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January 2004

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

Happy New Year!

The new year is a time for making changes and for taking resolutions. What changes would you like to make in your life? Our courses can help you to achieve your full potential, so that you can experience more joy and creativity in your life. Make sure you book your place now so that you can experience the benefits of meditation. Our next online meditation courses start Monday, January 5.

As ever, we bring you a roundup of recent news-stories about meditation, a book recommendation (this month it's a book by one of my students), a quote of the month with commentary -- and of course news about Wildmind's forthcoming online meditation courses.


In this issue:

  • Meditation in the news
  • Workshops in New Hampshire
  • Give $1 to Wildmind
  • Our online courses
  • Book of the month
  • Quote of the month

Meditation in the news

We've collected together recent news stories concerning meditation.

Does Buddhist Hold Mideast Peace Key? (The Jewish Journal, LA)
While news of the Geneva accords hit the headlines, a group of Palestinians and Israelis were trying to make a different kind of peace -- with the help of Buddhists in southern France.

Meditation health benefits (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Indiana)
In contrast to its religious roots, today's meditation is buoyed less by spiritual figures than by scientific studies documenting health benefits. ''If you go back 30 years, what was meditation? Meditation was a thing a bunch of hippies did,'' said Doug Kruger, regional representative for the Science of Spirituality.

Healing thoughts (Courier & Press, Evansville, Indiana)
A funny thing happened to meditation on the way to the 21st century. It got demystified, and in the process became acceptable to mainstream America.

Meditation session relieves stress (Daily Pennsylvanian)
Yesterday afternoon, several dozen students cast aside their bulkpacks and coffee cups to escape these undeniable realities -- through the art of meditation. Robert Mawson, a certified meditation instructor, led the group in a 30-minute relaxation exercise in the Hamilton College House rooftop lounge.

Repositioning India's brand (Rediff, India)
Even though Buddhism shares most of its meditation techniques with other Indic traditions, Buddhism has become positioned as a valid research methodology for neuroscience, whereas Hinduism is plagued with the caste, cows and curry images.

transcending stress (Washington Times, Washington DC)
A simple repetitive mantra can have complex benefits for those who set aside 20 minutes a day for peaceful contemplation. People who practice transcendental meditation tick off a litany of medical advantages attributed to its practice, but doctors generally agree that most kinds of meditation can boost the practitioner's health.

"Twin Peaks" director urges mass meditation (Reuters, UK)
As director of such dark films as "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive" and the television series "Twin Peaks", David Lynch seems an unlikely leader for a world peace campaign based on mass meditation. But for Lynch, life is bliss, and he says he wants to spread it around.

The Science of Meditation (Psychology Today Magazine)
As an approach to life, weaving meditation seamlessly into almost every action throughout the day seems unfamiliar to Western cultures. Is there something we can glean from this way of life that will improve our own? The romantic notion of quitting everything and joining Tibetan monks on a mountaintop is not the only way to meditate. You don't need to quit your job, give up your possessions and spend 30 years chanting. Recent research indicates that meditating brings about dramatic effects in as little as a 10-minute session.

transcendental meditation gains popularity (India Health News)
transcendental meditation, introduced in the US by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after the Beatles adopted him as his guru in the sixties, is now practised by 1.5 million Americans and its disciples are steadily growing. Practitioners say a few minutes of meditation by reciting any mantra is best to keep stress and tension away. They list many medical advantages attributed to its practice, but doctors agree that most meditation can boost one's health.

Surat youth fancy meditation (Times of India)
They belong to the 'happening' generation, craving for all that is 'hep and the latest'. And, they are finding a new way to face challenges of modern life -- joining 'satsang'.

Chanting, Meditation and talking to the Dalai Lama (ABC Regional, Australia)
Having spoken to Geshe Sonam Thargye, when the monks of Tibet were in Shepparton on their "Sacred footsteps of the world tour", Breakfast presenter Neil Meaney couldn't resist the opportunity to meet Geshe in person and have a chat at ABC Goulburn Murray's Wodonga Studio...

Christian Mantras and Meditation (Times of India)
Chanting of mantras and the practice of meditation are time-honoured traditions in oriental religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. But because of the universal validity of this practice, the Desert Fathers adopted it and made this the starting point for the "tradition of pure prayer" which they handed down within the Christian context.

Meditation for 'Christmas rage' (BBC)
Christmas shoppers in Manchester are being offered a remedy for stress. The Manchester Buddhist Centre is showing a video on the BBC Big Screen in Exchange Square giving a free lesson in meditation.

Is Prayer Good for Your Health? (Heritage.org)
What does the evidence show in terms of the connection between religious practice and other characteristics of our society: poverty, welfare, health? Also, what might be the implications of this research and analysis, if any, for public policy?

Ohmmmm for the holidays (Star Telegram, Texas)
I have been meditating semi-regularly now for more than a month, and I have finally discovered how to have a truly stress-free holiday season: GET OUT OF TOWN! Yes! If at all possible, accept an invitation to a dear cousin's wedding and fly to a pre-arranged tropical locale, leaving husband and son behind to sweat the yuletide details. I feel a little guilty about this, of course. But therein lies the beauty of meditation: It encourages practitioners to lose the useless, negative emotions and become one with room service.

Readying for quiet--but joyous--celebration (Chicago tribune)
For some Zen practitioners, an all-night session of intense meditation in honor of the Buddha's enlightenment is a virtual Buddhist boot camp--a rigorous regimen that prepares them to rise above any challenge, whether mental, physical or spiritual. For others, like Nabi Anita Evans, it's a welcome respite from the other holidays' hustle and bustle--a chance to clean the clutter from her mind and start the year anew.

* requires free registration

Meditation can help students aim higher (Knox News, Knoxville TN)
...every day students from kindergarten to the sixth grade take time out of their daily lessons to meditate and pray. The result, administrators said, is a campus of children who routinely score well on standardized tests and cope well in daily life without the use of prescription drugs like Ritalin.

Quiet the mind and heal the body (Alameda Times-Star, California)
Inside a church community room, beginning meditators close their eyes, straighten their spines in their folding metal chairs and try to rein in, for just 10 minutes, the thoughts that race like wild horses through their minds. A woman in the back row yawns. The woman next to her fidgets. Another student sneaks a peek. "My mind still wanders," Jeremy Morelock, 33, says of the Buddhist meditation class he has attended for three months in search of stress relief and spiritual growth. "I have these imaginary conversations with people, and then I think, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa concentrate!'"


Forthcoming workshops with Bodhipaksa in NH

Bodhipaksa

Sunday, January 18.
"Yoga and Meditation with the two Scots". Led by Bodhipaksa and Gregor Singleton, New Hampshire Power Yoga Studio, Merrimack, NH. 10am to 3pm. $50. Check website for details.

Friday February 20 to Sunday February 22
"Guides to Beyond". A weekend retreat exploring the ways in which we can learn from our distractions in meditation, and see them as "guides to beyond" rather than as problems to be gotten rid of. Starts 7pm, ends 3pm. At Aryaloka Retreat Center, Newmarket, New Hampshire. $145.


begging bowl

 

Give $1 to Wildmind

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting awareness and compassionate values through the practice of meditation.

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!


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 over 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.

A Current Student Writes

"I think I must be nicer and happier because everyone around me seems to be happier and nicer back to me. And I'm more observant and appreciative of little things. All very wonderful changes."
Valerie, current student.


Our online courses

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

Our next online courses start on Monday, January 5.
Book your place now!

Life member program
  Life Member Program ($95)

  "The Path of Mindfulness and Love" ($65)

  "Change Your Mind" ($65)

  "Entering the Path of Insight" ($65)

  "Awakening the Heart" ($65)


Course Schedule for 2004

Bodhipaksa is taking a few more breaks this year in order to go on retreat and to concentrate on writing projects, so plan ahead if you're interested in taking one of our courses. Courses start on the following dates:

  Jan 5, 2004
  Feb 2, 2004
  Apr 5, 2004
  May 3, 2004
  Sep 6, 2004
  Oct 4, 2004
  Nov 1, 2004


Book cover

Book of the month

The Wholesome Oven: Successful Baking Without Dairy or Eggs
Patricia Leslie $16.

(Click on the title to purchase from Amazon.com.)

Surprise, surprise! This book isn't about meditation. But it is related, in that it helps us to live our lives in such a way that we cause less suffering. Another good reason for me recommending this book it that it's written by one of my former meditation students, Patricia Leslie, who has a mission to help us reduce our dependence on animal products so that we can have a kinder, less exploitative world.

This isn't a preachy book at all. It's purely a book of around 50 dairy and egg (and sometimes wheat) free baking recipes, although it also offers useful advice on baking techniques and a list of suppliers. The recipes in this book are all for various forms of cookies, and other forms of baking will be dealt with in later volumes.

So without further ado, here's a recipe for light, chocolatey, and tender chocolate drop-cookies!

Chocolate Whispers (wheat free)

Preheat oven to 350F
Prepare two baking sheets

3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

8oz vegan sour cream*
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
1/4 cup soymilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift together the brown rice and millet flours, cocoa powder and baking soda.

In a food processor, combine the sour cream, soymilk, sugar, and vanilla. Process these together until they are well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the processor. Process the ingredients together one more time until they are completely blended. The dough will be quite soft.

Use a measuring cup to drop the dough onto the baking sheets.

Bake 15-17 minutes. The tops will spring back when lightly pressed. The bottom edges will be lightly browned. Cool them on racks.

Enjoy!

* Available from Soymage/Soyco: http://www.soyco.com


Thomas Carlyle

Quote of the month

"Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds." -- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

One of the things that you first realize when you sit down to meditate is that you're not in control. You decide you're going to count ten breaths, but somewhere between the third and the fourth you remember something you meant to do yesterday, and that reminds you of the meeting you have tomorrow, and then you remember the argument you had with a colleague last week, which reminds you of ... and so it goes.

At some point your attention comes back to the room that you're in (maybe someone has coughed, or the meditation teacher has rung a bell, or maybe you just realized that it was a bit weird to be sitting remembering in vivid detail some humiliating episode from 20 years ago) and you realize that you haven't been doing what you set out to do.

And the interesting thing is that you didn't consciously set out to think about any of this stuff. You didn't even realize it was going on, any more than you know that you're dreaming when you're asleep. Your thoughts (which are internal deeds) are determining you, rather than you determining your deeds.

And this kind of "waking dream" occupies a lot of our time, as you quickly realize as you continue meditating and as you bring more mindfulness into your daily activities.

These daydreams aren't always a problem, since some of our daydreams are creative and pleasant, but often we do get ourselves into trouble, because our out-of-control thoughts can make us sad, depressed, angry, resentful, anxious, or overly self-critical. If we allow our thoughts to control us we can end up in some pretty unpleasant places at times.

So, much our meditation practice consists of noticing that the mind has been out of control, and then gently bringing it back to the breath. In time we become better at spotting when the mind is wandering, and it becomes easier to stay with the breath. And then we start to discover something quite delightful; that all that daydreaming was actually very unsatisfying and even exhausting, and that when it doesn't happen -- when we're more in control -- we feel more energetic, content, and confident.

Bodhipaksa


Copyright © 2004, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind, PO Box 212, Newmarket NH 03857, USA.

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