Join me on Insight Timer!

September 23, 2016

bodhipaksa's Insight Timer profile

Most of the time when I meditate, I use the Insight Timer app on my iPhone. (It’s also available on Android). I use it to time my sits, and at the end, when it shows me how many people have been meditating with me (and sometimes that’s more than 5,000!) I say “Thank you for sitting with me” to some of the meditators using the app that live locally. It’s a great way to feel supported in your practice.

I’ve never used the guided meditations on the app, although I have contributed a few. Recently I was checking the stats that the app’s creators have made available, and was rather stunned.

At the moment by … Read more »

Watch SIT, a short documentary

September 3, 2016

SIT – Short Documentary Film from Yoko Okumura on Vimeo.

Chris Ruiz, one of the producers of SIT, a short documentary by Yoko Okumura, suggested that I might want to share this video. Yoko Okumura is the daughter of Shohaku Okumura, a Zen abbot and Eihei Dogen translator. Confounding stereotypes of Zen strictness, Shohaku is a really easy-going guy. Her brother, Masaki, lacks direction, and although he’d like to go to college to learn to cook, he’s perpetually “not ready” to take any concrete steps, seeming to have retreated into a world of video games and finding interaction with the world to be scary.

As Ruiz said to me, the documentary helps “dispel … Read more »

Mindful eating with the “Sati Tala” — so sane it seems crazy

July 19, 2016

sati tala

The other day I got an email from a couple in Israel who are launching a new mindfulness product. It’s one of those things that is possibly just crazy enough (or sane enough — I can’t tell) to really take off.

Basically, it’s a tool for mindful eating. What’s the tool? Well, you are, along with one other person, the Sati Tala eating surface, and two simple seats. What this means is that you and your eating partner become part of the table as you sit on the seats and rest the surface of the Sati Tala on the laps. (Sati Tala is Pali for “mindfulness surface.”)

What this means is that you’re physically connected … Read more »

The Mayu Seat: A Review

July 1, 2016

mayuA week or two ago I was sent a new meditation seat to try out. It’s the Mayu Seat, developed by Cierra and Sean McNamara of the Mayu Meditation Co-op in Denver.

It’s not your typical fold-it-up-and-stick-it-under-your-arm type of meditation seat — but that’s for a reason. It can be used by people who lack the flexibility to sit in either a cross-legged or kneeling posture, and who normally rely on folding chairs, dining chairs, office chairs, and any number of barely suitable seating arrangements.

It’s very attractive, being made from birch plywood. It’s not, as I’ve suggested, something you’re going to habitually carry around with you, but it does fold down if you need … Read more »

“Don’t Be A Jerk,” by Brad Warner

June 30, 2016
Don't Be A Jerk, by Brad Warner
Available on,, Barnes & Noble, and independent local bookstores.
“Don’t Be A Jerk” is a kind of summary-plus-commentary on the 13th century Japanese Zen teacher Dõgen’s Shōbōgenzō, or “Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.” If that statement has you yawning, then let me add that it’s written by Brad Warner, who is a witty, engaging, and quirky author. “Don’t Be A Jerk” is stimulating, informative, and entertaining.

But let’s start with why this book is necessary.

First, Dõgen is a spiritual/philosophical genius. Just recently, on National Public Radio’s website, Adam Frank, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and self-described “evangelist of science,” described Dōgen as “the Read more »

ZenFriend meditation app on Android

March 25, 2015

zenfriendLast year I gave a good review to a meditation timer app for the iPhone called ZenFriend. It’s a very attractive app with a clean and simply layout. I much prefer the look compared to the Insight Timer, which is the other main application I use.

I just heard today that the app is now also available for Android devices through the Google Play Store. It’s currently free. I’d recommend heading over and downloading it.

The app not only allows you to time your sessions, but also includes meditation instructions from a variety of teachers, and it includes a meditation log and statistics to help you track and maintain your meditation habit.

According to … Read more »

“When the Anger Ogre Visits,” by Andrée Salom

November 5, 2014

anger ogreSome weeks ago I read this book with my kids (a six-year-old boy and an almost-eight-year-old girl) several times now, and they enjoyed both the story and the images. But the book became especially relevant recently when my son developed the habit of kicking and punching his sister. That’s a phase a lot of kids go through, but it’s especially worrisome because he’s taking karate classes, and at some point he’s going to be able to do some serious harm.

So last night, when my son was getting mad, we picked up the book again, and read through it. he wanted to read the book out loud himself, and he was able to do so … Read more »

“The Zen Programmer” by Christian Grobmeier

September 23, 2014

zenprogrammerPerhaps you are a programmer, or you work in the software industry. If you are reading this blog, it’s pretty sure that you have some interest in meditation or buddhism. If these statements are true for you, then it’s also quite likely that you’ve heard of Christian Grobmeier, his blog, and his 10 Rules of Zen Programming. His book The Zen Programmer, which has grown out of his programming, his blog and his practice, is a personal story of burnout and recovery. It describes the kind of mistakes we can make in our programming careers, their consequences, and how we can find a new way of doing our jobs that does not require us … Read more »

ZenFriend: A new meditation timer for iPhone

May 30, 2014

zenfriend1I’ve recently been trying out a new meditation timer app for iPhone. It’s very nicely designed and has a lot of promise. And it’s free today, and for the next two days.

The app is called ZenFriend, and it has a very clean and, well, friendly design scheme. The other app I use for timing meditations is the well-known Insight Timer, which I enjoy using, although I don’t like the faux-wood design. Skeuomorphism is so iOS6!

As you’ll see from the first screenshot, there’s a nice blurred-out background image, beautiful typography, and nice clean “buttons” for pausing or ending your sit.

website_02The interface for selecting the length of your sit, whether there are stages, … Read more »

“Fearless at Work” by Michael Carroll

April 22, 2014

fearless at workI jumped at the chance of reviewing ‘Fearless at Work’. A close workmate in my business died very suddenly before Christmas. She went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. I miss her. My workload has temporarily doubled and I’m practising the art of muddling through, with a brain befuddled by shock and grief. So I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of ‘Fearless at Work’ in engaging with this particular phase of life.

The stated aim of this book is to draw on Buddhist philosophy and the practice of mindfulness in helping readers to become more confident and open to possibility in their work lives. Michael Carroll is the founding director of an organisation … Read more »