Inviting Mara to tea

August 5, 2015

Tea set, Tea Cup with Teapot and Rose

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!…
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
—Rumi

One of my favorite stories of the Buddha shows the power of a wakeful and friendly heart. The night before his enlightenment, the Buddha fought a great battle with the Demon God Mara, who attacked the then bodhisattva Siddhartha Guatama with everything he had: lust, greed, anger, doubt, etc. Having failed, … Read more »

Meditation infographic

July 21, 2015

InformationIsBeautiful.net reviewed 75+ studies and compiled all the evidence in one graphic and datasheet.

What are the effects of meditation & mindfulness, according to the latest scientific research? What’s it good for? And while we’re at it, what’s the difference between meditation and mindfulness anyway?

IIB_Meditation_effects

Click on the graphic above to get more information.

The “Now Bench”

July 20, 2015

The Now BenchI just got word of a Kickstarter for an interesting new meditation tool.

For many people, sitting cross-legged isn’t comfortable, or even possible! For those who aren’t so flexible, the traditional kneeling, or “seiza” posture is very handy. It provides stability, comfort (once you figure out the right height, angle, and floor cushioning), and a sense of groundedness (certainly compared to being perched on a chair).

A good seiza bench, usually made of wood, can cost anything from $60 to $200 for a decent model.

The Now Bench is a different approach, using modern foam technology. It’s a simple U-shape, allowing the bench to find the right angle for having the spine naturally erect. It’s … Read more »

What consciousness wants

July 17, 2015

Brain tree illustration, tree of knowledge

What does consciousness want? I don’t mean what do “you” want. I mean, what is consciousness fundamentally about? What is it trying to do? What is its nature?

Consciousness is undefinable. We can look at the brain with fancy machines and see activity going on. We can study neurons and understand the physical processes by which, for example, vision takes place. But how actual experience comes to arise on the basis of this is something that isn’t understood. This has been called the “hard problem” of explaining consciousness because scientists and philosophers don’t even know how to begin to think about this.

The philosopher and neuroscientist Alva Noë has said that consciousness is co-extensive … Read more »

Toward a socially responsible mindfulness

July 15, 2015

MaiaDuerrbannerThe big news in the Buddhist world recently was a gathering of Buddhist teachers and leaders at the White House – yes, that White House. My heart leaped with joy when I saw photos of members of the group holding up three banners with these words:

The Karma of Slavery is Heavy
I vow to work for racial justice

The Whole Earth is My True Body
I vow to work for climate justice

U.S. Militarism Breeds Violence Not Safety
I vow to work for peace and freedom

The banners were lovingly hand-painted by members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the San Francisco Bay Area. BPF is an organization near and dear to my heart … Read more »

Letting Go Into Bliss: an exploration of “jhana”

July 13, 2015

yogd2015-jhanaLetting Go Into Bliss (Aug 12-Oct 30) is an exploration of “jhana” — a joyful state of focused attention that can arise in meditation. We’ll be learning how to allow jhana to happen.

On this 80 day meditation event, you’ll learn to:

  • Notice and counteract the various ways your mind suppresses joy
  • Calm the mind, using a variety of techniques
  • Deeply relax the body, allowing physical pleasure to arise
  • Tap into an innate sense of joy
  • Develop the mind’s ability to focus undistractedly

Signing up for this event gives you access to:

  • Emails (roughly every other day) with practice suggestions
  • Access to guided meditations
  • Support in our online community

This event is suitable for people … Read more »

When the Buddha quit

July 8, 2015

Portrait of Lord BuddhaThere’s a discourse in the Buddhist scriptures that’s long intrigued me, and which I think can be interpreted as giving an account of a time that the Buddha quit as head of the monastic community. The discourse itself seems confused and contradictory, which suggests to me that the monks who passed it on weren’t sure how to handle it, and may have tried to tone down what actually happened. On the other hand maybe I’m reading too much into this particular sutta. You can make up your own mind.

The discourse in question is the Cātumā Sutta (Majjhima Nikāya, 67). It tells of a time that the Buddha was on the outskirts of a town … Read more »

Spiritual earworms and the Dharma of the Muppets

July 6, 2015

Fotolia_70364044_XS-earmwormThis morning as I was walking to the office, I noticed that I had an earworm stuck in my head. In case you’re unfamiliar with this term, it refers to a song or jingle that runs in a repetitive loop in the head. Often it’s only one or two lines from a song. Sometimes it’s not even a song we like. It may even be one we detest.

I have a very effective technique that not only helps get rid of earworms but also turns them into mindfulness triggers should they recur, but this morning it occurred to me that mantras could be regarded as a form of self-induced spiritual earworm.

Mantras are self-induced because … Read more »

Just Sitting: a “non-meditation meditation”

June 29, 2015

Black and White Buddha StatueThis is a preview of the first of the posts from our forthcoming online meditation event, “Just Being, Just Sitting.” This event runs from July 1–28, and is by donation. Click here for more details or to book your place.

“Just Sitting” is a meditation practice where the aim is just to be, allowing thoughts, feelings, and sensations to come and go within awareness. It’s a very open and spacious meditation practice, in which there is simply the observation of whatever arises in experience, whether that’s from the body, the mind, or sensations arising from the outside world.

In a sense, this is a meditation practice without a goal. We’re not trying to do … Read more »

Sit Breathe Love (July 1–28)

June 26, 2015

yogd2015-SBLSit : Breathe : Love is a 28 Day Meditation Challenge with the aim of helping you to set up the habit of meditating daily.

It’s suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

The benefits of regular meditation have been demonstrated again and again in multiple studies. Meditating makes you happier, is good for your health, protects your brain from aging, boosts your intelligence, and helps reduce pain, stress, and depression.

But it’s not easy to set up a regular meditation practice.

So we’re here to help you!

The aims in the 28 Day Challenge is to work build up a daily habit of meditation by sitting every day for 28 … Read more »