Jun 06, 2013
This morning I was heading to work and I became aware that I wasn’t letting the world in.
Right now in New Hampshire, where I live, it’s late spring or early summer, and the trees, of which there are many on my route to work, are resplendent. Last night’s rains have left the greens and purples of the leaves rich and saturated, and the world is alive and vibrant. And yet for a few minutes it was as if I was seeing this through a filter that stripped out all the beauty. And in a way I was; the filter was my mind, clouded by preoccupations. With this filter …
Jun 05, 2013
Yesterday I wrote about how mudita — joyful appreciation — can help us overcome our inherited tendency to pay more attention to the negative than to the positive.
This is important because in the karuna bhavana meditation (developing compassion) we’re inherently focusing on things that are, for want of a better word, “wrong” in life. We’re focusing on pain and suffering, and the difficult side of life, and this can feed in to our negativity bias. We can, in consciously cultivating compassion, end up over-emphasizing the suffering that’s in the world. Now there’s no shortage of suffering in the world, but it’s not all that there is to existence. …
Jun 04, 2013
The neuropsychologist (and Wildmind contributor) Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is very good at pointing out that our brains have a negativity bias. Our brains, as he puts it, are like velcro for painful experiences and teflon for pleasant experiences. And this bias has arisen because of our evolutionary history: hominins and early humans who ignored potential threats didn’t leave many ancestors, and so we’re descended from rather “twitchy” forebears who were good at thinking about things that might go wrong.
But now that, for most of us reading this article, our basic needs are largely covered, and so we find ourselves in the situation not of struggling to live, but …
Jun 03, 2013
Christy Matta, PsychCentral: Mindfulness is being used in schools, colleges and universities to help teachers and students to improve their attention, interactions with each other, and understanding of others.
Lawyers and judges use mindfulness to listen to and present evidence and reduce distractions. In other work settings, business leaders, workers and HR departments are using mindfulness training to reduce workplace stress, improve focus, communication, creativity and productivity.
And mindfulness is widely used in the treatment of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It’s also used to assist people with medical conditions, such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, hypertension and insomnia and to improve the symptoms of stress…
Jun 03, 2013
I’ve noticed that there are a lot of technologists and software developers on the Wildmind G+ Community and among Buddhists generally. I don’t think it’s just by chance. Coders tend to have life habits that make us susceptible to certain problems of mind, but yet may predispose us to the skill that can address these problems: meditation. I’d like to outline those problems, highlight why we might be predisposed to meditation, and make a suggestion as to how we can improve our practice.
Although software engineering is a craft – not unlike carpentry or gardening – it’s a craft where no manual labour is involved. The …
Jun 03, 2013
Often people who are in recovery can wrestle with the twelve-steps in the various programs of recovery. So before I outline the steps in Buddhism that my co-author and I have coined for my book Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, published in 2014. I want to reflect over the next few months how many of the concepts in the twelve steps tradition can be of great use in our lives.
Step Two. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Many people struggle with this step, because they are looking for some God, some divine …
Jun 03, 2013
In the Path of Freedom, a 1st century meditation manual that I’ve mentioned a few times because it’s the earliest source I know of for the cultivation of lovingkindness etc. in stages, we’re asked first of all to connect with mudita (appreciation) in the following way:
When one sees or hears that some person’s qualities are esteemed by others, and that he is at peace and is joyful, one thinks thus: “Sadhu! Sadhu! May he continue joyful for a long time!”
So this brings up the question of who we know (or know of) who is like that. And it also brings up the question of whether we actually want there to be people …
Jun 02, 2013
Washington’s strivers were striving to chill out.
Hundreds of people were rushing to the weekly class of Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach, a therapist who has become a must-listen for many urban professionals. Inside, her calm voice fills the silence.
“What does it matter for us to be in touch with our deepest aspiration?” she says into a headset. “Was today a trance? How much was I here today?”…
Jun 02, 2013
The third of the Brahmaviharas, or “immeasurables,” after lovingkindness and compassion, is muditā. Muditā is sometimes translated as sympathetic joy, or empathetic joy, or as appreciative joy.
Our old friend, the first century text, the Path to Freedom, describes it like this:
As parents, who, on seeing the happiness of their dear and only child are glad, and say, “sadhu!” so, one develops appreciative joy for all beings. Thus should appreciative joy be known. The undisturbed dwelling of the mind in appreciative joy — this is called the practising of it. Gladness is its salient characteristic. Non-fear is its function. Destruction of dislike is its manifestation. Its benefits are equal to
Jun 01, 2013
Justin Whitaker, Patheos Press: One conception was common to all the philosophical schools: people are unhappy because they are the slave of their passions. In other words, they are unhappy because they desire things they may not be able to obtain, since they are exterior, alien, and superfluous to them. It follows that happiness consists in independence, freedom, and autonomy. In other words, happiness is the return to the essential: that which is truly “ourselves,” and which depends on us.
- Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, p.102, writing about ancient Western schools, emphasis added.
It has been a running theme of this blog…