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Aug 08, 2012

Mindfulness for Dummies, by Shamash Aladina

Book plus CD available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
If I could put a book in a drawer in every hotel room across America, across the world, it would be Mindfulness for Dummies by Shamash Alidina. Alidina’s website describes him the following way:  “He has taught mindfulness in a secular way for over a decade to adults, and has taught eastern philosophy, physics and mindfulness in a progressive childrens’ school for 8 years.”

As an experienced practitioner I was worried I wouldn’t find much new here. Instead, Mindfulness for Dummies is a fascinating, well-researched tour de force.  


Alidina seems to cover all the important bases with complex and yet simple bullet …

Jun 11, 2010

“The Yogi’s Joy,” by Sangharakshita

"The Yogi's Joy," by SangharakshitaHow would you feel if your teacher burned your book collection? A new book by Sangharakshita highlights a challenging friendship between a Tibetan guru and his disciple.

A good dharma book is humbling. It is like a spiritual friend who isn’t afraid of cutting through our defenses in the service of positive change. Sangharakshita’s new book, exploring three songs of Milarepa, challenged me in this way. The material is compiled from edited transcripts of seminars Sangharakshita gave to members of the Triratna Buddhist Order (formerly the Western Buddhist Order) in the late 70’s, about Milarepa, his songs and the spiritual life. The songs chosen …

Feb 15, 2010

Thich Nhat Hanh, “Buddha Mind, Buddha Body: Walking Toward Enlightenment”

Buddha mind, buddha body, Thich Nhat HanhThich Nhah Hanh’s spiritual genius shines through this new book, despite some poor organization and quirky translations.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddha Mind, Buddha Body: Walking Toward Enlightenment offers instructions on dwelling in the body and mind, on metta (or universal lovingkindness), and on Thich Nhat Hanh’s distinctive teaching on “interbeing.” The book includes–as bookends, teachings on walking meditation–but many other practices are discussed in between. The book is in fact quite a collection of Dharma teachings.

Buddha Mind, Buddha Body is based on The Verses on the Characteristics of the Eight Consciousnesses by Master Hsuan-Tsang (ca. 596-664), though the connection to that text is not readily apparent, …

Mar 02, 2009

What Rikers Island taught me about meditation

Rikers IslandPrison can be a tough environment for those who work there as well as for inmates. Psychotherapist Steve Bell reflects on a few tough months spent in Rikers Island and realizes how much he learned.

For four months last year I worked with women detainees on Rikers Island in the Intense Treatment Unit, or ITU. Those four months were an adventure, but I won’t easily forget the trauma and abuse the women reported, and eventually the need to live a simpler life led me to give up working there.

The idea of the ITU was to try and apply the work of Marsha Linehan — who created Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) for people with …

Jan 28, 2008

Parenting and practice

Steve BellHow do we maintain an active practice while being immersed in the world of parenting and work? Are children a hindrance to spiritual practice? Or can parenting also be a path? Steve Bell, Buddhist practitioner and social worker, speaks from his experience of meditating while parenting two young boys.

I tell prospective parents to make a list of all the things they enjoy doing in their spare time. What are your hobbies? Do you like to go to the movies? I ask them to list the obscure little things they would miss. Do you like timely haircuts? Do you like to luxuriate in the bathroom, on the toilet, in the shower, and grooming?

Nov 29, 2007

The Bliss of Inner Fire, by Lama Thubten Yeshe

the bliss of inner fire, lama thubten yesheSocial worker, father, and dedicated meditator Steve Bell takes a look at the late Lama Thubten Yeshe’s legacy, and is spurred to go deeper into Dharma practice. The Lama would have approved.

I have the fantasy that there is a perfect book out there for my next spiritual step.

A book like The Bliss of Inner Fire by Lama Thubten Yeshe complicates things. It’s the kind of book that spawns a list of other books to read: First off, Tsongkhapa’s Having Three Convictions, or The Six Practices of Yoga by Naropa, which Lama Thubten Yeshe refers to quite a lot because they are his root texts.

The Bliss of …