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Sit : Love : Give

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May 11, 2014

Meditating with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS and meditationSomeone recently wrote to tell me that she suffers extreme embarrassment when meditating with other people, because her IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) causes a lot of intestinal gurgling. She becomes self-conscious about these noises, finds that the anxiety about them dominates her meditations, and has been so upset at times that she’s left the meditation room in tears. Also, her anxiety around making noise actually causes her condition to get worse.

I can appreciate her anxiety. I think we’ve all had times when we’ve been self-conscious about bodily noises (gas, swallowing, coughing, etc.), but to have it be more than an occasional thing must be very hard indeed.

If you’re …

May 07, 2014

Sit : Breathe : Love (May 13 – Jun 9)

sit : breathe : loveWant to experience the physical and mental health benefits of meditation, but have trouble setting up a regular practice?

Sit : Breathe : Love is a 28 Day Meditation Challenge, with the aim of helping you to set up the habit of meditating daily. There are already almost 1,100 people signed up!

The benefits of regular meditation have been demonstrated again and again in multiple studies. Meditating makes you happier, is good for your health, protects your brain from aging, boosts your intelligence, and helps reduce pain, stress, and depression.

But it’s not easy to set up a regular meditation practice.

So we’re here to help you!

The aims in the 28 Day …

May 04, 2014

Six Element Practice: Guided Meditation MP3

Another guided meditation from the retreat I’m co-leading with Sunada and Aryaloka. This one’s the Six Element Practice, which is a reflection on non-self.

The quality of the recording is not great, and the only editing I’ve done is to increase the volume and to remove a cough. You’ll hear the building creaking, and people shuffling (and no doubt some coughs that I missed.

Still, I hope it’s of benefit:

May 04, 2014

Lovingkindness meditation: another guided meditation MP3

Another of the recordings from the retreat I’m currently co-leading at Aryaloka retreat center. The retreat’s on creativity and meditation, and I’ve been noticing how self-critical (i.e. “perfectionist” many creative people can be. So I threw in this short meditation at the end of the evening in order to connect us with the fact that life is messy, that we don’t “do life” perfectly, and how this can be an opportunity for us to develop more empathy and kindness rather than to beat ourselves up.

I hope this is of benefit to you. (By the way, the meditation room is kind of noisy, and the recording equipment wan’t great. And it’s only very lightly edited to remove some of the …

May 03, 2014

Rebirth and radical honesty

wispThis morning I had an email from Sheila, one of our newsletter subscribers. She’d shared the article called “The Buddha’s Wager” with a Buddhist friend, and wasn’t sure how to address the points her friend had raised. So here’s what her friend had written:

i find it fascinating that ‘sceptics’ want to know how consciousness can survive the death of the brain – when we have no inkling of how consciousness arises in a living brain – to me it’s as much of a leap of faith to believe that other people are conscious as it is to believe that ‘my’ consciousness can survive the death of my body.

May 03, 2014

Mindfulness of Breathing: another guided meditation MP3

I’m currently co-leading a retreat with Sunada on the topic of Freeing Your Creative Potential with Meditation.

This morning Sunada led a body scan meditation, and I led a session of mindfulness of breathing. This version is loosely based on the four stage form of the practice that I normally teach, but since we were already in the swing of things thanks to Sunada’s meditation we didn’t include any counting.

The emphasis here is more on relaxing into a complete awareness of the breathing in its four-dimensional nature; that is, being aware of the full spectrum of sensations taking place in three-dimensional space, and also being aware of how the arising of sensation is changing moment-by-moment.

May 02, 2014

Mindfulness of Breathing: Guided Meditation MP3

At the moment I’m on retreat at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire, just a couple of miles from where I live.

We started our formal activities with a half-hour guided meditation, just to arrive. The sit was a four-stage mindfulness of breathing, and I decided to record it in case it could benefit anyone else.

Here’s the recording:

Apr 30, 2014

“The Buddha’s Wager”

Homer Simpson and GodIn the 17th century, the philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal outlined his famous “wager,” attempting to make a case for why we should believe in God. Briefly, the wager rested on the assumption that their either is or is not a God, that no logical proof can be make for either proposition, and that believing or not believing is a coin toss that we can’t avoid making. Weighing up the consequences of the coin toss, Pascal pointed out that “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” Therefore, he argued, we should unhesitatingly believe in God, in order that we might win an “infinity of …

Apr 16, 2014

Bringing accountability to your practice

The Steppe Eagle is a bird of preyI’m just getting over a bad habit relating to meditation that’s plagued me for over thirty years.

It was reading a blog post on developing good writing habits that helped me. The idea came from Brett Cooper who, like me, found that he tended to write in fits and starts, with long periods of non-writing, followed by spurts of intense production.

Two ideas came to his rescue. The first was that he realized he needed to establish “a small, non-threatening daily writing habit,” and that a goal of 100 words a day was innocuous enough to be doable.

The second idea was the realization that he …

Mar 31, 2014

Gratitude promotes patience

仏像I wasn’t surprised today to learn that a new study has found a connection between gratitude and patience. After all, if you value what you have, which is what gratitude accomplishes for us, then there’s less emotional need to go seeking something else.

The study, carried out by a team of researchers from Northeastern University, the University of California, Riverside, and Harvard Kennedy School, looked specifically at financial impatience. Financial impatience is a well-known phenomenon where larger rewards in the future are considered less important than smaller rewards in the present.

Participants in the study chose between receiving a larger sum in the future, or a smaller sum now. The researchers used …