Jun 17, 2011
A lot of the time in meditation our experience is of distractions relentlessly colonizing our attention. We set off to follow the sensations of the breathing, but after some time we come to realize that we haven’t been paying attention to the breath at all. We realize that we’ve been caught up in some inner drama, or that we’ve been turning over thoughts in the mind. What were we thinking about, exactly? Often it’s hard to say. Our distractions are often dream-like, and as we “awaken” into a more mindful state they often slip away from us, as do our dreams when we wake in the morning. We …
Jun 13, 2011
My first read of The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body, by Dr. Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins, generated mild interest in the science behind Dr. Fehmi’s techniques and descriptions of case studies using the techniques.
However, the night I listened to the guided exercises on the attached CD, I had one of the most relaxed, light, and blissful experiences I’ve had in the last eleven years as a serious meditator.
I was able to reach a state I’ve only accessed during long silent meditation retreats.
The Buddhist concept of emptiness came vividly alive in my body, whereas before it had been mostly an …
Apr 22, 2011
This photograph was taken on a recent retreat.
I love the tenderness of the little bird sitting in the Buddha’s left hand as he meditates. It says something about the gentle kind of effort that’s required in meditation. An image I used to use in my teaching — but which I had forgotten about until this moment — was that the quality of effort we use in meditation aims toward the kind of effort we’d make in holding a baby bird. We don’t want to hold our attention so firmly that we crush our sensitivity, but we also don’t want to hold our attention so gently that the object …
Nov 20, 2010
Our minds are very busy and often seem to have a “mind” of their own. If you have meditated, you are aware of how busy the mind can be. We sit down to meditate and attempt to quiet the mind. We focus on our breathing and try to make the breath the focus of our concentration. Did I say “concentration”? When we are quiet, sitting in meditation rather than doing what we usually do, we realize how difficult quieting the mind can be. We start thinking about the myriad of things we have to do, a comment someone made, an action someone took, a worry, a story line, what the weather will …
Aug 05, 2010
I’ve been meaning to mention an article I read recently in the Harvard Business Review, called How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking. It’s by Peter Bregman, and it explains, as the title suggests, how and why he stopped multitasking and started paying attention to one thing at a time (what I’ve called “uni-tasking”).
Bregman lists some of the benefits he experienced, and I’ve summarized those below (but do go and read the full article, which expands on these points).
Jun 21, 2010
In a world where children are constantly exposed to stimulation, there is not enough silence. But a new children’s title, The Quiet Book creates a space of stillness in which children’s imagination and attention can grow.
I have two young children, who are going on two and four. We don’t have a television in the house, and toys that make electronic noises are banned. From time to time we get gifts of toys that beep or (the horror!) play electronic music, but they’re passed swiftly on to our local thrift store or, where the toy has some value, the batteries are removed. In …