Wildmind

Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200605.html

May 2006


Featured product

body scan cd

Body Scan: Managing Pain, Illness, and Stress With Guided Mindfulness Meditation. The Body Scan teaches a meditation practice that helps us to develop habits of greater ease and awareness of the body. The pain management techniques taught by this teacher are clinically proven to be effective. ($14.95) Also available in MP3 format.

Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"The readings were very thought provoking and gave me glimpses of insight and direction. But the most rewarding parts were your insights and encouragement. I feel renewed in my determination to continue down this path whole-heartedly. Thank you very much."


Course Schedules

Plan ahead if you're interested in taking one of our courses! You can sign up for any course at any time.

Upcoming course dates are:

Starting May 1, 2006:

The Path of Mindfulness and Love (4w)
Change Your Mind (4w)
Awakening the Heart (4w)
Entering the Path of Insight (4w)

Starting May 15, 2006:

Living the Skillful Life (8w)
Mindfulness in Daily Life (8w)

Starting June 4, 2006:

The Path of Mindfulness and Love (4w)
Change Your Mind (4w)
Awakening the Heart (4w)
Entering the Path of Insight (4w)

Starting September 5, 2006:

""The Path of Mindfulness and Love (4w)
""Change Your Mind (4w)
""Awakening the Heart (4w)
""Entering the Path of Insight (4w)
""Living the Skillful Life (8w)
""Karma, Rebirth, and the Psychology of the Six Realms (8w)
""Conditionality: The Central Teaching of Buddhism (8w)
""Mindfulness in Daily Life (4w)


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. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll
  3. Depth: As you reflect in your journal, get feedback, and gain new insights, you’ll take your meditation practice to a new level of effectiveness.
  4. Quality: Access to outstanding written and audiovisual materials online.
  5. Support: You’ll benefit from the discipline of a structured four-week course.
  6. Convenience: Log on when you want, fitting classes into your schedule when it’s convenient.
  7. Flexibility: Download audio files that will guide you through meditation at any time.
  8. Availability: There are many opportunities each year to take a course. See the dates above for details.

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

In this month's issue, we bring you our usual monthly round-up of the latest international news on meditation -- including stories about meditation's effectiveness in dealing with depression, anxiety ... and driving!

We are also delighted to announce some long-awaited new courses on Wildmind, including one course on Buddhism and another on Mindfulness in Daily Life. We'll be announcing more courses later this year. We also bring you two book reviews and well as our usual quote of the month and commentary.

Enjoy!


In this issue:

  • New online courses from Wildmind!
  • Our new policy: courses by donation
  • Meditation in the news
  • Buddhism Behind Bars project
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • CD of the month

New online courses on Wildmind

We're delighted to tell you that we're expanding our course offerings, with a new course on Mindfulness in Daily Life, led by Saddhamala, and Living the Skillful Life, one of three courses exploring the Buddhist symbol known as the Wheel of Life, designed and taught by Saccanama.

May 15 for four weeks: Mindfulness in Daily Life is a guide to bringing more awareness into your everyday activities. The course includes weekly guided meditations, practical exercises to bring more clarity and mindfulness into your daily schedule, a discussion forum, and personal guidance and feedback from Saddhamala, who has a reputation as a gentle and compassionate teacher.

saddhamala
Saddhamala

May 15 for eight weeks: Living the Skillful Life is the first in a series exploring the key Buddhist teachings symbolized by the image known as the Wheel of Life. This course explores the nature of Buddhist psychology and Buddhist ethics and provides tools for compassionate living. It is taught by Saccanama. Saccanama's course material is characterized by both depth and clarity.

saccanama
Saccanama

If you practice meditation and want to know more about Buddhism, or even if you are just curious to find out what Buddhism really has to say, then this course is ideal for you.

May 1 for four weeks: Sunada continues to offer our own four-week courses, including our introduction to meditation, The Path of Mindfulness and Love, which provides a systematic introduction to the anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) and metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness) practices. Sunada also teaches our courses for students already familar with these practices: Change Your Mind, Awakening the Heart, and Entering the Path of Insight.These are all four week courses.

Make sure you book your place now.

Sunada is an experienced teacher who has been meditating for over ten years. Having established her own practice while working full-time in high tech and then in arts administration, she understands the challenges of balancing a meditation practice with a busy life.

sunada
Sunada

About our courses

All of our courses offer a content-rich and interactive experience, with online readings, multimedia content such as guided meditations in MP3 or RealAudio format that you can download to your computer, a discussion forum, and personal guidance 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 new policy: courses by donation

We've decided to make our courses available by donation. traditionally, Buddhist monks and nuns went from door to door, where householders would donate food to help support them. And the monks and nuns would practice meditation and give teachings. The alms that householders were giving were not regarded as "payment" for the teachings they received.

We think that an "economy" based on mutual giving is a beautiful ideal and we've decided to emulate that. So now, rather than having fixed charges for our courses we have suggested donations, based on how much it costs to support a teacher and the infrastucture that we need in order to teach. Generally, for a four-week course this comes to $90, while for an eight-week course it's about $150.

Students are free to give more or less, depending on their circumstances. We're going to try this policy on an experimental basis for a few months and see how it goes!


Meditation in the News

Apr 22 In faith and in peace (Philadelphia Inquirer) Members of the Lilac Breeze Sangha meditation group seek internal peace and presence of mind.

Apr 21 Tackle stress the Tibetan way (Vancouver 24 hours) Ancient strategies for dealing with stress are as relevant now as they were centuries ago.

Apr 20 Meditation and anxiety (San Francisco Bay Times) Anxiety is an anticipatory response—it's always about the future. [Meditation] train[s] our minds to focus on the present.

Apr 20 Seminar leaders call meditation key for schools (Colorado Springs Gazette) Organizers hope the educators will encourage their districts to consider TM programs.

Apr 19 The way of oneness (The Boston Globe) It's a journey occurring more frequently among African-Americans as some Buddhist communities nationally begin working on diversifying their membership.

Apr 19 Watching the brain switch off 'self' (EurekAlert) Everybody has experienced a sense of "losing oneself" in an activity--whether a movie, sport, sex, or meditation.

Apr 17 At first a doubter, but now a believer in meditation (Marin Independent Journal) Many years before I had learned to meditate; that is, to make my mind as "still as the flame of a candle in a windless place."

Apr 15 Calm amidst chaos (Toronto Star) Meditation can be a modern remedy for the ills of contemporary life in a culture obsessed with winning, doing and accumulating.

Apr 15 Dalai Lama seeks to improve image of Islam in U.S. (San Francisco Chronicle) The enemy is not out there, the enemy is within. How we see religion is in our mind. But religion itself is the truth: peace and harmony.

Apr 13 Social worker uses meditation therapy (WFSB Channel 3) In search of a method to treat her clients' depression, Elizabeth Hale-Rose has reached back some 2,500 years.

Apr 11 Meditate, aid heart and mood (The Arizona Republic) People who meditate regularly may find that the practice yields many subtle benefits.

Apr 10 Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on this moment (Chicago Enterprise-Record) Meditation doesn't mean going after the good things and getting away from the bad. It means coming to terms with things as they are.

Apr 10 Buddhist brings message of inner calm to Ridgewood (North Jersey Media Group) Self-absorption prevents us from connecting with what is the incredible reality of our lives.

Apr 9 Stress relief through meditation gains focus (The Boston Globe) Ancient meditation techniques are finding new appeal among employees who have grown tired of the frazzled, pressured tenor of work today.

Apr 9 Getting into our minds (CBS News) We're talking about something that's universal. Paying attention, and awareness are universal capacities of human beings.

Apr 8 Small town finds Yogi's disciples 'not so scary' (The Kansas City Star) Their commonality seems to be they like this meditation method for dealing with stresses in their life.

Apr 7 Spirituality can soothe body and soul (HealthDay News) Wherever your spirituality or a positive outlook on life comes from, research indicates there are real health benefits.

Apr 5 Dalai Lama and researchers collaborate in mix of meditation and neuroscience (San Diego Union-tribune) Neuroscientist Fred Gage took a leap of faith and flew to India to present a lecture to the Dalai Lama.

Apr 4 Meditation and mindfulness: tools for controlling unhealthy eating habits (The Medical Post) For patients with out-of-control eating habits, meditation training may be more effective than nutritional advice.

Apr 3 AM meditation calms drivers (The Patiot Ledger) On the Fore River Bridge, turn the dial to 1610 AM for a few minutes of relaxation via meditation therapy.


buddhism behind bars

 

Support the Buddhism Behind Bars project

Buddhism Behind Bars is a book that Wildmind plans to publish in late 2006 or early 2007. It will be a compilation of writings by inmates and prison volunteers about how meditation and Buddhist practice have transformed lives. We're making this project an educational opportunity for inmates. Each writer is assigned a writing mentor who will help the prisoner to find his voice in order to tell his story effectively.

We will also make copies of Buddhism Behind Bars available free of charge to inmates. To help us reach as many inmates as possible, please consider making a donation to support our work.


begging monk

Support our translation project

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting mindfulness and compassion 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 are tax deductible and go to our translation fund, which aims to help us translate Wildmind into other languages. We now have French, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian versions of the site online, and a Polish version is in preparation.


Albert Einstein

Quote of the Month

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe' -- a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
Albert Einstein

In the Buddhist mediation called the Six Element Practice, we reflect in turn on each of the six elements -- the four physical elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air -- plus Space and Consciousness.

In each case we reflect on the presence of the element within our being: for example, with Earth we note the presence of bone, tissue, teeth, hair, etc.

We then reflect on the element outside of ourselves; in this case we consider rocks, stones, earth, buildings, plants, the bodies of other beings, etc.

Then we note how everything that is in us that pertains to the element under consideration came from the element outiside. Originally our body started as the fusion of one cell from our mother and another from our father—neither of whom was us. Then our body grew as our mother passed on nutrients that she'd ingested from the outside world. Again, those nutrients weren't us. Later, we ate on our own, but still everything that went into building up the body was and is merely borrowed from the outside world.

Finally, for each element we recollect that everything in us that is that element is constantly returning to the outside world. Our muscles and other tissues, and even our bones, are constantly dissolving and being rebuilt (which is why your muscles and bones waste away through inactivity). We lose hairs, shed skin cells, and have to make regular trips to the bathroom to rid ourselves of waste. All of this returns to the world outside us and to the wider element. And when we die, we stop even trying to hold on. Everything that was "us" returns to the wider element.

This practice is completely liberating. It frees us from the "prison," as Einstein called it, of the delusion that we are separate from the universe. We come to realize instead that we are nothing but interrelatedness, that we exist only in relation to the world, including other people, and that we have no separate existence in any real sense. We are completely and inseparably connected on a physical, mental, and emotional level with other beings. The six element practice gives us a realization of this truth—a realization that goes far beyond the intellectual—and other Buddhist practices such as the Brahmaviharas help to ignite the emotions of relationship that follow from this insight into interconnectedness, widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature.

- Bodhipaksa


book cover

Book Review

The Attention Revolution - Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind, by B. Alan Wallace, PH.D.

(Wisdom Publications, 2006)

The Attention Revolution is a thorough outline of the stages leading to the achievement of shamatha—full mental stabilization—according to Indo-Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Anyone buying the book in the hope of a quick fix, though, is fairly soon put right. The achievement of shamatha, Wallace tells us, is liable to involve "five to ten thousand hours of training—of eight hours each day for fifty weeks in the year."

At this point I nearly stopped reading. I live in a meditation retreat centre, but even my lifestyle allows for nothing like this amount of meditation—and how much more so for people who have "normal" lives. But I'm glad that I persevered. The book is, in fact, a useful and stimulating resource for experienced meditators, while for those newer to meditation it gives an interesting and sometimes inspiring overview.

I'm aware from personal experience that the shamatha states of "access" concentration and "the first meditative stabilization" (dhyana) are more readily accessible than the book suggests. The extraordinary levels of shamatha to which long-term full time training can give rise are beyond the scope of all but a very few, but I'd contest that a level of shamatha consistent with effective cultivation of insight is accessible to those with a regular, but not full-time practice, especially if this includes regular periods of meditation retreat.

The book is structured around each of Kamalashila's ten stages of meditation, with interludes outlining important supportive practices such as the Brahma Viharas. There are also some instructions on how to achieve lucid dreaming as a basis for dream yoga—making the dream state a basis for insight. In fact, it becomes obvious as the book proceeds that shamatha and insight (vipashyana) are increasingly inseparable.

Bearing in mind the reservations above, there is a great deal of valuable material packed into a relatively short book. While the full path that it describes would require extensive practice under a qualified teacher, the book contains much that could enrich the practice of anyone who already meditates regularly.

Tejananda has been practicing meditation for over 30 years and is chair of the Vajraloka Buddhist Meditation Retreat Center in Wales.


book cover

Book Review

Meditation and Relaxation in Plain English, by Bob Sharples. Wisdom Publications, 2006.

Meditation is a vast field, offering many methods and approaches, and it can be difficult to know where to begin and how to make meditation an integral part of our life. Bob Sharples has written a book that will surely help.

Meditation and Relaxation begins by asking the fundamental question, "Why meditate?" Why, indeed? Meditation, especially meditation based on relaxation, is helpful for those who struggle with difficult life problems or chronic pain and other health concerns. But there is much more. Meditation can open our heart, awaken and transform our minds.

The potential for meditation to improve our life experience is presented with a dose of realism. Meditation will call for discipline, regularity, and commitment. In addition, suggestions are given about practicing with a teacher or a group, making time for practice, what location is best, posture, and what type of practice to try.

The instructions in this book are encouraging and empowering. Sharples says we must make the practices our own, finding our own imagery and symbols for the visual practices, and selecting the most meaningful wording as we guide ourselves through meditation.

Sharples has included ten guided exercises and meditations: guiding our focus to the breath; mindfulness of the body, feelings, emotions, and the mind; the four immeasurables; and a contemplation on life and death. These may get us started with meditation, but have a depth that experienced meditators will also appreciate.

Many methods for healing are described, and an awareness of the body-mind connection is present throughout. Sharples clearly understands how the body and mind "speak'" to each other, and the author's background in working with cancer patients and their families is evident.

For its guidance and kind encouragement this book should have a place on many meditators' bookshelves.

Amala is the director of Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, NH, where she teaches meditation. She has an interest in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and has completed the MBSR practicum at UMass Medical Center.


Copyright © 2006, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.
1-8777-MEDIT8

If you were forwarded this newsletter by a friend and want to sign up, you can join our mailing list here.