On suicide and the Dharma (part one)

June 9, 2011

The following essay is by psychotherapist, Buddhist teacher and Yoga teacher Michael Stone, and is the first of a two-part exploration of suicide, yoga, and Dharma. The essay is excerpted from “Awake in the World: Teachings from Yoga & Buddhism for Living an Engaged Life” by Michael Stone (Shambhala Publications, June 2011)

No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.
—Cesare Pavese

Many of us who have suffered trauma, pain, or existential loneliness have struggled to find stories to make sense of our lives. We might think that we learn how the world works, because we take the time to observe and understand it. But every meditator with a busy mind knows that’s just … Read more »

30 ways to add zing to your meditation this spring

April 23, 2011

“What does spring have to do with meditation?” you might ask. Each season offers opportunities to bring creativity to our meditation practices. Want to know what spring can bring? In the spring, especially in places that have had a cold winter, going outdoors is especially pleasurable. The breezes are cooling, the sun is warm, there is no need for heavy jackets, sweaters and socks and days are longer.

So, springtime brings some rain, it’s true, but also amazingly beautiful flowers from seeds and bulbs.

Here is a list of thirty ways to bring new zing to your meditation practice in the spring:

  1. go outdoors and listen to the sounds of the birds
  2. listen to the
Read more »

Yoga helps improve asthma symptoms

April 20, 2011

Ani, The Times Of India: A new study has suggested that meditation and yoga can be ‘helpful’ in improving asthma in urban adolescents.

A new study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) shows that urban adolescents with asthma may experience worse outcomes when not using spiritual coping and often use complementary and alternative medicine, or integrative medicine, like prayer or relaxation, to manage symptoms.

These findings by researchers could help physicians and other providers gain insight into additional ways to help pediatric populations self-manage chronic illnesses.

The study, led by Sian Cotton, assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine, looked at urban adolescents dealing with asthma and uncovered the ways … Read more »

Say ‘Om’ from the comfort of home

March 29, 2011

As yoga gains ground, more and more people are practicing on their own

There are so many types of yoga now on offer that you can choose a practice entirely based on your sensibilities, such as bikram if you like it hot, ashtanga if you like it more physical, kundalini if you’re interested in breathing alignment, or kripalu, which adds meditation.

As more people, young and old, take up yoga for good health, suppleness and sometimes for enlightenment, they often discover that they want more than a yoga class a few times a week.

They look for a favourite spot at home where they can complete the daily yoga ritual, a place they dedicate to … Read more »

Adventures in mindfulness

March 28, 2011

Gill South tries a meditation retreat but finds it hard to keep to the code of silence.

It’s probably not the best idea to arrive at a peaceful, “silent” leadership retreat, red-faced and sweating. The walk to its location at Eden Garden on the side of Mt Eden took longer than I’d thought.

My meditation retreat today is being run by clinical psychologists Lisa Markwick and Marijka Batenburg – the workshop is based on Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “mindfulness” methods. Lisa is an experienced leadership facilitator and coach with her company Mindful Adventures and has been recommended to me by Barry Coates, the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, an excellent big thinker and an advocate … Read more »

Veterans find peace with yoga in ‘Connected Warriors’

March 11, 2011

Boca Raton Some local veterans’ combat days are long gone, but they still have nightmares, edginess, short fuses and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Many seek help from support groups, psychologists and drugs. But some are finding that a different kind of therapy releases the tension: yoga.

Connected Warriors, a weekly class at studios in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Wellington, is filled with veterans and their families who seek to manage their stress through yoga poses. They learn how to breathe, meditate, stretch and balance with people who understand their battlefield encounters.

“I am learning to stop being on the defensive,” said Maria Mariska Allsopp, of Dania Beach, who retired after 25 years as … Read more »

Meditation For the Love of It, by Sally Kempton

February 26, 2011

‘Inner spaciousness is always there, with its clarity, its love, and its innate goodness,’ says Sally Kempton in her new book. Our task is learn how to connect with it, and in Meditation for the Love of It, which has garnered rave reviews from such spiritual luminaries as Lama Surya Das, Kempton sets out to show us how love and enjoyment should be at the heart of our experience.

A shame then that although the book contains much of value, it’s hard to love it, and at times, hard even to enjoy it.

Parts are written with sensitivity, imagination and a sense of who the reader might be. Kempton offers an excellent explanation of how … Read more »

Yoga at home: Relaxing space, relaxed mind

February 12, 2011

Yoga, the ancient practice of breathing, movement and meditation, is thriving in Montreal. In fact, there are so many types of yoga now on offer that you can choose a practice entirely based on your sensibilities, such as bikram if you like it hot, ashtanga if you like it more physical, kundalini if you’re interested in breathing alignment, or kripalu, which adds meditation.

As more people, young and old, take up yoga for good health, suppleness and sometimes for enlightenment, they often discover that they want more than a yoga class a few times a week.

They look for a favourite spot at home where they can complete the daily yoga ritual, a place they … Read more »

Yoga: it’s not as old (or as Hindu) as you think

February 12, 2011

yogaNo one denies that Hinduism’s most sacred and ancient texts, including the Bhagvad Gita, describe different kinds of yogic practices. But what does this ancient and sacred tradition of yoga have to do with what people all around the world do in yoga classes in gyms and fitness centres today?

To most Indians, such questions are nothing less than sacrilegious. Yoga is for them what apple pie and motherhood are for Americans: a living symbol of their way of life.

Indians tend to affirm their claims on yoga by trotting out the familiar icons of the ‘5,000-year-old Vedic tradition,’ which supposedly stretches from the Pashupati seal of the (actually very unVedic) Indus Valley civilisation to … Read more »

Yoga’s stress relief: an aid for infertility?

February 6, 2011

Kimberley Soranno, a 39-year-old Brooklynite undergoing an in vitro fertilization cycle as part of her quest to become pregnant, had gone to her share of yoga classes, but never one like that held on a recent Tuesday night in a reception area of the New York University Fertility Center. There were no deep twists or headstands; just easy “restorative” poses as the teacher, Tracy Toon Spencer, guided the participants — most of them women struggling to conceive — to let go of their worries.

“Verbally, she brings you to a relaxation place in your mind,” Mrs. Soranno said, adding, “It’s great to do the poses, get energy out and feel strong. But the most important … Read more »