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Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200412.html

December 2004

Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"If this was one of those college course evaluation forms I would be filling in all 5's for 'excellent' on course materials, format and the like." Rori Lockman, Maine.

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:

  Nov 29, 2004
  Jan 03, 2005
  Mar 01, 2005 (Tue)
  Apr 04, 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.


Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

A very happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. readers.

Yet more studies (see "Meditation in the News", below) have shown that meditation produces lasting and positive effects on brain function, producing significantly greater brain activity in areas associated with learning and happiness. Oh, and meditation's good for your heart, too. Can you really afford not to meditate?

So if you've ever wanted to learn powerful techniques for reducing stress, staying healthy, and for learning conscious relaxation, sign up for one of our convenient online meditation courses. These 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.

Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Monday, November 29. Make sure you book your place now.

In this issue:

  • Big Sky Mind Retreat, New Hampshire
  • Meditation in the news
  • Support our translation project
  • CD relaunch
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

Big Sky Mind Retreat, New Hampshire

Inside Aryaloka: The Meditation Hall

If you already have your 2005 planner (congratulations on being organized!) you might want to pencil in the following dates: March 25 to April 1. That's the week that Bodhipaksa will be leading the Big Sky Mind Retreat at Aryaloka Buddhist Center, Newmarket, New Hampshire.

Aryaloka is one of New Hampshire's most unusual buildings: two wood-framed geodesic domes tucked away in the New England forest, but only an hour from Logan International Airport in Boston, and 45 minutes from Manchester Airport.

The retreat is an intensive meditation experience of letting go into the spacious, sky-like state of mindfulness. We'll explore the practice of dissolving the boundaries of the self, expanding 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.

You can read further details, including how to book your place, on Aryaloka's website.

Meditation in the news

As always, we bring you a selection of news stories from around the world on topics related to meditation. As you might expect many of the stories deal with the role meditation can play in fighting stress and promoting health.

But an interesting new theme this month is family meditation, with no fewer than four stories dealing with teaching meditation to children. In last month's newsletter we reviewed "Peaceful Piggy Meditations", a guide to meditation for children. Coincidence or trend? We'll just have to wait and see.

Please note that some of the news sources require a subscription. We recommend using BugMeNot to bypass registration and to preserve your privacy. We also recommend the free Firefox browser for a safer surfing experience. (We're not associated with Firefox or BugMeNot in any way. We just think these are cool products that you might find useful).

Nov 21 Wrap your mind around this (Kansas City Star)
Gathering looks at the brain's ability to change itself.

Nov 20 Stunning visual meditation (Montreal Gazette)
Cloud gate dance theater's critically acclaimed moon water arrives in Montreal this Friday.

Nov 17 Meditation makes sense in stressful times (Detroit News)
Calming effect of quiet reflection has many benefits for health and well-being.

Nov 17 A quick nap shows how smart you are (AZCentral)
Yoga, meditation used to boost energy.

Nov 16 A different kind of doctor (Fiji Times)
After being invited to attend a meditation session over 34-years-ago by a friend, Nirmala Kajaria's life has never been the same.

Nov 16 Family meditation focus of new book, Shambhala Center event (The Daily Camera, Colorado)
Cargerman and her husband began meditating with their three boys, twins Liam and Brendan, and Ian, 9, about three years ago after learning about family meditation through Boulder instructor Kerry Lee MacLean.

Nov 13 Relaxation classes may ease stress on battered women (Cape Codder, Massachusetts)
Health club is offering six one-hour meditation and stress reduction sessions to anyone who donates supplies to women's shelter.

Nov 10 Meditation may bolster brain activity (WebMD Medical News)
Buddhist meditation may produce lasting changes in the brain

Nov 9 Meditation class gains popularity in Pecatonica (Rockford Register-Star, Illinois)
Students from all over the Midwest have come to study Vipassana at the center.

Nov 8 Yoga gets hearts healthy (WebMD Medical News)
Yoga and meditation three times a week improves heart disease risk.

Nov 8 Tango with Buddha? New book, "Tango Zen: Walking Dance Meditation" by Chan Park (EMediaWire)
Tango Zen is for beginners as well as veteran dancers, for those who are new or seasoned at meditation, and for anyone who is searching for a literal step-by-step method that is both rhythmic and simple to pursue, in order to accomplish a peaceful way of being.

Nov 6 transcendental meditation can help heart (News 8 Austin, Texas)
Your bad habits are likely the biggest threats to your health.

Nov 4 Daycare center features yoga, meditation for youngsters (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
'It's not time out; it's just like quietness all around'.

Nov 2 Relax, it's only a bit of stress (Times, Great Britain)
A meditative barrister is helping colleagues to breathe more easily.

Nov 2 New age mantra: catch 'em young, teach them spirituality, meditation (Pune Newsline, India)
Shlokas and mythological stories make engrossing listening for children.

Nov 1 Monk shares power of meditation (Ann Arbor News, Michigan)
Zen Buddhist seeks to form nonreligious group.

Nov 1 Witch way is way to go for witch (press Herald Portland, Maine)
Wiccan gives classes in witchcraft, meditation and related topics as part of her business, Wiccadgood Witches.

Nov 1 Art of Living: Breathe deeply to relieve stress, depression (Seattle Times)
Students of the Art of Living program say the breathing technique can bring greater awareness, a fuller and happier life, less stress, greater mental focus and a bevy of other health benefits.

Nov 1 Parents find children benefit from meditation (Register-Guard, Oregon)
Imagine a young child sitting still, quietly contemplating life and thinking peaceful thoughts. Even for just five minutes.

Meditation and families

Do you have a story about how meditation has benefited your family? Have you tried teaching meditation to your children? If so we'd be very interested in hearing from you so that we can add more of a human interest angle to a proposed new section for the Wildmind site on the topic of families and meditation. Please send your stories to us at the address this email was sent from.

begging bowl

Support our translation project

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting awareness and compassion 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.

Relaunch of our second CD

cd cover

We've just relaunched our second CD with a new cover and a title that better reflects the CD's themes. The CD is now entitled "Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction". We hope you like the new cover, which is of fall leaves frozen into a sheet of ice and backlit by the setting sun. A magical moment!

The CD is of course available from our online meditation supplies store.



Quote of the month

"Anyone can become angry; that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy."
  -- Aristotle

We can all remember times when we've been angry without due cause or can recall, perhaps with regret, times when we should perhaps have been angrier than we actually were.

I have a bit of an aversion to being angry because I used to get angry a lot and I've seen the hurt that can be caused when our anger is out of control. And I know how unpleasant it is to harbor feelings of anger and resentment on a daily basis -- it's like carrying a red-hot coal in the pit of the stomach. And Buddhist teachings don't tend to emphasize the possible applications of anger, and focus more on controlling anger and replacing it with patience. And yet Aristotle is I think right in pointing out that anger has its place in the life of the emotionally mature individual.

Anger is not the same as hatred or ill will. While hatred or ill will wish to inflict physical or, more commonly, emotional hurt, anger lacks that damaging motivation. With hatred we wish to punish, hurt, or destroy another person, usually because they frustrate our will in some way. Anger, however does not want to hurt another person but can be simply an expression of frustration. I say "can be" because the line between anger and ill will does not seem to be absolute.

Anger is a powerful upwelling of energy, and it's hard, as Aristotle points out, to properly channel and manage that energy. So when anger emerges, so too can other emotions such as hatred and ill will. What may begin as a simple expression of frustration (for example over an agreement not honored) can then lead to ill will and worse. And this mutability is the reason, or at least one reason, why the Buddhist tradition is so wary about anger.

When the Dalai Lama was aksed about the potential power for anger in righting wrongs, he pointed out that it's the very power of anger that means we have to be careful with it. When using a powerful tool there exists the potential for great harm as well as great accomplishments.

So how do we tell whether our anger is really anger rather than ill will? One key thing to note is that anger may be critical of actions that a person has done, but is never critical of the person himself. When we voice our frustration that someone hasn't done something they agreed to do that may be anger, but when we accuse them of being lazy or irresponsible (labels applying to the person rather than to their actions) we've strayed over the boundary into ill will.

And how do we know whether our anger is appropriately directed ("to the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way")? That, as Aristotle says, is "not easy." In order to develop the emotional intelligence to channel our anger in this way takes years of training in mindfulness, developing lovingkindness, and cultivating patience. It may take years, but it's possible and it immeasurably enriches life, so why not start meditating now?


book cover

Book of the month

In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets
Richard Strozzi-Heckler (Paperback, $12.89)

(Click on the title to purchase from Amazon.com, or click here to purchase from Amazon.co.uk, Paperback, 9.19).

Note to Hollywood: this book would make a great movie. Take a bunch of aggressively skeptic and highly macho Green Berets, the U.S. Army's elite special forces unit, and throw them into intensive training in meditation, aikido, and biofeedback -- led by a bunch of guys heavily influenced by Eastern philosophy and wearing, believe it or not, lilac uniforms -- stand back, and wait for all hell to break loose. Which promptly happens.

Some of the instructors are virtually eaten alive by the troops, who are on high alert for any sign of insincerity or lack of integrity, and who have a talent for finding buttons to press. At one point the Green Berets, on an intensive meditation retreat, are in open revolt, crowding round and yelling at the instructors in the middle of a "silent" meditation period. One of the soldiers steps forward menacingly and gives each of the three retreat leaders the finger, yelling, "F___ you and f___ you and f___ you!" Fast-forward to a quieter moment on retreat, and Strozzi-Heckler opens his eyes to see a Green Beret sitting in blissful meditation. Below the still, relaxed, and concentrated face of the warrior is a T-shirt that reads, "82nd AIRBORNE divISION: DEATH FROM ABOVE". And so on... Not your average meditation retreat.

Lest you think that the program was all confrontation and culture clash, the program, stormy as it was, produced stunning results, with massive increases for example in the soldiers' abilities to control their body temperature in extreme conditions and to recuperate quickly after exercise. And on a more personal level, it's fascinating to witness these warriors contact their softer sides. One of the soldiers, who was a Christian, is thrown into turmoil because he's unsure whether he could kill someone now that he's learned to meditate and come to a deeper appreciation of the compassion taught in his own faith.

This kind of quandary represents the central question that Strozzi-Heckler returns to over and over in his writings, which are based on a daily journal he kept over the six months of the project. Can he teach these men to be warriors rather than soldiers -- fully feeling human beings rather than alienated killing machines -- and have them still function as soldiers? It's not a question that is ever likely to be resolved, but nonetheless this is a fascinating account of a bold experiment in bringing awareness disciplines to the U.S. Special Forces.

Oh, and Hollywood, Kevin Costner is a natural to play Strozzi-Heckler.






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

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