The best of Wildmind, 2011
I guess we must be doing something right, because it’s been a great year for our website. The number of people visiting Wildmind has been growing steadily — it’s almost double what it was two years ago — and we now have more than a million visitors per year.
We’ve been very grateful for the support people have shown for what we do, and also very proud of the many fine articles we’ve made available.
So here, in reverse order, are the ten very varied blog posts that were most popular in 2011 (note that they weren’t all published in 2011). We look forward to bringing you even more in 2012!
Jun 27, 2011
10. Meditating on anxiety
One of my clients — I’ll call him Mark — took up meditation to help with his lifelong anxiety. He was all too aware of his tendency to over-analyze and worry about everything. He’d been meditating on and off for two years, gone on retreats, read tons of dharma books, done everything he could think of.
But he felt like there was no progress at all. He told me that every sit still featured that same old frenzied monkey mind swinging from tree to tree. It was nothing but frustration.
I have to say, I empathize. I bet you’ve been in a similar place, too. We all take up …
Aug 31, 2009
9. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Some years ago, two friends took me rock-climbing in Colorado. I’d only ever climbed with ropes once before, and that had been many years earlier, so really I was a complete beginner. And nervous.
I found myself suspended half-way up a cliff, in a state of anxiety, with my friends shouting encouragement from below. My breathing was tight, my heart was pounding, and my limbs felt weak and shaky, but I didn’t have time to think much about that. I was holding on to a narrow ledge that ran horizontally across the rock face — really it was more like a crease. The toes of my climbing shoes were precariously holding on to …
Jan 22, 2009
8. Love, sex, and non-attachment
Is it possible to be in a committed sexual relationship and follow the Buddha’s teaching on non-attachment? Does loving someone deeply by definition mean we’re attached to them? Sunada doesn’t see these ideas as contradictory, and explores what an enlightened relationship might look like.
This year, my husband David and I will mark 27 years of being happily married. Am I attached to him? You bet I am. If he were to die tomorrow, of course I would be devastated. And am I completely unselfish in my regard for him? If I were honest, I’d have to say no. After all, what if he were to come home one day and say, “Sunada, I …
May 08, 2011
7. How to clear your mind of negative thoughts
The mind is like a wild elephant that needs taming. If you have ever meditated and tried to quiet your mind, you will have experienced your thoughts as continuous and difficult to manage.
We worry, we obsess about the same things over and over again, we are anxious about things that never happen, we want more than we have, or something different from what we have, and we have expectations of ourselves and others that may never be met.
What we think creates the world we live in. When we think negatively about ourselves and others, we do not experience the beauty and joy that can be found within ourselves and others.
One of …
Apr 26, 2011
6. Bodhi art: reclaiming the body with Buddhist tattoos
People often ask me why I get tattooed and why I have so many. I have 40 tattoos, including one that covers my entire back. I have also been branded and pierced in various locations on my body. I started out with a small tattoo paid for by my best friend as a 25th birthday present. He said, “I want to give you something that you can never get rid of!” I continued to get tattoos regularly, a couple times a year and at one point every six weeks. For many years, I was not conscious of any particular reason for being continually tattooed. I liked how they looked; I actually liked the pain and the feeling of being tattooed. When I was first tattooed, they were not so trendy and I guess I was trying to look …
Oct 05, 2011
5. Steve Jobs on death
I’m sad that Steve Jobs has died. No one has had as much effect on the computer industry as he has. His company, Apple, has transformed the way we relate to computers.
I only recently learned that Jobs was a Buddhist. According to his Wikipedia biography, he went to India in the 1970s and came back a Buddhist. In 1991 his wedding ceremony was performed by a Zen priest. He was a very private man, and I don’t think he talked much about his religion.
I thought a fitting tribute would be Jobs own words, from his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, in which he eloquently discusses how an awareness of …
Dec 28, 2007
4. Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
I once had a disturbed young man come to a meditation class I was teaching in Edinburgh. As we’d gathered and during the meditation instruction I’d noticed that he was unusually intense and that he had noticeably poor personal hygiene, but in most ways he seemed like a fairly typical young man.
In the discussion following, however, his conversation started to veer off into more bizarre areas. He’d had “cosmic” experiences during the meditation session — experiences whose details I no longer recall but which sounded very off-balance. His girlfriend was apparently an Iranian princess. He was being shadowed by various security forces. Later still, as we were winding up and preparing to leave, and …
Jul 24, 2008
3. Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
I sometimes think that my life has proceeded by way of a series of breakdowns and reconstructions. Such episodes haven’t exactly been frequent in my life, but they have represented important turning points. There have been three times I can recall where I’ve hit emotional bottom, learned something important about myself, and found a release that led to significant growth taking place.
In each case there had been a long period of holding on to some pattern that had been causing me pain (usually unacknowledged). I’d been a tightly-closed bud. This was followed by a catalyzing event (in each case it involved being on retreat) in which I became fully aware of …
Rick Hanson PhD
Oct 10, 2011
2. How to have compassion
Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer – from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish – combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.
You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), groups of people (victims of crime, those displaced by a hurricane, refugee children), animals (your pet, livestock heading for the slaughterhouse), and yourself.
Compassion is not pity, agreement, or a waiving of your rights. You can have compassion for people who’ve wronged you while also insisting that they treat you better.
Compassion by itself opens your heart and …
Jun 05, 2007
1. Top 10 celebrity Buddhists
When we started putting this list together it seemed like it was going to be nothing more than a shallow, trivial — although perhaps welcome — distraction from all the news about disastrous wars and sordid political scandals, but as we dug deeper into the web we found that we felt at times inspired by reading about the practice of famous Buddhists, some of whom have had their trials. We hope that you too will be inspired — and entertained — by Wildmind’s Top Ten List of Celebrity Buddhists.
Our criteria were simple. To be a celebrity Buddhist a nominee had to be alive, a celebrity, and — wait for it …