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May 12, 2014

Tricycle magazine explores ‘dharma drunks’

Noah Levine – Author of Refuge Recovery – A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction

Last month I asked the question, why another book on recovery? In the summer issue of Tricycle, Joan Duncan Oliver, a contributing editor and the editor of Commit to Sit, an anthology of Tricycle articles, also gives her view on this topic too. Tricycle has kindly let me quote the first few paragraphs while also including a link to the rest of the article.

‘Buddhist practitioners are skewing younger. Add to that growing concern about drug abuse in America, and it’s hardly surprising that the Buddhist recovery field is expanding. Back in 1993, Mel Ash, then a dharma …

May 11, 2014

Meditating with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS and meditationSomeone recently wrote to tell me that she suffers extreme embarrassment when meditating with other people, because her IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) causes a lot of intestinal gurgling. She becomes self-conscious about these noises, finds that the anxiety about them dominates her meditations, and has been so upset at times that she’s left the meditation room in tears. Also, her anxiety around making noise actually causes her condition to get worse.

I can appreciate her anxiety. I think we’ve all had times when we’ve been self-conscious about bodily noises (gas, swallowing, coughing, etc.), but to have it be more than an occasional thing must be very hard indeed.

If you’re …

May 04, 2014

Six Element Practice: Guided Meditation MP3

Another guided meditation from the retreat I’m co-leading with Sunada and Aryaloka. This one’s the Six Element Practice, which is a reflection on non-self.

The quality of the recording is not great, and the only editing I’ve done is to increase the volume and to remove a cough. You’ll hear the building creaking, and people shuffling (and no doubt some coughs that I missed.

Still, I hope it’s of benefit:

May 04, 2014

Lovingkindness meditation: another guided meditation MP3

Another of the recordings from the retreat I’m currently co-leading at Aryaloka retreat center. The retreat’s on creativity and meditation, and I’ve been noticing how self-critical (i.e. “perfectionist” many creative people can be. So I threw in this short meditation at the end of the evening in order to connect us with the fact that life is messy, that we don’t “do life” perfectly, and how this can be an opportunity for us to develop more empathy and kindness rather than to beat ourselves up.

I hope this is of benefit to you. (By the way, the meditation room is kind of noisy, and the recording equipment wan’t great. And it’s only very lightly edited to remove some of the …

May 03, 2014

Rebirth and radical honesty

wispThis morning I had an email from Sheila, one of our newsletter subscribers. She’d shared the article called “The Buddha’s Wager” with a Buddhist friend, and wasn’t sure how to address the points her friend had raised. So here’s what her friend had written:

i find it fascinating that ‘sceptics’ want to know how consciousness can survive the death of the brain – when we have no inkling of how consciousness arises in a living brain – to me it’s as much of a leap of faith to believe that other people are conscious as it is to believe that ‘my’ consciousness can survive the death of my body.

May 03, 2014

Mindfulness of Breathing: another guided meditation MP3

I’m currently co-leading a retreat with Sunada on the topic of Freeing Your Creative Potential with Meditation.

This morning Sunada led a body scan meditation, and I led a session of mindfulness of breathing. This version is loosely based on the four stage form of the practice that I normally teach, but since we were already in the swing of things thanks to Sunada’s meditation we didn’t include any counting.

The emphasis here is more on relaxing into a complete awareness of the breathing in its four-dimensional nature; that is, being aware of the full spectrum of sensations taking place in three-dimensional space, and also being aware of how the arising of sensation is changing moment-by-moment.

May 02, 2014

Mindfulness of Breathing: Guided Meditation MP3

At the moment I’m on retreat at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire, just a couple of miles from where I live.

We started our formal activities with a half-hour guided meditation, just to arrive. The sit was a four-stage mindfulness of breathing, and I decided to record it in case it could benefit anyone else.

Here’s the recording:

May 02, 2014

Intention of non-ill will

yellow flowerHere we give up angry, punishing reactions toward others, animals, plants, and things. If such attitudes arise, we resolve not to feed them, and to cut them off as fast as we can.

The Buddha placed great stress on the importance of releasing ill will. In the extreme, he said that even when we are being grossly mistreated by others, we should practice good will toward them, and wish them the best.

To be sure, that does not mean turning a blind eye toward injustice and mistreatment – of ourselves as well as others – nor does it mean turning our back on skillful actions of protection, advocacy, and betterment. It is perfectly …

Apr 30, 2014

“The Buddha’s Wager”

Homer Simpson and GodIn the 17th century, the philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal outlined his famous “wager,” attempting to make a case for why we should believe in God. Briefly, the wager rested on the assumption that their either is or is not a God, that no logical proof can be make for either proposition, and that believing or not believing is a coin toss that we can’t avoid making. Weighing up the consequences of the coin toss, Pascal pointed out that “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” Therefore, he argued, we should unhesitatingly believe in God, in order that we might win an “infinity of …

Apr 29, 2014

Mindful presence

Woman leaning on a cabin log and thinkingWhat Is Mindful Presence?

Let’s unpack those two words, mindful presence.

Mindfulness is simply a clear, non-judgmental awareness of your inner and outer worlds. In particular, it’s an awareness of the flow of experience in your inner world – an alert observing of your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, desires, memories, images, personality dynamics, attitudes, etc.

When you are mindful of something, you are observing it, not caught up in it and not identified with it. The psychological term, “the observing ego” – considered to be essential for healthy functioning – refers to this capacity (i.e., mindfulness) to detach from the stream of consciousness and observe it. Other terms …