Hi, I’m Bodhipaksa, and I set up Wildmind in 2001 with the help of several friends who offered me their time and technical support when I was a grad student with no financial resources at all. I’m a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, I’ve been a practicing Buddhist since 1982, and I’ve been teaching meditation since the late 1980’s.
I’m the author of Wildmind: A Step-by-Step Guide to Meditation, a book called Living as a River, which explores the Buddhist teaching of not-self though a traditional reflection on interconnectedness called the Six Element Practice, and Vegetarianism: A Buddhist View, which is a book on Buddhism and the practice of vegetarianism. Additionally, I’ve written I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha! (a book on fake Buddha quotes), This Difficult Thing of Being Human (on self compassion), and A Year of Buddha’s Wisdom (which is a collection of daily readings, reflections, and meditation suggestions). I’m also the author of ten audiobooks of guided meditations.
In Oct 2012 gave a TEDx talk on compassion.
I was given the name Bodhipakṣa when I joined the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1993 (although at that time it was called the “Western Buddhist Order”). “Bodhi” means enlightenment and “paksha” (there’s a dot under the “s” which gives it a “sh” sound) means “wings.” So my name means “Wings of Enlightenment.”
I was born and brought up in Scotland, although I now live in the US. For three years, I was the director of Dhanakosa retreat center, in the Highlands of Scotland, and after that I ran the Edinburgh Buddhist center. For three years, I taught Buddhist meditation in the Religious Studies department at the University of Montana, before moving to New Hampshire.
I love teaching meditation. It’s had a tremendously positive effect on my own life, and I’ve seen it have an equally large effect on the lives of my students. Over and over again, students have told me how learning to meditate has changed their lives.
For many years I’ve been excited by the potential for bringing the benefits of meditation to millions of people over the Internet. That enthusiasm is what led to me setting up Wildmind.
Wildmind started as a project while I was completing a Masters degree in Montana. Supported by a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, I worked with Dr. Alan Sponberg to develop an innovative Internet based meditation course for the University of Montana, and that experiment formed the basis of Wildmind.
I hope you find these materials useful, and I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to drop me a line using the comment form below. If you want to write more privately use the “contact” link above — the message will get to me.
I also have a personal website where you’ll find links to all my publications, YouTube videos, etc., as well as information about the meditation coaching that I do. It’s at Bodhipaksa.com.
Thank you so much for this website, I have been very grateful for it, and suggested it to friends who have said the same.
I was just wondering why you were advertising a brain training device on it?
We’re advertising a brain training device because we need money in order to keep running. We’ve tried to fund our activities mainly through selling CDs and by asking for donations from the people who have been taking part in our Year of Going Deeper events. Unfortunately only about 3% of the people who participate in these events contribute anything financially, and we’re in serious danger of ceasing operations within the next couple of months.
[…] and found a meditation for cultivating lovingkindness (metta bhavana) by Scottish Buddhist monk Bodhipaksa. I had learned the practice a few years previously and was glad to be reminded of it. I had often […]
I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into this website and to thank you so much for all of the helpful and insightful information. I’ve been meditating daily for a little over 4 weeks now, and I just signed up for the “Living with Awareness” meditation event for February. I’m really looking forward to it. You are very kind to share your knowledge, and your teachings have helped make a real difference in my life.
Thank you for your kind words, Tracey.
hi – I am have been doing daily meditation for about six months now and recently was in an 8 week mbsr class. In the last class we did a silent retreat and i after about the third hour during a sitting meditation where our instruction provided imagery of an ocean i experienced a very deep and complete meditative moment that was incredibly peaceful. I’m curious how you would describe this experience. Some more detail. I began to mentally picture my thoughts as distinct levels of strata or bubbles in a vertical fashion and felt and imagined myself descending deeper into my mind and self. I would alternate doing this while with watching my breath. At a point i became incredibly still and my sense of self seemed to merge very holistically with my breath. I felt peaceful and unaware of my body, my surroundings, a sense of time or any feeling of tension or anxiety. The moment was profound and am find my self longing to return. Is this simply just meditation deepening and nothing more? if so I can hardly wait to deepen my practice. I absolutely loved this experience. Thank you in advance for any response.
Yes, this is just your meditation practice deepening. But be aware that this doesn’t happen linearly. In other words, we have peak experiences which may take a long time to repeat themselves. Craving to repeat them actually makes their return more difficult! So just keep going with the practice, which is about gradual and beneficial change throughout your being and your life, and not just about peak experiences.
I thank you for openly sharing your heart. Just now I followed the beautiful guided meditation made available on the insight timer app. It was profoundly restorative, allowing hidden sadnesses to be felt, soften and dissolve. The feeling of love and care and tender warmth that flowed from your gently uttered words was astonishingly moving, and, awe inspiring actually. I no longer feel separate. I feel safe and accepted. Thank you for being/doing what you are.
You’re welcome, Melissa. I’m always pleased to hear that someone has benefitted from what I do.
I am glad to have discovered your website.
May I also make a small contribution to promoting Buddhism?
My name is Edward Jurewicz and my book is called Zen-Zen Stories. It is about Zen Buddhism and Japan. It is available on Amazon.com.
As an accomplished Buddhist teacher and an author of many books on Buddhism, could you help my book reach some audience? At this point, my book on Zen Buddhism is virtually unknown and waiting to be discovered. :)
The book Zen-Zen Stories promotes many values which you and I seem to share – including compassionate living.
Thank you for your support!
– Edward Jurewicz and Master Hakuin! :)
Have been visiting your informative blog and meditation news stories frequently over the past year.
Firstly thank you WildMind for keeping us informed of the latest stuff concerning meditation.
Am also signed up for the current LovingKindness Newsletter you are running via email.
Do have a couple of questions which I thought you might be able to shed some light on here?
Been meditating daily for about 2.5 years.
During my breathing or mindful practice my head rotates involuntarily on occasion. This has given me trouble with backache in the past, as the back also sways due to the head movement which has caused a clicking in my lower back, leading to the back pain.
Now I am aware of this happening during practice, am able to keep my back rigid enough, so only my head moves, negating the pain in my back.
Do you know why some people move involuntarily whilst in practice or is it just me?
Sometimes after my practice I have a ringing in my ears or tinnitus, which does fade after a few hours.
My perceived understanding of this issue is of an anatomical nature although so far have been unable to find a confirmation or different understanding via a search?
When you meditate there is increased blood flow to the brain.
The main arteries involved in the upper neck leading to the brain are the jugular veins running in close proximity to your inner ear and balance canals.
Can actually hear this whooshing, rushing sound of what I perceive to be blood flow, whilst in deep practice.
Is this the likely cause of the tinnitus or is it unrelated?
Don’t get me wrong, the beneficial effects of regular meditation practice, far outweigh the annoyance of a condition like tinnitus.
Thank you for your help in my understanding.
I don’t know why your body is twisting in this way. I had a similar experience myself, where my back would twitch and twist. Th twitches seemed to be at a very regular interval, and were strongest when I was lying down. I eventually found that I had a misaligned vertebra, and regular visits to a chiropractor sorted it out. I think what was happening was that my body was trying to realign itself. I don’t know if this is what’s happening with you, but it’s worth looking into.
The ringing in your ears probably isn’t clinical tinnitus, since it fades so quickly. I sometimes get that toward the end of a run, or sometimes for a few minutes after I’ve lain down in bed, and it’s never bothered me. It may be that you’re just more sensitized to sensations from within the body during meditation, or maybe it is to do with blood flow. But no one seems to know for sure what causes tinnitus.
Thank you kind sir for the response. Its funny how i find myself wanting to make something more of the experience, somehow define it some way or brand it special. I did enjoy it tremendously however. I’ll keep practicing daily, let go of that experience and see what comes.
Hi again Bodhipaksa,
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
Maybe my body is trying to realign itself, although I did visit a physiotherapist down the doctors who manipulated my back which relieved some built up tension in the back.
My head rotation only happens at certain depths within my practice sessions and now I am aware of this, am able to control the oscillation further down into my back.
Have a little stretching routine to release pockets of tension afterwords. It’s almost as if the stress released via the practice is translated into physical tension within the back.
You are right in saying, no one really knows what causes tinnitus. It could be that I am more sensitized to sensations within the body during meditation. Or it could be that in my case the jugular vein is a little closer to the inner ear than in others. Therefore the increased blood flow is somehow causing the ringing in my ears.
Hi, Rob. I’ve been to both physiotherapists and chiropractors, and found that the latter have a more in-depth approach to realignment. If you can find a good chiropractor, give it a go. I’ve been to a couple who basically have you in the office for five minutes, and a couple who spend more like 40 to 50 minutes, so you might want to ask how long their average sessions are and whether they do soft-tissue work. (The ones who spend five minutes on you are mainly just working with your joints, not the musculature.)
Thanks for your thoughts.
And thank you for taking the time to give me answers.
[…] up with us in a special #FutureChat with Gunatillake. I may invite my own meditation master, Wildmind’s Bodhipaksa, to join us, too. Enough folks like these guys in the chat, and we can all just bliss out and tell […]
I’m a Mitra training for ordination in the U.K (Southeast coast) and I eventually hope to teach meditation within Triratna. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of training or reading material available on the subject of teaching and I wondered if you had any advice? I’ve always found your site very inspiring and always recommend it to newcomers to our group.
Best wishes and Metta,
It’s rather odd that after all these years we don’t have an official meditation teacher training system in Triratna! The current system is very informal and center-based, and I’ve known some teachers who really shouldn’t be teaching.
Unfortunately the only teacher training I know of is run by Breathworks, and although that’s excellent it’s also very specific to what they do. It’s worth checking out, though.
All the best,
[…] “Equanimity is truly unconditional love” –Bodhipaksa […]
My name is Annie. I discovered your website and meditation guides in May, when I took a meditation class through my Bikram yoga studio. I had a brain tumor removed last November, and I have a stressful job as a dentist. Needless to say, there is plenty of anxiety in my life that needs to be soothed on a regular basis. The Mindfulness of Breathing recordings are incredibly helpful in guiding my sometimes frantic and anxious Type A mind to peace and calmness. Guided meditation has a significant positive effect on my mood and outlook. I am now very used to your voice and Scottish accent; it makes me want to visit my homeland, as I am Scottish by heritage as well.
Thank you for everything, and may Wildmind long thrive!
Thanks for your kind comments. I hope you remain healthy! I too had surgery for cancer a few months ago, and I was very glad of my meditation practice!
[…] found a delightfully simple definition on the site of Bodhipaksa, a Scottish Buddhist teacher of meditation and TEDx […]
I am a Usui and Thibetan Reiki Master Teacher. As I was randomly researching for a short story I am writing, I googled “mindfulness” and to my delight wildmind showed itself to me. I noticed too that you are in Newmarket, NH which further delighted me as I have lived there previous to moving to Arizona. I look forward to getting to know this site in its entirety. Thank you! Namaste : )
Nice to hear from you. When did you live in Newmarket?
I started reading your book in april after attempting to meditate for some time and it has made a big difference, I feel like I am actually starting to get somewhere, thankyou, its an exerlent book. I would like to go on a meditation retreat in the near future but I need somewhere that allows dogs with well behaved loving humans. Have tried getting contact details of the triratna website but could not fine them. Is there anyway of getting in touch with anyone? Thankyou again for your book
I’m glad to hear that you’re finding my book helpful. I’m afraid I don’t know of any retreat centers that welcome dogs. I’d imagine one concern might be that some visitors may have allergies. But if you want to contact someone at Triratna, I found this email address at http://www.thebuddhistcentre.com: email@example.com. You should be able to get a reply there.
All the best,
Thank-you for your reply, will give them an e-mail
I am a volunteer with Buddhist Global Relief, an organization that raises money and awareness for the struggle against hunger and malnutrition around the world. It seems your readers at Wildmind.org might share our commitment to ending suffering in the world, and to helping individuals and families who are struggling desperately against poverty and hunger. BGR’s projects reach over 200,000 individuals worldwide, helping to feed, educate and enrich the lives of communities from Kenya to Haiti, Bangladesh to Laos, and from Detroit to New York City, with a special emphasis on lifting girls and women out of poverty.
Founded by scholar and teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi in 2008, this year marks Buddhist Global Relief’s 10th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone we will be engaging in a fundraising initiative, culminating with the Concert To Feed The Hungry on April 29, 2018 at 5pm at Saint Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery in New York City. Featured performers will be award-winning vocalist/composer Kavita Shah, Chilean singer/songwriter Camila Meza, a live Candombe performance (folkloric drumming from Uruguay), the St. Mark’s Choir, and a rare performance of sacred mask dances from Bhutan.
I am writing to see if you would be interested in supporting this fundraising initiative and/or April 29 concert event, either by covering us through an interview, preview article, blogpost, or donating advertising space to BGR, or mentioning the fundraising initiative as a Facebook post or in an email to your supporters, just to give a few examples. We would of course love to see you there and meet in person on April 29 if you are available.
You can find more information on how to donate to this effort, and more about the April 29 concert at https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/Mjk4MTU=, or by emailing concert producer and BGR board member Daniel Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CONCERTTOFEEDTHEHUNGRY/
Thank you for all of the good work you are doing and we hope to be in touch.
I’m sorry I missed this post, Linda. Please do contact me again next year, though. The more advance notice, the better! Sometimes my schedule is very busy for weeks at a time.
My son is in a secure hospital diagnosed with delusional disorder. He does not accept that he is ill so his release is very slim. I feel he does not accept that he is ill because he cannot accept failure. He only fell ill after university , when he was in his 20’s. I feel your meditation on “not beating yourself up” may be useful for him. Have you made a CD of this that I can send him? Many thanks.
Hi, Foong Ming.
It’s really not advisable for people who are delusional to meditate. It tends to intensify the delusions and bring on a sense of grandiosity. It’s better to leave his treatment in the hands of medical professionals.
All the best,
I started using your meditations back in 2008. I have now been practising meditation for 16 years. I do not belong to any specific tradition, but I did a Vipassana in India in 2017 and I used to study with the New Kadampa tradition.
I want to study teacher training so that I can help others learn meditation. But I have no idea where to start, any recommendations?
Unfortunately I don’t know of any meditation teacher training programs at present. I’ve been thinking of setting one up myself for a long time now, but time hasn’t allowed for that. I’m sorry I’m not able to be of more help!
All the best,
Thanks for letting me know. Can I ask how you became a teacher? If you ever wanted to setup a teaching class I’d sign up :-)
First of all I had a practice, which I developed at the Glasgow Buddhist Centre. Because I wanted to support the center I observed and supported a number of meditation classes, seeing how people taught and how they dealt with various questions and difficulties that participants raised. Naturally in such a situation you sometimes find yourself chiming in, contributing a little of your own experience, which is closer to that of the newcomers than is the experience of the teachers, who had been meditating for years at that point.
Eventually a few of us who had been supporting classes in this way wanted to run a pilot meditation class that took place on a weekend, rather than an evening, and was a bit more like a day retreat, because it went on for perhaps four hours. We’d all been in different (non-meditational) teaching situations and we felt that we could do things a little more differently, and perhaps in some ways better from the point of view of creating a good learning experience. This included simple things like having name badges, which was something that the regular teachers never did. It also included team teaching, rather than having just one teacher. We got permission to run this class and it was very successful.
I taught some classes outside the center — for example as part of a placement I was doing as I trained as a community education worker, and in a college setting where none of the regular teachers from the center were available.
I didn’t really begin to teach in the center on a regular basis until after I was ordained, in 1993. I was very nervous and worried a lot that I was making mistakes or wasn’t interesting.
Later I moved to Dhanakosa retreat center to become the manager there. It wasn’t a teaching position but I ended up volunteering to lead retreats. Sometimes these were weekend retreats and sometimes they lasted a week. The experience of sustained teaching rather than teaching once a week for just a couple of hours gave me sense of continuity of practice (in teaching) that was very helpful. I also learned to worry less about whether I was boring, and found ways to be more interactive in my teaching. I tended to draw on examples of teaching from outside of the meditation classes I’d supported, which enriched the experience for students. (A lot of meditation teachers simply taught the way they had been taught, without changing anything much, which meant they weren’t seeking more effective ways to teach.)
I continued to teach when I moved to Edinburgh and then to Missoula, and then I explored teaching online, which I’m still doing. I’d say that the experience of recording myself has been helpful.
Anyway, that’s a potted history. I hope you find it helpful! If you’re on my mailing list you’ll be the first to know when I set up a teacher training program. I hope to do that next year.
All the best,
Thank you Bodhipaksa, that is very helpful. I am very happy to have talked to you, almost a bit star struck. Thank you so much for letting me know your potted history, very interesting to learn and gives a picture.
I have just followed you on Facebook, If you could let me know how ro be added to the mailing list, I will join that also.
No need to be star-struck! I’m very ordinary.
If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so here.
All the best,
I have been practising mindfulness and meditation for around 9 years or so, which has had a tremendous effect on my mental health, particularly anxiety. My teacher recommended that I add self compassion to my toolbox and a visit to my local Buddhist centre was where your book (This Difficult Thing of Being Human) jumped out at me.
I am loving the book and this site so I just wanted to say a big thank you.
I’m delighted to hear that you’re enjoying the book. I hope it turns out to be helpful.
Which Buddhist centre did you find it in?
All the best,