You know the standard advice: when you notice during meditation that the mind has been caught up in thinking rather than with paying attention to your present-moment experience, just let go of the thoughts, without judgement, and just come back to the object of the meditation practice. And do that over and over.
But sometimes the thoughts are very persistent, especially if there’s something that’s preoccupying you emotionally. If you’ve been involved in an unresolved conflict, or have unfinished business, or if you’re looking forward to some big event, then it’s natural that your mind is going to turn to that over and over.
Over the years I’ve found a … Read more »
Over and over again, you’ll hear Buddhist teachers talking about the need to “be in the present moment,” but interestingly this wasn’t something the Buddha emphasized much. There are one or two scattered references that are similar to the concept of being in the moment, like this one:
They don’t sorrow over the past,
don’t long for the future.
They survive on the present.
That’s why their faces
are bright and serene.
In many ways the language of “being in the moment” is useful, because so much of the time we’re unmindfully caught up in thinking about things from the past, or things that might happen in the future. … Read more »
I’ve been having a well-earned rest from blogging after completing our 100 Days of Lovingkindness, during which time I managed to contribute a blog post every day, despite also, for the last month, having an intensive schedule of teaching and family responsibilities.
But practice goes on.
Week 2’s exercise is as follows:
… Read more »
Leave No Trace
Choose one room of your house and for one week try leaving no trace that you’ve used that space. The bathroom
Most of us have no end of things to keep up with and sort out. In fact, life sometimes feels bitty, complicated and confusing, and we don’t know how to manage all the demands. Past a certain point we experience stress, feeling that we’ve lost the initiative. Here are some tips on finding an alternative with the help of mindfulness
1. Come back to present moment experience
Mindfulness means coming back to our experience in this moment, starting with simple, observable sensations. That means letting go, for now, of thoughts about the past and the future that can easily feel confusing. Instead, we ask, what’s happening right now in my … Read more »
While doing his PhD research with Dan Gilbert at Harvard, Matt Killingsworth invented a nifty tool for investigating happiness: an iPhone app called Track Your Happiness that captured feelings in real time. (Basically, it pings you at random times and asks: How are you feeling right now, and what are you doing?) Data captured from the study became the landmark paper “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind.”
Here’s an extract of Killingsworth’s fascinating talk (see the video below), which backs up what Buddhists have been saying about mindfulness for centuries: being in the present moment brings happiness.
… Read more »
People are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when
A graphic designer called Giedrius recently wrote to me from Lithuania, telling me that he had created the symbol above to represent “being here and now – the idea of mindfulness.” He said:
This is an open source symbol that can universally represent mindfulness. It can also work as a reminder that can help people to be aware of the present moment.
His website gives more background information on the symbol:
… Read more »
When you see this symbol, anywhere – in public, personal or virtual spaces – it will work as a reminder for you to become aware of this present moment.
Firstly, this symbol is presented like a physical representation of
We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.
Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals – including us – have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.
It’s certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.
But it’s also important to see how this focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.
It’s confused because the brain:
As I was meditating this morning, our cat hopped up in my lap. It felt sweet to sit there with him. And yet – even though I was feeling fine and had plenty of time, there was this internal pressure to start zipping along with emails and calls and all the other clamoring minutiae of the day.
You see the irony. We rush about as a means to an end: as a method for getting results in the form of good experiences, such as relaxation and happiness. Hanging out with our cat, I was afloat in good experiences. But the autopilot inside the coconut still kept trying to suck me … Read more »
So I was walking to the office the other day, when something rather lovely happened.
Before I say what that was, I have to explain that walking to the office is a new thing for me — or the rediscovery of an old thing. Now before I entered a spell of working from home, I often used to make my morning “walking commute” into a walking meditation. Then, for several years, I did almost all of my work out of the house, and my daily walking meditation died away. But a couple of months ago I rented an office in town, only a 15 minute walk away, and I’m getting … Read more »
It is difficult to let go of worries. The very nature of worrying seems to keep the mind busy, thinking of the concern over and over again. The more we think about the concern, the more anxious we feel, but there is a way to free the mind from worries.
I live in New England and my sons, who visited for Christmas last December, were traveling during a blizzard. I worried about them. Would they be warm enough? Would they make their travel accommodations on time? Would the transport be safe?
I have worried before and have found that the worrying is not a good use of energy – after … Read more »