“Sit With Less Pain” by Jean Erlbaum

March 28, 2014

Sit-With-Less-PainJean Erlbaum’s Sit With Less Pain is subtitled “Gentle Yoga for Meditators and Everyone Else.”

As most meditators know, finding a comfortable way to sit in meditation for long periods of time can be challenging. We can end up futzing around with our equipment, trying out different chairs, benches, and cushions, and constantly adjusting the height and tilt of our seat, and still find that we end up with sore shoulders, or a sore neck, or an aching back. Often the problem is that we’re expecting a body that lacks flexibility to be still for long periods.

Sit With Less Pain addresses that problem, offering us exercises to bring more flexibility to the muscles, tendons, … Read more »

“Meditation in the Wild: Buddhism’s Origin in the Heart of Nature,” Charles S. Fisher Ph.D.

December 30, 2013
Meditation in the Wild: Buddhism’s Origin in the Heart of Nature
Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Charles Fisher has poured decades of Buddhist practice, love of nature and scholarship into this work. He leads us on a journey down the centuries and through the jungles and mountain caves of Asia, following the trail of Buddhist practitioners who have lived and meditated in the wild. The quest takes us from the Buddha himself, discovering enlightenment while sitting at the foot of a tree, right through to the modern day. He homes in particularly on the Buddha’s early disciples, the forest hermits of China and Japan, and the Thai Forest tradition. He does not claim to be making a complete survey of the Buddhist world – Korean… Read more »

“The Christmas Quiet Book” by Deborah Underwood & Renata Liwska

November 27, 2013
The Christmas Quiet Book is available from Amazon and Amazon.co.uk.
The Christmas Quiet Book is available from Amazon and Amazon.co.uk.
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, my four-year-old son. My wife’s a big fan, too. Underwood writes a lot … Read more »

“The Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime,” By Dharmachari Nagaraja

November 25, 2013
Buddha's Apprentice at Bedtime
Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
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 Apprentice at Bedtime.

As with the first volume, … Read more »

“Room to Breathe” — A documentary film about mindfulness in a troubled middle school

September 21, 2013

room to breathe dvdRoom 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 each other, carrying on side-conversations, … Read more »

“No Ordinary Apple,” by Sara Marlowe and Philip Pascuzzo

September 3, 2013

no ordinary apple

Title: No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully
Author: Sara Marlowe, Philip Pascuzzo (illus.)
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
ISBN: 1-61429-076-8
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 … Read more »

The Mayu Bench: A review

August 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, if not impossible, to … Read more »

“There Is No God and He Is Always with You,” by Brad Warner

August 27, 2013

no-godBrad 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. After … Read more »

The power of appreciative words: “Mishan’s Garden,” by James Vollbracht & Janet Brooke

June 15, 2013

Mishans-Garden“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, whose … Read more »

The Dhammapada: “one of the greatest psychological works ever written”

June 12, 2013
Dhammapada Fronsdal
The Dhammapada, translated by Gil Fronsdal. Available from Amazon.
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 yourself. It shows you that your

Read more »