www.wildmind.org Wildmind

June 2003

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

A very warm welcome to Wildmind's latest newsletter!

In this issue:

  • Meditation helps to produce a "happier brain"
  • Meditation in the news
  • Give $1 to Wildmind
  • Our online courses
  • New material on Wildmind
  • "Yoga Pulse" CD is now available
  • Book of the month
  • Quote of the month: Paul Valery

Meditation helps produce a "happier brain".

Using brain scan techniques, neuroscientists have discovered that certain areas of the brain light up constantly in Buddhists, and not just when they are meditating, which indicates positive emotions and good mood (see "Buddhists really are happier, study shows," below).

This backs up what other research has recently shown; that meditation doesn't just produce short term relaxation effects but instead actively "rewires" the brain, helping practitioners to create long-term increases in their ability to handle stress and to have a greater sense of happiness and well-being.

So maybe now is the time you will decide to learn simple but effective techniques to rewire your brain for calmness and contentment.

Our next online courses start on Monday, June 2.

Our online courses offer what you need to create more balance in your life, maintain fulfilling relationships, make time for yourself, and create attitudes, opinions and points of view that work for you, rather than against you. You can check out our course offerings below, or here.

Meditation in the news

We've collected together some recent news stories about meditation. You can see our full index of news stories here.

Principal uses yoga to calm children
"It really calms us down. We have to take deep breaths in and out."

Serenity now: Monks will help police combat teen violence
Lowell (Mass.) police are giving Southeast Asian youths in trouble with the law or having problems at home an opportunity to turn their lives around through counseling.

School district adopts once-controversial program
...the original program taught students a deep breathing relaxation exercise. Some parents believed this was akin to religion being taught in the classroom.

A New Revolutionary Health Workbook Empowers People to Take Control of Their Own Health
...sections on relationships, meditation, and moderation are included alongside sections on diet, food, supplements and exercise.

Buddhists able to train their brains to feel genuine happiness and control aggressive instincts
"The most reasonable hypothesis is there is something about conscientious Buddhist practice that results in the kind of happiness we all seek."

Buddhists really are happier, study shows
Scientists say they have evidence to show that Buddhists really are happier and calmer than other people. Tests carried out in the United States reveal that areas of their brain associated with good mood and positive feelings are more active.

Phil Jackson believes meditation was a key to his survival
"That's probably why I'm here, to be honest with you," he said. "The stress level would have carried me beyond some rapid heart movement or undue amount of fervor. ... Meditation does help, at least for me."

Keep things simple in your meditation space
When designing your own space for meditation or reflection, the most important thing to remember is you. This is a place to rejuvenate your spirit, says interior designer Ronda Webb of the Design Studio of Gabberts. In your home, you're not always decorating only for yourself, but making compromises for your spouse, your kids, your guests.

Indian jail inmates get a dose of meditation
In a move to reform inmates languishing in the state prisons, minister of state Kripashankar Singh organized a discourse by inviting Jain spiritual leader Shri Kishinlal at the Thane jail yesterday.

begging bowl


Give $1 to Wildmind

If you've benefited from our site and would like to give something back, then making a small donation can help us enormously. Of course you can feel free to give more than a dollar!

A BIG thank you to everyone who have helped support our mission of benefiting the world by promoting awareness and compassionate values through the practice of meditation.

Title: Seven great reasons to learn meditation with Wildmind
  1. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll have an ongoing practice discussion with Bodhipaksa, who will give you encouragement and personal feedback based on 20 years' experience of meditation.
  2. Depth: As you reflect in your journal, get feedback, and gain insights from learning new practices, you'll take your meditation practice to a new level of effectiveness.
  3. Quality: Access to outstanding written and audiovisual materials online.
  4. Support: You'll benefit from the discipline of a structured four-week course.
  5. Convenience: Log on when you want, fitting classes into your schedule when it's convenient.
  6. Flexibility: Download audio files that will guide you through meditation at any time.
  7. Availability: Courses start every month -- check the website for dates.

Our online courses

A student comments:

"I've been very happy with the calmness, relaxation and mindfulness that I get during and immediately after meditation. I have noticed that the Metta meditation is giving me an additional sense of well being."

Current Meditation Student.

We offer four online courses as well as our popular Life Member Program. For more information, click on any of the photographs or links and you'll be taken to our online store, where more details are available.

Our next online courses start on Monday, June 2.
Book your place now!

Life member program
Life Member Program

Lifelong access to all of our course materials, but without personal feedback and guidance. Suitable for self-directed students.

The Path of Mindfulness and Love

"The Path of Mindfulness and Love"

Our introduction to meditation, helping you to transform your life through mindfulness and lovingkindness, and helping you to set up a regular practice.

Change Your Mind

"Change Your Mind"

A level two course, introducing advanced techniques for combating negative mental states and for cultivating calmness, energy, contentment, and concentration.

Entering the Path of Insight
"Entering the Path of Insight"

Introducing the practice of insight meditation, which helps us to appreciate the interdependent nature of the reality we live in.

Awakening the Heart
"Awakening the Heart"

An alternative level two course, introducing the cultivation of lovingkindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and emotional balance.

New material on Wildmind

We've posted six new pages in our "Meditation in Daily Life" section since the last newsletter:


Yoga Pulse CD is now available
Cd cover
"Yoga Pulse," produced by At Peace Media is available through Wildmind's online store.

I have to confess that I tend to turn up my nose at so-called "New Age music." But that was before I heard Michael Benghiat's beautiful and intelligent soundscapes! I've listened to Yoga Pulse repeatedly since I got my copy, and I'm showing no signs of tiring of it. I can literally listen to this music all day.

This CD really is ideal if you want some soothing sounds in the background while you're relaxing or doing yoga. There's also a ten-minute Body Scan meditation (led by me), with a serene and unobtrusive musical accompaniment by Michael. The Body Scan can be used as a meditation in its own right, or it can be used at the end of a yoga session to bring the mind and body into harmony while in shavasana (corpse pose).

Even though I say so myself, I think this collaboration works very well, and I'm looking forward to working with Michael Benghiat again in the future.


For further details, visit our online store.

Click on cover to go to Amazon.com

Book of the month

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior
by Phil Jackson (Paperback, $10.47 / 8.36)

I'm no sports fan, but that didn't stop me from being fascinated by Phil Jackson's book about spirituality and basketball. Jackson was coach of the famous Chicago Bulls, and Sacred Hoops is not only the biography of a spiritual seeker, but details how Jackson introduced the Bulls to Buddhist meditation practices so that the players could quiet their minds and concentrate on the game, and to practice non-reactivity in response to on-court violence. The team even developed a playing strategy based on Taoist principles!

How did it work out? Some of the players found it hard to get into meditation, but under Jackson's leadership the Bulls won three NBA championships, which suggests that more teams should try combining meditation with basketball.

I was occasionally baffled by the basketball terminology -- I never did work out what a "steal" is -- but the points Jackson makes aren't dependant upon knowing the rules of the game, and in fact the beauty of the book is that the lessons Jackson transferred from meditation to basketball can just as easily be applied in any other sphere of life. For example, when he says,

"In basketball--as in life--true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way. Of course, it's no accident that things are more likely to go your way when you stop worrying about whether you're going to win or lose and focus your attention on what's happening right this moment"

that's a lesson that can be applied in anything you do, whether it's being with your kids, filling in your tax returns, or conducting a meeting.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the sometimes unexpected ways that eastern philosophies and practices are effecting western culture. The book also contains important lessons for anyone who wants to learn how to be a better leader and to learn how to create a coherent and effective team. Sacred Hoops explains that "selflessness is the soul of teamwork" and powerfully illustrates the collective and individual gains to be made by "surrendering the 'me' for the 'we' ".

If you're interested in buying this book from Amazon.com, click on the cover or title above. To purchase from Amazon.co.uk, click here.

Portrait of Paul Valery, poet and essayist

Quote of the month

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."

Paul Valery

When people first learn to meditate they're often surprised by how much their minds wander. They start following the breath and within a few seconds they're lost in a stream of thoughts about anything and everything. They're not even aware that's what they're doing until they "wake up", and even then they find it hard to remember what it was that was so absorbing just a few seconds before.

This doesn't happen only in meditation. We actually spend much of our day on "automatic pilot." If you start to pay attention to what's going on in your mind when you're driving, eating, cooking, showering -- even when you're having conversations with people -- you'll notice that you're often paying only the slightest attention to what you're doing.

When we're on automatic pilot we lack freedom. Our habitual mental states are running our lives for us, and we're not taking any active part in shaping our lives. Meditation helps us to "wake up" by training the mind to notice more quickly when the mind is slipping into automatic pilot.

Waking up in this way helps us to make our dreams come true because when we're awake we're more in control of our lives since we're less at the mercy of our habits. By meditating we start to shape our habits and even our character, so that we can become the kind of person we would like to be. But what kind of person are you going to become?

Of course, you need to actually have a dream in the first place, and this dream -- if it is to be a source of happiness for you -- must be based on principles that support a happy life, and it must also be appropriate for you. You'll never be happy trying to live another person's dream. So you need to know yourself and to have an understanding of the kind of life that will make you happy. Meditation can help here too.

Meditation involves getting to know yourself on deeper and deeper levels, and this process of developing self-knowledge helps to put you in touch with your own core values. The dream of which Valery speaks is simply the imagination of your life as it would be if you lived from your core values. It's as if you've looked into the heart of an acorn and seen the potential fully-mature oak tree within.

So meditation not only helps you to wake up, it helps you to know yourself so that you develop a sense of who you can become, and then helps you to become that person. And it all starts with noticing that your mind has wandered from the breath!


Copyright © 2003, Bodhipaksa.