Nov 27, 2013
Shhhhh!! Let’s be very quiet while we review author Deborah Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska’s The Christmas Quiet Book.
Are you sitting comfortably? Have you silenced all the alarms on your computer and phone? Have you closed all other windows or switched your browser to full screen mode? Have you taken three full breaths, closed your eyes, and spent a few minutes quietly listening to the world around you? No? OK, go do that now…
I adore Ms. Underwood’s books. So does my six-year-old daughter and, to a lesser extent, …
Nov 25, 2013
Three years ago I walked into a bookstore in Vancouver, where I was doing a book launch, and literally the first book spine that caught my eye in the Buddhist book section was called Buddha at Bedtime. As the father of two young children I pulled it from the shelf with excitement, and was astonished to discover it had been written by an old friend of mine from my days in Glasgow.
Of course I got a copy of the book, and it’s been a bedtime fixture in our household ever since. Now comes a much-welcomed sequel, The Buddha’s …
Sep 21, 2013
Room to Breathe is a documentary about teaching mindfulness to students of the troubled Marina Middle School in San Francisco, which tops its district for disciplinary suspensions, and has overcrowded classrooms creating an environment in which it’s almost impossible for learning to take place. As assistant principal Anthony Braxton explains near the opening of the film, a significant number of students at Marina “don’t do school” — they don’t see school as being for them.
In the class of Seventh Grade teacher Tom Ehnle, we see kids who are unable to stay on task or to pay attention. They seem to be in a constant state of fidgeting, wrestling with …
Sep 03, 2013
Title: No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully
Author: Sara Marlowe, Philip Pascuzzo (illus.)
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Available from: Wisdom Publications, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com.
No Ordinary Apple is a variation on the famous “raisin exercise” that’s so popular in meditation classes. (If you’re not familiar with the raisin exercise it’s where we mindfully eat a single raisin, thoroughly exploring it with our senses.) But No Ordinary Apple is, of course, a children’s book — and a very welcome addition to the growing body of meditation resources for children.
The fruit is question is an apple rather than a raisin and the mindful eater of this apple is a young …
Aug 28, 2013
Some months ago I was sent a Mayu Bench to try out and review, but somehow the review slipped off of my schedule.
Of the two benches pictured, mine is the tall one on the left. It’s a solid and stable meditation seat, and may be particularly suitable for people who find sitting on cushions or kneeling benches difficult. It allows you to sit much as you would on a chair, but with the advantage that the seat slopes forward, allowing you to have the spine upright without any effort. (Western chair design leaves much to be desired; the typical flat seat causes the pelvis to tilt backward, making it hard, …
Aug 27, 2013
Brad Warner is an unconventional American Zen teacher, who seems sincerely to believe that he has found God, that God should be — or even is — an intrinsic part of Buddhist practice and realization, that others would benefit if they found God too, and who thinks that that believing in God might actually help us solve the world’s problems. He outlines all this in his latest book, There Is No God And He Is Always With You, in which he offers “straight talk about why this ‘godless religion’ [Zen Buddhism] has a lot to say about God.”
Some of the above will be as confounding for you as it was for me. …
Jun 15, 2013
“The greatest gift you can ever give another is to see what is best and unique about them.”
This morning I stumbled downstairs, bleary-eyed, having got home late after teaching a class the night before. My six-year-old daughter gave me a running hug and a huge smile. She’s naturally affectionate, but I suspect there was an ulterior motive, because a few seconds later she came running back to me with Mishan’s Garden in her hands, asking that I read it to her. And so, I did.
Mishan is the titular heroine, a young girl who lives in The Village Above the White Clouds, where her father is the innkeeper. Misha is a special girl, …
Jun 12, 2013
Jonathan Haidt, who studies morality and emotion, at the NYU-Stern School of Business, discusses the Buddhist classic, The Dhammapada, on Five Books:
The Dhammapada is one of the greatest psychological works ever written, and certainly one of the greatest before 1900. It is masterful in its understanding of the nature of consciousness, and in particular the way we are always striving and never satisfied. You can turn to it – and people have turned to it throughout the ages – at times of trouble, at times of disappointment, at times of loss, and it takes you out of
Mar 15, 2013
Marc Aurel Stein was a superstar of his time. When he returned from the Taklamakan and Gobi desert in central Asia after a successful expedition that lasted from 1906 to 1908, weighed down with treasure in the form of ancient documents, the newspapers in London were full of his exploits. Today, almost nobody has heard of him. I certainly hadn’t until I read Journeys on the Silk Road by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters. Morgan and Walters have travelled from their native Australia to England, Wales, India and China in order to retell Stein’s story and that of the document most associated with his explorations: the Diamond Sutra from the Caves of …
Feb 25, 2013
“Know yourself, Forget Yourself: Five Truths to Transform your Work, Relationships, and Everyday Life,” by Marc Lesser
As a rule, I am not a fan of self-help books. They are often big on promises but small on practicalities; good at telling you what is possible but rarely willing to recognize that each of us has limitations. Self-help books, it seems to me, sell the lie that you can be whoever you want and have whatever you want (Can I really marry Scarlett Johansson?). However, a self-help book based on Zen Buddhist principles might be different.
The book rests on the contention that ‘embracing life’s paradoxes is a powerful skill’ (p.4). Lesser, a Zen teacher and executive coach, proposes that we explore five key paradoxes: First, ‘Know Yourself, …