Give your head a rest from thinking

May 22, 2012

“Rest your weary head.” The traditional saying that’s this week’s practice has been sinking in for me lately. Thoughts have been swirling around like a sandstorm about work, things I’ve been reading, household tasks, finances, concerns about people, a yard that needs mowing, loose ends, projects, etc. etc. The other day I told my wife: “I’m thinking about too many things.” Know the feeling?

By “head” I mean the cognitive aspects of experience such as planning, analyzing, obsessing, considering, worrying, making little speeches inside, going back over situations or conversations, and trying to figure things out. “Weary” means being fatigued due to continued exertion or endurance, sometimes also with a sense of being dismayed, even … Read more »

Tips for Type A’s who can’t meditate

April 23, 2012

Adriana Barton: Meditation can change the brain from a mass of neurons twitching with anxiety to grey matter humming on a Zen wavelength. And you needn’t be a Buddhist monk to benefit.

Neuroscientists have discovered that after just eight weeks, non-meditators who start a mindfulness practice show decreased brain activity in the amygdala – the brain region that controls anxiety – and increased grey matter in regions involved in perspective-taking and regulating emotions.

Too bad the idea of meditation stresses people out.

People think they have to sit in a formal cross-legged pose and “get rid of their thoughts,” says Dee Willock, the …

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Making Wise Decisions

September 6, 2011

Decisions shape our lives, but psychologists say we are remarkably bad at making them. That’s true of strategic decisions, tactical decisions and decisions made in the heat of the moment. Typically, we are poor at assessing risk, understanding probabilities and anticipating consequences. We overestimate our capacity to make good decisions and underestimate the true influence of emotion, bias and assumptions in what we do.

We need to learn for ourselves how to make good decisions and that’s where the Buddha comes in. His teachings won’t help with the specifics, but they offer insights into the process of how to make a wise decision. And the starting point is clearing our minds of the approaches that … Read more »

Study: Buddhist meditation promotes rational thinking

August 11, 2011

Michael Haederle: It’s no secret that humans are not entirely rational when it comes to weighing rewards. For example, we might be perfectly happy with how much money we’re making — until we find out how much more the guy in the next cubicle is being paid.

But a new study suggests that people who regularly practice Buddhist meditation actually process these common social situations differently — and the researchers have the brain scans to prove it.

Ulrich Kirk and collaborators at Baylor Medical College in Houston had 40 control subjects and 26 longtime meditators participate in a well-known experiment called the Ultimatum Game. It goes like this…

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How to stop your mind from wandering

July 24, 2011

The mind is made to wander – just take a few minutes to sit quietly and watch the mind flit around like a butterfly going from flower to flower.

With all that thinking, worrying, justifying, wondering, story telling, imagining, assuming, compulsive activity – it is a wonder we actually get anything done in a mindful way. But there is hope.  There is a way to stop your mind from wandering.

Meditation and mindfulness are two buzz words that nearly everyone is familiar with. In a world where multitasking is considered a positive trait necessary for working, it is fascinating that there is so much interest in meditation and mindfulness – which are the opposites of … Read more »

“Thought is gazing onto the face of life, and reading what can be read.”

December 29, 2010

buddha faceAt the climax of the 2001 movie Vanilla Sky, Tom Cruise’s character, playboy David Aames, comes to realize that he’s been in suspended animation for 150 years and is trapped in a dream. He makes this discovery on top of an improbably tall building, apparently miles high, with the guidance of Edmund Ventura, a “Support Technician” who is trying to guide him back to waking reality.

Before he entered suspended animation, David had made the decision to awaken from this dream by facing his fear of heights. In order to wake up, he must now leap from the top of the building. Also on the rooftop is someone who has been a father figure … Read more »

Meditation: Catch and release

June 7, 2010

fish tailAn accidental purchase presented Ponlop Rinpoche with a valuable teaching.

I once bought a shirt at the airport because I had been traveling a long time and was in need of a change. I found one in a nice deep blue color and put it on without looking closely at it. Then, when I was sitting on the airplane, I saw it had a fish on it along with a caption down the sleeve: "Catch and release." I felt very good about that. It was like a message from the universe — somehow, I was wearing instructions for working with the mind in meditation. That was my teaching for that trip.

You can use that … Read more »

Creating and attracting the life you want

November 16, 2009

In this short video, Srimati describes the principle of “what we dwell upon, that we become.” Where we place our attention, consciously or unconsciously, shapes the course of our future. By becoming more conscious of our thinking we can take responsibility for how our life unfolds.

Using thought to still thought

April 28, 2009

CloudMany people think of thought as the enemy of meditation, and yet properly handled thought can be a helper and a tool. master meditation-teacher Vajradaka explains how.

One of the most common Buddhist meditation practices is the Mindfulness of Breathing. In one common form, as practiced in my own tradition (the Triratna Buddhist Community) and as taught on Wildmind, awareness of the breath is the main focus over four stages. The first two stages use counting as an aid to concentration, while in the third awareness is brought to the whole breathing process without counting. In the final stage the focus is the sensation caused by the incoming and outgoing breath around the … Read more »

A student asks: My sit didn’t go well today. I was really distracted, and couldn’t get rid of my thoughts. What am I doing wrong?

July 28, 2007

dogStudents who take Wildmind’s online courses have the opportunity to talk about their practice and get personal feedback from the teacher. The following is a recent exchange from one of our meditation courses.

A student asks: My sit didn’t go well today. I was really distracted, and couldn’t get rid of my thoughts. What am I doing wrong?

Sunada replies: Well, I’m afraid we all have days like that. You aren’t doing anything wrong at all. You’re just experiencing your mind more closely than you ever have before, and discovering what it’s really like! A bit of a shock, isn’t it? Believe it or not, this is GOOD news. You’re becoming more aware.

And really, … Read more »