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Robert:             So one of the things that I-- I need help with, and-- I think a lot of our-- our viewers I would think too is meditation.

R Thurman:      Yes.

Robert:             I've had great difficulty meditating because all the books, the mindful books that I've read-

R Thurman:      Yes.

Robert:                        --have led me to believe I have to go in a corner for an hour and--

R Thurman:      Yes.

Robert:             But-- but help me here.  In your book, you suggest that no more than 10 or 20 minutes-

R Thurman:      That's ideal, yes.

Robert:             --and that I have a choice.  Am I going to look for insight?  Am I going to try to solve a specific problem?  Or am I going to contemplate?

R Thurman:      Yes.

Robert:             Walk me through that.  What can I-- how can I do this?

R Thurman:      Well, the reason people get worried about meditation is that the way that it's stereotyped is that you sort of sit in a corner, as you say, for a set time and as long as possible.  And you basically don't allow yourself to think.  And if you do think, you get all guilty and freaked out that you've thought.

Robert:             Right.

R Thurman:      And you get feeling very bad and you-- you're no good and I can't do this and people get like that because their mind is full of thoughts.  And-- actually, there is a type of meditation that is useful to be able to learn not to be carried off by a stream of thought in any particular direction, and to keep bringing the mind back to a kind of thoughtless space.  And-- then what one has-- what one finds out is there's lots more streams of thought in the mind that one realized, and then it gets quite jumbly and jangly for a while, and then-- and then one learns to let them all go, kind of.  And then when you do that, then when you later decide to pick a stream of thought, you get-- you can be much better concentrated on it, you can focus on it much better.  Our minds-- all of us are in a state of constant ADD, sort of.  A mild ADD where we think this and we think that.

                         We're in the middle of something and actually we're thinking about something else, and so we're sort of only half present to whatever we do, and so that type of thought clearing, you could call it, meditation is very, very useful for that.  And that is best learned to do by short bursts where it doesn't feel onerous and just self observations.

                         You don't even have to sit somewhere, you can be doing it while riding a bus, whatever, just notice how the mind manifests.  And-- I like to say it's like learning how to use your clicker with your TV and your cable box, you know?  Imagine life before there were clickers.  You had to jump up and go over and tune in and hand click it, it was a real pain, you were stuck with some commercial, you didn't have a mute button for the commercials.

Robert:             Right.

R Thurman:      You know, once you had the clicker, you can control your-- what you input much better.  And so meditating is just learning like that, that's the way to do it.  And once you do that, your choice then enters where you just have a bit more control over what you're thinking.  You can think more deeply about a particular thing, you can concentrate on something.

And actually the most important meditations, at least in Buddhism, are not the clearing one, that's considered a very elementary, fundamental one, but are the analytic ones where you come to a deeper understanding of something by looking at how it works and thinking about it more carefully.  And in that sense, I said that Buddhism was like a philosophy or even like a science because even meditation then is mainly harnessed to observing how the mind works so that you get a better understanding of your own mind.  It's like Buddhism has something like you can call like an operating manual for the mind that enables you to use your mind more effectively, basically, that's all.

            And then you shouldn't feel I can't or I can or it's hard or it isn't.  If you're instructed well and if you're friendly with yourself, you'll just learn more about yourself by trying to be a little contemplative.  And the other point I always try to make to people is that they should stop worrying about whether they're meditating or not because they are meditating all the time.