Can you stay open to the pain of others?
Humans are an empathic, compassionate, and loving species, so it is natural to feel sad, worried, or fiery about the troubles and pain of other people. (And about those of cats and dogs and other animals, but I’ll focus on human beings here.)
Long ago, the Buddha spoke of the “first dart” of unavoidable physical pain. Given our hardwired nature as social beings, when those we care about are threatened or suffer, there is another kind of first dart: unavoidable emotional pain.
For example, if you heard about people who go to bed hungry – as a billion of us do each night – of course … Read more »
The Buddha was asked, what is the difference between how an ordinary person and a wise person responds to pain? He replied with the analogy of the two darts. All of us experience pain – whether that is physical pain like catching your finger in the door or mental pain such as when someone rejects you. This is the first dart, which we could call primary suffering.
An ordinary person then gets caught up in trying to push away or avoid the pain; in blaming themselves or others, or feeling self-pity. This has the effect of making matters worse: the second dart, which we can call secondary suffering. A wise person just has the first … Read more »
Tomas Rocha, The Atlantic: For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.
Set back on quiet College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, sits a dignified, four story, 19th-century house that belongs to Dr. Willoughby Britton. Inside, it is warm, spacious, and organized. The shelves are stocked with organic foods. A solid wood dining room table seats up to 12. Plants are ubiquitous. Comfortable pillows are never far from reach. The basement—with its own bed, living space, and private bathroom—often hosts a rotating cast of yogis and meditation teachers. Britton’s own living space and office are on the …
Sarah Rudell Beach, Huffington Post: You’ve begun your meditation practice. You know all the amazing benefits of meditation and are excited about this change in your routine.
And then problems set in: body aches, itching, thoughts, sleepiness. Who ever thought just sitting could be so hard?!
I’ve practiced meditation for several years, and while I enjoy meditating, I’ve hit some bumps along the way, too. We all encounter bumps along the way, don’t we? The thing is, there are no problems in meditation.
A problem is only a “problem” when we perceive it as such. In fact, meditation is a great way to …
Tom Ireland, Scientific American: As you read this, wiggle your toes. Feel the way they push against your shoes, and the weight of your feet on the floor. Really think about what your feet feel like right now – their heaviness.
If you’ve never heard of mindfulness meditation, congratulations, you’ve just done a few moments of it. More people than ever are doing some form of this stress-busting meditation, and researchers are discovering it has some quite extraordinary effects on the brains of those who do it regularly.
Originally an ancient Buddhist meditation technique, in recent years mindfulness has evolved into a range …
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): Results of a recent study cofunded by NCCAM suggest that one day of intense mindfulness by experienced meditators led to biological changes including expression of certain genes that play roles in inflammation and pain. Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs have similar effects on these genes. Findings from the study appear in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Mindfulness meditation practices are a form of training that focuses attention on breathing to develop increased awareness of the present. The study, conducted in 40 participants, focused on gaining more knowledge about molecular and genetic effects of this type of meditation and also on testing the feasibility of the study approach for future work.… Read more »
Melissa Healy, Los Angles Times: Take a deep breath, meditation enthusiasts: A new study finds that research on mindfulness meditation has yielded moderate evidence that the practice can reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms and pain, but little to no evidence that it can reduce substance abuse or improve mood, sleep or weight control. And no evidence was found that meditation programs were better than drugs, exercise or other behavioral therapies at addressing issues of mental health.
The latest word on meditation’s effects comes from a meta-analysis–essentially a study of existing clinical trials that sifts, consolidates and distills their findings. It’s published in JAMA Internal …
Business2Community.com: For centuries, people have meditated to gain deeper insight and wisdom about themselves and their lives. More recently, researchers have studied meditation to gain insight about its effect on psychological wellbeing. Can it help ease pain, depression, or anxiety? Does it relieve stress, improve mood and concentration, or short-circuit substance abuse? What is its effect on sleep and weight?
To find out exactly what meditation can and cannot do, Madhav Goya, M.D., M.P.H, assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, conducted a review of the study literature to date. Dr. Goyal …
Matthew Jenkin, The Guardian: Trials have shown that mindfulness can increase calm and wellbeing, lead to better sleep and less physical pain.
Cancer leaves many scars. For survivors, the wounds that run deepest are often those left on the mind. Fear, anxiety and depression are common during recovery. But instead of popping a pill, could practising a few minutes of mindfulness a day be as effective as any drug?
While Buddhists have been practising the meditation technique for more than 2,000 years, medical science is finally beginning to catch up, discovering the extent to which focusing the mind on the present moment can help …
Buddhism talks a lot about suffering, but a lot of us think that we don’t suffer, or that we don’t really suffer. There’s a tendency for us to think of suffering in terms of physical pain or material deprivation: the person with terminal cancer or a broken leg, the refugee, the starving child. So we often think of suffering as being something that’s extreme or unusual. But actually, we all suffer, every day. You may be suffering right now.