Wildmind

Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200609.html

September 2006


Featured product

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"Meditation for Everyone" DVD ($19.99)

Once you get past the somewhat jarring intro music this DVD provides an excellent guide to the Mindfulness of Breathing practice. Narrated by the BBC's Mike Harding and with some impressive visuals.

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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 Schedule

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 September 5, 2006:
""The Path of Mindfulness and Love (4w)
""Change Your Mind (4w)
""Awakening the Heart (4w)
""Entering the Path of Insight (4w)
""Mindfulness in Daily Life (4w)
""Mindfulness at Work (4w)

Starting October 2, 2006

""The Path of Mindfulness and Love (4w)
""Change Your Mind (4w)
""Awakening the Heart (4w)
""Entering the Path of Insight (4w)
""Living the Skilful Life (8w)
""Karma, Rebirth, and the Psychology of the Six Realms (8w)


Seven Great Reasons to take a meditation course online:

  1. Personal attention: 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 discussions with your teacher and gain insights from learning new practices, you’ll take your meditation practice to new levels of effectiveness.
  3. Quality: Access to outstanding written and audiovisual materials online.
  4. Support: You’ll benefit from the discipline of a structured 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,

In this month's issue, we bring you our usual monthly round-up of the latest international news on meditation. There's a bumper crop of stories this month, and we hope you'll enjoy this glimpse at the breadth of ways that meditation is being applied.

We also bring you a book review by a renowned Buddhist teacher, and our usual quote of the month and commentary.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere the autumn is rapidly returning with its invitation to turn inwards, so please take note of our online courses in meditation and Buddhism. This month we're pleased to announce a new course on Mindfulness at Work, led by Saddhamala.

Enjoy!


In this issue:

  • Autumn course schedule
  • Meditation in the news
  • Buddhism Behind Bars project
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

Autumn Course Schedule

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 course schedule is getting into gear and details can be found in the column to the left. Two new courses, led by Saccanama, will be launched in October (because of a family bereavement this is later than originally planned).

Starting September 5

The Path of Mindfulness and Love: Sunada continues to offer Wildmind's own four-week courses, including this systematic introduction to two meditation practices that help us develop calmness, awareness, and a more patient and kind attitude.

Sunada also teaches our courses for students already familiar with these practices:

Change Your Mind: An in-depth guide to cultivating positive states of mind and working with the "hindrances" of anxiety, ill will, craving, doubt, and lack of energy.

Awakening the Heart: A guide to cultivating the Brahmaviharas, which are lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Entering the Path of Insight: A guide to several traditional insight meditation practices.

Make sure you book your place now.

sunada
Sunada

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

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.

Mindfulness at Work: A new four-week online course from Saddhamala that explores mindfulness, Buddhist ethics and principles of right livelihood. Mindfulness at Work examines how we think about our work, who we are at work and ways we can make work part of our spiritual practice.

saddhamala
Saddhamala

Starting October 2

Living the Skillful Life: The first in a series, taught by Saccanama, exploring the key Buddhist teachings symbolized by the image known as the Wheel of Life. This eight-week course explores the nature of Buddhist psychology and Buddhist ethics and provides tools for compassionate living.

Karma, Rebirth, and the Psychology of the Six Realms: The second of Saccanama's eight-week courses explores important Buddhist teachings regarding Buddhist psychology, cosmology, and ethics.

saccanama
Saccanama

Saccanama's teaching style is characterized by both depth and clarity. 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 either of Saccanama's courses is ideal for you.


Meditation in the News

Aug 29 Simple stress busters (The Detroit News) Mindful meditation, which involves focusing fully on what is happening in the present, allows you to choose what you pay attention to.

Aug 29 Tuning into sounds of silence (Channel NewsAsia) Meditation is a practice that involves calming your mind and body.

Aug 28 Sacred space: The whole world in my hands (Marin Independent Journal) We were all at a one-day meditation retreat and our assignment for lunch was to eat in silence and be mindful of our food.

Aug 28 Alternate healing loses help (The Record) There is a stigma attached to her alternative treatments for addiction, which favor acupuncture and meditation over methadone and other tried-and-true methods.

Aug 28 Tibet's culture, plight are shared at TibetFest (The Seattle Times) At the age of 13 Khechog became a Buddhist monk and lived in a monastery in the Himalayan Mountains, studying meditation, music and the teachings of Buddhism.

Aug 27 Clad in a world of discipline (Sunday Herald) Why do monks wear loose flowing robes?

Aug 26 Healthy living course cuts staff absence (EDP24 Business) Staff were taught about coping with stress, relaxation and meditation skills.

Aug 26 At home with Theresa Liu (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Where others might have a sitting room, she creates a meditation room.

Aug 26 Meditation isn't wacko, it really helps (Poughkeepsie Journal) My mother meditates every day, for two hours. She loves to sit still, follow her breath and see what wonders lie within her center.

Aug 24 Getting all psychic (SFGate.com) Meditation focuses your attention. Attention is the vehicle for your intention.

Aug 22 Finding faith (The Shorthorn) Everything in life is dependant on our state of mind.

Aug 22 Just starting your business? Remember the importance of self-renewal (USA Today) Give the mind a regular break. This can include anything that settles the chatter of the mind from meditation to watching a sun rise or set. Don't think, just watch.

Aug 22 East meets the West End (50connect.co.uk) Yoga deals with both the mind as well as the body so this ancient eastern system can help relive many health nuances from hot flushes to stress, sciatica to high blood pressure.

Aug 21 Blue Canyon Country Club’s fusion of meditation and golf hits a hole-in-one (e-travel Blackboard) Schmaedick has a wealth of experience as a psychotherapist and as a Vipassana meditation teacher.

Aug 21 Dalai Lama arrives in Mongolia for low-key trip (msnbc.com) He is expected to hold several public lectures and meetings with Buddhist clergy.

Aug 21 Meditation plan for terminally ill (icWales.co.uk) A North Wales businesswoman is aiming to set up one of the first companies in the UK to offer meditation to the elderly and terminally ill.

Aug 20 Vancouver's bid to stifle protest raises questions (The Epoch Times) The [Chinese] communist regime has sought to eliminate Falun Gong, a meditation practice that swept China in the nineties, concerned that it had grown too popular.

Aug 20 Breathe deep, play well: Can yoga aid music study? (The Boston Globe) The class is part of a unique collaboration between Tanglewood, Kripalu, and Harvard Medical School, which is studying the effects of yoga on the musicians' performance.

Aug 20 Why I've pitched my tent in the cathedral (The Sunday Times) Forty pilgrims, crowded into St John’s Chapel inside York Minster, join him in his vigil: reciting prayers, sitting in meditation, lighting candles, hoping for the best.

Aug 17 Garden Grove Buddhist congregation jostles with city for space (The Orange County Register) The city's desire for offices, residents' desire for quiet and Buddhists' desire to worship all enter into a lawsuit.

Aug 16 Krishna consciousness: tracing ISKCON's roots (NDTV.com) While yoga, meditation and spirituality have become quite a fad abroad, there are those who continue to be part of the sub-culture because they truly believe in it.

Aug 15 Bigger hearts from meditation (Cambridge Times) In 1999, a Buddhist monk moved to Canada and has since discovered something 'shocking' about people in this country: kids haven't been taught to use their hearts.

Aug 15 Self-esteem using Buddhist meditation class offered (TheUnion.com) Konvalin and Barrow have based the course on the book, 'Radical acceptance: Embracing life with the heart of a Buddha,' by Tara Brach, Ph.D.

Aug 15 Tips to keep off the Freshman 15 (NorthJersey.com) Manage stress by doing deep breathing and meditation as well as physical activity. You'll stay healthier and eat less, too.

Aug 14 Meditation: A balancing act (Hindustan Times) The concept of meditation is as old as civilization. Saints and seers have taken refuge in solitude and meditation.

Aug 13 Complete serenity: Mindful healing stretch and strengthen spiritual renewal (RedOrbit.com) No matter which kind of yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates class you take, you can expect to feel its effects on your mind, body and spirit.

Aug 11 Breaking through barriers (Estes Park trail-Gazette) For the last two years, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has led a major U.S. tour, which included a retreat in Colorado that attracted over 800 participants each time.

Aug 11 It's great when you meditate at event (The Evening Telegraph) Hundreds of stressed city shoppers got the chance to relax with a free meditation day.

Aug 10 Tommy Chong (LA City Beat) It wasn't 'til years and years later that I read a book by Joel Goldsmith, The Mystical I, and he went into the depth of meditating with your mind on God.

Aug 10 How to teach kids walking meditation (BellaOnline) Walking with a child or group of children is a perfect time to teach them about walking meditation.

Aug 9 Ayurveda for good health and illness prevention (ippmedia.com) Ayurveda emphasizes good health and prevention of illness through lifestyle practices (such as massage, meditation, yoga, and dietary changes) and the use of herbal remedies.

Aug 9 Equal parts blisters and enlightenment (The Washington Post) Most days, he'd start out feeling one with the universe.

Aug 9 transcendental Meditation reduces the brain's reaction to pain (EurekAlert) Twelve healthy long-term meditators who had been practicing transcendental Meditation for 30 years showed a 40-50% lower brain response to pain compared to 12 healthy controls.

Aug 8 Power yoga turns up the heat on relaxation (Anchorage Daily News) Designed to strengthen muscles and empty the mind of stress, power yoga's popularity is flourishing nationwide.

Aug 8 The mechanisms and therapeutic applications of meditation (South African Journal of Natural Medicine) Concentration meditation elicits a psychobiological state that is characterized by specific neurological and peripheral physiological changes associated with cellular/molecular relaxation.

Aug 8 Hospice worker lives for moment (The Arizona Daily Star) Confronted with the mortality of others you can't help but be confronted with your own mortality and the natural response to that is to try and live your life fully in the moment to the best of your ability.

Aug 7 Clear your mind (RedOrbit.com) In short, meditation is the ability to relax the mind and give it freedom to be.

Aug 6 Self-Realization Fellowship celebrates 60th anniversary of 'Autobiography of a Yogi' (The Los Angeles Times) Yogananda's teaching blended Christianity and the 2nd century Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a yoga school of philosophy stressing nonviolence, self-discipline, physical exercises, breath control and meditation.

Aug 6 HSC pressure points to yoga (The Sydney Morning Herald) Stressed HSC students are turning to relaxation strategies in a bid to overcome their anxieties.

Aug 5 Lecture examines Buddhist traditions (The Daily Press) In the Buddhist tradition, positive mental and emotional states that enhance health and well-being can be cultivated through meditation.

Aug 3 Community Meditation promotes peace (The Olympian) The Community Meditation is the fulfillment of a personal vision of people gathering in silence - working for peace for ourselves, our neighbors, our community and our world.

Aug 2 Spiritual leader to visit Denver for Peace Jam (Rocky Mountain News) The Dalai Lama's speech on Sept. 17 at the Pepsi Center is sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute.

Aug 1 Deb Shapiro on meditation (Snowmass Village Sun) [Meditation] creates this peacefulness that stays with you all day.


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. The book will be a compilation of writings by inmates and prison volunteers about how meditation and Buddhist practice have transformed lives.

This project provides educational opportunities 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. Giving $100 to this project will provide a writing tutor to help an inmate articulate his or her experience of practicing Buddhism in prison.

We will also make copies of Buddhism Behind Bars available free of charge to inmates. Giving $10 will pay to produce one copy of the book and ship it to an inmate.

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.


Dr Johnson

Quote of the Month

"The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove." -- Samuel Johnson.

There are some things in life we can change. There are some things in life we cannot change. Knowing which is which is the key to our wellbeing.

Dr. Johnson was not a man to mince his words, and offers us one of his typically bracing edicts. It may strike us at first as being somewhat of an overstatement to suggest that desiring to change something other than ourselves will bring unhappiness rather than the happiness we seek, but the good Doctor, as usual, is very astute.

When we begin by assuming that the cause of happiness or unhappiness lies outside of the mind, we make a fundamental and tragic error. This is a viewpoint that has been held by religious and philosophical leaders for millennia and which is also borne out by scientific research.

It seems that each of us has a "happiness set point" -- a kind of hedonic thermostat -- to which the mind tends to gravitate. From day to day our happiness may fluctuate on either side of this set point, so that one day we are pleased or elated while the next we are disgruntled or depressed. But on the whole our level of happiness will tend to settle down around our hedonic set point, just as water slopping around in a shaken glass will find its own level.

So although we may direct our energies to "fixing" the outside world in order to remove sources of irritation or to fulfill our desires, in the long term this will make no real difference to our level of happiness. We may be ecstatic to win a fortune in the lottery, but a year later we'll be back at that set point of happiness. Similarly, we may be devastated by an injury or illness, but some time later we'll adapt and be just as happy (or unhappy) as we were before.

Our individual hedonic set point may well be influenced by our genes, but genes are not destiny and our attitudes also play a major role in how we experience life. It is within that we must look if we are to find greater levels of happiness in the long run.

Those who meditate have been shown to demonstrate long term increased levels of wellbeing and rewiring of the brain with increased activity in those parts of the frontal cortex associated with happiness.

We can't choose the things that happen to us in life, but we can learn -- through developing mindfulness -- to respond differently to those events. By developing more patience, kindness and, perhaps above all, a greater appreciation of impermanence, we can learn to adapt to life's challenges more elegantly and in ways that lead to less suffering. This is not to say that we can't make changes in the outside world or that such changes will make no difference to our sense of wellbeing. But if we seek to change our environment without changing ourselves, then we are in for a difficult time.

- Bodhipaksa


book cover

Book Review

The State of Mind Called Beautiful,
by Sayadaw U Pandita (Wisdom Publications, 2006, $16.95)

Visiting in the 90s, I heard U Pandita speak at IMS during a three-month retreat. His key image was a dying tree, its water supply cut off. It was actually a recommendation: remove the causes of kilesa (unwholesome reaction), and kill the kilesa tree. I found the image upsetting. Yet I was impressed with the man.

Kate Wheeler, who edits this new book, calls Sayadaw 'a Buddhist version of fire and brimstone.' His style is certainly hard-hitting. Indeed, without the funny anecdotes in her preface showing his sincerity and depth of insight, one could take offence at Sayadaw's moral injunctions, even dismiss him as simplistic: but one would be quite wrong.

What makes this book new and special is Sayadaw's lively communication of the moral dimension of meditation training. Chapter One is an overview of Dharma training in which we are shown how lack of moral sensitivity "chars" and darkens the mind, making us reckless of the disturbing consequences of moral breaches. Sayadaw is particularly clear on the dark inner detail of our personal kilesas. For example: "if that person appears to be happily getting away with what they have done, one may well decide to take matters into one's own hands, gaining satisfaction even from petty meannesses such as ignoring them."

Writers on meditation rarely go into this territory, perhaps because of the popular wrong view that meditation is a one-stop practice through which we simply get high, bypassing any need for ethical consideration. Some meditation teachers feel that since people are generally good hearted, it is inappropriate to stress Buddhist ethics or precepts. This seems to be something of an avoidance. The reality is that the awareness induced by meditation often exposes our petty-mindedness in the most humiliating way.

Pointing out that nearly all of our outer problems are in fact caused by kilesa, in the following two chapters U Pandita presents two "Guardian" meditations that in particular protect from moral defilement. According to him, the essence of the first, the Buddha-anussati or recollection of the Buddha's virtues, is the recognition that the Buddha is an enlightened being. We approach this recognition through a detailed enumeration of exactly why Buddhas are so amazing. This includes an illuminating discussion of the importance, for any Dharma teacher, of developing both wisdom and compassion. Sayadaw also comments interestingly on the relationship between a general lack of moral training and current world politics.

Metta or loving kindness, and the other brahmaviharas (compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity), are given detailed treatment. Issues such as the distinction between metta and selfish love (tanha-pema), and the near and far enemies of each stage of practice, are tackled in the context of each of the brahmavihara meditations. This chapter is very useful for practitioners of meditation and would on its own justify buying the book.

Chapters four and five are at least as useful, since here U Pandita gives an excellent presentation of insight meditation. Chapter four contains notes on helpful attitudes to practice, qualities necessary for success, suggestions for retreat schedules, and some basic instructions.

Chapter five is a "Technical Discussion of Satipatthana Vipassana" which is pure upadesha, commentary on practice arising straight from the master's experience. I found this to be the best part of the book, offering much to reflect on. Sayadaw manages to communicate here his deep passion for mindfulness and insight, making it into an exciting prospect - it's a rare and inspiring gift he has.

The book concludes with a Question/Answer session and a Pali-English glossary.

Kamalashila is a Dharma teacher in the UK and author of Meditation - the Buddhist Way of tranquillity and Insight.


Copyright (c) 2006, Wildmind Meditation Services.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.
1-8777-MEDIT8

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