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Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200406.html


June 2004


Our Online Meditation Courses

Life member program

  Life Member Program ($125)

  "The Path of Mindfulness and Love" ($75)

  "Change Your Mind" ($75)

  "Awakening the Heart" ($75)

  "Entering the Path of Insight" ($75)


Course Schedule for 2004

Bodhipaksa is taking a few more breaks this year in order to go on retreats, to teach a summer course at the University of New Hampshire, and to concentrate on writing projects, so please remember to plan ahead if you're interested in taking one of our courses. You can sign up for any course at any time.

Courses start on the following dates:

  Oct 4, 2004
  Nov 1, 2004
  Nov 29, 2004


Seven Great Reasons to take a meditation course online:

  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: There are many opportunities each year to take a course. See the dates above for details.

A current student writes...

"Your course has helped me in calming down. I notice now that I am less prone to anger as I used to be. I used to have a very short fuse. Now that fuse has increased substantially. I enjoyed your course immensely and will probably take it again in October as a refresher."

Mike Armstrong, New Mexico.

 

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

Welcome to our newsletter for June, with a roundup of recent news-stories about meditation, a book recommendation, and a quote of the month with commentary.. We also have news of a retreat exploring Mindfulness that Bodhipaksa is leading in Montana in September.

Our next online meditation courses start Monday, October 4. Make sure you book your place now.


In this issue:

  • Meditation in the news
  • Support our translation project
  • September retreat in Montana
  • Wildmind's new online store
  • Our online courses
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

Meditation in the news

Here are last month's news stories concerning meditation, from hi-tech games involving biofeedback to encourage relaxation, to news of the growing popularity of meditation to promote health. Once again, transcendental Meditation is mired in controversy, with some schools eliminating it from their curricula in order to avoid promoting religion, while others are keen on adopting it in order to reduce stress, and a former benefactor of the TM movement has withdrawn his financial support.

Finding peace of mind on holiday (The Korea Herald)
While most tourists taking their holidays in Thailand are drawn to the vibrant entertainment offerings in Bangkok, shopping or nightlife, others are here seeking something more elusive: inner peace. Situated in bustling Bangkok, the Buddhist meditation center at Wat Mahadhatu attracts as many as 600-700 tourists for retreats each year.

Making a game out of finding inner peace (Buddhist News Network)
In an age when most publicity for video games is reserved for the violent (Grand Theft Auto) and the ultraviolent (Manhunt), two Colorado entrepreneurs just want everybody to take some deep breaths and grab some inner peace. In The Journey to Wild Divine, Kurt Smith and Corwin Bell have designed a computer game that teaches players to use biofeedback sensors worn on three fingers to help them control various events. Yes, in this game, the joystick is your body.

The Larkhall attic Margaret turned into a Buddhist shrine (Evening Times, Glasgow, Scotland)
Margaret Fergusson's quiet Larkhall bungalow would be like any other in her street. . . if it wasn't for the huge Buddha that sits outside her home. Inside, her loft has been converted into a makeshift shrine, which Margaret affectionately calls her rabbit hutch. The reason for the outsize Buddha and the indoor shrine is that Margaret is a Buddhist - a religion she took up 10 years ago to cope with the daily stresses of her job as a chemist in the Blood transfusion Service.

Metta in Motion (Yoga Journal)
Learn how to infuse your hatha yoga practice with the meditative quality of metta, or "lovingkindness."

A meditation on lessons of life (Movie Review) (Arizona Republic)
Spring Summer Fall Winter . . . and Spring may be the antidote to Mel Gibson. It is one long, intensely beautiful Buddhist meditation on the passage of life and time, the acceptance of responsibility and the release of desire. It is as quiet as The Passion of the Christ is violent.

CDC: Alternative medicine gains popularity (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Alternative medicine - including yoga, meditation, herbs and the Atkins diet - appears to be growing in popularity in the United States, perhaps because of dissatisfaction with conventional care, the government said Thursday. More than a third of American adults used such practices in 2002, according to the government survey of 31,000 people, the largest study on non-conventional medical approaches in the United States.

More Americans seek out alternative medicine (Chicago Sun-Times)
More Americans are turning to herbs, meditation and other non-conventional care, often because they feel let down by mainstream medicine, a new survey says. The government's survey, the most comprehensive look yet at the use of alternative medicine in this country, found more than a third of U.S. adults used such medicine in 2002. If prayer is included, 62 percent of American adults used alternative therapies.

A religion for everyone? (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland)
The robes are mustard and plum. The glasses are thick as jam-jar bottoms. The head is shaven to a dark, prickly fuzz. The smile can only be described as beatific. When the Dalai Lama steps out on to the stage of the SECC in Glasgow on Saturday afternoon, the applause generated from 10,000 admirers will match that for U2, Britney Spears or any other previous occupant of the concert hall.

Education Ministry denies plan for TM in schools (Newsday trinidad, trinidad and Tobago)
The Education Ministry yesterday denied any plan to introduce transcendental Meditation (TM) into schools, as was being reported in some media claiming TM would soon be introduced into the school's curriculum. Responding to queries by various persons, the Ministry yesterday issued a release advising of its policy when introducing new elements into the school curriculum. "The process is one of consultation, research and investigation. No one and no organization has approached the Ministry of Education with respect to the introduction of transcendental Meditation techniques in schools," the release stated.

Monks create sand mandala in meditation room (Brattleboro Reformer, Vermont)
A group of around 25 Putney School students and staff members sat on the floor of the Currier room in the school's new art center one day last week. Before them, two Buddhist monks sat on pillows chanting a prayer. Their low, guttural voices weaved in and out of unison. Incense burned on a table. When the praying ceased, one of the monks launched into a teaching, what has become known on campus as the "dharma discourse."

Meditation earns high marks (Yoga Journal)
Preteens who learn to quiet their minds enjoy greater self-esteem, a recent study has found."It gives you a boost in the morning," says eighth grader Kenia Bradley about the meditation practice she has learned at school. "When you don't meditate, you get tired during your classes."

Monks on the wing and a prayer for big match (Evening Times, Glasgow, Scotland)
A team of Buddhist monks swapped their sandals for football boots to take part in the most predictable game of the season. Six Tibetan monks, who had never played football before, took on a host of former Old Firm stars in a charity tournament this weekend. But there was no point betting on a winner because both teams played for a draw.

Pulse: Health briefs (LA Daily News)
I barely have time to exercise. How can I add meditation to my daily routine?

On a mission (The Observer, UK)
As the exiled leader of Tibet flies into Britain, supporters detect a fresh urgency in his pleas for an end to Chinese oppression. At 68, the Buddhist monk knows his people's hopes live or die with him.

Prayer for a solution (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Hawaii)
A Honolulu church believes it's found the perfect site for a meditation center, a wooded mountaintop retreat with an ocean view. But there's no peace and quiet to be found in the reception from the neighbors.

Heavenly Mountain's developer cuts ties with group (Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina)
A developer of the more than 7,000 acre Heavenly Mountain resort in southeastern Watauga County says he is severing ties with the transcendental Meditation movement and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Meditation: A timeless tool for a changing world (Lompoc Record, California)
With wars, terrorism, and the sluggish economy constantly in the news, people seem to be feeling less certain about the future, and more certain about the need to find a greater sense of well-being in their lives. Accordingly, there has been a renewed interest in meditation all across this country, and many studies have shown that there certainly are physical and mental benefits of meditation in reducing stress and stress related illnesses.

Future of Heavenly Mountain disputed (Watauga Democrat, North Carolina)
The man who, along with his twin brother, owns most of the land at Heavenly Mountain Resort, has disavowed the spiritual movement that helped establish the retreat. David Kaplan, who owns the largest privately-owned land tract in Watauga County, publicly repudiated the transcendental Meditation (TM) movement and its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in a letter released Tuesday to Heavenly Mountain residents and the public.

A little meditation can be good for the health (Financial Times, London)
It initially sounded one of the most incongruous questions to be put to a company chairman at this year's annual meetings season, or indeed any year's: "What," a shareholder asked Sir Christopher Hogg of GlaxoSmithKline at yesterday's AGM, "do you think of meditation . . . ?"

Meditation controversy (The Journal News, New York)
It seems harmless enough: With eyes closed, you sit upright in a quiet room and mentally repeat a word for 10 to 20 minutes -- a technique known as transcendental Meditation. When young children practice it twice a day, according to research provided by the national Committee for Stress-Free Schools, it decreases their blood pressure, improves their grades and lowers their stress levels.

Brain under strain (trinidad and Tobago Express)
What if the key to putting an end to murder, rape, alcohol and drug abuse, youth deviance, teenage pregnancy and many other problems that plague society could be found in an organ of the body that weighs only about three pounds?

Marianjoy practicing what Weil preaches (Daily Herald, Chicago)
Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton is an example of the symbiotic nature of traditional and alternative medicine in the suburbs. The hospital has been on the leading edge of integrative medicine for a decade, combining massage, meditation and acupuncture with physical rehabilitation to speed up recovery.

Ministry considers 'TM' in schools (trinidad and Tobago Express)
The use of transcendental meditation in schools is being considered by the Ministry of Education as a tool to deal with the problem of troubled and under-performing students.

Yoga, more popular than ever, flexes body and mind (Good Housekeeping)
Ever since Oprah featured a segment on yoga and Madonna beat back her nasty side with namastes, Americans can't get enough of the ancient Indian practice. Though 5,000 years old, yoga has boomed in recent years, with private instructors, gyms, community centers, even churches offering classes to help people wind down, focus, get limber and stay fit.

State OKs changes to Cabarrus charter school (Charlotte Observer, NC)
Curriculum viewed as religious removed.

Teacher travels far to present new path (Express-Times, Pennsylvania)
Venerable Luangpor Thong Abhakaro traveled from Thailand to spread the word about a particular practice of meditation he claims can end suffering, if practiced correctly, in three years or less. Mahasati meditation, based on moving with awareness rather than sitting still with the eyes closed, was invented by Abhakaro's mentor, Luangpor Teean Jittasubho, in 1957.

Sole to soul (Indianapolis Star)
...Joslin maintains that through chants, visualization and attention to the most obvious aspects of the present moment -- the weather, pain or breathing -- the simple run can become the basis for a profound spiritual practice.

Cancer as a 'reversible disease' (Globe and Mail, Canada)
Doctors at a center in B.C. are involving cancer patients with their own healing in a holistic approach, with surprising results.

'Mindful meditation' -- it's not just a nap Regularly tuning out 'mental chatter' can have long-term benefits, researchers say (Kalamazoo Gazette, Michigan)
Meditation -- a quiet, peaceful place where you gently brush aside the incessant mental chatter -- is more than a restful state. It may also be a place for insights, a place that may help you "see what you are really all about," says Patricia Frawley, a psychotherapist at Mid-America Psychological Services in Portage.

Meditation: Growing popularity for stress relief, spirituality (Jakarta Post, Indonesia)
In the last month, no less than three major spiritual leaders -- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Amma and Dadi Janki -- have visited Jakarta and Singapore as part of their world tours. Known around the world for their powerful messages of peace and love, they attract hoards of followers and encourage hundreds to take up meditation and prayer regardless of religion.


begging bowl

Support our translation project

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 donation can help us enormously. You can give as little as a dollar, but of course feel free to give as much as you want!

All contributions will go to our translation fund, which aims to help us translate Wildmind into other languages in order to help people around the world develop mindfulness and compassion.

We'll shortly be launching a Spanish version of our site, and Polish and Russian translations are not far behind.


montana sunset

Big Sky Mind Retreat
September 10-16
Elliston, MT
Led by Bodhipaksa

The practice of mindfulness, in which we observe our experience with acceptance, kindness, and curiosity, can lead not only to stillness of mind but also to a profound change in the way we see ourselves and our relationship to the world. We can come to realize that our normal sense of ourselves, in which we are in some sense separate from the outside world, is but an illusion, and can come to appreciate ourselves as part of a greater, interconnected whole. We can learn to sit like a mountain and to find a deep contentment in having a mind that is as expansive as the sky.

On this retreat, deep in the heart of Big Sky country, we'll be exploring mindfulness and the practice of dissolving the boundaries of the self so that we can expand it outwards until "self" and "other" have little or no meaning. We'll use a variety of forms of the mindfulness of breathing practice and walking meditation in order to stabilize the mind, and we'll use the six element practice in order to let go of our limited ways of seeing ourselves, and to enjoy seeing ourselves as part of an interconnected reality.

The retreat will be conducted mainly in silence, with talking only during meditation interviews and question and answer sessions. Both reading and communication with those who are not on retreat can have an unsettling effect on the mind, and in order to facilitate greater stillness of mind we ask you to leave all reading materials, cell phones, laptops, etc., at home or to check them in on arrival and not to use them until the retreat ends.

For further details, visit the website of the Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center.


buddha head

Quote of the month

" Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. "

-- The Buddha

There's a story that when Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa and leader of the Tibetan Karma Kagyu lineage, was dying of cancer in 1981, one of the disciples attending his deathbed was overcome with sadness. The Karmapa beckoned him over to his bedside reassured him by whispering, "Nothing happens!"

Every session of meditation is a preparation for death. In meditation we are constantly brought up against the things we hold on to: our inability to forgive, our belief that we'd be happy if only we could make some unpleasant part of our life go away, or if only we could have some pleasant experience that currently eludes us; in short, if only we could arrange life to be the way we want it to be.

Of course we can sometimes temporarily remove unpleasant things from life and can sometimes arrange to have only pleasant things in our experience, but we can't keep things this way, and it's for this reason that we suffer. So in meditation, our task is to notice the mind grasping, and to let go and embrace the moment, accepting both pleasant and unpleasant experiences with equanimity. Meditation is ultimately a practice of letting go, and helps us to live wisely be recognizing the impermanent nature of the world we live in.

Dying also involves letting go; although we may not want to do so, we have to let go of life, work, our bodies, all manner of unfinished business, and perhaps most importantly our connections with other people. We could say that the more we hold on, the more difficult it is to face death, and the more we have practiced the art of letting go and embracing change, the easier death will be.

So meditation is a preparation for death, and according to some Buddhist teachings death is actually very similar to meditation, in that it's an opportunity to experience the need to let go, and so to experience the mind more deeply. Because the 16th Karmapa had spend much of his life in meditation, there was nothing to fear in dying. To him death was just another meditation, and so when he died, "nothing happened".

We may not be confident that when death comes we'll be able to face it with total equanimity, but at the same time the more we practice letting go in meditation, the easier it will be to embrace impermanence and to face change -- in every aspect of life -- with serenity.

Bodhipaksa


book cover

The Lost Art of Compassion : Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology
by Lorne Ladner (Hardcover, $16.77)

(Click on the title to purchase from Amazon.com, or click here to purchase from Amazon.co.uk, Hardcover 11.73)

There has been a steady trickle of books by Buddhist therapists recently, exploring the overlaps between western therapeutic models and practices and traditional Buddhist approaches to dealing with human suffering (see Tara Brach's "Radical Acceptance" and Tara Bennett-Goleman's "Emotional Alchemy"). Both systems have as their aim the reduction of suffering, and while at times the approaches may differ, there is also considerable overlap. There exists considerable possibility for cross-fertilization, and Ladner's book is to my mind the finest fruit of that process to date.

Ladner's book is more Buddhist than the other two examples I have picked, and for me that's a bonus. While Brach and Bennett-Goleman look mainly towards a rather secularized form of mindfulness meditation for the Buddhist component of their mix of Buddhism and therapy, Ladner draws more widely from Buddhist mythology, meditation, and ethical teachings. "The Lost Art" contains so much Buddhism that this book would almost (but not quite) serve as an introduction to the subject even for a complete novice to the topic.

Choose any two pages at random from Lorne Ladner's book, "The Lost Art of Compassion", and there's likely to be enough wisdom there to keep you thinking and boost your practice for months or even years to come. Ladner's writing, perhaps because he doesn't strive to write in a way which is ornate or poetic, has a rare clarity and is devoid of the sentimentality that I thought detracted from both "Radical Acceptance" and "Emotional Alchemy".

I particularly appreciated the way in which at the end of the book Ladner outlines a summary of compassion practices for easy reference, showing how traditional Buddhist practices can be used as therapeutic tools, and how we can each become our own therapist.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to deal better with their own suffering, or who is interested in the overlap between Buddhism and therapy. This book will certainly make a lasting difference to my own practice and my own approach to teaching.

Bodhipaksa


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

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