Relearning the art of stillness

December 19, 2016

still lake scene

Our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is doing well. At the time of writing, with 23 days left to go we’re already 51% funded. The graphic below will give you a live update.

What’s it about? Glad you asked! To keep things simple, I’ve included below some information we sent out to our 17,652 subscribers in a special newsletter today. Please do read this important message!

***

Last week we launched a crowdfunding effort to help us bring you four highly effective meditations Bodhipaksa has developed over the years. What we’re suggesting is essentially that you buy our forthcoming CD (or the MP3 version of it), in advance, to help us cover the production costs. (Although there … Read more »

Enjoying the play of your inner toddler

December 19, 2016

child playing

We can experience different kinds of distracted thinking in meditation.

There are obvious, compelling, and “in your face” thoughts in which we tend to become completely immersed. These are the full-blown distractions where we completely forget that we’re meant to be meditating, and instead become submerged in our inner dramas. We dip in and out of these all the time in meditation, returning to the practice every time mindful awareness reappears.

Then there are lighter background thoughts that babble on in the background, even as we continue to pay attention to the meditation practice. So we’ll be following the breathing, for example, while random thoughts keep popping up. Perhaps these thoughts take the form of … Read more »

Create inner peace!

December 12, 2016

“Just as the ocean may be turbulent above, but is always still in its depths, so beneath the surface noise of our thoughts there is always available a deep reserve of calm and tranquillity.” Bodhipaksa

Over my years of teaching and almost 35 years of practice, I’ve evolved a number of very effective meditation techniques for calming the mind. This album of four guided meditations (in CD and MP3 formats) contains the best tools I know of for creating inner peace.

To help us bring these teachings to the world, we’re asking that you help sponsor their production by purchasing the CD (or MP3s) in advance. Or you can simply make a donation. Head over … Read more »

Get your sit together in 2017

December 9, 2016

Meditating regularly has immense benefits. Meditating makes you happier, is good for your health, protects your brain from aging, boosts your intelligence, and helps reduce pain, stress, and depression. It improves your relationships with others, helps you be more effective, and gives you more of a sense of meaning and purpose in your life.

So you might have read that and thought, “Great, but I don’t have the time to meditate.” Or you may have already learned to meditate, perhaps years ago, but have never been able to keep up a regular practice.

For many years I struggled with sustaining the habit of meditating daily. I knew the benefits of meditation, not just from studies … Read more »

Christmas gift ideas for meditators

December 8, 2016

“Do Buddhists celebrate Christmas?” is a question I’m often asked. My answer is usually along the lines that most Western Buddhists do, although not as a religious holiday.

It seems fair enough that a lot of Buddhists do Christmassy things in December, like giving and receiving gifts, and gathering together on the 25th to feast with friends and family. After all, Christianity itself “borrowed” the holiday from European Paganism, where it was known as Yule — a word that’s still in use in Northern Europe. Most of the things that we think of as “Christmassy” — trees, mistletoe, feasting — are in fact “Yule-y,” and nothing to do with the Bible. No religion has a … Read more »

The power of mindfulness — in schools

December 5, 2016

Mindfulness is increasingly being used in schools to help children deal with stress and to improve their ability to manage their emotions. It also helps with focus, attention, and memory. In some schools where mindfulness has been taught, detention rates have decreased dramatically — even dropping to zero.

One school in Baltimore, Robert W. Coleman elementary, has replaced detention with meditation and is seeing astonishing results. In this video, Ali Smith, founder of the Holistic Life Foundation, joins the Emmy award-winning daytime talk show, The Doctors, to discuss the program he helped set up.

This CBS This Morning clip also discusses how mindfulness is being brought into the school. Twice a day, more than 300 … Read more »

Meditation tips for surviving holiday stress

December 5, 2016

meditating santa

The holiday season can be a perfect storm of stressors: financial strain, crowded malls, striving for perfection when we’re entertaining or buying gifts, travel, over-indulgence in food and alcohol, dealing with seldom-seen relatives, and for some of us being on our own while it seems everyone else is merrymaking.

This is where meditation comes in really handy! It’s been shown to reduce stress, so that we can feel at least a little calmer when the world around us is going into a consumeristic frenzy. It helps to reduce depression, too, for those who find that the holiday season is a downer. It promotes joy and other positive emotions. And it helps boost … Read more »

Meet the New Year mindfully!

December 1, 2016

mwhklqgvzck-juskteez-vu

2016 is coming to a close — thank goodness! It’s been a challenging year, with political upsets that the pundits hadn’t predicted — from Brexit to Donald Trump’s election as US president — leading to fears of rising nationalism and racism and deepening rancorous splits in our already polarized societies. And that’s not to mention the loss of beloved celebrities such as David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Florence Henderson, and Leonard Cohen, to name but a few.

I don’t know what 2017 will be like, but I think we should prepare for further potentially traumatizing events.

A major tool for keeping your head when all around are losing theirs is meditation. My own … Read more »

Insight is not enough

November 12, 2016

flower

These days there’s an increasing interest in gaining insight. (Let’s just accept the loaded word “gaining” for now.) On the whole this is a good thing. For a long time many in the West have been doubtful about whether awakening is a realistic goal. “Maybe we’re too messed up,” and “Maybe the modern world isn’t conducive to awakening,” were common doubts.

As the years have gone by, however, more and more practitioners have had insight experiences, and this has been very encouraging for others. More people now think not just that awakening is possible, but that they personally are capable of it. This is great! How can there be a downside to this?

One thing … Read more »

Ask yourself, “Am I showing love right now?”

November 10, 2016

loving touch

A little while ago, while I was in the shower, I had a series of realizations.

I was unmindfully mulling over a financial problem, because my bank had messed and moved all my money into someone else’s account, and then I became aware that I was caught up in unhelpful and distracted thinking.

My initial thought was that I was being blown around by one of the “four worldly winds” that Buddhism talks about: gain and loss. We often end up thinking that getting and having stuff is one of the most important things in life, and therefore think that losing stuff is important too.

As long as I’m not starving, loss isn’t really a … Read more »