476: How to Actually Be Present | Matthew Brensilver

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Today we’re gonna tackle one of the best known contemplative clichés: being in the present moment and inhabiting the now.

The present moment seems to be a state we aspire towards, but are rarely given practical information about how to actually achieve. But today’s guest, Matthew Brensilver offers just that— practical information on how to achieve being present. We also explore his argument that when painful memories surface in meditation, it acts as a kind of exposure therapy that acclimates us to the things we may not want to face.

This is Matthew Brensilver‘s second appearance on the show. He teaches retreats at the Insight Retreat Center, Spirit Rock and other Buddhist centers. Before committing to teach meditation full-time, he spent years doing research on addiction pharmacotherapy at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine. Matthew is the co-author of two books about meditation during adolescence and continues to be interested in the unfolding dialogue between Buddhism and science.

In this episode we talk about:

  • What “be present” actually means
  • What to do when Buddhist teachings or meditation instructions feel out of reach and when we start compulsively self-assessing against them
  • What to do when a memory arises in meditation, especially a difficult memory
  • The brain’s tendency toward constant prediction
  • The benefits of meditation retreat
  • And distinguishing between true alarms and false alarms

Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/matthew-brensilver-476

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