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Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200410.html


October 2004


Our Online Meditation Courses

Life member program

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

  "Change Your Mind" ($75)

  "Awakening the Heart" ($75)

  "Entering the Path of Insight" ($75)

  Life Member Program ($125)


Course Schedule for 2004 and early 2005

There are only three courses left before the end of the year, 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 04, 2004
  Nov 01, 2004
  Nov 29, 2004
  Jan 03, 2005
  Feb 01, 2005


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 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 October, with a roundup of recent news stories about meditation, a book recommendation, and a quote of the month with commentary.

With the longer nights of the northern hemisphere autumn rapidly approaching, this is an excellent time to think about turning inwards and giving yourself the gift of meditation. If you've ever wanted to learn powerful techniques for reducing stress and for learning conscious relaxation, you might want to sing up for one of our convenient online meditation courses.

Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Monday, October 4. Make sure you book your place now.


In this issue:

  • Our next online courses
  • Meditation in the news
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

Discover the power of meditation

Our next online courses start October 4. Places are limited, so make a reservation soon.

Our courses offer a rich experience, with online readings, guided meditations in MP3 and RealAudio format, a discussion forum, and personal attention in your online journal.

And our courses are suitable from complete beginners to more experienced practitioners. You'll learn powerful techniques for reducing stress and developing patience, relaxation, and calmness.

Read more here!


Meditation in the news

One again we bring you a substantial collection of news stories concerning meditation. A common theme in the last month has been beating stress through the practice of mindfulness, with a major article in Newsweek magazine featuring the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. We hope you enjoy exploring the world's press!

Sep 27 Windham family finds peace in meditation (Union Leader, New Hampshire)
A family finds peace in a controversial religious movement.

Sep 26 Doing quiet time (Alameda Times-Star, California)
Inmates practice yoga and meditation.

Sep 26 Buddha Lessons (Newsweek)
A technique called 'mindfulness' teaches how to step back from pain and the worries of life.

Sep 24 Meditation and yoga help bust stress (Minnesota Daily)
A new stress-relief class is helping students ease their worries through meditation and yoga.

Sep 22 From bookshelves to boardroom, 'mindfulness' is hot spiritual trend (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Indiana)
Mindfulness - living consciously in the moment - has become "just that significant" in American culture, said editor-in-chief Seth Bauer.

Sep 22 'A way to keep the mind focused' (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Indiana)
The religion professor's foot was propped on a chair, his crutches on the floor. A few days earlier, he'd broken his foot. A spiritual lesson, he said. "I'm in this condition due to a failure in mindfulness," said Ruben Habito, the spiritual guide at the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas. "But now, each movement can become something I cherish because I cannot take anything for granted.

Sep 17 CAPS explores meditation as a stress reduction tool (The South End Newspaper, Detroit, MI)
Dr. Steven Schoeberlein, of Wayne State University's Counseling and Psychological Services Center, talked Wednesday about the importance of keeping stress at bay during a workshop on the fifth floor of the Student Center Building.

Sep 13 Meditation helping arthritis patients (Kansas City Star)
Dalia Isicoff knows pain. A lifelong sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis, she has had seven hip replacement surgeries. Since leaving the hospital in February following her latest operation, however, she hasn't taken any painkillers. Not because the pain isn't there - it is. But Isicoff, 52, said she has learned to accept the pain, the disease, and herself, thanks to meditation.

Sep 11 Meditation as medication (CBS News)
More and more people are turning to alternative or non-traditional methods to treat medical conditions. One such technique, meditation, is gaining popularity as a legitimate medical therapy.

Sep 10 Spirit Rock reaches out with emphasis on diversity (San Francisco Chronicle)
Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, founded 30 years ago by a small group of friends, offers more than 48 retreats and some 340 classes attended by more than 35,000 people annually in a bucolic setting of redwoods, mountains and wildlife. But a recent Monday night meditation class reveals that those who teach there, as well as those who attend, are primarily of the same demographic: mostly white, middle- to upper-middle class and middle-aged. The board of directors of Spirit Rock, which includes some of the members of the original Spirit Rock gathering, is trying to change that by forming a diversity council, hiring a diversity coordinator and by offering a wider variety of classes and retreats.

Sep 9 Kiran Bedi's You be the sky: From criminality to humanity (Delhi Newsline)
The documentary, You Be The Sky, Kiran Bedi's initiative to highlight the vitality of meditation and humane management in prison and policing, was screened in the triveni Kala Sangam. The film highlighted the success of Vipassana, a form of meditation, in fostering change and empowering people physically, mentally and spiritually.

Sep 7 Unique fitness (Warwick Beacon, Rhode Island)
Meditation has been around for centuries and is used to quiet the mind and to promote self-knowledge and self-mastering. Through focusing and maintaining attention, the mind is brought to the present - not in "what happened yesterday" or "what will happen tomorrow."

Sep 7 Working long hours? Take a massage break, courtesy of your boss (NY Times)
Through the tropics of mid-August, Michael Maccari, a men's clothing executive, was at it 10 to 12 hours a day, fretting over the details of an imminent holiday shipment to stores, the fittings for the spring 2005 lines and the designs for next fall - three seasons, three sets of deadlines. But right now, at lunch hour on a Wednesday, the deadlines were dissolving beneath a gentle tide of deep breathing.

Sep 6 Meditation: Going home first time (Korea Times)
Everyone knows the fantasy: meditating on an idyllic Eastern mountain peak with birds singing in rhythm to the soft ``ttak, ttak'' of a temple's wooden gong. Such images attracted me to Asia 10 years ago, seeking an inner sense of purpose that my upbringing in Canada had not provided.

Sep 5 Esalen's Identity Crisis (Los Angeles Times)
For decades, the scenic institute in Big Sur was the pioneer in the self-help movement. But as middle age approaches, it's being forced to turn the mirror on itself.

Sep 4 Final Fantasy: Finding love through meditation (Daily Camera, Colorado)
Watching students suffer through broken hearts has come with the territory of teaching Indo-Tibetan Buddhism to college students for the past 35 years, Naropa University professor Judith Simmer-Brown said. That, paired with her own experiences of the heart, has in the past inspired her to speak on the topic of "romantic love" and its knack for sabotaging relationships.


begging bowl

Support our translation project

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

Join our list of benefactors! 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 (which are tax deductible) 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 now have French and Spanish versions of the site online, and Chinese, Polish, and Russian versions are in preparation.


 

 

merton

Quote of the month

"We have what we seek. It is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us."

-- Thomas Merton

There was a time when I would have profoundly disagreed with Thomas Merton's statement, although I now realize that I would have been showing not my wisdom but the limitations of my understanding. It would have seemed to me intuitively obviousat that time that we do not in fact have what we seek and that we have to consciously bring it into being through training. This approach is part of what could be called the "developmental" model, in which the practitioner is encouraged to see spiritual growth in terms of working to eliminate the classical unskillful mental states of selfish desire, aversion, and confusion, and to cultivate contentment, acceptance, love, mindfulness, and insight. And when we look at our minds doesn't it seem that there is all too often an overabundance of the former states and a dearth of the latter?

But more recently in my practice I've begun to have a deeper sense of the truth of Merton's statement. When we see our selves statically, Merton's statement that we already have what we seek can seem counterintuitive. But when we come to realize that everything in our experience -- including those parts that we find destructive of our own and others' happiness -- is not in fact a thing that is but is a process that is becoming, then those statements start to make much more sense.

Our selfish craving, our stress, or our resentments may not be qualities that we enjoy having in our experience, but the simple process of holding them in our awareness and accepting them as they are -- including an acceptance that they are not static things that are not going to change but are dynamic processes that are in a process of evolution -- allows us to observe them with equanimity. To be more concise, all things, embraced with a mindful awareness, will evolve into something other than they presently are. Everything is process; nothing is static. As long as we maintain a mindful awareness of our minds, all things will come to their own fruition in wisdom and love.

This may not be clear to us much of the time. In fact it can at time be hard, if not impossible, to believe. It can be hard to see how our hatred or our selfishness can lead us in a positive direction, and in fact left to their own devices they cannot. And yet all of our unskillful mental states are expressive of needs which are not yet fulfilled, and through paying close and loving attention to those states we can come to sense those needs and, in time, meet them in skillful ways.

One of the main things I have been learning in recent years is to learn to trust the power of mindfulness, and to learn to trust that my own unskillful mental states will, if approached in a spirit of loving awareness, lead to the development of well-being. It's this sense of trust that I believe Merton was trying to emphasize. All it takes is time, practice, and the steady application of mindfulness.

Bodhipaksa


book cover

Recommended book

Living With Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta
by Sangharakshita (Paperback, $12.57)

(Click on the title to purchase from Amazon.com, or click here to purchase from Amazon.co.uk, Paperback, 9.00)

The Satipatthana Sutta is generally regarded as the single most important text expounding the Buddha's teaching on mindfulness, and systematically takes us through a series of reflections on mindfulness of the breath and the body, mindfulness of actions, and mindfulness of impermanence.

Adapted from recordings of Sangharakshita in seminar with his students, I found this book to be a sheer delight -- rather like listening to a favorite, well-travelled and extremely knowledgeable uncle chatting by the fireside. Because of the adapted nature of the text, this commentary is somewhat of a ramble around the Satipatthana Sutta, although Sangharakshita deals with the text with great thoroughness.

Sangharakshita's many years of experience as a practitioner and teacher are evident in the practicality with which he discusses exactly how to go about developing the various aspects of mindfulness. And mindfulness has many aspects, he points out. While many contemporary teachers of meditation stress that mindfulness is awareness in the moment, Sangharakshita emphasizes that it is indeed awareness in the moment but that it is also an awareness in the moment with reference to the past and present. As Sangharakshita puts it, "Everything we do should be done with a sense of the direction we want to move in and of whether or not our current action will take us in that direction". Mindfulness integrates our experience so that we recognize the effects of the past on our present (and can thus learn to live more skillfully) and also integrates the present with the future, so that we act now with reference to where we would like to end up.

In the course of discussing the Sutta Sangharakshita demonstrates his ample skill as a storyteller, drawing on tales from the Buddhist tradition, from his own personal experience, and from western literature. I doubt anyone could read this book without wanting to rush out and buy a few volumes of Charles Dickens, having had some of the perhaps unexpected spiritual wisdom in his writings pointed out to us. These digressions, rather than being a distraction, are actually a highlight of the book, and I can imagine that the editors had their work cut out for them deciding which of the divagations should be consigned to the cutting room floor and which should stay.

Particularly striking as an example of Sangharakshita's lucid thinking is a chapter on how to reflect -- a topic on which many of us need guidance. Amongst other things we are advised to set aside specific time for sitting down and thinking, seeking out the company of people with differing views from our own in order to learn to organize and articulate our thoughts more clearly, and to practice reflecting through writing. This chapter could well stand alone and I can well imagine it becoming a minor classic in its own right.

For anyone interested in exploring the practice of mindfulness more deeply I would highly recommend this book.

Bodhipaksa


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

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