New beginnings

February 26, 2015

Green seedlingThere’s a 50/50 chance that you made some New Year resolutions a couple of months ago; there’s an even better chance that you’ve already abandoned them. Or perhaps you’re one of the people who never makes New Year resolutions because you’ve learned through experience that they’re forgotten almost as soon as they’re created.

Whether we make resolutions or not, we see each new year as an opportunity for new beginnings: not just new years, but new months, new weeks, and new days. Our lives are full of new beginnings. But the most significant new beginnings take place at a much finer scale.

When we meditate, for example, we’re forever catching the mind having gone off … Read more »

Energize, Inspire, Enjoy

October 22, 2014

Young woman enjoying sunlight with raised armsRecently I offered a mantra that can accompany the out-breathing: Relax, Rest, Reveal. These words encourage us, respectively, to let go of unnecessary tensions in the body, to let go of unnecessary mental effort, and to be open and receptive to whatever is arising in our experience.

I’d like now to offer a corresponding mantra for the in-breathing: Energize, Inspire, Enjoy. As with the previous mantra, each of the words has a specific function.

“Energize” connects us with the natural energy of the in-breath. Inhalation is dominated by the sympathetic nervous system, which isn’t always about “fight or flight” but is involved in any physical or emotional arousal. It’s no coincidence that we take … Read more »

Guided meditation: mindfulness of breathing

August 18, 2013

bodhipaksaThe video below is another recording from one of the Google Plus Hangout meditations that I lead from time to time.

This one is a form of the mindfulness of breathing. It follows the traditional form that’s taught on this site, but with more of an emphasis on setting up conditions for the jhana factors to arise.

I incorporate a few elements which have become distinctive in my teaching: the principle of paying attention to a broad band of experiences connected with the breathing, so that we use up as much mental bandwidth as possible in order to reduce distracted thinking. This week I add a little twist, which is paying attention to … Read more »