One of the Buddha’s key teachings — arguably the key teaching — is the four noble truths, which tell us 1) that suffering happens, 2) that it happens for a reason, which is that we cling, 3) that it’s possible for us to reach a state where we don’t suffer (nirvana), and 4) that there are practices that help us to attain that state.
Although these four truths, or facts, might suggest that we can somehow learn to avoid suffering, what’s really required is that we learn to deal better with life’s sufferings, because they are inevitable. In other words, we need to learn to get better at suffering. It’s not that we should seek … Read more »
Dōgen, if you haven’t heard of him, is a big deal. At the time “Don’t Be a Jerk” came out, NPR had recently published an article by Adam Frank, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and self-described “evangelist of science,” who described Dōgen as “the greatest philosopher you’ve never heard of,” arguing that he deserved to be ranked alongside Heidegger and Husserl in terms of his contributions to … Read more »
We missed the anniversary, but Wildmind’s blog is now ten years old. Perhaps we should provide a list of the 10 most popular posts of the last decade, but that’s kind of unfair to our more recent work, since something written several years ago has had much more time to garner page views. So instead here, in reverse order, are the most popular articles on meditation that have been posted in the last 12 months.
We might imagine that when faced with doing something difficult, being “kind” to ourselves means that we’ll let ourselves off the hook. But that’s the opposite of what actually happens. Self-compassion means giving yourself support, … Read more »
Vidyamala’s online course — Mindfulness for Women: Declutter Your Mind, Simplify Your Life, Find Time to ‘Be’ — starts today on Wildmind. This course will help you to:
Vidyamala learned to meditate in 1985 and has been a dedicated practitioner since that time. In 1995 she was ordained into … Read more »
Meditation is a powerful practice, making us healthier, happier, and more compassionate. But even if you know this — even if you’ve experienced this — it can be hard to meditate regularly.
If you’ve had trouble establishing a daily meditation practice this may have seriously affected your self view. You may have come to believe that you are not the kind of person who can meditate daily. And that belief discourages you from meditating, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So let’s do something about that.
I’m going to share the tool that finally helped me to establish a rock-solid daily meditation practice!
Despite all the benefits of meditation that I’d learned about from science studies (it … Read more »
It’s natural to assume that the more we focus on ourselves and our own problems, the happier we’ll be. But consider this: in a study of language used by poets, it was found that those who used the words I, me, my, and mine were much more likely to commit suicide than those who used we, us, our, and ours.
In fact, poets who killed themselves used I-words more and more often as they approached their premature deaths, while those who lived long lives used we-words more and more often.
This relates to the problem of rumination, where our own thinking acts to amplify our suffering. Many of our thoughts containing I, me, my, … Read more »
When we experience conflict with or ill will toward another person it’s obvious that there’s something about them that causes us pain or discomfort. But it’s less obvious that it’s the feelings that arise within us that are key; when we have hateful or critical thoughts we’re reacting not directly to another person, but to our own pain.
Our ill will toward another person is really an inability to deal with feelings within ourselves that we find uncomfortable.
The purpose of hatred is, ultimately, to drive away the supposed source of the problem: the other person. If we’re unpleasant to them, we assume, they’ll go away and leave us alone. But this doesn’t work when … Read more »
I’d like to suggest a very different way of meditating.
Normally in meditation we think about observing the breathing. Actually a lot of people think about and practice observing the breath — air flowing in and out of the body’s airways — but I point out that it’s far more useful to observe the breathing, which is a much richer experience. When we’re observing the breathing we’re potentially observing the entire body, and how it participates in and responds to the process of air flowing in and out of our passageways.
In taking this approach of observing the breathing it’s useful first of all to relax the muscles around the yes. This brings about … Read more »
Someone wrote to me yesterday, saying that as she was getting into her spiritual practice, anger was starting to arise:
I have very recently started my journey towards freedom of suffering at the hands of myself or others. It would seem as though it has turned into an anger issue with me. So I am looking forward to any suggestions that may help me get to my centered, grounded, healing, happy place.
This can happen. As we’re leaving our comfort zone, fear can be triggered. We can also become more sensitive to the body as we practice meditation, and so we feel our feelings more strongly.
My own experience is that anger is a response … Read more »
Just as we can’t see what we look like unless we encounter a mirror, often we don’t know what we’re like in terms of our behavior and attitude unless those things are reflected by other people.
There’s a considerable amount of evidence that other people have a clearer picture of what we’re like as individuals than we do ourselves. While we’re fairly good at assessing ourselves in terms of internal factors, knowing better than others what we feel and thinks, when it comes to factors like intelligence, attractiveness, creativity, and competence, others have a far clearer perception of us than we do ourselves.
But sometimes even internal factors are hard to assess. In my role … Read more »