May 03, 2014
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
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
In 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
I’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
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 …
Mar 28, 2014
Jean Erlbaum’s Sit With Less Pain is subtitled “Gentle Yoga for Meditators and Everyone Else.”
As most meditators know, finding a comfortable way to sit in meditation for long periods of time can be challenging. We can end up futzing around with our equipment, trying out different chairs, benches, and cushions, and constantly adjusting the height and tilt of our seat, and still find that we end up with sore shoulders, or a sore neck, or an aching back. Often the problem is that we’re expecting a body that lacks flexibility to be still for long periods.
Sit With Less Pain addresses that problem, offering us exercises to bring more flexibility to the …
Mar 26, 2014
These rather gorgeous images are from an eighteenth-century book consisting of 36 ink drawings showing precise iconometric guidelines for depicting the Buddha and other figures. I stumbled across it today on a site called The Public Domain Review, which draws attention to non-copyright media of all sorts that are available for general use.
As the site points out, “The concept of the ‘ideal image’ of the Buddha emerged during the Golden Age of Gupta rule, from the 4th to 6th century. As well as the proportions, other aspects of the depiction – such as number of teeth, color of eyes, direction of hairs – became very important.”
It’s worth checking out the …
Mar 24, 2014
I love meditating in public places. I’ve meditated on park benches, and on trains and buses and airplanes. I’ve done walking meditation on country lanes and on busy city streets.
One benefit of meditating in public places is being able to squeeze a bit more meditation into your day. If you regard meditation as something you can only do in a special room, relatively free from audible distractions, then you’re limiting the amount of time that you can spend meditating. If you regard these other times I’ve mentioned as being fair game, then you have many more opportunities for practice.
There are just a few things I’d suggest you …
Mar 21, 2014
Over and over again, you’ll hear Buddhist teachers talking about the need to “be in the present moment,” but interestingly this wasn’t something the Buddha emphasized much. There are one or two scattered references that are similar to the concept of being in the moment, like this one:
They don’t sorrow over the past,
don’t long for the future.
They survive on the present.
That’s why their faces
are bright and serene.
In many ways the language of “being in the moment” is useful, because so much of the time we’re unmindfully caught up in thinking about things from the past, or things that might happen in the future. But actually we only have this present moment. …
Feb 10, 2014
Buddhism talks a lot about suffering, but a lot of us think that we don’t suffer, or that we don’t really suffer. There’s a tendency for us to think of suffering in terms of physical pain or material deprivation: the person with terminal cancer or a broken leg, the refugee, the starving child. So we often think of suffering as being something that’s extreme or unusual. But actually, we all suffer, every day. You may be suffering right now.
- When you’re worrying what people think about you, you’re suffering.
- When you feel resentful, you’re suffering.
- When you’re impatient, you’re suffering.
- When you’re embarrassed, you’re suffering.
- When you’re irritated, you’re suffering.
- When you’re feeling