound massage. So, I play a lot of different
instruments from percussion to flutes to didgeridoos
to these singing bowls. And there’s a long
tradition, actually. I mean Christian and Hindu
and Buddhist and Muslim, almost all traditions, spiritual
traditions for the prayer or meditation involve music. And so many times it’s
the chime, it’s the gong, it’s the bells, and all of
this is actually helping shift consciousness and
really help us be very present in the moment, get us out of
our heads and into our hearts. I always loved the Cherokee
have a beautiful phrase that the longest journey
you will ever make is from your head to your heart. And that’s part of what
we’re doing with meditation. – Can anybody, I’m just
gonna say this real quick, I have a minute to break. But is this wellspring
available to every single person on the planet? – Yes, absolutely. My experience is not just
a belief, it’s a knowing that deep within the human heart
there is a spring of peace, an ocean of peace and
it has a lot to do with being able to really quiet
the mind, open the heart, and this ocean of peace is
there just waiting for you. You experience it, everyone
experiences it every night in deep, dreamless sleep. So, even at sleep, I tell
people at the very least you’re meditating six
to eight hours a day when you’re sleeping. And this is the time when our
bodies and minds and hearts are restoring themselves
physiologically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. So, meditation is simply a way of practicing that
during the day. But it’s there, we all
have this ocean of peace. It’s where we come from and
it’s where we go back to is my experience. – And it’s learning
to get there. And we’ll talk more
about that coming up. When we come back, more on the
modern practice of meditation including some of the science
behind just how it works. You’re watching in
Studio on WSRE TV. PBS for the Gulf coast. We’ll be right back. (dramatic theme music) (soft piano music) (dramatic theme music) This is in Studio on WSRE
TV, PBS for the Gulf Coast. Our topic, meditation
goes mainstream and our special guest, Dr.
Michael DeMaria, a teacher of meditation and
yoga, musician, author, and integrative
wellness consultant. And so we’ve kind of been
talking about meditation, I just want people that are
viewing to be able to know that this isn’t something
that we’re just sitting here talking about that you
understand that’s out here, that’s not attainable for them, because there are so many ways to get to a meditation
practice these days. What are some of the simplest? – Well, the one I do
with everyone is actually three breaths to de-stress. And this is one of the
things that I learned even when I was a
musician with my flutes because my warm-up is to
do three deep, long breaths and just (whooshes) and
then breathing back in. And so this three-breath
meditation can really simply in three short breaths begin
to reduce stress and strain. Part of what we know in
meditation practice is that if our respiration drops,
just from a scientific point, you drop away all the
religious, spiritual background or whatever. That has nothing to do with
ultimately why meditation works. And people actually
are meditating whenever they’re in
the present moment, they’re being able to
focus on one thing, and they’re relaxing. So, just doing three breaths
lowers your respiration rate. When your respiration rate drops about to seven to
eight breaths a minute when it’s usually 12 to 15. And our usual breathing
during the day when that respiration rate, the sympathetic
nervous system kicks in which his our fight or flight. And unfortunately, in our
culture most people are in that fight or flight
almost all day long. So when you drop your
respiration rate, so just doing three breaths
over 30 seconds or a minute, you immediately kickiing the
parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest and digest. So, there’s this immediate
relaxation response. Some people call meditation
a relaxation response. The digestion slows, the mind
slows, the heart rate slows, blood pressure slows,
and all of the sudden there’s just a
sense of relaxation. So, even in my seven by
seven meditation challenge, seven minutes a day for seven
days, I hear from people all over the world, oh my
gosh, I do it every night now. I can’t believe in seven
minutes how relaxed I feel. And so, a deep breath
can be a meditation. What I call a release,
just breathing, lifting your arms over your
head and imagine letting go of everything that just happened and everything that’s
going to happen. So, it makes sense. – Oh it makes a lot of sense. What if businesses had a
moment a couple of times a day where they said, okay everybody, they were over the
loudspeaker, time to breathe, take that breath. What do you think that would
do for our productivity, for our employee relations,
for all of the things that go with life and
being in a business? – We actually know it
increases productivity. So, there was a fascinating
study that had people who were working
eight hours straight with an hour lunch break. And then they took another
group and they had them every 45 minutes take
a 15 minute break to meditate, be quiet. I mean not like drinking
or smoking or anything, but a walk in nature was okay. But they took a 15 minute
closing their eyes, relaxing. so they literally
worked two hours less and they got 20% more done. And they were happier, more
peaceful, more humorous, and interacted more. So, we know. We know this is the case. We have in our minds
this sense of workaholism that just powering through
or not taking a break. But actually our focus, our
attention, and most importantly our creativity
begins to plummet. – Well you’re talking
about the seven by seven meditation challenge, that’s something
that’s free for people. – Yes, it’s on my
YouTube channel, I have over 110,000 views, and 171 countries
from around the world. Seven minutes a
day for seven days. I guide you, it’s free. I have people that
still do it every day even though after the
seven minutes is done. Well, you know seven minutes
is kind of a key point, a turning point where you
really begin to have a benefit from having quieting your mind, closing your eyes,
deep breathing. And so I wanna say, what’s
the simplest amount of time, what’s the least amount
of time I can get somebody to just begin to give it a shot. So, it is totally free
on my YouTube channel. Seven by seven
meditation challenge. – I think that’s wonderful because literally
everybody that’s watching or is goin’ online or doing
anything can pull that up. Everybody can find
seven minutes in a day. I have to tell you, I
put it on the other night and I have a hard time
sleeping sometimes. And, no offense, but I went
to sleep and it was great. It was complete relaxation. And is it true, because
I’ve heard some people say, there are a lot of different
thoughts on meditation, right? Some people will say
you need to sit up, you don’t wanna fall asleep
because you want to be able to be present and if you, but to me it seems like
if you fall asleep, oh well, you’re still hearing
something subconsciously. Am I wrong? – No, you’re absolutely right. And so, in fact, my most
popular meditation class in the community is my
lying down meditation, my peace within guided
healing meditation, which is a lying
down meditation. I’ve been meditating 36
years, teaching and guiding, and I was told the same thing. My first 20 years of
meditation practice was primarily seated meditation and keeping the spine straight. And I still do that and
I still guide people in a very traditional
practice of meditation, having your spine
straight can be great. But it was actually
after Hurricane Ivan, I had a knee surgery
injury and back injury where I couldn’t sit
in my usual posture, it was too painful. So, for almost two years. So I started exploring these
lying down meditation practices from around the world. And I was so amazed, Sherri,
that it actually improved my meditation. I went further, faster,
deeper and I also found that it was a great way
to get beginners started. And like I mentioned, sleep
itself is a meditation. Your brain is going to
a very similar place. And we could talk about brain
waves and I love to talk about the science of
meditation, but most simply, if you fall asleep you
are actually just going to a certain form
of meditative state and your body needs it. There’s no doubt that
the more you do it, the more you can kind
of stay tacitly aware but also be deeply relaxed. And I’m one of the few musicians who actually is very
honored when somebody says, boy, your music puts
me right to sleep. And some musicians would
be really offended by that, but I, that’s the goal. So, I think it’s a
really wonderful thing when people are able to get
that relaxed they fall asleep. – Well, and again,
they’re still hearing it so it’s entering into what
they’re thinking about when they’re asleep and
probably to go to sleep to something like that is better than thinking about
your grocery list or what your husband
said to you, or– – Exactly, and as you notice,
just part of the science is part of what’s happening in
the seven by seven meditation it’s what we call a
somatic-based meditation, which is a body-based
or a sensation-based. So, when we are thinking
about that grocery list or depression, we’re usually
obsessing about the past, anxiety, we’re obsessing
about the future. And meditation is helping
us be in the moment. So, when we say things
like come to your senses, senses are always
in the here and now. So, in the seven by seven
meditation, I’m teaching you to bring your awareness
into your fingertips, into your toes, into your feet. And that moves our
literal brain activity from the frontal
cortex of the brain, which is doing
all the reflection and kind of projecting time
travel in the past and future, usually ruminating
in a negative way to the sensory motor cortex,
which is more global, more peaceful, and
isn’t full of thoughts. And so what it does is
actually, without trying to, reduces thinking and
allows us just to relax, be in the body, kicks in the
parasympathetic nervous system, helps digestion, and most
importantly it feels good. – Yeah, and once you
get into that state, then does the body have an
intelligence that it can follow with even chronic illnesses
and issues that are physical? Can it help with that? – Absolutely, in fact we know, one of the people I’ve
studied with, John Kabat-Zinn, has mindfulness-based
stress reduction where he works with
chronic pain people. And when I had my knee
and my back injury, it really came in helpful. What’s interesting
about physical symptoms, and this sounds like a
paradox, but the best way to perpetuate physical
pain in a symptom is to obsessively think about
it or try to get rid of it. So in meditation practice, if when my right
knee was hurting, I began focusing
on my left knee. So, what happens is we’re
actually distracting the body from its obsessive
focus on the pain, which actually reduces
it and over time can even eliminate it. So, so often, I wanna
write a book one day called The Do Nothing Cure, and that’s part of
what meditation is,
the do nothing cure. By not overdoing or trying
to get rid of symptoms, symptoms reduce and
oftentimes are eliminated. – Yeah, that’s so true. Getting above it or– – It’s that mind body
connection, exactly. – Yeah, you’ve
talked about teachers and how important a
teacher has been for you. I’ve heard other people, I
talked to Prudence recently and she talks about her
maherishi and how, you know. How important is that,
to have a spiritual guide to help you in this process? And if you can’t afford
one, are there guides available to you as
we’ve talked about online and different ways? – Yes, first off that having
a teacher can be wonderful and I really feel that
it’s important, though, it feels like a good fit for you and that this is something
there is what we call sometimes a contact
high or a transmission. Just being with somebody who
has been meditating a long time can sometimes help you get into that state a little
bit more easily. That having been said, I really
feel like it’s so important in today’s environment
to also trust yourself. I’m wanting to
help people connect with their own inner teacher,
their own inner guru. That you don’t wanna
give your will away or your power away and you
wanna always be that person. A good teacher should always be helping you become
autonomous and free. Even Buddha said a good teacher
should help hold the lantern to the light of your own heart. And so the idea is it
should be helping free you to become more autonomous,
independent, and not dependent. That having been said,
there’s also some great apps and YouTube videos, and
I think there’s time now than ever before where you can
do so much of it on your own. To me, if you get stuck,
though, finding a teacher to get you through those
points of stuckness, particularly because some
aspects of meditation can bring up feelings. In my community
meditation class, this is a wonderful
example that a lot of times when people first come, they
will be extremely relaxed and I’ll notice tears just
running down their face and they’ll come up afterwards and say oh, I just must
be doing something wrong, I cried through the
whole meditation. And he said, but I really
feel so much better. And I said, no, that’s very
normal because you realize why you are chronically
doing and obsessed. Because if you stop all of
these feelings you’re avoiding come up and that’s oftentimes why some people won’t
stop and meditate. But if they keep coming,
it’s not therapy. I’m not doing or
interpreting anything, but just simply normalizing. Then all of a sudden
within three, four times, all of a sudden it’s like
I say just keep breathing, breathing through it. Often with meditation
we’re actually allowing whatever’s there to
come into our awareness, pass through it, and dissolve
like clouds floating by. And that in and of
itself becomes healing. So, a lot of people will
say I don’t even know why I’m crying,
all I know is I do. And sometimes then
all of a sudden it’s like they feel
a sense of joy. But having a teacher
to normalize it, help you make sense of it,
that they have been through similar spots and places
because it does open and awaken who you are
at the deepest level. – And maybe just
having someone to say, okay, let’s start here. I think that can
be highly valuable. Well, we’ll continue this
discussion more on meditation including how you can make
it everyday part of your life when in Studio returns. You’re watching WSRE
TV, we’ll be back right after this break. (dramatic theme music) – [Announcer] Thank you
to everyone who came out and made WSRE’s annual
Be my Neighbor Day such a terrific success. (upbeat music) (dramatic theme music) – This is in Studio on WSRE
TV, PBS for the Gulf Coast. Our topic, meditation. Our special guest,
Dr. Michael DeMaria. And Michael is now being
joined by two of his past and current students. And both of these
ladies have participated in his community meditations and the entire peace
within process training. We welcome to our
discussion, Lindsey Windrow. Lindsey is a therapeutic
educational consultant in our area, a
registered yoga teacher, and integrative wellness guide. And Kate Daughdrill, Kate
is an artist, urban farmer, and public speaker. She also assists Michael DeMaria with his social media
presence sometimes. And Kate has studied extensively with Michael DeMaria, as well. So, in other words, these are
two very dedicated meditators and we welcome
both of you ladies and appreciate you coming on
the show, on the broadcast. – Thank you. – Yeah, it’s a
pleasure to be here. – Good, and we
wanted you to come on because we’ve been saying
meditation is for everyone, and so I’d love for you to talk about your experience
with meditation. Are you so different
than the average person that you just can meditate
and someone else can’t? How did you get involved? – Definitely, well I had
a liberal arts education and have always loved
thinking and ideas and writing and so I have a lot of
energy up in my head. And as I started to
meditate, which I came to it through yoga at first, and
then got more interested also in seated meditation and
the laying down meditation. But as I started to
meditate, I started to feel the energy moving from my head and all of these excessive
thoughts just into my body and into my heart
a little bit more. So, I actually started to feel
more comfortable in my body because there wasn’t this
excess amount of thinking and analyzing going
on in my mind. So, I think when
we just practice, even for the seven
minutes, calming the mind, the mind just learns that
pattern to throughout the day stay a little calmer. You don’t need to
have five thoughts while the person’s talking. Maybe just listen and be still. So, that’s been part
of my experience of
dropping the energy from my brain into
my heart and my body where it can feel more peaceful. – Some people would call
that grounding, maybe, yeah? Lindsey, what about you? – Yeah, similar to Kate, for
me it’s a process of moving beyond my thoughts to
a place of serenity where my thoughts are there but they’re not in
control of my being. Instead I’m connected
to that heart center, into this area of, this
vast area, this space. Allowing for some many
different channels to be open like creativity. And it’s a place of helping me
be able to think more clearly because from that
space of expansiveness and heart-centeredness, my
thoughts become affected by that so that I’m able to see
more clearly, I feel. And yes, I mean it has. Meditation for me
has so many benefits. I was thinking while I was
listening to the first part of the show that after
Michael’s meditation classes whether it’s at Sanders Beach
or in heart warrior training where we do a lot of
meditation, when I get home and I go to bed I
am just so relaxed and I sleep so soundly. My dreams are more vivid. So it has very powerful effects on many different levels. – Is it safe to say that it’s
changed both of your lives? Kate? – Oh, absolutely. I feel so much more
at home in my body. I just feel more comfortable. I feel like I can feel
feelings more deeply. I think I just
feel more present. And I mean I’m a gardener,
as well, I have a urban farm and so as I garden, as I cook,
as I interact with neighbors, there is a joy and a pleasure when you’re just
fully in yourself. And I’ve found that I can
garden and think about my to do list, but by
just having that small meditative intention of let
me just fully experience this, I can smell things more deeply, I can feel touch
more profoundly. I just experience life in a more, to me,
beautiful and deep way. – Well, Michael was saying,
Lindsey that typically when we’re depressed or anxious
it’s because we’re thinking about the past or we’re
thinking about the future. Do you find that this
present moment awareness is very helpful? – Definitely, it definitely is. When you’re focused,
when you’re being present and you’re focused on just
what is happening right now and you’re more
connected to your body, I think that those other
depression, anxiety it just fades away. – Michael, are these
pretty typical responses that you get from people that
have either taken your courses or been in your
meditation classes? – Well, not so
articulate, but yes. The content is, for sure. It continues to amaze me
and I remember even at 18 when I first started to
meditate and how it started just a change pretty quickly
in terms of just finding myself more present in whatever
it was I was doing. And they both mentioned that. And that comes to this idea
that it can really improve whatever you’re doing. You can meditate while
you’re doing the dishes, you can meditate
when you’re running, you can meditate when
you’re riding the bike, you can meditate when
you’re gardening. It can deepen your sleep because you do a form of
meditation before you sleep by just doing some deep
breathing and doing a body scan and progressive relaxation. So, it’s a way of
really beginning to not only get to know
yourself, but your mind. And actually Lindsey’s
worked with my teacher, Dr. Bill Mikulas, as well
as his most recent book is Taming the Drunken Monkey. And so there’s the old saying
that our mind untrained with meditation is
like a drunken monkey. And I think there’s, I think I mentioned it
to you at the break, too. I have some people who
start meditating going, I don’t know if I
like this, Michael. It feels like being
locked in a phone booth with a crazy person. I don’t think I wanna
know myself this well. That’s a typical
beginning response because we first start looking
within and quieting our minds we see how unruly that mind is. And yet, pretty
quickly, particularly with certain kinds of practices, you can learn to tame
that drunken monkey or occupy that drunken
monkey with an activity, whether watching your
breath or listening to music or doing a body scan
where you touch, and I liked when
Lindsey said that, more expansive awareness. And so it’s not only
present moment awareness, but it’s a vast spaciousness. When I talked the
ocean of peace, it’s all of a sudden,
the biggest misconception around meditation, and
you both mentioned this is that it’s not
stopping your thoughts. They both shared very
articulately that
it’s stepping back from the contents
of your conscious. What you’re thinking, feeling,
doing, tasting, touching. That it’s creating some
spaciousness, like Lindsey said, around what’s happening
in this moment. And so, just like as an
artist, we talk about looking at negative space, or
the figure versus ground. Like right now, even in this
room if we focus on the space and not the table or our
bodies, all of a sudden our consciousness shifts. And that’s part of what
meditation is doing is looking at the space
around the thoughts, the space around the feelings, and something really
powerful begins to happen. And we see it neurologically. You do MRIs on people meditating and the frontal
cortex goes offline and this whole
other, more spacious open awareness opens up, which
we see in creative thinking. But even a beginning meditator literally it changes your mind. – And practically, I feel
like that negative space can feel like sometimes
instead of the emotion being right here and
being overwhelmed by it. Suddenly the
emotion’s right here. So, you might still
know it’s around, but you’re able to look
at it and it doesn’t feel like it’s taking
over your energy. You’re able to be like
oh, that’s happening, now let me reflect and
make a wise decision of how to respond to it. – So, maybe a lack of
responsiveness can be achieved through meditation
by stepping back and being the observer more? – Yeah, and I think the
more you meditate, too, you’re able to be more
aware of the triggers, too, that affect those emotions or that stimulate those emotions so that you can catch the
emotion sooner in the process so that it doesn’t
become so overwhelming. So, I mean there’s so many
practical ways that meditation can really help you by
providing that distance. Like Kate was saying,
the emotion is here instead of right here where
it’s totally overwhelming us. – I hear you saying it can help with all kinds of relationships
with other people. – Oh, definitely, and I
think one of the cool things about Michael’s peace within
process is in that is doesn’t just have to be you go and
you sit or you lay down for 15 minutes or an hour. That he teaches, and you’ve taught me a
lot of meditative moments that can literally
take just a second. If I am triggered
in a relationship or I’m having a strong feeling, with the release
you talked about, just the sighing in
and the (deep sighs). I do that about ten times a day and people will sometimes
be like, what’s she doing? But I do it. (laughs) and then all of a sudden I’m
like, oh, I’m here, I’m back! So, I think just in terms of
being able to fully show up in moments with people
if I find myself not, I can take a sigh and then laugh and suddenly my full
presence is more there. – And just to add on to that,
I think that just cultivating that meditative stance in
all aspects of your life can really affect
your relationships
with your children, with your co-workers,
with your spouse in very powerful ways. – And make us more productive,
we’ve talked about that. So, there’s almost like no
good reason not to meditate. – Yes, I can’t argue
with that statement. And you know they both mentioned
one of the powerful things about meditation, it teaches
you to be a better listener. And do this deep,
active listening. Partly because we’re
doing it with ourselves, but then we learn to
do that with others because then we’re
more present with them. And it’s not really, what
triggers us often is not our feelings and emotions, but our relationship to
our feelings and emotions. So, how we are
working with them. And it’s not our thoughts, but our relationship
to our thoughts. And meditation really helps
us become more skillful at maneuvering that
stream of consciousness that includes thoughts,
feelings, and sensations. – [Sherri] So, we’re not our
thoughts is what I’m hearing. – Yes, I get chillbumps
when you say that. That’s a big key point
is that you’re not who you think you are and
the mantra I love to teach that will change anybody
listening out there, your life is I am
not my thoughts, my thoughts are not reality. So, that little mantra, because most people
that’s a huge aha. What do you mean
I’m not my thoughts? Of course I’m my thoughts. But if people can
really get that, that starts working on you and then all of a
sudden you realize that constant stream of
thoughts is totally conditioned from a lifetime of school. And you came into this world
without a thought or a word and you lived there for three
years in pretty blissful, what do I call am-ness,
which is there was no ego. There was no I. And the self is
really what causes most of our struggles and pain. So, meditation helps
you get to that place where you are not your thoughts, but you are the awareness
of your thoughts passing through
your consciousness. – So you can let
the thoughts go by and you can look at them
and realize that’s not you. – [Michael] That’s right,
they’re just like clouds. That’s interesting thought. – Are we all, when we’re
in a meditative state, are we all going to the
same place inside ourselves? Is it all somehow connected? And we don’t have much time. (laughs) that’s a big question, but– – That’s a big question. – Do you get that feeling? That maybe you’re able to
relate to others better because you know we’re kind of– – I think so. I think that there’s a
universal meditative state. And that our own meditative
state is connected to that universal
meditative state. – Well, that’s part
of what intimacy is. When you’re fully present
in you and they are and you look in someone’s
eyes, you’re in a meditation and you’re in it together. So maybe that’s part of
that energy of oneness. – That’s really nice. Well, we will continue
our in Studio discussion, meditation goes mainstream,
right after this quick break. Stick around because Dr.
DeMaria may just lead all of us in a guided meditation. You’re watching PBS
for the Gulf Coast. (dramatic theme music) (gentle guitar music) (dramatic theme music) This is in Studio on WSRE TV. We’ve been discussing the
benefits of meditation with Dr. Michael DeMaria
and two of his past and current students, Lindsey
Windrow and Kate Daughdrill. So, during the break
we’re just discussing. Have we described what the
difference between mindfulness and meditation is, or is
it all mixed together? Or what’s the short
answer to that? – So, they are different. Or I should say, mindfulness
is a form of meditation. There’s two main kinds
of meditation practices. One is concentration practice and one is mindfulness practice. So, concentration is really
when we’ve been talking about training the mind to
be focused and attending to one object. That could be the breath,
it could be a candle, it could be a mantra, it could
be like when I was doing my sound-based with
my piano as a kid. Mindfulness you
hear so much about. TIME magazine a few
years ago on their cover said the mindfulness
revolution is here. So mindfulness, and I have my
Mindful Moments with Michael is more of a global sense
of, said most simply, mindfulness is present moment,
non-judgmental awareness of simply what is. So, when I’m talking
about meditating while you’re doing the dishes, it’s really actually
a mindful meditation. So, I’m not focusing
a particular object, but I’m allowing myself to be
fully present to an activity. So, right now we’re
doing mindful listening. So, this can be a
meditation practice. If I’m allowing myself
to be fully present, I’m not in the past,
I’m not in the future, I am right here now. Non-judgmentally, with
you, we can have a mindful, well, we’ve been
having a very mindful, meditative sharing forum. So, mindfulness is once
again, non-judgmental, present moment awareness
of simply what is. The other kind of meditation
is we’re very specifically trying to train the mind
into one-pointedness on one object or activity. – And that’s going deep within where all those other thoughts
can float by, correct? – Dissolve it just like
clouds floating by. – Have you run into
friends, anybody saying meditation is weird or have
you had any pushback at all? I know I’ve heard people
from time to time say, be careful with that. And think of it as something
that might be religious or something that’s not
a place you should go. I mean it just
scares some people and I’d like to open that up and say, why should
it not scare people? And it’s not a religion, is it? Or is it a health
practice, honestly? – It’s not and I
wanna say most simply, and I would love
for Lindsey and Kate to say their experience. So, meditation as we’ve
been talking about it, does not require you
to believe anything, do anything, perform anything. It is not a religion. It is a practice within some
traditions, but it is primarily a form of quieting the
mind and opening the heart and releasing attachments
and addictions. So, it’s a practice. It is not a religion,
very, very clearly. It does not require you
to believe anything. And it can also be done
within any context. Some religions do have
forms of meditation, but meditation in and of
itself is not a religion. – And Mother Teresa
meditated, right? A contemplative
prayer would be– – Yeah, it’s a form
of, just real quickly, I loved her description
when they ask her, well, Mother Teresa
how do meditate? Or how do you pray? And she said, well, it’s kind
of like listening to God. And they said, well,
what does God say? And she goes, well,
it’s kind of weird, it’s like God listens, too. So, it’s listening to listening. And she certainly got a
lot done by doing that. – [Sherri] Isn’t that the truth. How about you? – Well, I think you
were asking originally what do our friends
think about meditation? Well, most of my friends like
and understand meditation, but I have found over the years that it seemed weird to
people maybe 10, 20 years ago. Not so weird anymore. I think it definitely is
becoming more mainstream and accepted, which
is a good thing. – Yeah, how about Kate? I mean we’re gettin’ ready
to do a quick meditation, if there’s such a thing, but I mean we’re even seeing
meditation on the Today Show and we’re seein’ it all
over the place, right? – Oh, definitely. I mean even scrolling on
Instagram, and I do follow some more mindful people,
but I’m seeing people offering meditative
moments even on Instagram saying that we realize that
the way that we’re living and we’re just giving
our attention away to so much information all day. And more and more people I
think are starting to feel unhinged by that
and overwhelmed. And so I think it’s
this medicine that
we all need right now and we’re all drawn to it or
more of us are drawn to it ’cause it makes us feel better. – We talk about the state of
the world and we get up there and we worry about
it and this can help? – Absolutely, I mean
there’s a way in which one of the best
things we can do. There’s a great description,
I don’t know if it was Gandhi who said, there’s two ways to change the world or
make it more comfortable. One is try to carpet
the entire world, the other is to wear sandals. And the idea of trying
to find peace within before you try to
create peace without. If you’re not making
or doing things from a place of peace within, you often can add to the
problems and difficulties and become the very monster
you’re trying to fight. And this is a huge challenge
and that’s why for me in my meditative practice
it’s the first thing I can do is start with
peace within myself and then I can be a
vehicle for that peace in the kinds of things
that I do in the world. And I do believe in activism, but if you’re not doing
it from a place of peace, number one you’re gonna burn out and you may end up making
more harm than good. I mean Hitler’s a perfect
example of somebody who tried to change the world
and make it a better place but he was a mess inside and
so he created a mess outside. – Yeah, we don’t
have a lot of time, but could you take us on a
bit of a guided meditation, even in a short one minute? And the viewers, too. I’d love for you to listen
to Michael for a few minutes and join Lindsey
and Kate and myself. – I would love to. And it’s my favorite, I
mentioned this already. Three breaths to destress
and you can do this with your eyes closed or open. But it is amazing, just closing
the eyes tends to reduce brain activity by two-thirds
because it takes so much brain activity to process
visual information. – [Sherri] I’m closin’ my eyes. – Well, close your eyes. What we’re gonna do
is take a deep breath in through the nose, we’re
gonna breathe out the mouth and we’re gonna breathe out until there is no
breath left at all. And then just wait just a
moment, and I will guide you. So, and everybody
out there in TV land, you could do this with us. So, close your eyes. Take a nice, deep breath
breathing in your nose. (inhalation sounds) Breathing out your mouth
very slowly (whooshes). And when you feel you
can’t blow out any more, blow out a little
bit more (whooshes). Take another deep
breath in, breathing in. Breathing out (whooshes). When you feel you can’t
breathe out any farther, just breathe out a
little more. (whooshes) One more time, nice and deep. Breathing in
(inhalation sounds), breathing out the
mouth (whooshes). A little further. (whooshes) Now breathe in naturally. Keeping your eyes closed, just bring yourself
to the awareness of the points of contact
between your body and the chair you’re
sitting on or the couch. Neither the body nor
the couch or the chair, but that point of contact. And see if you can just
allow yourself to rest and allow gravity to hold you to the earth. And I want you to
imagine breathing in from the tips of the toes
up to the top of the head. (inhalation sounds) And breathe out from
the top of the head all the way down to
the tips of the toes. And just noticing
how differently you
feel in your body at the moment. Feel a little more centered, a little more grounded,
a little more peaceful. And then on your next in-breath just slowly opening your eyes. And just notice how differently
you feel in your body. I mean just all of a sudden
we’re in a new place. – [Sherri] Absolutely,
I was gonna stay there. (laughs) – I stay there about
two hours a day. – Got a show to do, though. And we were saying earlier
that some people’ll say I don’t have time to meditate. What do you say to that? – If you can’t have
time to do 20 minutes, you need to be doing 40. And it is amazing because
it’s the drunken monkey that’s trying to keep you
from quieting your mind because the drunken monkey knows it won’t be running
the show anymore. It’ll be out of a job. (laughs) – Some final thoughts
from you on meditation. What would you say
to our viewers? – Just do it. Don’t let that drunken
monkey talk you out of it or don’t let life
get in the way. Just do it. – And I would say to
try different kinds. There’s so many types,
there’s laying down, there’s seated, there’s
the three breaths, there’s two-minute meditations. So, come to Michael’s classes. Find other meditation
teachers, go online, get apps for mindfulness, but
there’s just so many ways. So find something
that fits for you. – And all of that you’ve
made part of your mission and you’ve made it so much
of it free and available to people. – Absolutely, I mean we
need, to me it’s a chance to change the world
because we have to move from doing to being. And as soon as you
really quiet your mind and you open your heart. You had mentioned do we
all go to the same place? So, there’s two Native
American sayings. One is (speaks in a
foreign language), which is a greeting and it
means we are all related. And they didn’t mean
just to all human beings, they meant to the
trees and the rocks and the four-leggeds
and the feathered people and the finned people. Meaning that we’re
all part of one web of inner connectedness. The other is the
Blackfoot saying. Their greeting means literally,
how are your connections? You know, and I love that because we talk about
the connected breath. And when we really begin
to breathe and quiet and connect, we realize
our inner connectedness. One of the things that
scared the Native people of this country when we
came, were two things. And the first one was
that the white man wasn’t aware of his breath. And they knew somebody who
wasn’t aware of their breath and breathing deeply was insane. (laughs) And the other was they
thought crying was a weakness. And they knew somebody who
thought crying was a weakness would have no mercy. So, by quieting our minds,
deepening our breath, and opening our hearts we
become sane in the genuine way we all need today. – That’s amazing. I just can’t encourage people
enough to look into it more and appreciate you coming
on, both of you taking time to share your experiences
with our viewers. And thank you for
all that you do. – My pleasure, Sherri,
thank you for having us. And it’s an honor to be here. – Thank you. We look forward to some
follow-up on this, as well. Well, we’ve been
discussing meditation, specifically meditation
becoming more mainstream. Our special guests for this
broadcast, Dr. Michael DeMaria, Lindsey Windrow,
and Kate Daughdrill. Now for more information, you can check out
Dr. DeMaria’s website and there’s an online
program at There’s also a free
meditation challenge available at We’re putting those up
on the screen for you. Also, two monthly community
meditation and yoga classes are offered at Sanders
Beach Community Center in Pensacola. Now details for those
are available at and on the city of
Pensacola’s website. In conclusion, it’s widely
held even scientifically proven that meditation will improve
absolutely everything we do. And it’s never been easier to
find all the tools you need to support your
meditation practice. So, it’s safe to say, the more mainstream
meditation becomes, the healthier our culture
will collectively be. I’m Sherri Hemminghaus Weeks. You’ve been watching
in Studio on WSRE TV. We’ll see you next time. (dramatic theme music)


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