The bud dreaming the flower

September 22, 2015

fotolia_63983416Last weekend I taught meditation on a workshop along with another teacher who talked about the importance of goals as part of one’s spiritual path. This is something I often talked about in the past, although it hasn’t been a prominent part of my teaching recently. I think the last time I wrote about it was in my 2010 book, Living as a River.

My own presentation at the weekend was on mindfulness, appreciation, and gratitude: being in and valuing the present moment.

These two themes might seem contradictory, and it was interesting to explore how they’re actually not, but are (or can be) complementary.

One exercise I’ve done myself and which I recommend … Read more »

Mindfulness helps with life’s inevitable changes

September 4, 2015

wildmind meditation newsDr. Davidicus Wong, New Westminster Record: Recognizing the nature of reality and ourselves, we must accept the inescapable fact of change.

Rapid and recognizable changes – such as the weather, the time of day, the day of the week, the daily news, and our movements, conversations and thoughts throughout each day – conceal the less perceptible yet constant change in everything else, particularly what we take for granted as being solid and stable.

This includes our bodies, our relationships and the seemingly unchangeable objects we see and interact with each day. We are surprised and upset when mechanical possessions – like our cars, appliances and hot water …

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Life as a glowstick

May 25, 2015

Nora Meiners sent me a link to this video of herself performing “Glowsticks” at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. It deals with the familiar parental situation of dealing with a child who can’t get his head around the impermanence of a toy, and makes the connection with the impermanence of our own lives. We’re more like glowsticks than not…

Nora graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Creative Writing but started writing poems fairly only recently She has competed in the National Poetry Slam for Boston Poetry Slam (2013) and Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam (2014). She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I like the poem, although I’d love to see it performed with … Read more »

“Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.” Montaigne

March 30, 2015

montaigneI’ve been depressed a few times in my life, but only once has it ever got so bad that I felt I had to seek medication. My doctor prescribed me something—I no longer remember what—and after taking just one tablet my depression instantly lifted. This was no miracle drug; these medicines take days or even weeks to have an effect. In fact the medication had nothing to do with my recovery, and the reason I felt better so quickly was, I think, because I admitted I was helpless.

Michel de Montaigne, the famous 16th French essayist, said that although he was not able to govern external events, he was able to govern himself. This beautiful … Read more »

Living with change

March 23, 2015

UnknownEverything changes all the time: our bodies, other people and the world around us. In fact, change and impermanence are the fundamental realities of our lives. Change is often painful, so typically we resist it, and that can cause all sorts of problems.

Mindfulness practice helps each of us to see how we respond to life’s uncertainty. We are more able to explore how our reactions can lead us into difficult states on mind such as stress, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness also helps us to accept impermanence and even embrace it.

Here are some exercises that explore change and how it affects us. These are quite potent and you if you think you will find … Read more »

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 »

Step three: Embracing impermanence to show us that our suffering can end

November 3, 2014

sand in handsAs I reflect on this step, I can’t but help say a prayer for my dear friend, who hung herself last month, because as she wrote in her note, ‘life was too painful’. Sadly my friend is not unique in thinking this, many people have these thoughts, and some of these people eventually take their lives.

Is there anything we can do to help someone who expresses such pain?

Whatever we do it has to be unconditional. That said, the Buddhist teachings can be so optimistic, so liberating if we are ready for the teachings to appear in our lives. Living with the truth of impermanence can help us to find freedom. Even if our … Read more »

Mindfulness practice is good medicine

October 6, 2014

wildmind meditation newsMack Paul, The Norman Transcript: Buddhism is not a religion in the usual sense. There is not a God to believe in.

Some Buddhists believe in reincarnation and karma although neither are central to the faith. The Buddha said that he taught one thing only, “suffering and the end of suffering.”

Buddhist practice developed from their observation that human existence is characterized by the experience, dissatisfaction, impermanence and a shifting sense of self that is unsatisfactory and impermanent. This makes for a potentially bleak view of the human condition.

We want to believe in progress. We want to believe that if we get …

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Personalities are not fixed, and that’s great news

September 24, 2014

Children's yoga. The little boy does exercise.A mountaineering friend of mine used to remark that when he’d meet a rock or other obstruction while coming down a mountain, and was faced with choices — go left, or right? — each choice would lead to other, different, choices. In this way, two different decisions early on — although seemingly insignificant — could result in profoundly different outcomes.

Views we hold can be like that as well. A view like “personalities are fixed” leads to very different results compared to a view like “personalities are fluid.”

A new study illustrates how easily views about our personalities can be changed, and how powerful the effect of changing them can be.

David Scott Yeager of … Read more »

Let go…

October 17, 2013

I’ve done a lot of rock climbing, so I know firsthand the importance sometimes of not letting go! This applies to other things as well: keeping hold of a child’s hand while crossing the street, staying true to your ethics in a tricky situation, or sustaining attention to your breath while meditating.

On the other hand, think of all the stuff – both physical and nonphysical – we cling to that creates problems for us and others: clutter in the home, “shoulds,” rigid opinions, resentments, regrets, status, guilt, resistance to the facts on the ground, needing to be one-up with others, the past, people who are gone, bad habits, hopeless guests, unrewarding relationships, and so … Read more »