Mitra Manesh, (the founder of Innermap and Innermap App.) is a mindfulness educator with over 3 decades of experience and practice. She blends Western methods and Eastern traditions in a synthesis that cultivates intelligence and wisdom. A student of Rumi’s philosophy, a former Human Rights Commissioner, Mitra has a private practice in Beverly Hills, CA and teaches at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center in the School of Neuroscience/Semel Institute.
A very rough transcription of my interview.
I’m here with Mitra Manesh and it’s meditation teacher mindfulness-based coach. The first question I have is. Why meditate?
Why meditate, because meditation is the study of South and eventually we can no longer skip over ourselves and we need to meet date except and hopefully greet ourselves and also meditation is a great sampler of how. A mindful life can look like so hopefully and eventually we would like to copy and paste what we do in our meditation in our daily life. I haven’t that nobody’s approached it from that place yet.
The next question is what is your definition of mindfulness? And what does it look like to live a mindful life?
Okay, so as you know, I teach mindfulness and have taught many many decades. So I’ve created my own definition nothing unusual. Just something that goes home for me and the way I Define mindfulness. As being awake and present with curiosity and compassion so I used for keywords. And the first one is a week. You may say what do you mean me to try I’m sitting here obviously up a week I drove for hours, right? But I’m not talking about physical weakness. I’m talking about with our sense of being aware and awake and knowing the here it’s opposite of being on autopilot. The second word I use was present and that is basically the opposite of being either in the past or in the future and you’ve heard me say that past is wonderful and we do want to go there but with a visitor’s visa. Because we want to learn or even maybe remember our grades experiences and learn from them even and also the future we would like to go there too. Lightly. The key word here is like the plan and come. After the present moment, so whenever we stay there too long either in the past or present or future and then that’s where all our troubles reside the extreme of being in the past brings a sense of sadness and even depression and extreme of being in the future brings a sense of anxiousness. So every sadness and depression needs a past and every anxiousness and anxiety needs a future. So it’s looking at but if we are looking into the past we’re looking at it in a light way. We’re observing it as opposed to living it exactly and grew up. There is a need for a purpose. That’s why I called the visitor Visa. I’m going to The Limited period of stay and I’m going to see some things of interest learn something. Hopefully, expand my Horizon of understanding life. So it’s very purposeful. I don’t go there to lament I go there to learn it’s a different and same thing with planning I go there to plan because of course if you and I didn’t plan we wouldn’t be able to meet today. Sure. However when anything. Even good and I have another relationship with good and bad. But let’s call it good whenever we do something over a certain line. It turns into something not useful. I’m in a very difficult sewn and why can’t we really plan and determine the future because at best I plan the day our the week with the knowledge of that present moment and as you know the knowledge or the facts are always changing, so I planned you plan to be here half an hour earlier, right? Did you know the traffic would be as know why because that was not predictable you gave it probably half an hour here and there but yet something different happens and that is a great example for how life works? We plan it with the information that we have at the time when you left or when you plan to leave but. Things changed completely out of your control perhaps even so that’s why we need to just plan it and leave it to come back to the present moment. And so that we can actually be open and able to death. With the present moment information and Circumstance, right? You know answered it. I had a question but you answered in your answer to lose its great. Great. I love the I’ve always liked your reference to the past and the present and the future, you know, and how you live in those because we all live in that every day, but. Yeah, we have to be able to understand it and put it in perspective exactly and it can serve you they can completely serve you. I mean learning from the past is amazing, you know experience being able to likely plan the future. It’s fantastic. It gives you some sense of knowing where you’re going but then. You have to understand the nature of the impermanent nature of everything that things will change. So that’s the weakness and presence that I used to other words and I said curiosity with a sense of curiosity and compassion. So curiosity basically says. I don’t know but I’m very interested to know that’s the message of curiosity which is very opposite of for instance. The judgment says either I know I don’t know but I’m pretending that I know and by the way, I don’t like it this way. I hate you better be that way. Sure so curiosity is almost beautifully child like that. You know how children like to know, they don’t have any. Sort of severe disposition or Judgment of writing, you know, they just like to know it’s just yeah. Yeah. Yeah new we did with his sense of honest, like, you know do tell whatever it is, you know, tell me about this food. You eat tell me about this place you’ve. From telling me about this idea you have so curiosity. It’s sort of something that allows us to let judgment settle down and not be so activated in us and. And of course compassion hmm. Well, I should hold on to that one because that’s one of the questions that I want out. I want to approach these in my little order here.
What is the difference between meditation contemplation and prayer?
Okay, so meditation means basically becoming familiar with. in meaning but really it means becoming familiar with self. Getting to know oneself. Of course, there are many different kinds of meditations. I’m not going to go into it. But in essence, meditation means that Getting to Know Yourself contemplation means really looking. For the truth or truth of something particular because contemplation can be focused. Like there are practices are when I take mindfulness to workplaces sometimes when they need to make a collective decision when they have like, you know group Gatherings, we put out to clarify a question and allow everybody to. So it’s a very focused contemplation. We’re looking for an answer for a very specific question. Right? So that’s contemplation for looking for a particular truth to this question or this subject and then we have contemplation which is open contemplation that you just contemplate to for the truth. In general which is a very philosophical and old way of finding out a lot. So if you look at the history of philosophy many many. People that at least I see as my teachers such as roomy they did a lot of contemplation, but the contemplation wasn’t for anything particular it was just contemplation of finding the truth of Life of like what exactly so that’s contemplation. So contemplation is looking for the truth or truth of something meditation is getting familiar with. South wouldn’t practices and then prayer is wishing for or asking for something in particular and of course, it depends on our your definition or the person’s definition of what prayer means Ram, right? It has a whole Spectrum, but in general, is either I’m praying just generally for someone or I’m asking for something so they’re completely different in there. Outcomes but their processes are the same because they all require a sense of going in right? So it’s a journey to within and brings a sense of self-connection before we even take it to the next step and say why we’re going in the first we go in and then we may go in for understanding and getting to know ourselves. We may be going into. Ask for a wish or pray for someone or we may be going in to actually find the truth. What did you resolve something?
Is how do we promote compassion in ourselves and the world around us? Because I just look around and that’s what made the biggest impression on me is that the world itself needs more?
It’s a lot more compassion that it. For fellow humans for oneself and I just looking for that answer. so. first of all, we cannot give compassion when we do not hold compassion. We cannot in fact give anything that we do not hold I can only give you what I hold. So the first is a step to compassion is self-compassion. However, the way I see. I like to see it as a common passion, you know looking at compassion and really looking at it from the point of view of not thinking compassionately but feeling compassionately because compassion has become fashionable, right and anything that becomes fashionable and it’s beautiful by the way. It’s I have nothing against that however anything that becomes fashionable. It’s in the danger of becoming a little bit and not true to its Essence. So we all know the vocabulary. We all know the practices and it’s interesting sometimes when I work with one-on-one clients and I talk about how much they say. I say I’m very compassionate I say living room and they say the words and I say okay and tell me how you feel because somehow I don’t. Come see the energy of compassion right now, but I could be wrong, you know, and when I asked that question, it goes deeper say oh feeling I say, yeah that’s feeling of course very different than thinking compassion. So. Because it’s fashionable a lot of us are thinking compassionately meaning I use the words. I do all the practices. And by the way, there’s nothing wrong. That’s a start. Absolutely. Yes, and you do it until you feel it, but it’s important to really pay attention to feeling compassion. And and and experiencing it in a deeper sense and really seeing it as a verb because it’s not something that you just wish it’s something that you do and that’s a very huge responsibility. Basically, you know to have that common passion in the context that we use it in. The mindfulness is really compassion is kindness at times of difficulties. That’s the difference between compassion and kindness in the sense that at least I use it in sure dude. These are just words and they’re not you know of Corbin come from the sky, but basically to understand the difference between kindness and compassion is more called for when we’re going through difficult and challenging experiences and times or others are going through. The same so it is really understanding that that common passion is all of our passion for wanting to be happy and pain-free. So with that when we are going through about trying time, that’s the time. We really need to give ourselves more of the feeling of compassion and really understand that as opposed to being in our head exactly. But of course, that’s the most difficult time to of course, of course, that’s why you start small and you start when it’s not that urgent. That’s why you incorporate the compassion practice in everyday life when you’re not in desperate need is almost like an insurance, you know, we have all these insurances and I don’t know about you. I’ve hardly used them. But what it is is for the day that you know, I really cannot afford. To do whatever it is that I normally do and compassion. Is that internal? It is really working. Very small. I always suggest that you start very very very small meaning start compassion. When you forget your keys, you know, just-just give yourself some kind of compassionate experience instead of saying oh, so whatever you just say, ah, I forgot I’m human that’s interesting another day of Being Human. Especially overwhelmed human probably overwhelmed with all the things that they have to do and we have to pay attention to so bringing compassion over, you know, not finding your keys. Then you can take it one notch higher and then higher and then you can do it when you make big mistakes, and we do and we do and eventually, we need to be able to be there for ourselves and others when larger bigger more. Show mistakes take place in life and sooner or later they do right? So that is really how we. that’s the second part of my question is that this is how we manifest that in the world. This is how we promote it around us by having it in the US. Click it’s basically the voice with which we see so-called mistakes in Life or things that have gone wrong in Life or the pain of life. So pain, as you know, happens all the time and differing sizes, but there will arrive the question is how do I choose to face this pain which determines the level of suffering by the way, of course when compassion is. Then suffering is it you know, I’d its minimal level, right? But when compassion is not present. Then there is the pain there is my judgment about the pain. There’s my judgment about myself experiencing the pain and of course, if you don’t there are other people involved, there’s my judgment about them and they don’t I always say we have a judgment about ourselves the world and the people in the world. So there are three layers on top of the pain whereas when compassion is there then. It’s a completely different experience, right? All right, that’s the whole thing. Wow. I really appreciate the time. Thank you very much.