Live Encore: Meditation Techniques For Grounding and Reflecting | Dandan Liu | Skillshare

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Live Encore: Meditation Techniques For Grounding and Reflecting

teacher avatar Dandan Liu, Filmmaker | Contemplative Creative

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      What Meditation Is


    • 4.

      Getting Warmed Up


    • 5.

      Meditation Practice


    • 6.

      Writing Exercise


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


    • 9.

      Join my Teahouse of Wonder


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About This Class

Meditate your way to calm and clarity in this soothing class!  

Emmy-award winning filmmaker Dandan Liu is a creative of many talents. In addition to her work in the film industry, she’s also a meditation and mindfulness expert, a passion that was deepened during a four year journey living in monasteries all over the world. As one of Skillshare’s Top Teachers, Dandan has passed on her knowledge – both on film and meditation – to thousands of grateful students across the globe. In this Skillshare Live session, recorded on Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community, Dandan will walk you through a meditation practice. Not only will this meditation relax and ground you, it will help you build a foundation to repeat the practice regularly in your day-to-day life!

Meet Your Teacher

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Dandan Liu

Filmmaker | Contemplative Creative

Top Teacher

Hi there! I'm Dandan, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker and contemplative creative living in Italy.

As a self-taught filmmaker, I love foraging for unique stories around the world that illuminate the interconnections among us. I started making films while on a 4 year journey living in monasteries around the world. One film led to the next, and after persevering for many years, I found myself working full time on film crews and streaming my films on Roku, Apple TV, museums, trains, and airplanes.

My highest work is helping others craft an authentic, creative, and mindful life- your unique work of art. I believe that knowing who you truly are is the foundation for flourishing in every area of life. So, I founded Unravel, a playful journey of self discovery, which has... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] We've just gone through a very stressful prolonged experience of the pandemic. I feel like serenity and inner peace is very much needed in our lives. My name is Dandan and I am a top teacher here on Skillshare and what I like to call a contemplative creative. I wear multiple creative hats and especially known for my documentary film making and I also have an inner monk inside of me for meditation, mindfulness, reflection, form an important way of life. Today's session is all about coming back home to ourselves and reconnecting with our inner oasis of peace. I will be sharing a variety of meditative techniques that will allow you to release any tension or anxiety that you may be holding and move about your day in a more serene grounded fashion. My favorite part of meditation is really the transformation that happens slowly and quietly as you dedicate yourself to this practice. Before I start sitting and meditating, I'll often come in with a lot of noise in my head, a lot of chopping thoughts, worries about the past or the future and I'm amazed how just through a simple practice of focusing myself on my breath and meditating that these thoughts that slowly settle down and that I'm able to connect with this peace that arises inside of me from this unknown spring. After this class, I hope students will feel more grounded, centered, and relaxed than when they had started this class. I hope they feel empowered and they have the ability to meditate on their own for 10-15 minutes. Thank you all so much for watching my Skillshare live class recorded with participation from the wonderful Skillshare community. Let's dive right in. 2. Getting Started: Welcome everyone. Thank you for making time for this, especially from all over the world. My name is Tiffany Chow and I work on Skillshare's community team and I'm the lucky host for today's live class with top teacher Dandan Liu. Dandan, we're so excited to have you here today. Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do? Yeah. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining. I am so excited to be here with you all today. Greetings from the Italian dolomites.My name is Dandan, and for those of you who don't know me, I am a top teacher here on Skillshare, and what I like to call a contemplative creative. On one side, I wear many creative parts. I'm mostly known for my documentary films, but I love expressing myself through fighting, pottery, poetry, calligraphy, cooking. I just love the act of creating itself. Believe it or not, I used to be a scientist who used to think that she was an uncreative person. I also am very passionate about helping others connect with their creative groundwaters of their being, which I believe is in everyone. Then on the other side, you have the contemplative part, which really speaks to my inner monk. Contemplation, silence, reflection, meditation, they really form a way of life for me. I actually spent four years living in monasteries around the world, exploring different meditation and contemplative practices, and that journey really taught me how essential meditation, being aware of the present moment, is in life, and how that elevates all areas, whether that's your relationships to your creative work. I'm so excited to be here and combine both of these loves of my being on Skillshare with you all. We're so glad that you share all of that on Skillshare and now today, live with your students, why don't you give us a little bit of a taste of what we can expect from today? Do we beat anything to follow along with you? What do you hope students come away with from today? Yeah. I thought today would be a good opportunity for us to really come home to ourselves and connect with our inner oasis of peace which is in everyone, even if you believe your life feels like it's the farthest away from being an oasis of peace. We just live through this very challenging, prolonged experience of the pandemic, filled with a lot of unknowns that we're still facing today, and as many of us begin to reintegrate, I feel there's a lot of anxiety present, either conscious or unconsciously held in our bodies, and so today, I thought I would lead us through some meditation exercises and techniques that will allow us to release the stress and go about our day in a more serene grounded state. In terms of what you'll need, you'll need a pen and paper, and it would help if you have a pillow that will support your posture in meditation. For the structure, I will be dividing today's session in three parts. The first part, I'll be offering some meditation instruction, clearing some common myths that make people believe they're not good at meditation, then I will lead us through a gentle warm-up which will involve movement and breath into a guided 10-15 minute meditation. Then I will transition to the second half of today's session, which is all about mindfulness. How we can bring in this serene, grounded state that we cultivated in our meditation into our day, into our hectic, fast-paced lives. I'll be specifically using a guided mindful writing exercise that we'll all do it together to show you how the line between meditation and any action in life can dissolve really easily. The theme of today's writing prompts will be Harvesting The Wisdom of Our Pandemic Experience. 3. What Meditation Is: Let's begin with the first part where I will be offering some meditation instruction, and visiting some common misconceptions that make people believe that they're not good at meditation. What is meditation? Well, I feel like there is this big myth out there that meditation means the absence of thoughts. If you're sitting and meditating and you have thoughts, that you are doing a bad job meditating. Well, I have good news for you all. Our brain is a biological organ designed to have thoughts so that is quite an unrealistic expectation. Instead, meditation is not about the absence of thoughts as it is about the observation of them. Really, observing and viewing your thoughts and your feelings pass by like clouds without intensifying them, without holding onto them or losing yourself into the story that they are presenting. A really good analogy I like to use is that of the movie theater. When you're in the movies, you're actually watching a series of images projected on a two-dimensional screen, but when you're watching a movie, you lose yourself in the story and you feel like the story is happening in your life and you forget that there's actually this distance between you as the viewer and the story. The same thing happens with us as we move about our day in our minds, we forget that our thoughts are like these projections on the screen of our minds and we lose ourselves into the story that they are presenting. What meditation is, is really keeping the observer perspective and reminding yourself that there is this distance between you and your thoughts and your feelings. As easy as it is to say just observe your thoughts and emotions, is harder to do in practice. There is this phrase that you may have heard of called monkey mind, which really speaks to how challenging it is to have our minds just remain in the present moment. It really feels like there is literally this monkey jumping up and down in our heads, constantly grabbing our thoughts of the past and the future and just making a mess in our heads. Meditation is not just about the observation of your thoughts and your feelings, it is also the act of catching yourself when you have lost yourself on thoughts which will usually take you to the past with the future and bring yourself back to the observer perspective to the present moment which as we will see is anchored by your breath. In this session, sometimes you can have a short session, it is totally normal to lose yourself in thoughts 10, 15, 20 times. If that happens, you're not doing anything wrong, try not to judge yourself. It's part of the learning process. Meditation is a skill just like basketball requires drills, and piano requires you to practice the skills, meditation also requires you to do practice bringing yourself back to the present moment. The more you do this, the more you'll find that you'll be able to inhabit this more prolonged state of presence throughout your life, which is really where the magic starts happening. In summary, meditation is the observation of your thoughts and your feelings, letting them arise and go like clouds without resisting them or intensifying them. Meditation is catching yourself when you have lost yourself in thoughts of the past and future and bringing yourself to the present moment. 4. Getting Warmed Up: Before we dive into the meditation, I wanted to lead us through a short and sweet warm up that will really help us create that inner space to be receptive to the stillness that the meditation will offer. A lot of the times people they just go directly from their busy, fast paced life to their seat and without a transition in-between, you often bring in all of those unresolved things on your to-do list, those worries directly to your meditation, which makes it hard for you to settle in. For today's warm up it'll be comprised of a movement part to release any excess tension and anxiety that we might be feeling. Then it'll be preceded by a short breath work exercise to allow us to transition into the state of stillness. Let's start with the movement part. What we're going to do is we are going to move our bodies through this practice called shaking. What this is is literally what it sounds like it is. It is shaking your body. What this will allow you to do is it will allow you to move and dislodge any stuck energies, any tension, anxiety off your body. You're literally shaking it off. We're going to do this for around a minute and half. If you have space I recommend that you actually stand up for this so that you have more space. I will stay here so that you can see me. You can just start by shaking your wrists and your hands just like this. Now allow yourself to move the shaking up your arms, your shoulders, your neck, your head, your torso. Just allow yourself to loosen up. When you're doing this really feel like you are dislodging and releasing any tension from your body that you may be carrying giving yourself full permission to let go of the stress. Any heaviness that you're carrying with you. Just let it shake out your body. If you like you can take a deep breath [NOISE] and just sigh out relief. Keep shaking it. I recommend doing another big sigh of relief, [NOISE] and allow that sigh to really carry out any tension just off your body. We're going to do this for 10 more seconds. Really feeling your way into the shake. You can slowly now stop your shaking and bring yourself back. Take a moment now to close your eyes and know how you feel. I hope you feel like you were able to release some of that tension and that the blood is circulating through your body, bringing fresh oxygen into your system. Now we're going to continue with this warm-up with three too deep breaths. This is an exercise that I find is very effective in bringing yourself to this point of stillness. It's called a three-by-three sets, which is something that you can do as you move about your day. It's really a quick relaxation pick me up. What we're going to do is we're going to do this altogether. We're going to take three deep breaths. Inhaling, holding our breath for three seconds at the top of the inhale, and then slowly exhaling, letting out all our stress. When you do this, try practicing focusing your attention on your breath and really feel the relief that comes in with the inhale and the relaxation that goes with the exhale as you allow that tension to ride out on your out-breath. Let's begin. You can close your eyes, and take one deep inhale. Hold your breath for 3, 2,1 and exhale. Letting all that stress out. Inhale, hold your breath for 3, 2,1 and exhale. Inhale, hold your breath for 3, 2,1 and exhale. Take a note of how you feel. I hope you feel a little more grounded now than when you first began. With that we are ready to move into our meditation. 5. Meditation Practice: For today's meditation, we are going to do it in a seated posture. If you have back pain or back issues, feel free to lie down and follow along. For the seated posture, it really helps if you move yourself so that you're sitting on the front edge of your chair. What this will do is that it'll help supports a naturally upright spine. You don't want your spine to be too rigid or tense. You just want it to be comfortably straight. It can help to prop a cushion behind your lower back. Just for that extra support. You can sway from side to side, back and forth until you find that sweet spot of balance where your spine is comfortably upright. Make sure your feet are planted nicely on the ground. Your hands, you can just rest them comfortably on your lap. You can close your eyes. I am going to ring the sound of a bell to bring us into this meditation. When you hear the sound of a bell, really melt your awareness into the sound waves and allow the sound to carry you deeper into yourself. Let's begin. [NOISE] Take a few deep breaths. Begin by feeling the weight of your bones being pulled down by gravity. Almost as if the Earth is trying to pull you closer to herself. Now allow your mind to return to your body back home to this present moment. Feel the firmness of the ground beneath the soles of your feet and sit bones. Feel like the ground is supporting you, holding you up. Know that even if you're feeling groundless, unanchored, or unrooted, you're always being held up by the ground. Now bring your attention to your skin. Feel the air, making contact with it. The air's cooling touch like a soothing soul. Bring your attention to the sounds around you. Allow your awareness to melt into the sounds so you become one with it. We're now going to travel down our bodies, relaxing any tension we may be feeling from our head to our toes. As we travel down, try your best to maintain your awareness on your breath. Really feeling with every inhale that you're quenching your thirsty lungs with peace and with your exhale that you're deepening into this relaxation. Bringing your attention to your eyes. Let your eyeballs soften in their sockets. Let every eyelash fall. Unclench your jaw and relax every tooth. Any furrows nestled between your eyebrows fall on your forehead. Let them relax. Allow your scalp to go slack. Moving down to your shoulders, let them soften. Let the softening run down your arms, your elbows, down your wrists, and into your fingertips. Allow your arms to just drop with weight and feel them heavy as if they were made of lead. Your heart, notice if there's any constriction there and breathe. Your softness of breath, send that into your heart to dissolve any hardness there. Imagine your heart is like a flower gently opening and blooming, releasing its fragrance of peace that is filling your entire body. Breathe in that fragrance of peace. [NOISE] Moving down to your belly now, feel the rhythmic rise and fall with every breath. Almost as if your breaths were like ocean tides coming in and going out. We're going to stay here for a few moments now focusing our awareness on our breath. Allowing the inhale to bring us relief and the exhale to carry out any lingering stress, allowing us to go deeper and deeper into this relaxation. If your mind has wandered away from your breath and is now caught in a story, gently bring your thought back and focus on your breath here in the present moment. If your thought has wandered off into the past or the future, gently bring it back here to your breath in the present moment. Perhaps feeling the coolness underneath your nostrils with every inhale and gentle warmth leaving your nostrils with every exhale. We're now going to continue relaxing down our bodies. Relax your pelvis, loosen your thighs, relax your knees, your ankles, and let this relaxation ooze into your toes. Feel this full-body relaxation bathing your entire being. Imagine like your body was a sponge soaking up all of this relaxation into its cells, this relaxation that will carry you as you move forward in your day. In a few moments, I am going to ring the bell to bring us out of this meditation. When you feel ready, you can gently open your eyes, take a gentle stretch, and bring yourself back. [NOISE] Welcome back everyone. I think it's really helpful now to just take note of how you feel and compare it with how you felt when you entered the session. I hope you're feeling much more grounded, much more relaxed. I know I do. 6. Writing Exercise: We're now going to move into the last half of our session. This is all about bringing the serenity that we've just cultivated in the meditation and incorporating that into our daily life. Whether we have a hectic busy schedule, there is many opportunities to bring this mindfulness with us. There is this big myth out there, another one that meditation happens when you are seated alone in your room, in quiet on your cushion, that meditation and life are separate. When in actuality, meditation, the traditional form where you're seated is just the training ground for you to live your real life where the real meditation happens. How we meditate through our real lives is through mindfulness practices. What do I mean by that? Well when you're hiking, really feeling the soft earth underneath your feet and feeling every crackle of twig breaking under foot. When you're washing the dishes, this is one of my favorite ways to meditates. Really feeling the soap sets in between your fingers and the relaxing swipe of your sponge against the dish. You can even imagine that you are wiping your mind clean as you're wiping the dishes clean. I guarantee that if you bring in this mindful presence to the dishwashing, it'll turn from a boring chore into a therapeutic spot session. Probably even going to fight with your partner over who gets to do the dishes. Even more, even when you're stuck in traffic, this is a fantastic opportunity for you to meditate and a wonderful test to see how your meditative skills are living up. When we're stuck in traffic, we often just constrict, wishing the experience with something else, resisting the present moments, see you then frustration. When you're stuck in traffic, can you embrace what is happening? Really feel the wheel between your fingertips. Bring yourself back to your body and focus on your breath, and this way you transform your car into a portable Temple. Any action when coupled with intentional presence, becomes a form of meditation. We are going to engage in a mindfulness practice today through a guided writing session that will really show you how the line between meditation and action can easily dissolve. For this, you will need your pen and paper. How this is going to work is that I am going to be giving you a few prompts. One prompt for around 30 seconds to a minute, with the theme of harvesting the wisdom of our pandemic experience. As you write, I ask that you really feel the moment. You really feel the pen moving across the paper and your hand gliding across the page. With that, we can begin. If I move on to a prompt, but you want to stay on one, feel free to freely flow with me. Feel free to stay on that one and finish your thoughts. If you finish writing before I move on to the next one, just feel free to sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breath, continuing the meditation. Let us begin. If your mind has wandered in between our meditation and now, bring it back to your body. Feel rooted in your body again. Meditation is not just a cerebral activity that happens in the mind, it engages our whole body. But you can put the pen in-between your hands and really feel it for a moment in-between your knuckles. Now, the first prompt is, how are you feeling right now? [NOISE] Wrapping up 3, 2, 1. A second prompt is, what is one thing that you discovered about yourself during this pandemic? Really feeling the pen moving across the page. Focusing your entire awareness on this act of writing. The prompt is, what is one life lesson you learned during this pandemic? The third prompt is, are there any things that broke during this pandemic that you would like to mend or let go of? [NOISE] Next prompt is, as things begin to reopen, how do you feel? Do you feel any anxieties present? Seeing if you can focus your awareness on your breath while you are writing. The last prompt is, what is on your post COVID bucket list? Really using this as an opportunity to feel the pen moving on your paper. Almost like you're melting your awareness into the sensation. [NOISE] You can begin to wrap up your spot and come to your screen whenever you're ready. You can take note of how you feel. I hope that was a relaxing session for you and it showed you how when you bring your full awareness to whatever act you're doing, it really becomes a calming, soothing, relaxing, medium. 7. Q&A: We have one around how often do you meditate and for how long? That's a great question. I like to meditate every day. Usually on my weekdays, I do about 25 minutes to 30 minutes every day. I really love to schedule my meditations after my physical exercise training. That's a big tip I have is that, when you're able to do physical movements before your meditation, it just really helps you sink deeper into your sit. From the beginning, I think something about moving your body, burning off that excess energy, allowing the endorphins to start flowing, really is conducive to your meditation. Then on the weekends I like to stretch this out. I really like to indulge in my meditation by doing one that's usually around an hour, where I will just be in my room and set my timer and sit. Throughout the day I try to actively cultivate mindfulness. Whatever I'm doing, I try to bring myself fully to the present moment. When I'm cooking, really smelling the ingredients, feeling every cut of a knife. I like to practice as well, bringing myself back to the present moments when I've lost myself in thoughts. That's wonderful. I'm a bit curious. How long it took you to work up to that either daily or a longer practice? Was it a matter of years? What was that journey like for you? It took me about three months of daily meditation in the monastery to really be able to have a taste of what it's like to go deep in the meditation. At first it was actually quite painful experience because I learned in a Zen monastery in Japan where they really don't allow you to move when you're sitting. Sometimes we'll spend 15 hours a day meditating in seated posture and I remember my legs felt like they were going to break and they were like, "This is part of the meditation." It really took a period of time for me to physically feel at ease with the meditation practice. Of course, I recommend that when you're meditating at home, you just move and you sit in a way that's comfortable for you. But I would say it took me about three months of daily practice to really feel like I was sinking in deep. Then after a year I felt like I could more easily drop in no matter what was happening in my daily life. When I sit, you just start connecting with your inner oasis of peace. That being said, meditation is not a linear journey. It's not like you just keep getting better and better. It's quite a cyclical journey. I've been meditating now for 10 years and I still have days where I was all over the place. But you really practice not resisting the experience. If your mind is all over the place and it doesn't want to settle, then you embrace that and you become present to that. That's wonderful. Thank you for that reminder that it's an ongoing journey. We've got a couple of other questions in the chat. One is, how do you handle yourself when you were about to go into a situation that you know is going to be very stressful? Then related, how do you then overcome a really big anxiety episode? Maybe the preparation didn't quite work or something took you by surprise. How do you prepare for those anxious moments and then deal with them once you're in them? Great questions. For the first one, before a stressful experience where I know I'm going to be nervous, I really like to do physical movements, the shaking practice that we did. I like to do that for at least five minutes. Sometimes that'll evolve into just free dancing with some music. I really find that physical movement is an essential part of the meditation practice because it allows you to just release any of that frequency of anxiety present in your body. Then I like to take a few deep breaths. I think a big part is also accepting that I'm feeling nervous and that I might feel stressed. Instead of holding myself to the expectation that I should feel calm during that experience. In that experience, really just being aware, trying my best to be aware of the sensations arising in my body. Sweaty palms, the stomach that feels like butterflies or churning. Even some frustration just feeling them fully but not holding onto them. I read somewhere that emotions, they really have a lifespan of 90 seconds. Sometimes they stay with us for years, like resentment because we hold onto them. I think it's really helpful in a stressful situation to just be aware of what is happening in your body, how you feel, and not judge yourself for it. Just be like, "This is the way it is. I'm present to it, but I'm not going to react out of it or intensify it." In terms of the second question, can you remind me? Yes, of course. When you do get carried away by either anxiety or stress or nerves or that panic sets in. Do you have any recommendations for how to work through that? Yeah. I used to have chronic anxiety for 10 years. It really came from living a life that was inauthentic to who I was, coupled with this inner perfectionism applied to everything. I can really relate to what it's like to live with anxiety. How I approached it was really just as I mentioned before, being observant of the sensations in my body, trying to remind myself that I am not my stress, I am not my anxiety and that if I focused on my breath, by doing the breath work that we did in the meditation a couple of times, that there is this distance, this separation between me and my stress and my anxiety. That in the space when you connect with it, it is one of serenity. I feel like meditation when you do it every day, you'll be better equipped to handle those stressful, anxious moments. Meditation is not just a palliative measure, it's not just the bandage you put on your anxiety. But if you do it every day, it really is like a shovel that allows you to dig to the roots of your anxiety and allow you to see what is it that is creating this anxiety? Anxiety doesn't come out of nowhere. There are deep roots and I feel it's very helpful. Ultimately what allowed me to transcend my anxiety and walk through it was to go down to the roots and see what were the root causes of it. That's super helpful. Thank you for that. I think we only have time for one more from the audience. I apologize for those we didn't quite get to. There's been so many great questions. I think this is a wonderful one to end on. How do you think your mindfulness and meditation practice interacts with your creativity, your filmmaking? Any tips from that perspective for fellow creatives? I love this question. A lot of my students, they're surprised when I say that the most essential skill to learn in filmmaking, but I believe in any creative endeavor you do is mindfulness. This ability to be present to what is happening inside of you and around you. How this translates to my filmmaking, for example, when I make a film I go in with a plan. There's so many things happening at once that it's very easy to just get caught up in your thoughts and attach to your plan. This is what is happening around you organically. When I'm filming my subjects, things happen that I don't expect, it's real life. Mindfulness really allows me to be receptive and to catch those moments. Know when something's happening off to the side of the camera. If I don't notice it, then it will not be my story. Sometimes I find that the things that happen on the side that you usually overlook when you're present and you notice them, you realize, "I should follow that." That's an opportunity for my story. Mindfulness also allows you to creative, not just to be aware of what's happening in your creative process, but also allows you to connect with that quiet whisper inside of you. I think that is our inner compass of wisdom. We have an inner stage inside of us. When you're doing something creative, really giving space for that inner voice to speak and really being able to listen to it saying, maybe you should follow this further or maybe should change your direction. I feel mindfulness and meditation really is the foundation for my creative work. It's just such a nourishing part of being a creative person. 8. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] Thank you all for tuning in. To follow me and my creative work, please follow me on my Skillshare Instructor's Page. 9. Join my Teahouse of Wonder: [MUSIC] If you enjoyed this class, I invite you to leave a review and sign up for my newsletter. This is not your ordinary newsletter, but instead a virtual teahouse of wonders where I share curated inspiration behind the scenes, updates, and more high-value resources on the art of authentic creative living. It is my most intimate space to spoil my readers with delight. Sign up to receive on my course instructor page.