Aug 30, 2012
At the end of a daylong meditation workshop, Pam, a woman in her late sixties, drew me aside. Her husband, Jerry, was near death after three years of suffering from lymphoma. “I wanted so much to save him,” she told me. “I looked into ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, every alternative treatment I could find, tracked every test result . . . We were going to beat this thing.” She sat back wearily in her chair, shoulders slumped. “And now I’m keeping in touch with everyone, giving updates, coordinating hospice care. If he’s not napping I try to make him comfortable, read to him . . .”
I responded gently, … Read more »
Aug 11, 2012
“We have been raised to fear … our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for … many facets of our own oppression.” – Audre Lourde
In the myth of Eden, God created the garden and dropped the tree of knowledge, with its delicious and dangerous fruits, right smack dab in the middle. He then deposited some humans close by and forbade these curious, fruit-loving creatures from taking a taste. It was a set up. Eve naturally grasped at the fruit and then was shamed and punished for having done so.
We experience … Read more »
Jun 29, 2012
Many years ago when I was pregnant with my son, I decided to have a home birth without drugs, assisted by a midwife. My hope was to be as wakeful and present as possible during the birth, and while I knew the pain would be intense, I trusted that my meditation and yoga practices would help me to “go with the flow.”
When labor began I was rested and ready. Knowing that resisting the pain of contractions only made them worse, I relaxed with them, breathing, making sounds without inhibition, letting go as my body’s intelligence took over. Like any animal, I was unthinkingly immersed, instinctively responding to the drama … Read more »
Rick Hanson PhD
Jun 26, 2012
We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.
Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals – including us – have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.
It’s certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.
But it’s also important to see how this focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.
It’s confused because the brain:
- Overestimates both the pleasure of future gains and the pain of future losses. (This evolved to
Jun 23, 2012
Sometimes when I talk about Radical Acceptance, I like to tell the story about Jacob, a man who at almost seventy and in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease attended a 10-day retreat I was leading.
A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than twenty years, Jacob was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks—cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place.
A couple of days into the … Read more »
Nov 30, 2011
The four reminders are:
- our lives are precious
- we are not immortal
- our actions have consequences and
- we can learn to transcend pain.
These reminders can make a difference in how we live our lives, if we keep them in mind and reflect on them each day.
1. The preciousness of life – our lives are precious and our physical and mental health, energy, freedom, food, and money give us opportunities to make the most of each and every day. So each day, we might ask ourselves, … Read more »
Aug 30, 2011
You can’t read much about the important quality of mindfulness without learning that it involves being nonjudgmental – that it involves setting aside discriminations and simply accepting our experience.
For example, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s informal definition of mindfulness (from Wherever You Go, There You Are) reads: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
I use that kind of language myself sometimes, but I also notice that it’s subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, misleading.
Certainly, mindfulness has a quality of equanimity about it. Equanimity is a quality of calmness and composure. To give a negative example, I was recently leading a … Read more »
Aug 22, 2011
This is an invitation to download some free MP3s of my teaching.
This week I’m doing a lot of meditation teaching at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in New Hampshire, and I’ve been recording the meditation sessions and uploading them to a Dropbox account.
Most of the recordings are from 30 to 50 minutes long. I’ve been introducing the Mindfulness of Breathing, Development of Lovingkindness, and Walking Meditation practices. The overall theme is a phrase from the Pali canon, “Abiding in Ease, Here and Now,” and the meditations encourage a sense of spacious relaxation into the moment, with the emphasis on acceptance and equanimity.
If you’d like to download these, just post … Read more »
Jan 07, 2010
In this short video, Inspired Entrepreneur Nick Williams talks with Srimati, a former member of the Western Buddhist Order, about the relationship between spirituality and business, and how love and fear are opposed tendencies in both worlds as judgment and rejection of parts of ourselves.
Apr 24, 2009
Henri Matisse: “When we speak of nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of nature.”
If science is about the study of cause and effect in the physical world, meditation is, Bodhipaksa argues, a form of inner science that helps us to understand how to avoid creating pain for ourselves and others.
Matisse said: “When we speak of nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.”
Although Matisse was an artist rather than a scientist, he has a lot to say to those of us who are interested … Read more »