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Sit : Love : Give

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Blog

May 29, 2012

Benchmarks of spiritual practice

Here is a list of 12 benchmarks of spiritual practice (Saskia Davis’s Symptoms of Inner Peace) with examples of how I work with them. This list is also a way to know that our spiritual practice is bearing fruit.

1. An increased tendency to allow things happen rather than make them happen

As a mom of two children I spent many years trying to make things happen. I wanted my children to act in certain ways, eat certain foods, choose certain clothing, etc. etc. As they got older and I watched myself trying to be “in control”, I realized I could trust them to be themselves. I realized I could allow …

Feb 01, 2012

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I grew up in a family dominated by alcoholism, narcissism, illness and dysfunction. There were four of us, my mother, my father, my older brother and myself.

From a young age, I had a lot of responsibility. I was a parentified child, caring for my older brother who was epileptic and also caring for my parents whose main focus of concentration was on themselves.

Growing up I was filled with confusion, dissatisfaction, and suppressed anger.

As a child, I did not know other children were busy playing and being cared for. For me it was all about caring for others. I was left alone while my father worked, my mother shopped, and my brother …

Jan 19, 2012

Positivity is contagious

Are you a movie buff? Do you enjoy going to a theater, watching a movie and getting caught up in the plot and relating with the characters and leaving your own plot behind?

When you watch a movie about climbing mountains, and you are afraid of heights, does the fear of the situation cause your heart to race and your palms to sweat?

These are examples of how energy and feelings are contagious.

And have you noticed that when you are with someone who is negative, you feel negative too?

This frequently happens when someone is talking in a negative way, or complaining, about someone or a situation.

Listening to negativity and complaints is …

Jan 16, 2012

Five steps to opening the heart to peace

For many years I co-led a yoga and meditation retreat with a friend.  The retreat was called Open Heart, Quiet Mind and it was offered  at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire. My friend taught yoga and I led guided meditations on the metta bhavana, the meditation on the development of loving-kindness.

The retreats initially began on Friday evening and ended on Sunday afternoon. They were so popular the next retreat was fully booked at the end of each retreat. After sensing the rhythm of the retreats for several years, we decided to extend the timing of them and so we started Thursday evenings and ended Sunday afternoons so …

Jan 04, 2012

The art of finding abundance in frugal times

In the metta sutta, the discourse on loving kindness, the Buddha teaches us how to be “skilled in goodness and know the path of peace”.

These attributes can be practiced in a number of ways including kind speech, humility and also through being frugal.

We are living at a time when prices keep going up and our income, if we are fortunate enough to have one, is not keeping up.

So, how can we live abundantly while living frugally?

Here is a list of suggestions.

1. Attitude is Everything

The way we think about things creates our reality. When we think we don’t have enough, we come from a place of scarcity. When we think …

Jan 01, 2012

Reflections on pleasure, beauty and blessings

We live in a culture where the pursuit of pleasure is alive and flourishing.  We work hard and we seek relief and escape that we find in many different ways, many pleasurable ways.

For some, pleasure is defined as freedom from work, unstructured time, travel, leisure activities, not following a proscribed plan, or leaving responsibilities behind.

Pleasure can be seen as an escape from:

  • our responsibilities (recreating rather than working)
  • things that are “good” for us (eating chocolate rather than a salad) or
  • things that benefit us (taking a day off from exercising).

We many see exercise or meditation in this way, activities that we “should” do.

For many years I struggled in my meditation practice. …

Dec 17, 2011

Meditation hindrances and how to work with them

I remember my first weekend retreat at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in the summer of 1993. I took the weekend “off” from family and work obligations to learn how to meditate and take an Introduction to Buddhism class. My first meditation experience in the Meditation Hall at Aryaloka was blissful – even the outdoor birdsong quieted and the stillness was palpable.

During that first meditation class, I was excited to learn the list of hindrances to meditation: sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and anxiety and skeptical doubt. I could relate to that list because I experienced those hindrances off the cushion too, to varying degrees, and regularly.

Having the …

Dec 11, 2011

Three approaches to mindful attention, on and off the cushion

There are many forms of meditation. In this article you will find a list of ways to meditate in order to develop the ability to fully attend, to mindfully do whatever you do with your family, your friends, your colleagues, your children and yourself.

I.  Zazen

Zazen is the study of the self. Master Dogen said, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened. Upon his own enlightenment, the Buddha was in seated meditation.

Zen practice returns to the same seated meditation again and again. For two thousand five hundred years that …

Dec 02, 2011

“A Little Book of Love” by Moh Hardin

This is the first book by Moh Hardin, an acarya, or senior teacher, in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and teaches classes on Buddhism and meditation in Canada and the U.S.

Hardin tells us that A Little Book of Love is written for anyone who is interested in exploring wisdom from the Buddhist tradition for awakening, deepening and expanding love in our lives and in the world. Unfortunately, Hardin gives only tiny snippets of Buddhist wisdom and neglects to describe how this wisdom relates to his suggestions for deepening and expanding love.

Hardin begins by telling us we should be our own best friend, that our friendship with ourselves …

Nov 30, 2011

A path to live life to the fullest

In Buddhism there are four reminders, things we should consider to make the most of our lives and to prepare us for death.

The four reminders are:

  • our lives are precious
  • we are not immortal
  • our actions have consequences and
  • we can learn to transcend pain.

These reminders can make a difference in how we live our lives, if we keep them in mind and reflect on them each day.

1. The preciousness of life – our lives are precious and our physical and mental health, energy, freedom, food, and money give us opportunities to make the most of each and every day. So each day, we might ask ourselves, “Am I making the most of …