Eight common excuses not to meditate & how to overcome them

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Kristina Tipton, The Stir: The scientifically proven benefits of meditation are numerous and include everything from stress and anxiety reduction and improved memory function to increased feelings of well-being. If that means I can find my keys and cell phone easier, then sign me up. But while the benefits make meditation seem like a no-brainer, when it comes to actually practicing, it’s easy to turn to excuses.

Here are some of the most common excuses, and how you can overcome them to start reaping the benefits of meditation.

Excuse 1: Meditation is …

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Mindfulness for lawyers: expectations vs. reality

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Mindfulness of Breathing (MP3) by Bodhipaksa
Jeena Cho, Above the Law: I teach a lot of workshops on incorporating mindfulness into everyday life, both in and out of law practice. Often, the lawyers in the room have very idealistic expectations about what meditation will do for them and how their minds will behave during meditation.

The lawyers expect to “ace” meditation on the first try. They think during meditation, their mind will be completely free of thoughts and they’ll experience instant-stress-free-state on demand. This would be akin to having a model-like body after going to the gym once. Meditation practice, much like law practice …

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The greatest philosopher you’ve never heard of

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Shakuhachi Meditation Music: Traditional Japanese Flute for Zen Contemplation (2 CD)
Adam Frank, NPR: Let’s be honest. When most of us talk about philosophy — the hard-core, name-dropping, theory-quoting kind — we’re talking about a particular lineage that traces back to the Hellenistic Greeks.

But consider, for a moment, the fact that over the last few thousand years there’ve been a whole lot of smart people born into a whole lot of highly sophisticated cultures. It is, therefore, kind of silly that we limit “philosophy” to mean “philosophy done by dudes who lived in Europe a long time ago.” That gripe was the main point of a …

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What to do when you feel unloved

May 27, 2016

lonely tree

Someone recently wrote to me, saying that she was lonely and felt unloved, and wondering whether the metta bhavana practice (the meditation for developing kindness) would help. I thought I’d paraphrase and expand on what I’d said to her.

The metta bhavana practice can certainly help with feelings of loneliness. In particular, self-metta and self-compassion — showing ourselves the same kindness, support, and encouragement that we show to others that we care about — would be helpful.

Think about that thought, “No one loves me.” You might say things like that to yourself, but would you tell a friend who was lonely, “No one loves you”? How would that make her feel? Would … Read more »

A day without complaining

May 26, 2016

woman with hand over her mouthIn Buddhist practice, we cultivate something called “mudita.” Mudita is most commonly translated as “sympathetic joy,” which can sound a bit odd since nowadays we think of sympathy as being concern about someone’s suffering. Being sympathetic about happiness might seem peculiar.

But in earlier days the word sympathy meant more like the current use of our word “empathy.” And in fact, you’ll often see mudita translated these days as “empathetic joy,” meaning that we feel happy when others are happy.

But I don’t think that’s what empathy is really about. In a very early meditation text, called the Vimuttimagga (Path to Liberation), we’re asked to cultivate mudita in the following way: “When one sees or … Read more »

Meditation was the most unexpected tool in my addiction recovery

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Check out Recovery One Breath at a Time by Kevin Griffin (2 CDs) here!
Britni de la Cretaz, SheKnows: When I arrived at rehab for my alcohol and cocaine addiction, one of the first things I was handed was a schedule with the day’s activities on it. It included groups and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I would need to attend, as well as meal times — all the usual things you’d expect to find on a daily rehab schedule.

But I was a little taken aback to see that the first thing on the agenda every morning — from 8 to 8:10 — was meditation. The idea of having to meditate for …

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How a mindfulness-based approach can treat social anxiety disorder

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Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction (MP3) by Bodhipaksa is available here!
Jeena Cho, Forbes: Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is an extreme fear of being judged, criticized or rejected in social situations. Fear of social criticism and rejection is a developmentally normal aspect of adolescence. However, when it interferes with the young person’s ability to engage in normal activities like school or personal interests, then professional help may be indicated. In adults, this fear may not become resolved. Over time, social anxiety can severely restrict a person’s living experience, limiting their ability to remain employed or form healthy relationships.

SAD typically begins around age 13, but …

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Stepping out of compulsive thoughts, and into freedom

May 19, 2016

Gold Fish Jumping to Empty Bowl

The moment when we realize that we’ve been caught up in a distracted train of thought is a valuable opportunity to bring skillful qualities into the mind, and to cultivate insight.

This is something that’s very familiar to anyone who’s meditated. We’ll start by following the breathing, or some other object of attention, but then without our making any conscious choice to shift our focus we slip into a dream-like state in which we’re rehashing a dispute, or fantasizing about something pleasant, or worrying about some situation in our lives.

These periods of distraction can be so intense that they are like hypnotic states. They’re like dreams. They’re like mental bubbles of an internal virtual … Read more »

How mindfulness reduces stress and improves health

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Available now: Guided Mindfulness Meditation (Series 1) from Jon Kabat-Zinn
Heather Goldstone, WCAI: In 1971, Jon Kabat-Zinn finished his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Salvador Luria, at M.I.T. Then, he took what might be considered a left turn – he went to study with Buddhist masters. Several years later, he drew on both his training in both biology and Buddhism when he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at U. Mass. Medical School and created the first course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

“It seems like ‘wow, what a gigantic shift from molecular biology to Buddhist meditative practices,'” says Kabat-Zinn. “But it wasn’t so much …

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The Dalai Lama’s $750,000 emotional atlas website is kind of blah

May 6, 2016

emotion atlas

The New York Times today reported that the Dalai Lama commissioned a website that presents an Atlas of Emotions, aimed to help ordinary people understand their emotions better. He paid psychologist Paul Ekman — who helped advise on Pixar’s “Inside Out” and on the TV show, “Lie to Me” — “at least” $750,000 to develop the site.

You should be able to get a hell of a lot of website for three quarters of a million dollars, right?

I’ve been playing around a little with the Dalai Lama’s emotion website. It defines and describes different emotions, their sub-states, the actions they give rise to, their triggers, and the settled moods they give rise to … Read more »