The mind knows its own way home

August 21, 2017

cat looking through hole in wooden door

When we’re first learning to meditate, one of the things we have to get used to is that the mind wanders much more than we might expect.

We discover, perhaps, that we can’t go more than two or three breaths without the mind latching on to some thought that’s appeared and going for a long trek through our memories, fantasies, expectations about the future, and so on.

At first this might be frustrating. We get annoyed with ourselves, or with our minds, for being so distractible. We perhaps blame ourselves, and suspect that we’re not cut out for meditation, or worse at it than other people. Meditation seems a bit like hard work.

We learn, … Read more »

Testers wanted for meditation app

August 20, 2017

You’re invited to test out a stellar new iPhone app I’ve been partnering with, called OpenSit. It’s still in the development and testing stage at the moment, so this is an opportunity to try out the app before it goes public.

It’s different from other meditation apps because it offers daily guided meditations to help you sustain and deepen your practice. A variety of teachers are providing regular meditation sessions that you can use to give your meditation practice more of a sense of clarity and direction.

So far the feedback has been really stellar!

If you’re interested in testing out the app, you can request to become a tester by clicking on this linkRead more »

Fully embracing this present moment

August 1, 2017

It was late in the evening when my son told me he’d left his backpack in the car. That’s not a huge deal, but there were things in it that he needed for camp tomorrow, and because of where I live my car’s parked a few minutes’ walk away from my apartment. Again, not a huge deal, but I was tired and I was in the middle of getting both kids together for bed, and would have to wait until they were asleep before I went to retrieve the backpack.

So, with the kids asleep, and my energy failing, I trudged downstairs to fetch the forgotten backpack. I was grouchy and a little resentful — … Read more »

How to calm your mind, quickly and easily

June 30, 2017

We can use our attention in two ways: either as a flashlight or as a candle.

Flashlight attention is where we have a narrow, focused beam of awareness. We observe one aspect of our experience, and because our focus is narrow, we don’t notice much else. This is how we tend to use our attention during the day. You’re almost certainly using your attention like a flashlight right now as you focus on these words. You’re mostly aware of one word flowing after another, building up a pattern of meaning in your mind. You’re probably not aware (until I mention it) of the feeling of your bottom on your seat, or your shirt touching your … Read more »

New course formats on Wildmind, coming Monday

June 17, 2017

Believe it or not, I’ve been running online courses through Wildmind since 2001! I believe in fact that I may have been the first person to offer meditation courses online.

A lot’s changed since I started this. Although we’ve offered courses in various formats, for the entire time I’ve been teaching online I’ve provided a mixture of background reading material and guided meditations in audio format, supported by discussion.

That’s worked pretty well, but more and more people are accessing our courses on mobile devices, on which reading is less enjoyable. I think many of us are finding it harder to stay focused while reading on electronic devices.

So we’re trying an experiment with courses … Read more »

The most important thing you need to know about life, according to Buddhism

June 4, 2017

Arguably the central teaching of Buddhism, without which the others make no sense, is that things change.

While “things change” may seem like a commonplace observation, made by dozens (at least) of philosophers and religious teachers over the last few millennia, the Buddha wasn’t content simply to pay lip-service to the concept of impermanence, but followed through the implications of this fact as far as he possibly could.

He saw our resistance to change as the source of our suffering. He talked about this resistance in terms of clinging — a desperate attempt to hold onto stability in the flowing river of time.

Clinging sometimes manifests as expectation — we want something to happen in … Read more »

Meditation as a “positivity cascade”

May 13, 2017

It used to be that if you wanted to learn to meditate you had to take the risk of entering an exotic, incense-scented meditation center, wondering if you were stepping into the domain of some weird cult. Nowadays, though, you can download meditation apps, learn meditation online, or even attend a class at your local hospital.

Yet although meditation is approaching mainstream acceptance, many people still have the image of meditation as something unusual, and perhaps even difficult. They expect something religious or mysterious.

The principles of meditation, however, are very down to earth.

But first, let’s understand what tends to happen when we’re not very mindful.

The mind does a lot of thinking that … Read more »

A path to awakening — on your phone

May 5, 2017

Right now we’re crowdfunding so that we can bring out a meditation app. The app is called “Bodhi Mind,” and its going to offer a huge selection of my guided meditations, which you’ll literally have at your fingertips.


We’ve already raised almost 75% of what we need in order to develop the app. If you’re interested in becoming a backer, you only have five days left, so head over to our campaign page and select your perk.

But you might want to know what’s going to be in the Bodhi Mind app, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here.

In short, the Bodhi Mind app offers a path to spiritual awakening. It includes … Read more »

The eyes have it

May 2, 2017

As you’re reading these words, begin to notice your breathing. Don’t change anything, just letting your body breathe naturally.

  • Notice where the breathing is taking place. How much of the movement is in the chest, and how much is in the abdomen?
  • Notice the rate of your breathing.
  • Notice how deep or shallow your breathing is.
  • Notice how you feel.

Now continue to notice these things, but with one change:

For a minute or two, stop focusing on the individual words, but relax your gaze and allow yourself to take in the whole screen, and then everything around the screen, right up to the periphery of your visual field.

Now that you’re back …

You … Read more »

If you want to be happier, drop the mind-reading

April 27, 2017

An essential part of being human (and in fact of being a primate) is what psychologists call “theory of mind,” which is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intentions, desires, plans, knowledge, thoughts, and so on—to others. When you have to give bad news to someone, for example, you know that they may become upset, and you take this into account in the way you talk to them. If you’re explaining something to another person you may anticipate certain questions they might ask. This is you employing a theory of mind.

This is such a basic part of our lives that we don’t give it a second thought, but that in itself can become a … Read more »