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Yoga: Separating fact from fiction

Dorothy Brown reviews The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, by William J. Broad.

If practicing yoga is a right-brain experience, involving meditation, movement, and a detachment from the everyday, then reading The Science of Yoga is a jolt to the other side of the brain: analytical, historical, scientific, and sobering.
But to underscore the proven value of yoga, considered so wifty by so many, New York Times science writer William J. Broad has brought an arsenal of data.

At the front of the book, he lists 68 “main characters,” devotees of yoga and the science of yoga many of whom have …

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The scientific argument for being emotional

Hannah Tepper, Salon: At the end of his second year of Harvard graduate school, neuroscientist and bestselling author Richard Davidson did something his colleagues suspected would mark the end of his academic career: He skipped town and went to India and Sri Lanka for three months to “study meditation.”

In the ’70s, just as today, people tended to lump meditation into the new-age category, along with things like astrology, crystals, tantra and herbal “remedies.”

But contrary to what his skeptics presumed, not only did Davidson return to resume his studies at Harvard, his trip also marked the beginning of Davidson’s most spectacular body of …

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Feb 16, 2012

Aging as a Spiritual Practice, by Lewis Richmond

Here is a mindfulness practice from Lewis Richmond’s book, Aging as a Spiritual Practice: Think of your life and its major events as a horizontal line. Your past stretches to the left of wherever you are on that line; your future stretches to the right. The events that stretch into the past are clear and unchangeable; the future is blurred: you don’t really know what events will eventually occupy that line or how long the line will eventually be. Think of this as horizontal time.

Title: Aging as a Spiritual Practice
Author: Lewis Richmond
Publisher: Gotham Books
ISBN: 978-159-24069-0-6
Available from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store, Amazon.com, and Amazon.com Kindle Store.

Now let’s move from horizontal time to vertical time. As you …

The Buddha Walks Into A Bar, by Lodro Rinzler

The Buddha Walks Into A Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation is the literary debut of 28 year-old Shambhala Buddhist teacher, Lodro Rinzler. The book is aimed at “Generation O” and makes no assumptions about any prior knowledge or experience of Buddhism. Having said that, despite being a ‘young Buddhist’ I have almost a decade of experience of Buddhism yet I still found this book enjoyable, useful, and interesting.

I must admit, I did wince slightly at some of the expressions in the book, such as “Sid said…” when referring to the Buddha, but perhaps this is due to not being so ‘down with the kids’ these days. However, …

Jan 21, 2012

Shortcuts to Inner Peace, by Ashley Davis Bush

In the interests of full disclosure I should say that Ashley Davis Bush, the author of Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity, attends the same Buddhist center I teach at. I’ve bumped into her and her husband a literally a couple of times, but it’s a large center, we’re not by any stretch of the imagination friends, and I’m under no obligation, inner or outer, to say nice things about her book.

Now that that’s out of the way…

Shortcuts to Inner Peace grows out of the meeting of Bush’s practice as a psychotherapist, and her personal Buddhist practice. She knew that many of her clients …

Jan 02, 2012

The Best Buddhist Writing 2011

Another year passes and it’s time for another issue of The Best Buddhist Writing, 2011, from Shambhala Publications. This is the seventh edition of what has become an annual treat of good writing for those who do not — or cannot — subscribe to the many Buddhist magazines or buy the many Buddhist books published each year.

The editor of the series, Melvin Mcleod, who is also the editor of The Shambhala Sun, does his typically nice job, with the assistance of his fellow editors at the Sun, of selecting a representative sampling of writing from many well-known and lesser-known writers and teachers. The usual names are …

Dec 30, 2011

Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh is a prolific writer, with over seventy books to his name. ‘Your True Home’ is his latest: a compilation of 365 short teachings, one on each page.

The format means we can take the book’s subtitle ‘everyday wisdom’ literally, and visit the book daily for a nugget of this much-loved Buddhist teacher’s lore.

And nuggets they are, never taking up more than half a page in a book which has a short, chubby format to begin with (though too heavy to be pocket size – unless you have very big pockets).

Title: Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh
Author: Melvin McLeod (editor)
Publisher:

Dec 20, 2011

The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom Selected and Edited by Jack Kornfield

“In these pages you will find the Dharma … Dharma is kept alive by those who follow the path,” writes Jack Kornfield, the beloved American Buddhist teacher and co-founder of Spirit Rock meditation Center, near where I live in San Francisco.

For the past two months I have had this little book in my messenger bag, a compilation of selections that Kornfield tells us will “bring the Dharma eloquently to life for us in our own time, place and culture.” Indeed it is full of inspiration, and has been a treat to open it, never knowing what treasures will await on the page, as I ride the …

Dec 02, 2011

“A Little Book of Love” by Moh Hardin

This is the first book by Moh Hardin, an acarya, or senior teacher, in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and teaches classes on Buddhism and meditation in Canada and the U.S.

Hardin tells us that A Little Book of Love is written for anyone who is interested in exploring wisdom from the Buddhist tradition for awakening, deepening and expanding love in our lives and in the world. Unfortunately, Hardin gives only tiny snippets of Buddhist wisdom and neglects to describe how this wisdom relates to his suggestions for deepening and expanding love.

Hardin begins by telling us we should be our own best friend, that our friendship with ourselves …

Nov 23, 2011

“Now I Know That Silly Hopes and Fears Will Just Make Wrinkles on My Face” by Sally Devorsine

This lovely children’s book has been test-driven by my five-year-old daughter, and found to be engaging and illuminating. In my amateur estimation it would be suitable for children considerably older — at least up to the age of eight or nine.

Now I Know (the full title is “Now I Know That Silly Hopes and Fears Will Just Make Wrinkles on My Face”) is the first of a series, also called Now I Know, described as a “Collection of Retro Cool Wisdom for Kids.” This series of children’s books is written and illustrated by Sally Devorsine, who lives in Bhutan, where she teaches a western school curriculum to young monks.

Title: