Managing pain with the power of the mind

January 7, 2015

wildmind meditation newsMP3 download – Mindfulness of Breathing: Managing Pain, Illness, & Stress with Guided Mindfulness Meditation Emma Tracey, BBC: Vidyamala Burch is helping people in pain through the practice of “mindfulness”, the act of paying more attention to the present moment. But it took her many years to discover it for herself first.

When people are having serious difficulties, it can bring out the extreme sides of people’s personalities, says Vidyamala Burch, a 55-year-old pain management practitioner based in Manchester. “One is the denial, pushy, driven side and the other is the more passive, overwhelmed, depressive side.”

Burch lives with chronic …

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Let’s be mindful about the benefits of meditation

December 4, 2014

wildmind meditation newsClick here to check out our selection of meditation MP3s William Reville, The Irish Times: Meditation has never been more popular than it is now. Transcendental meditation (TM), a mind-emptying type of meditation, used to be the most popular form, but it has now ceded pole position to mindfulness meditation.

Meditation can undoubtedly confer benefits, and extensive scientific investigations are afoot to tease out its effects on the human brain. This work is summarised by Matthieu Ricard and colleagues in the November 2014 edition of Scientific American. The authors define meditation as the cultivation of a more stable and secure mind, …

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The third arrow

November 18, 2014

Darts on targetThe first arrow: Think of a time someone said something hurtful to you, and let’s try to break down what happened. A comment was made, and you probably experienced actual physical pain, most likely in the solar plexus or heart. (When the hurt is particularly strong, we sometimes say it feels like we’ve been punched in the gut, don’t we?)

What went on was that some fast-acting part of your brain believed you were being criticized or marginalized, and so identified the comment as a threat to your wellbeing. That part of your brain then attempted to alert the rest of the mind to this threat by sending signals to pain receptors in the body. … 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 »

Buddhism, grief, and loss

September 30, 2014

Ancient Buddha head without body in Sukhothai, ThailandRecently a meditation student who’s only just begun practicing wrote to say that she’d experienced a bereavement. She wondered if I had any suggestions to help her through the grieving process.

I have to say first of all that I’m not a grief counsellor. I’m just a meditator who has ended up sharing what he’s learned about working with pain. And I also would like to add that I’m hesitant to give advice in such situations because I know how feeble words can be in the face of powerful emotions. I long ago gave up on the notion I once held that there is some magical form of words that will make everything better.

Despite … Read more »

How to calm your brain and find peace during a busy day

September 29, 2014

wildmind meditation newsAmy Capetta, Today.com: The positive power of meditation has made the news once again. Research from Carnegie Mellon University states that practicing mindfulness meditation for 25 minutes per session for three consecutive days can alleviate psychological stress. An analysis of previous studies compiled earlier this year showed this type of meditation—which involves paying attention to your surroundings while concentrating on your breathing—to be “moderately” effective in battling depression, anxiety and pain.

“One of the most important benefits of mindfulness meditation is the ability for us to more fully live our lives,” states Janice L. Marturano, executive director of the Institute For Mindful Leadership and …

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Being at peace with the pain of others

September 19, 2014

Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.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 »

Step two – seeing how we can create extra suffering in our lives

September 1, 2014

Stick with the first dartThe 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 »

The dark knight of the soul

June 28, 2014

wildmind meditation newsTomas 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 …

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6 meditation problems that aren’t really problems: but here’s how to fix them, anyway!

June 24, 2014

wildmind meditation newsSarah 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 …

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