www.wildmind.org Wildmind

Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200505.html

May 2005


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 ($175)


Course Schedule for Spring 2005

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:

  May 2, 2005 (Mon)


Seven Great Reasons to take a meditation course online:

  1. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll have an ongoing practice discussion with your teacher, who will give you encouragement and personal feedback based on many 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,

This month's news stories on meditation (see below) include reports on the ways in which meditation is being successfully incorporated into psychotherapy. Meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depression, stress, and many other conditions by "decreasing preoccupation with one's own suffering and fostering self-understanding."

In addition it's been shown that meditation can bring health benefits by lowering blood pressure, boosting immune function, and reducing heart disease risk: an amazing collection of benefits from one simple practice.

If you've ever been curious to find out more about these powerful techniques for reducing stress, staying healthy, and for learning conscious relaxation, sign up for one of our convenient online meditation courses. These four-week courses offer a rich experience, with online readings, guided meditations in MP3 and RealAudio format that you can download to your computer, a discussion forum, and personal attention in your online journal. And you have access to all these things 24/7.

Our courses are suitable for anyone from complete beginners to more experienced practitioners. You'll learn powerful techniques for reducing stress and developing patience, relaxation, and calmness in a friendly and supportive environment.

Our May courses will be led by Bodhipaksa, the Buddhist teacher and author who is the founder of Wildmind.

Bodhipaksa
Bodhipaksa

Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Monday, May 2. Make sure you book your place now.


In this issue:

  • Meditation in the news
  • Bodhipaksa's book launched in U.S.
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

Meditation in the news

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).

April 26 Meditation helpful in psychotherapy; study (WebIndia)
Meditation is now being incorporated into psychotherapeutic practice and combined with other healing traditions, reports the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

April 21 Tibetan Buddhist monk to share thoughts at local event on finding joy (Akron Leader, Ohio)
"The source of joy is compassion and loving kindness," Rinpoche said. "We need to be trained in our mind how to develop a sense of loving to all beings."

April 19 Knowing when to log off (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Wired campuses may be causing 'information overload'

April 19 Wallace sees common ground between Buddhist introspection and Western science (Brown Daily Herald)
Alan Wallace, one of the preeminent Western scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, stressed the importance of introspection as a mode of academic inquiry in the first annual Mary Interlandi '05 Lecture on Contemplative Studies on Monday night.

April 18 Meditation becoming part of some psychotherapy practices (Newswise)
Meditation is now being incorporated into psychotherapeutic practice and combined in surprising ways with other healing traditions, the April issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter reports.

April 13 Mind Matters: Meditation has profound benefits for physical, mental health (Marco Island Eagle, Florida)
"Having just returned from a week of intensive training in how to teach meditation, I am eager to share my enthusiasm and some of what I learned."

April 11 Handling stress hard work, but worth it (London Free Press, Canada)
Stress management training can reduce levels of depression and emotional distress, as well as improve markers of cardiovascular risk, in patients with heart disease.

April 11 Most older adults use alternative medicine (Reuters)
More than 70 percent of adults aged 50 or older use some type of alternative therapy, such as herbal medicine, meditation, or seeing a chiropractor, according to new study findings.

April 10 Meditation and pressures at college (New Kerala, India)
Does the college experience damage the brain? The Maharishi University of Management in Iowa has set out to answer this question by creating a new system called Brain Integration Report Card.

April 9 New gay men's meditation group forming (Out in America)
The group's goal is to cultivate and support the lives of gay men who wish to live more mindful and spiritual lives through meditation.

April 7 Tiger by the Tail (Missoula Independent)
"Can Buddhism and business get along?" An article mentioning a paper written by Bodhipaksa and published by Business Ethics Quarterly.

April 4 Objects for Meditation (Sun-Herald, Australia)
Shivers of delight: William Yang offers a string of small pleasures.

April 3 A Meditation on Taxes, and Bad Karma (New York Times)
For now, the modest site of the World Buddhist Chan Jing Center here can't compare with the plans of the Dharmakaya Buddhist center just up the road, which hopes to build a $23 million hermitage, retreat and meditation center over in Cragsmoor.

April 2 Meditation aids mandala work (Orange Central Western Daily, Australia)
The sand mandala is an intricate artwork created from coloured sand which will take the monks six days to finish before it is swept away to symbolise the impermanence of all things.

April 1 Objects for Meditation (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)
So many films and theatre shows bombard the senses these days but William Yang's Objects for Meditation takes pause and invites reverie.


Bodhipaksa's book launched in U.S.

book cover

We're delighted to announce that Bodhipaksa's book on meditation, Wildmind: A Step-by-Step Guide to Meditation, is available in US bookstores. Wildmind will lead you through simple exercises from the Buddhist tradition that help you to attain greater calmness, joy, and love of life.

Wildmind is available through Amazon.com at a price of $12.89.


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.


 

brian keenan

Quote of the month

"Whatever life is, it is for living fully, without fear or doubt."
Brian Keenan

I like the humility in Brian Kennan's statement, as well as its confidence: the humility because he admits that we don't know what life is for and his confidence because he's clear that whatever the purpose of life it should be lived fully and without fear or doubt.

Some may find those statements contradictory, thinking that it is a sign of doubt to admit that we don't know what the purpose of life is. And yet I believe Keenan is right to be both tentative and declarative, which is why I jotted down this quotation while reading "An Evil Cradling," Keenan's account of being kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi'ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beirut for the next four and a half years.

We don't and can't know for sure what life is for, and perhaps one of the key spiritual decisions we have to make is to discover what we think the purpose of our life to be. Often this discovery comes in the form of a personal revelation at a time of crisis, or is intuited in the heart's response when we encounter the outward symbols of a spiritual or artistic path. I well remember the feeling of "coming home" that I had when I first read a Buddhist text called the Dhammapada. I knew then that I had found my path and that I was a Buddhist.

But discovering one's path is a more complex affair than deciding which spiritual tradition one feels most at home in, and often involves a very specific sense of mission. For Brian Keenan there was a clear sense that in order to live fully one must outgrown one's fears and doubts. A life lived in fear is a life stifled from within. A life lived in fear is a life that is not, in fact, lived.

How one lives without fear is, I believe, related to the very need to see oneself as involved in an enterprise that goes beyond oneself and that, moreover, gives one's life lasting meaning and purpose; and not just a part of one's life (in the way that a career can) but the whole of one's life. Without a sense that we are part of something larger than ourselves, we see ourselves as small, weak, and at the mercy of powerful forces. Seemingly isolated in such a way, we become preoccupied with status, reputation, and other ephemera, and experience fear over even trivial decisions. Yet when we see ourselves in a larger context such fears vanish.

Many people have had this experience of their fears being reframed into non-existence when they have a brush with death or experience the miracle of new life: what formerly seemed important now seems trivial.

One meditation practice that I have experienced as helping us to reframe our lives in this way is the reflection on the elements. In this practice we sequentially reflect on earth, water, fire, air, space, and consciousness. In each case we reflect on our interconnectedness with the outside world, seeing how the elements within us ultimately derive from those outside, and how those inner elements are in a constant process of returning to the outside. In this way we start to see ourselves not as isolated individuals with clearly defined boundaries, but as interdependant parts of an infinitely large and complex process. This realization is confidence-inspiring, and also humbling. Which is, perhaps, as it should be.

Bodhipaksa


book cover

Book of the month

Sitting Inside: Buddhist Practice in America's Prisons
by Kobai Scott Whitney ($17.99, paperback from Amazon.com)

Kobai Scott Whitney is a Zen Buddhist practitioner who is employed as Buddhist Chaplain for the state of Washington and who has also done time himself. He is therefore ideally placed to write a book on Buddhist practice in America's prisons. The subtitle is potentially misleading, however. Rather than being a survey of Buddhist practice in American penal institutions, Sitting Inside is a practice handbook for inmates and prison volunteers alike.

For inmates, Kobai offers an overview of key Buddhist teachings such as the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble truths, introduces the practice of ethics (with specific reference to situations that inmates are likely to encounter in prison) and teaches 14 meditations that range from simple calming exercises to more existential reflections on, for example, "Who Is Sitting?" These teachings are likely to be helpful for anyone insterested in Buddhist meditation.

For prison volunteers, Sitting Inside offers insights into the unique pressures facing those in prison, as well as the difficulties that may arise in conducting meetings in the face of resistance by Christian chaplains, and potential pitfalls in relations with inmates. As a prison volunteer myself I am grateful to Kobai for hastening my learning.

Additionally, Kobai does an excellent job of highlighting the cruelties and shortsightedness of America's dysfunctional penal system, which has been accurately descibed as the "Prison-Industrial Complex" because of the way it has eveolved as a collaboration between politicians and business in order on the one hand to win votes by boosting incarceration rates and on the other to provide a cheap source of labor.

One oversight in the book is the lack of any guidance from prisoners and volunteers on the complex and difficult area of making the transition between prison life and the outside world. What can spiritual communities do to provide support for inmates after release? What are the difficulties that inmates typically face in trying to gain acceptance in a practice community? How does a spiritual group deal, for example, with accommodating a convicted sex offender, providing spiritual support for the parolee while protecting the group? Kobai's insights on these matters would have been most welcome.

Despite this reservation I would highly recommend Sitting Inside to all who are interested in meditation. Our own problems tend to shrink in significance when we encounter those less fortunate than ourselves, and our self-confidence can be increased by seeing others making positive changes in their lives in circumstances that are considerable less advantageous than our own.

Bodhipaksa


Copyright © 2005, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.

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