Follow along with the transcript below for episode: The 3-Minute Meditation with Richard Dixey
[0:00:03] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 451 of Live Happy Now. As we venture a little farther into the new year, that’s a good time to pause, take a breath, and if you have three minutes, maybe even learn to meditate. I’m your host, Paula Felps. Today, I’m talking with Richard Dixey, a research scientist and lifelong student of Buddhism. Since 2007, he has devoted his life to teaching meditation, and his new book, Three Minutes a Day, is designed to teach readers how to change their lives with simple meditation practices that truly do take just three minutes a day.
Be sure to stay tuned after my conversation with Richard to learn about a brand-new podcast called Built to Win, that’s brought to you by Live Happy’s sister company, Neora. Let’s have a listen.
[0:00:50] PF: Richard, thank you so much for coming on Live Happy Now.
[0:00:53] RD: I’m glad to be here.
[0:00:54] PF: I wanted to talk to you right at the beginning of the year, because this is a time of year when people are adapting to new habits. They’re saying, “Okay, I’m going to do it better than I did last year.” Meditation is something that people often want to do, and they’re like, “Oh, it’s just too hard. I don’t have time.” Then you come along with this terrific book that says, we can do it in three minutes a day. First of all, what led you to discover this different way of meditating that we don’t have to sit cross-legged for 30 minutes at a time?
[0:01:28] RD: Actually, this is not so new. There are traditions amongst the Asian wisdom traditions in which this comes, which stress very short and often, they always say, because the whole trouble with meditation is making it fresh. If you say for half an hour, I suspect the 28 minutes, we’ll be sleeping. You’re only going to get two or three minutes before it’s turned into a blank slate of one form or another. It’s innovative to put it in a Western format. But the idea of short sessions that are very focused is not new.
[0:02:02] PF: You just made it accessible to us.
[0:02:04] RD: I’m the dean at Dharma College in Berkeley, which is a school that’s dedicated to revisioning the wisdom traditions. You know, these wisdom traditions are really amazing. These meditation traditions are two and a half thousand years old, and they are unbroken. Ther have been master-student, master-student, master-student for two and a half thousand years. There’s a lot of accumulated experience, and they have something really important to offer us today, which is why I was very motivated to teach meditation.
Then in teaching meditation, I was really amazed how quickly you could actually get the core point over. That’s what really inspired me to say, okay, let’s make a 14-week course, three minutes a day, really short focused to give people a real taste of what meditation is.
[0:02:50] PF: Yeah. With three minutes a day, we’re all like, “Okay. I can do that. I don’t care how busy my life is. I can do three minutes a day.” That makes it very appealing, because we live in a society that’s instant gratification. We got to have it now and we’re on the go. You created this. It’s really a step-by-step guide. We need to clarify. It’s not a book that you’re going to sit down and read all the way through and then come back and try to implement these practices. Do you want to talk a about the setup of it and how –
[0:03:16] RD: Yeah. I do. I do. Actually, there’s a couple of very interesting points here. Meditation is about our own experience. It’s not about anything else. It’s not information, as we normally understand it. You’re not going to learn about meditation. You’re going to address your own experience. Now, this is really quite a challenging undertaking, because our entire educational system takes our experience for granted and talks about the world.
Well, the world is actually constructed from our experience. Our experience is like, it’s a window that you look out of, or all of these sorts of ideas. It’s all completely nonsense. We construct our experience, but we never look at how we construct it. This means that you need to introduce various, simple techniques to give you a little taste of what this construction is. Looking at this construction is meditation.
Now, of course, it’s a bit like saying, I’m going to tell you about chocolate. You say, okay it’s a bit sweet, a bit sticky, it melts in your mouth. You’d have no idea what chocolate was. Give you a piece of chocolate. Oh, I know what chocolate is. It’s like that. What I’m trying to do is give these really short, little pieces of experience, not information. The idea is you read this book –we have chapters about four or five pages of introduction, a short meditation experience, and then some Q&A. What I want people to do is to read that first chapter, do three minutes of that particular exercise and read the second chapter. If you do that, you’ll build up an experience of meditation. Once you do, it totally alters how you see the world. Everything is different.
[0:05:01] PF: Do you find that readers have a certain meditation that they gravitate toward? Like, they say, “Oh, I really like the candle meditation. This is my favorite. This is what works for me.”
[0:05:11] RD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. People have favorites. The trick to meditation is this. We’re really riled up the whole time, because we’re reacting to the construct we call the world. That reactivity is very stressful. Now, the truth is that a lot of what we react to is actually made by us and projected as real. This is what people Google, though, because they know, if you get a little buzzwords, you can make people click. You can force them into reacting. Of course, we carry around these mobile phones the whole time, which are literally doing this to us.
The first thing to learn is how to become calm in the face of a rising experience. This is the first thing to learn. This is called Shamatha. Until we learn to become calm in the face of a rising experience, we really have no chance of seeing how the world is made. The first section of this book is all about looking at particular meditation objects, which are things you can concentrate on and learning to become calm. Now, becoming calm is not becoming all free. Becoming calm is engaging with that instantly, reacting with an opinion, or some like or dislike, or an aversion, or whatever it else it might be. Learning to engage without reactivity.
If you can develop that foundation, which you can develop relatively quickly, they’re on the basis of that foundation. You can start to look. You can look at thoughts, how the thoughts begin, how the thoughts end. What are thoughts exactly? How are my thoughts being manipulated by experiences outside me? Those sorts of questions become answerable once you see as being reactive. What meditation does is enable you to get control of your life at a very profound level.
Actually, really, this control is the only genuine control that we have. Our attention is truly our possession. You can’t be given it. You have it. The key is to learn how to use it. That’s really what meditation is about.
[0:07:15] PF: I think it’s more important now than ever, because we are so distracted. As you said, our phones are there every 30 seconds, reminding us of what we need to do and what we didn’t do and breaking news and all that. Just, we don’t get a break. What changes do you see in people when they’re able to sit down and learn this three-minute method?
[0:07:36] RD: Well, this should be taught in primary school, honestly. Reading, writing, and meditation. Why is that? Well, it’s for this reason. As I mentioned, we construct our experience. We actually have a word for it, which is in our language. We say, we recognize something. When you say you recognize, that word re. It means, you do it again. What happens is we have sense inputs, five senses, thoughts and imaginations. Then we recognize them as things, people, things I want, things I don’t, good news, bad news, blah, blah, blah. Now that process of recognition is literally a process of world construction.
The mechanism that recognizes takes memories and then looks at the cognitions that come in, compares them to memories, ascribes to their names and meanings and represents them as the world. It’s that structure that really makes us human beings. What we have to do is make recognition part of our experience consciously. That process is meditation.
[0:08:42] PF: Well, one thing that you talk about that I really don’t think I’ve seen addressed much in meditation is the role that imagination plays. We don’t really think about imagination and meditation going together. can You talk about that and how imagination helps us meditate?
[0:08:58] RD: Yes. Well, imagination, as I mentioned, there are six gates of our experience, right? There are the five senses and then there are thoughts and imaginations. Now, thoughts and imaginations are as much an input into our experience as feeling, smelling, touching, tasting and hearing off. We normally don’t really think about imaginations like that. Of course, we spend an awful lot of the day, I dread to think how much, but it’s probably well north of 50% imagining, well, what about this? What about that? Well, I could do this. I could do that. These are all imaginations.
One of the techniques that happens in this book is to actually say, okay, let’s deliberately imagine something and make it a meditation object. Just like you might say, light a candle, look at a candle. You can imagine something and look at that. The moment you get that, you go, “Oh my God. Imaginations aren’t actually part of me. They’re constructed by me.” That again, releases all kinds of issues, because so many of the things that we think we want, or so many of the things that we think are bad for us are merely imagined. They’re constructed by our imagination.
The trouble is this mechanism that learns from the past is defensive. It was actually developed when we were on the savannas being prowled by saber-toothed tigers to immediately recognize a threat and run away from it. That’s why we survived. Of course, now, this paranoid, defensive, backward-looking mechanism means that all we see is bad news, all we care about is bad news. We’re not interested in good things, only bad things. Of course, the result is stress. If people just learn to see their experience as experience, oh, the stress starts coming back. It’s like, okay, we can calm this down.
[0:11:00] PF: As we’re telling people, all right, this is something you’re going to do for three minutes, can you give examples of some of the exercises so they can understand what they do for three minutes?
[0:11:09] RD: Okay, the book starts with two key exercises, which I think are really, probably the fundamental thing of it. The wisdom traditions of Asia separate concentration into two phases. Now, we all know that concentration has something to do with meditation. Often, people think that you’re meant to sit, not moving, thought-free, and just going to some blank, thought-free state, because that’s what they think meditation is.
Now actually, the trick is to get hold of our concentration and master it. Concentration, I said, has two phases. The first one is adverting. This is to be able to place your attention on a given object. That’s what we’re all taught at school. Johnny, Johnny, concentrate. He does all the concentrate. Most contemporarily, educated people can concentrate. The problem is concentration like that is brittle. That’s to say, you might be concentrating on one thing, then something else happens, “Oh, I concentrate on that, and then I concentrate on this. Then I can’t.” That’s exactly what happens to us.
The first thing is to make the difference between adverting and another element of concentration, which is totally not stressed in our education system, which is savoring. Once you’ve adverted your concentration to an object, there’s another element of concentration, which is to savor it. Now actually there are technical terms for these two things. One’s called Vitaka, that’s concentration adverting, and the other one’s called Vicara, which is savoring. You can actually access these two things by developing simple meditation techniques. Once you’ve accessed savoring, then you can make your concentration stable.
The trick is to first of all, experience Vitaka, adverting concentration, and I use a candle for that. The people watch a candle. What you’ll find when you do this, even for three minutes is everything starts disturbing you. Thoughts disturbing. Car slams, you’re disturbed by that. Someone talks in the next room, you’re disturbed by that. You find yourself being disturbed. That’s why most people say, “Oh, you’ve got to be in a totally silent room with the windows closed, your eyes closed, and no thought.” This is because they’re only looking at Vitaka.
Now, if you can then change your meditation object, and what I like to use is a bell, an object that fades, what happens is your Vitaka turns into savoring as you watch the fading sound. After a while, you can fade right into silence. You’re still concentrated, but there’s no object. You’ve entered something totally different. It’s just like, pick up a cup of coffee, that’s Vitaka. Taste the coffee, that’s Vicara.
[0:13:53] PF: We’re going to tell readers how they can find your book. But in the meantime, what’s one thing they can start doing right now? Is there like, okay, this would work for me. I can give it three minutes a day. What’s something they can do starting today?
[0:14:06] RD: What they can do right now, you can go on to my website, richarddixey.com, and download a free app. What that app does is give you the meditation instructions. Then if you like the first one, get the book. What the app does, which always freaks people out a bit, is it requires you to do seven days of a three-minute thing, before it’ll give you the next chapter. It’s actually a trainer, it’s not really an – There’s a free trainer. The first exercise is candle-watching.
Watching candles in itself is an amazing meditation. Just to watch a candle the three minutes. That itself, “Three minutes. There’s nothing at all.” Three minutes is a long time if you do something deliberately. Just that alone, if you do that for a week, you will change. It’s quite incredible how drip, drip, drip will fill the bathtub. It doesn’t take a long time. It’s just repetition that does it. Just do that. Within a week you’ll go, “Well, I’m feeling a bit different. This is interesting. Something’s changed.” That’s because there’s a wake-up call being given to your natural intelligence saying, “Hey, you don’t have to be kidnapped by your recognitive map all the time. You could actually be free. You could be intelligent without having an object of intelligence. You could just be yourself.”
That little wake-up call comes when you start taking that bit of control. Retaking of freedom of choice is a huge moment, where suddenly, we go, wow, so much of what is freaking me out turns out to be freaking out because I’m allowing it to. I’m giving permission for it to freak me out. What I’ve got to do is take a little step sideways. Oh, it doesn’t freak me out anymore. That really is simple.
[0:16:01] PF: That was Richard Dixey, talking about how you can transform your life in just three minutes a day. To learn more about his book, Three Minutes a Day, or download his free app and take your meditation on the go, visit us at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab.
Speaking of things you’ll find on our website, next I’m talking with Live Happy’s Deborah Heisz, who is also CEO of our sister company, Neora, and has a great new podcast named Built to Win that she’s here to tell us about.
[0:16:29] PF: Well, Deborah, happy new year.
[0:16:31] DH: Happy new year, Paula.
[0:16:33] PF: This is such a great time of year, because everyone’s starting new things and excited about the opportunities that are going on. All our shows this month are really tailored around new practices and new ways of looking at things. You have a lot of new things going on, a lot of things you’re excited about. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk to you about that.
[0:16:51] DH: I really do have a lot going on that I’m excited about. We have a lot going on that we’re excited about. There’s some great new stuff with Live Happy coming out. Happy Access coming up in March and we’re talking about that right now, and we’re talking about all the other things related to Live Happy that we like to put out in the world this year. I love the series that you guys are doing right now on new things, new practices. It’s great. It’s always good to put stuff in your head and new ideas on how you can improve. I love everything that’s going on right now.
I have something that’s a little outside the Live Happy space that I’ve been working on that I wanted to share with everybody. I think, everybody knows the podcast. I am CEO of Live Happy. I also have a co-founder of Live Happy and his name is Jeff Olson. Jeff and I actually worked together on another company, a company called Neora. He’s the founder of that along with his daughter, Amber Olson-Rourke and I’m co-CEO of that company.
I’m really excited about what we’ve got going on, because we have just launched a new podcast called Built to Win. It’s available on all your podcast places that you would find Live Happy Now. That podcast features Jeff. Jeff Olson, he’s the author of the best-selling book, The Slight Edge, which is really a book that is a roadmap, how to accomplish anything. Then Amber Olson-Rourke, who is a very successful executive in her own right, and then also we have Dave Fleming, who is a seasoned international executive, who has been through a lot of challenges and done a lot of things in his life and then me.
Basically, what we all are is we’re personal development junkies and we’ve learned a lot. We spend a lot of time studying business practices, studying things that you can do to get better in life. Leadership. There’s a lot of leadership lessons. What we really want to do is put out in the world a lot of our experience and to help those of you who are trying to build a business, who are thinking about managing a team, thinking about anything in your life. It doesn’t have to be business. Thinking about challenges that you need to overcome.
We’re trying to put information out there that you can use in your everyday life to improve your life. It’s not quite Live Happy, but it’s in the same vein. Interesting, because the four of us just went through a really huge monumental challenge that most people will never see anything of that size in their business career. We navigated successfully and we won a very important battle in the business world.
He first few episodes focus on math, but then most of the episodes focus and are going to focus on practices you can do in your everyday life, leadership lessons, how to make decisions in the trenches, how to get prepared for those problems when they come up, how to lead teams, all of those things that are critically important to basically, building leadership skills in your own life. That’s what most of the podcasts are going to focus on. We just launched it, and so we wanted to share it with our Live Happy listeners. Because if you’re someone who has a business, wants to be in business, is a manager of a team at a company, works in a business, most of us in the world do one of those things.
[0:20:08] PF: Having listened to it, one thing that strikes me is even though you’re talking about business principles, these are life principles, and they guided your business decisions, but even someone who isn’t in a business environment can use those same principles and applications for making difficult decisions and taking on big challenges. That’s really what struck me. It’s like a movie that’s set in a business world, but you could easily change the scene and make it a homework movie, where it’s set in someone’s house. That’s really how it comes through. The lessons are applicable, whether you’re trying to run a business, or run a household.
[0:20:46] DH: You’re exactly right, Paula. Because our intention is not to give people the nuts and bolts of how to do their accounting. You’re not going to hear any of that. What you’re going to hear is how to prepare to face challenges in life, how to face those challenges in life, how to get yourself prepared to have those challenges in life, and all of that is personal development. I mean, yes, a lot of the principles are grounded in some of our business experiences, but the reality is these are people who have been very successful in their lives.
Jeff and Amber and Dave are great people. I get to work with them every day. I couldn’t be more blessed. But they have applied personal development in their lives to be successful people. I actually hate the term personal development. I actually prefer success practices, or happiness practices. Personal development sounds like work. The reality is it’s work. But really, what we’re talking about is discovering and applying the tools that help you accomplish anything. That’s why the name of the podcast is Built to Win.
[0:21:54] PF: That’s right.
[0:21:54] DH: Build yourself. Build yourself to win when those challenges come in.
[0:21:59] PF: One thing that really struck me, I think it was in the very first episode, and I believe it was Amber who brought up the fact that you faced this big challenge, and she realized every little challenge that had frustrated her in her business career had also given her the resilience to face this big challenge. She could look back behind her and say, “Oh, all those little things that were bothersome actually strengthened me.” I think that’s so great, because that’s true in life as well.
[0:22:27] DH: It is. There will be a lot less business talk on this podcast than there will be life talk. Amber and I are both parent – well, Amber, Dave and I are all parents with children still living in home. We have to balance our work life with our home life. I think everybody does. That’s where a lot of our challenges arise, too. We’ll be talking a little bit about that. We’ll be talking about a lot of Live Happy principles we talk about here; being present, being engaged, building trust, building relationships. All of that will flow into this podcast as well. I’m super excited about it. We’re just getting started. As you know, Paula, Live Happy Now has been my favorite thing we’ve ever done at Live Happy. It still is.
[0:23:20] PF: Mine too.
[0:23:20] DH: I know. I think it always will be. Because just hearing from people who have been there and done that, who have researched happiness, who have their own life experiences to bring, I just love the conversations we’re able to have, part of Live Happy Now. Now, we get to have those conversations twice, because I could have it on here and Built to Win as well. Once again, it’s going to be people who’ve been there, people who face things that maybe you haven’t faced. But we all have challenges, and we all have goals, and we all have dreams and ideas of where we want to be in life. You have to have the personal tool set in order to accomplish those things. That’s really what I’m hoping Built to Win provides to its listeners, ideas and building their personal tool set to be able to face the challenges and accomplish the goals they want in life.
[0:24:14] PF: We’re going to tell them how they can subscribe. We’ll include that on the landing page, so they can go to livehappy.com and click on the podcast page and find how to do that. What do you want them to do once they go discover Built to Win?
[0:24:29] DH: First of all, I want them to go discover it. Download the first couple of episodes, take a listen. Know that just getting to hear Jeff is inspirational.
[0:24:37] PF: It’s a masterclass every time.
[0:24:39] DH: It is. Every time somebody asks him a question, or he makes a comment, you’re just like, “I need to start taking notes,” and I’m on the podcast.
[0:24:47] PF: That’s a good sign.
[0:24:48] DH: Please, take the opportunity to listen to it. Because we’ve just launched, also, share with your friends, share with everybody, but mostly, please download and rate it. It’s really important for new podcasts to get people to rate them and let us know how you think. It helps us be able to be found on the podcast apps and helps more people find us.
[0:25:08] PF: Deb, I wish the best of success on Built to Win for so many different reasons. Thank you for coming on and talking about it.
[0:25:16] DH: My pleasure. I want to come back and talk about happiness sometime soon.
[END OF EPISODE]
[0:25:23] PF: That was Deborah Heisz, talking about the new podcast, Built to Win. Learn more about it and subscribe when you visit livehappy.com and click on this episode. That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.