Taking the self out of self-compassion

October 29, 2015

man looking at universe

One of the most interesting studies I’ve ever seen was by James Pennebaker, a University of Texas psychology professor, and Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, who is now associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Poets are particularly prone to taking their own lives, and Pennebaker and Stirman were interested to see if the writings of poets who had killed themselves contained linguistic clues that could have predicted their fate. They matched together, by age, era, nationality, educational background, and sex, poets who had and had not killed themselves, and ran their works through a computer program that looked for patterns in the language they used.

What they found was that the poets who … Read more »

Prison meditation program helps inmates rebuild minds, restart lives

October 16, 2015

wildmind meditation newsAllegra Abramo and Lisa Riordan Seville, NBC News: The men filed into the chapel, pulled chairs into circles, and sat. Then this corner of New Jersey’s Bayside State Prison got quiet.

A short meditation opens each weekly session of Heart-to-Heart, a mindfulness and nonviolence program run at three east coast prisons. Silence, said founder Stephen Michael Tumolo, helps bring “present moment awareness.”

That’s where he believes transformation starts.

“One thing we have choice in is where our mind is,” said Tumolo. “Present moment awareness can radically alter one’s experience in the moment. And then it can radically reshape the next steps we take.”

Gossip …

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How corporates co-opted the art of mindfulness to make us bear the unbearable

September 23, 2015

wildmind meditation newsZoë Krupka, The Conversation: Almost every person who walks through my practice doorway is anxious in some way. And so they should be. While their anxiety might be blasting messages at an overly high volume, the messages themselves are worth paying attention to: abusive relationships, significant losses and workplaces that have squeezed their personal, physical and spiritual lives into a corner too small for a hamster to burrow in.

Most come in hoping that the volume of their anxiety will be turned down, but many also hope that the messages themselves will go away. Like all of us, they want to find a way …

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Hiding from pain by pursuing pleasure

August 13, 2015

Fun fair long exposure Photo taken at the fun fair of Hoorn

There’s a famous teaching, the Sallatha Sutta, in which the Buddha discusses our suffering as consisting of “two arrows.” The first arrow is simply the unavoidable suffering that we all experience as a result of being human. We’re all going to experience loss, hurt feelings, physical pain, illness, etc. The wise person simply observes this pain mindfully. The unwise person responds to suffering through resistance: “Why is this happening to me? This is terrible!”

The Buddha called this reaction “grief, sorrow and lamentation,” and he pointed out that this was like responding to the first arrow with a second one! Our resistance to pain simply causes further pain—perhaps even more than we’d originally experienced. … Read more »

How can mindfulness help with chronic pain?

June 19, 2015

wildmind meditation newsStephanie Weaver, Huffington Post: More than 100 million adults in the U.S. deal with chronic pain. After reading an article by Dr. Christiane Wolf, I reached out to her to learn more.

You say that chronic pain is a malfunctioning side of evolution. What do you mean by that?

This is my theory as I’ve considered chronic pain. Acute pain is important; it alerts the brain that there is danger. But for chronic pain, there is no separate system. It continually alerts the brain that there is something wrong, and yet it doesn’t stop. There is no way to calm it down.

Does mindfulness …

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Being mindful of mindfulness

wildmind meditation newsCathy Thomas Brownfield, Salem News: In this fast-paced world in which we live there is so little time to think about anything in depth. But that is not in anyone’s best interests. Rushing from home to work to school to home to dance classes, sports practice, Scout meetings, Lions Club Meetings, Book Club you name it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for everyone to do all the things they would like to do or feel they have to do. This can lead to a few “issues,” not the least of which is burn-out.

What’s the first thing you think of …

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Every moment is a new chance

May 12, 2015

You Are Not Your Pain Vidyamala BurchYou Are Not Your Pain by Vidyamala Burch Pain always seems worse at night. Something about the silence amplifies the suffering. Even after you’ve taken the maximum dose of painkillers, the aching soon returns with a vengeance. You want to do something, anything, to stop the pain, but whatever you try seems to fail. Moving hurts. Doing nothing hurts. Ignoring it hurts. But it’s not just the pain that hurts; your mind can start to suffer as you desperately try to find a way of escaping. Pointed and bitter questions can begin nagging at your soul: What will happen if I don’t recover? What if it gets worse? I can’t cope with this. Please, I … Read more »

Let Go

April 16, 2015

The Butterfly in your handsWhat Are You Holding Onto?

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 … Read more »

How to love: Legendary Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on mastering the art of “interbeing”

April 1, 2015

wildmind meditation newsThich Nhat Hanh’s Mindful Movements (DVD) Maria Popova, Brain Pickings: “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.”

What does love mean, exactly? We have applied to it our finest definitions; we have examined its psychology and outlined it in philosophical frameworks; we have even devised a mathematical formula for attaining it. And yet anyone who has ever taken this wholehearted leap of faith knows that love remains a mystery — perhaps the mystery of the human experience.

Learning to meet this mystery with the full realness of our being — to show up for …

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Pain entered my life unannounced — now, I manage chronic pain with mindfulness

March 23, 2015

wildmind meditation newsKindly Awareness: Managing Pain, Illness, and Stress with Guided Mindfulness Meditation (2 CD), by Vidyamala Vidyamala Burch, Huffington Post: I am on more than nodding terms with chronic pain. I was 16 in 1976 when pain came into my life and basically took it over. Before the pain, I was a fit, sporty, young woman — I loved to be outside hiking in the awe-inspiring New Zealand hills. Being active, moving without having to think about it, and enjoying what my body could do were absolutely fundamentals in my life. Like most people, I took these things totally for granted.

My …

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