www.wildmind.org Wildmind

Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200506.html

June 2005


Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"I'm amazed how much good this class is doing me!"

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:

  Jun 6 , 2005 (Mon) to Jul 1
  Jul 5, 2005 (Tue) to Jul 29


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,

A whole slew of news stories this month report that people who meditate live longer than those who don't. Not only did meditators have a 23 percent reduction in overall death during the 18 years of the study, they also showed a 30 percent reduction in the rate of death from cardiovascular disease and were 49 percent less likely to die from cancer. Other studies have shown that meditation has many psychological benefits as well.

If you've ever been curious to find out more about meditation's powerful potential for reducing stress, staying healthy, and for encouraging 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 June courses will be led by Subhadassi, a published poet and an accomplished teacher who is the director of Dharmavastu Buddhist Study Center in northwest England.

Subhadassi
Subhadassi

Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Monday, June 6. Make sure you book your place now.


In this issue:

  • Meditation in the news
  • CD launch
  • MP3 launch
  • 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).

May 23 Breath of the eternal (Hindustan Times, India)
Vipassana, or insight meditation, is a nonreligious, nonsectarian technique said to have been devised or discovered by Gautama Buddha, in which insight is the key.

May 22 Kiran Bedi gets honorary doctorate (NDTV, India)
Top woman police officer who introduced meditation to India's jails honored by CUNY.

May 21 Meditation good for the heart, study finds (MSNBC)
Regular practice may help prevent cardiovascular disease

May 19 Meditation shown to ease stress (Quad-City Times, Iowa)
Today, more than 10 million Americans have made a place for meditation in their lives. And those are the people who admit they practice it.

May 17 Relaxation and meditation survival guide (Babyfit.com)
Relieve stress for a healthy pregnancy

May 16 40-day meditation program can lead to prosperity (Marin Independent-Journal, California)
true abundance is the result of shifting your consciousness so that you feel yourself to be a sort of spiritual waterfall of positive energy.

May 14 Churchgoers benefit from better health, studies show (Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky)
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that Americans who attend religious services at least once a week enjoy better-than-average health and lower rates of illness, including depression.

May 14 Whatever your style, some methods to master meditation (Sun-Sentinel, Florida)
Meditation advice column.

May 11 Steady meditation could extend life (Houston Chronicle, Texas)
Mantras and breathing lower death rate in study

May 11 Mindful of their breathing (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Advocates say special meditation tips the scales toward a more balanced life.

May 11 Can meditation lower rates of death? (South Bend tribune, Indiana)
One of the first long-term studies of transcendental Meditation has found that the practice was associated with significantly lower rates of death.

May 9 Stress-reducing relaxation may improve life expectancy. (Evansville Courier, Indiana)
Research has shown that mental relaxation techniques such as transcendental Meditation (TM) can reduce stress and help lower blood pressure. Might this allow people to live longer?

May 9 Meditation can be a life extender (Daily Bulletin, Ontario)
As a practice among Westerners, meditation goes back at least 100 years. But the advent of large numbers of Westerners meditating, particularly Americans, probably dates to the Beatles' brief but widely publicized involvement with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the transcendental Meditation (TM) movement in 1967.

May 7 Without drugs, HIV patients in Myanmar turn to meditation, herbs (Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates)
For three years Phyu Phyu Thin has volunteered to work with HIV patients in military-ruled Myanmar, but like many charities, hers is unable to offer life-prolonging drugs. That has prompted many patients to turn to traditional herbal medicines and Buddhist meditation, which offer some comfort if not a cure.

May 6 Yoga, meditation must in Madhya Pradesh schools (WebIndia123)
Dipping pass percentages in the all important Class 10 and 12 exams have prompted the Madhya Pradesh government to make meditation and yoga compulsory in all schools to improve concentration and thereby results.

May 6 Meditation: Focusing your mind to achieve relaxation (Mayo Clinic)
For a growing number of people, meditation is about clearing your mind and focusing on the moment. So how do you meditate and where do you find the inspiration to quiet your mind?

May 5 The healing powers of Buddhist meditation (The Beacon, Mass.)
Members of the Clocktower Sangha speak very little as they trickle into the South Acton Congregational Church for their weekly meeting the evening of April 25.

May 3 transcendental meditation the ticket to a long healthy life (Healthtalk)
An 18 year study has found that transcendental meditation doesn't only help relieve stress, it reduces death rates by 23 percent and extends life span, reports the American Journal of Cardiology.

May 3 Meditation extends lifespan (Health and Age)
The first study of its kind reveals that transcendental meditation is linked to reduced mortality.

May 3 Does meditation offer any health benefits? (Boston Globe)
Yes. The ancient Eastern practice of quieting the mind through a variety of techniques from simply focusing on one's breathing to silently repeating a word or ''mantra" has been shown to have measurable, beneficial effects on the body.

May 3 Meditation may cut heart disease death (Fox News)
Want to live longer? Good genes, plenty of exercise, and eating right should help, but you might also want to sit down, close your eyes, and breathe.

May 3 Hospitals into 'meditation in motion' (Thunder Bay Journal-Chronicle, Canada)
"It's a way to get people thinking about their health"

May 2 Meditation found to extend lifespan (Science Daily)
An 18-year U.S. study has determined transcendental meditation reduces death rates by 23 percent, the American Journal of Cardiology reported.

May 2 Meditation calms the mind, lengthens life (ABC News)
Increasing evidence suggests that transcendental meditation may not only reduce stress, but also may help adults with high blood pressure to live longer, according to a new study.

May 2 Meditation study shows life gains (Forbes)
People who practiced transcendental Meditation lived longer than people who didn't, experiencing a 23 percent reduction in death rates.

May 1 Karma chameleon's culture club (The Scotsman, Scotland)
Alan Spence puts body and soul into the Aberdeen literary festival he founded

May 1 Calm moments ease stress (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Indiana)
Meditation offers simple methods to quiet the mind

May 1 Be one with the puck (Anchorage Daily News, Alaska)
It's his mantra: Alaska goalie relies on meditation to get up for the game.


Launch of new CD: Guided Meditations for Busy People

cd cover

If you feel the need to learn meditation but the idea of finding 30 or 40 minutes to meditate is itself stressful, this CD is for you. Short "power meditations" such as these - between three and nine minutes in length - can be highly beneficial for busy people. Each practice teaches a specific and powerful technique for quickly transforming the mind, encouraging the rapid development of calmness, spaciousness, and relaxation.

Available June 1. Order now from Wildmind.


MP3's available on our online store

mp3

We're pleased to announce that all of our CDs are available as MP3 downloads in our meditation supplies store, either as individual tracks or as complete CD downloads.

We even have available Bodhipaksa's new CD, Guided Meditations for Busy People. It's available right now!


Big Sky Mind retreat, September 9-16, 2005

montana

"I have never felt so close to a group of people in such a short period of time." Rob, NH.

"Meditating with others was wonderfully supportive. The experience was an inspirational adrenaline shot to my practice and my life." Rori, ME

"Participating in the Big Sky Mind Retreat is one of the most important things I have ever done. The chatter in my mind slowed enough to really be present to the moment. Sustaining that sweet state for several days was truly amazing." Karen, UT

Wildmind's Big Sky Mind retreat takes place twice a year -- in New England in the spring and in Montana in the fall. Now's a good time to think about booking a place for the September retreat, which runs from the 9th to the 16th, with a weekend option. As you'll see from the quotes from previous participants the retreat is a wonderful opportunity to practice intensive mindfulness meditation in a supportive environment under Bodhipaksa's guidance.

For more information on the retreat, including details on how to reserve a place, visit the website of the Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center, Missoula, Montana.

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.


 

dalai lama

Quote of the month

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

This simple statement summarizes 25 centuries of Buddhist insights into the nature of reality. But why should this quality of kindness be the one quality to which His Holiness condenses the entire body of Buddhist teachings?

All Buddhist practice is concerned with finding true happiness and wellbeing. What gets in the way of attaining this true happiness and wellbeing is the mind itself, or at least the delusions that the mind contains. A natural consequence of our evolutionary heritage is an assumption that our own happiness is in some way in conflict with that of others, and that if we can obstruct others' happiness we'll increase our own. It's as if we assume that happiness is a limited commodity, like a piece of fruit that can only be cut into so many slices. This is the fundamental delusion that causes the bulk of our suffering.

Yet experience shows that the greatest happiness we experience is related to connecting in a loving way with others in ways which are unrelated to a sense of competition or scarcity. Think about times you've been most happy in a close personal relationship -- with friends, a partner, or with children -- and ask the question, "Who was winning at that time?" The question simply doesn't make sense. It's when we've lost our sense that our own needs are in conflict with looking out for those of another that we feel most content. It's when we feel love and empathy -- when our sense of wellbeing is most connected with that of others -- that we are most fulfilled.

There's empirical evidence for this too. Experiments on long-term meditators have shown that the cultivation of compassion -- a concern for the wellbeing of others who are suffering -- activates those parts of the brain that are most associated with a sense of relaxation, happiness, and contentment. This might at first glance seem counterintuitive -- that contemplating others' suffering makes us happy -- but it's our connectedness that brings the sense of wellbeing and freedom from our own suffering, whether those with whom we feel emotionally connected are themselves experiencing joy, suffering, or something in between.

This sense of connectedness sometimes "just happens," but it "just happens" more often in those who actively cultivate it by practicing such meditations as the development of lovingkindness (metta bhavana), the development of compassion (karuna bhavana), and the Tibetan practice of Tonglen, or connecting with others by imagining that we're breathing in and transforming their suffering.

Kindness is a simple concept, but it is the distillation of all Buddhist practice -- letting go of our exclusive preoccupation with ourselves and increasingly letting other people in to our circle of concern so that we can dissolve our narrow sense of self and experience ourselves as part of an interconnected reality.

Bodhipaksa


book cover

Book of the month

A General Theory of Love
by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon ($11.16, paperback from Amazon.com)

Every book, if it is anything at all, is an argument: an articulate arrow of words, fledged and notched and newly anointed with sharpened stone, speeding through paragraphs to its shimmering target. This book--as it elucidates the shaping power or parental devotion, the biological reality of romance, the healing force of communal connection--argues for love. Turn the page, and the arrow is loosed. The heart it seeks is your own.

Not my words, unfortunately (would that I could write so well), but the concluding paragraph of the introduction to this extraordinarily well-crafted book on the neurophysiology and developmental psychology of human bonding. As someone who teaches meditation practices that augment our powers of connectedness I was fascinated to come across this distillation of the latest understanding of how love emerges and functions, but even more I was delighted by the beauty of the writing.

Drs. Lewis, Amini, and Lannon -- all professors of psychiatry at the UCSF School of Medicine -- look at the evolution of the human brain and convincingly demonstrate that an ability to sense the emotions of others is an inborn faculty of all mammals, including (of course) ourselves. They show how this connectedness shapes the very structure of the brain (not to mention our lives) and influences the body on the level of cellular chemistry: without human touch, for example, the immune response of young children falters and they simply die. They build their case in gripping detail, somehow managing to weave the clinical results of scientific studies into the fabric of their breathtakingly elegant prose. This arrow is well-crafted indeed: not only useful but ornamental.

The arrow of the text is aimed not only at our hearts, but at western society's (and especially America's) emotional dysfunction, with a thorough, if somewhat sweeping, analysis of the "reptilian" nature of modern corporations, which are frequently incapable of reciprocating to the bond that workers develop with them over years of effort; a critique of the curious assumption that parenting is something to be squeezed in to what little time remains after work; and an insiders look at the warped healthcare system that exists in the US, where Health Management Organizations (corporations with both eyes on the bottom line) rather than doctors decide on what treatments a patience can receive.

The authors make a strong case that it is the future of our very humanness that is at stake when our society ignores the emotional basis of the brain and overlooks how loving bonds quite literally shape the structure of our neuronal connections. When we neglect the emotional fabric of our society the individuals that society produces are no longer completely human.

The authors are convinced that the sometimes self-defeating neural pathways laid down in early life in the brain under the influence of malformed relationships can be rerouted. Old habits can be changed and the structure of the brain itself can be reinvented. Although as psychiatrists their primary model for neural realignment is therapy, it has been shown in scientific studies that pathways in the brain can be rewired through meditation as well.

But the overall message of the book is not hopeful. There are vast forces at work in modern society that ignore the importance of human relatedness in the ongoing quest from greater efficiency at work and in healthcare, and few signs that these trends are being much acknowledged as problems, never mind corrected. One can only hope that the powerful case the authors make for the importance of relatedness in the shaping of happy healthy human beings will provide a wake-up call and encourage us to value the heart as much as we do our intellects.

Bodhipaksa


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

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