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Meditation is fine, but what about the Buddhism behind it?

wildmind meditation newsJessica Brown, The Independent: Closing your eyes and being mindful isn’t the only way to achieve inner wellbeing.

Just when you thought it was safe to close your eyes, there has been recent warnings from psychiatrists on the adverse effects of mindfulness meditation. As well as evidence of underqualified teachers, there have been rare cases of depersonalisation, where people feel an out-of-body experience.
There has also been questions raised over the vulnerability of some of those who seek meditation as a form of treatment, regarding the increase in awareness and the emotions this can conjure.

Meditation has fast become synonymous with the improvement …

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Aug 29, 2014

Empathy versus compassion

Avalokitesvara_BodhisattvaOn the Boston Review, Paul Bloom has a provocative article titled “Against Empathy.” It’s not advocating an uncompassionate approach to life, and in fact central to his thesis is that there is a distinction between empathy, which he says can limit and exhaust us, and compassion, which he points out is more sustainable.

There’s one particular section where there are several references to Buddhism and to Buddhist practitioners:

It is worth expanding on the difference between empathy and compassion, because some of empathy’s biggest fans are confused on this point and think that the only force that can motivate kindness is empathetic arousal. But this is mistaken. Imagine that the child of a

Aug 28, 2014

How firmly should you pursue your intentions?

Rural road through the field in the mountainsHow firmly do you pursue your intentions? Neither too tight nor too loose a rein.

As with the balance of the capital city and the provinces, it’s worth considering what your tendencies are and if there is an imbalance. For example, some of us hold onto our goals to a fault (myself, ahem) going down with the ship – pull up! It’s a trap!! – while others give up way too soon or don’t take their own needs and wants seriously enough.

From the Buddhist perspective, the path that leads to the greatest well-being and goodness for oneself and others steers clear of over-striving on the one …

Mindfulness meditation improved quality of life in adolescents with cancer

wildmind meditation newsChristine A. Zawistowski, MD, HemOnc Today: A diagnosis of cancer is accompanied by a high degree of emotional stress.

Consequently, psychological interventions have become a vital and integral component of cancer care.

One example is mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation derived from the Buddhist practice of insight meditation. It is designed to develop the skill of paying attention to both inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience and compassion. It focuses on experiencing life in a nonjudgmental way, in the moment.

The practice strives to help patients develop stability, inner calmness and non-reactivity of the mind. In essence, it tries to train …

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Meditation is an emotional rollercoaster

wildmind meditation newsEd Halliwell, The Guardian: About four days into my first meditation retreat, I started crying. Not little droplets of tears, but great, big, uncontrolled sobs – it felt like I was throwing up wave after wave of stale sadness. I’d expected the long days of sitting to be boring, annoying, physically demanding and (with a bit of luck) illuminating, so to find myself repeatedly breaking down into a noisy heap of grief came as a shock. These spontaneous outbursts of wailing continued throughout the month-long programme – it says much for the teachers’ equanimity that they didn’t chuck me out.

So when would-be …

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Aug 27, 2014

Sweet Nirvāna!

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 7.26.08 PM

I found this sweet hymn in a book by Paul Carus, called Sacred Tunes for the Consecration of Life: Hymns of the Religion of Science. Carus (18 July 1852 – 11 February 1919) was an early German-American translator, compiler, and popularizer of Buddhist texts.

Carus seems to have been fond of hymns, since he published an entire book of settings of Buddhist texts. This is available online, courtesy of archive.org.

Unfortunately my sight-reading skills have atrophied through decades of disuse, and I’m only able to guess at what the tune is.

Here is the rest of the song.

Sweet Nirvāna,
Highest Jhāna!
Rupture sweeter than all pleasures,
Thou the

Why mindful individuals make better decisions

wildmind meditation newsNatalia Karelaia, Forbes India: Mindfulness is practiced in board rooms from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. But just how much does it improve the quality of your decision-making?

Five years ago when I introduced mindfulness to my MBA decision-making class it was perceived as something completely esoteric; there were maybe two or three students who could relate to the concept. Today, not only have most of them heard about it, many are practicing it. More and more corporations are offering mindfulness training to their employees. It’s being incorporated into negotiation techniques and leadership manuals, in fact every area of business where strong decisions …

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Breathe away pain

wildmind meditation newsFerris Jabr, Psychology Today: While resisting pain only makes suffering worse, mindfulness meditation can help chronic pain sufferers.

Pain is necessary. It alerts us to threats, teaches us to avoid future risks, and makes sure we don’t forget to help ourselves heal. Our bodies have evolved instinctive reactions to pain and injury—accidentally brush your hand against a boiling kettle and your arm will retract reflexively before you even realize why. Our minds, too, respond to pain in a characteristic manner: ever notice how even a minor wound can dominate your thoughts?
But what if you could manipulate your natural response to pain in …

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CBT mindfulness for depression may also reduce MD visits

wildmind meditation newsRick Nauert, PsychCentral: New Canadian research finds a reduction in primary care visits among individuals receiving mindfulness-based therapy for depression.

Investigators discovered frequent health service users who received mindfulness-based cognitive therapy showed a significant reduction in non-mental health care visits over a one-year period, compared with those who received other types of group therapy.

The mindfulness therapy group had one fewer non-mental health visit per year, for every two individuals treated with this therapy – which translates into a reduction of nearly 2,500 visits to primary care physicians, emergency departments or non-psychiatric specialists in Ontario over eight years.

“We speculate that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy …

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6 tips that prove meditation is way easier than you think

wildmind meditation newsAnna Maltby, Huffington Post: “I’m terrible at trying to meditate — I can never shut off my brain or sit still!” Sound familiar? You know practices like mindfulness meditation are good for you, but they just seem so counter to our 20-tabs-open-at-a-time lifestyle that it’s hard to imagine where to start. We asked Marianela Medrano, Ph.D., a licensed professional counselor and member of the American Counseling Association, for help. Let’s start National Relaxation Day off on a good foot, shall we?

1. It’s not about saying “om” over and over again.
Unlike some types of meditation, you don’t have to say a mantra or try …

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