From self-judgment to compassion

September 19, 2013

tara-brachWe were three days into a weeklong meditation retreat when one of my students, Daniel, came in to see me for his first interview. He plopped down in the chair across from me, and immediately pronounced himself The Most Judgmental Person In The World.

“Whatever I’m thinking or feeling when I meditate … I end up finding something wrong with it. During walking practice or eating, I start thinking I should be doing it better, more mindfully. When I’m doing the loving-kindness meditation, my heart feels like a cold stone.” Whenever Daniel’s back hurt while he was sitting, or whenever he got lost in thought, he’d rail at himself for being a hopeless meditator.

He … Read more »

Exploring Self Compassion: A retreat in Washington, Sep 26–29, 2013

September 9, 2013

self-compassionI’m leading a retreat September 26th to September 29th at Camp Delaney, Sun Lakes State Park, Washington, on the theme of Exploring Self Compassion. Registration closes Sept 15th.

Self compassion is essential if we are to have compassion for others. It is also a powerful tool for transforming our own lives, freeing us from fear and resentment and unleashing a more joyful and creative approach to life.

On this retreat we’ll explore, step-by-step, how to become more compassionate toward ourselves. We’ll learn to become more mindful of our own suffering, and to accept it without reacting. We’ll explore how to hold our suffering in mind compassionately, and how to imbue our minds with a … Read more »

Exploring Self Compassion: A retreat in Washington, Sep 26–29, 2013

August 30, 2013

self-compassionI’m leading a retreat September 26th to September 29th at Camp Delaney, Sun Lakes State Park, Washington, on the theme of Exploring Self Compassion.

Self compassion is essential if we are to have compassion for others. It is also a powerful tool for transforming our lives, freeing us from fear and resentment and unleashing a more joyful and creative approach to life

On this retreat we’ll explore, step-by-step, how to cultivate self-compassion. We’ll learn to become more mindful of our own suffering, and to accept it without reacting. We’ll explore how to hold our suffering in mind compassionately, and how to imbue our minds with a compassionate awareness.

Self-compassion is something that’s been absolutely … Read more »

Vipassana meditation retreats: enjoy the silence

Lavanya Sankaran, The Guardian: There’s this thing I do, every now and then. I will step away from the comforts of my life: my spouse and child, my home and dog. I pack a small bag with two pairs of old linen trousers, three T-shirts, a thin cotton wrap and flip-flops. Then I make the trek to a Vipassana meditation centre and begin a monastic life for 10 days.

These centres are scattered around India and all over the world. I have been making this trip for more than 10 years, varying my location each time. Wherever you go the retreat has an identical structure…

Read the original article »

Dear meditation diary: from doubtful to mindful

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times:
Day 1–My anxiety grows as I get to Larkspur, several hours into my drive to Spirit Rock. I stop for a snack, worried the food will be hippie-style brown rice casseroles. When I pull into the parking lot, I’m told I can carry my bags up the hill or put them in a pickup. I heft them, worried it’s too indulgent to do otherwise. Later, walking to dinner, people talk tentatively; it’s our last chance to speak to one another, and rather than motivating a full-on chat stream, that makes me pretty uninterested in small talk…

Read the original article »

Mindfulness meditation: It may be essential, but, boy, it isn’t easy

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times: On the third day of silence and meditation, I said just 14 words, all of them in the course of chopping vegetables for dinner.

Days two, four and five were not much different.

I’m not the quiet type. But this was my idea. So earlier this year, I drove most of a day to reach Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County to immerse myself in the practice of mindful meditation. To be still, clear of worry over career, my teenage sons’ futures, the renovations of our old house. To see whether I could stop — just stop — for…

Read the original article »

Only a few days left to book for “The Heart of Awakening,” a retreat with Bodhipaksa, Florida, Feb 22 to 24

February 13, 2013

There are only a few more days left in which to book your place on Bodhipaksa’s weekend retreat in Florida, February 22 to 24. Bookings will close on February 19th, at midday US Eastern time.

Explore the Buddhist teaching and practice of Bodhicitta, on a residential weekend retreat in the beautiful surroundings of the Florida Retreat Center, about 35 minutes south of Tampa.

The Bodhicitta is the Heart of Awakening. It’s something that happens as our practice gains momentum and develops a life of its own. Seemingly from nowhere, compassion begins to emerge, and our main task is to get out of the way and let it happen.

On this weekend retreat, Bodhipaksa will … Read more »

“The Heart of Awakening”: a retreat with Bodhipaksa, Florida, Feb 22 to 24

January 16, 2013

Explore the Buddhist teaching and practice of Bodhicitta, on a residential weekend retreat in the beautiful surroundings of the Florida Retreat Center, about 35 minutes south of Tampa.

The Bodhicitta is the Heart of Awakening. It’s something that happens as our practice gains momentum and develops a life of its own. Seemingly from nowhere, compassion begins to emerge, and our main task is to get out of the way and let it happen.

On this weekend retreat, Bodhipaksa will introduce the teaching of the Heart of Awakening, and we’ll explore practices for allowing compassion to take root and grow within our hearts.

Places on the retreat are very limited!

To allow people of varying … Read more »

Shut up, sit down: Reflections on a Jewish meditation retreat in Israel

January 7, 2013

Brian Blum, Haaretz: A weekend of meditation based on Hasidic mindfulness practices that were almost wiped out in the Holocaust proved to be unexpectedly transformational.

My wife and I recently went on a silent Jewish meditation retreat. There wasn’t much to say. The end.

Just kidding. There is in fact very much to say about the retreat, which was organized by Or HaLev – the Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation, established by Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels at Kibbutz Hanaton in the northern Jezreel Valley.

As described in its mission statement, Or HaLev seeks to “teach concrete Jewish techniques for deepening our lives and to …

Read the original article »

The anxiety of the long-distance meditator

December 18, 2012

Jeff Warren, New York Times: “You want to cultivate the crackling intensity of the ninja,” Daniel Ingram told me. Ingram made a living as an emergency doctor, but his real passion was teaching advanced meditation. It was day one of a 30-day solitary retreat, and this was my first meditation instruction. We were sitting in Ingram’s straw bale guesthouse, a squat round building next to the main house at the end of a long country road in rural Alabama. Behind the house a thick forest buzzed with insect life.

Ingram stood and began to walk, arms outstretched and eyes shock-widened, as though his …

Read the original article »