A taste of mindfulness

December 8, 2017

Vidyamala’s online course, Mindfulness for Women: Declutter Your Mind, Simplify Your Life, Find Time to ‘Be’, starts Jan 1. Click here now to enroll!

Get yourself into a comfortable posture. You can be sitting or lying down, it’s up to you. Relax for a moment to allow yourself to settle. Now, notice how your body feels. What physical sensations are you experiencing at this moment? Maybe you feel pressure between your bottom and the chair you’re sitting on or the floor beneath you. What does this feel like? For a few moments, just be open to any sensations in your body, experiencing them with an attitude of kindly curiosity.

Now take a moment to listen … Read more »

Let the breathing observe you

December 5, 2017

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 »

Gratitude

December 4, 2017
An International Organization promoting Buddhist Recovery


What I’m up to

Last month I was appointed as the new President of the international organization Buddhist Recovery Network BRN. Sounds grand, but I have the task of bringing this organization out of dormancy and popularizing Buddhist Recovery in all its guises to the rest of the world. I have also been invited to be part of the Menla Retreat Centre (Upstate New York) Faculty as the lead teacher in Buddhist Recovery and Mindfulness Secular Recovery. Kevin Griffin and I will be launching their first Buddhist Recovery Retreat in July 2018.

What I’m Thinking
Another year with more fatalities and casualties from opioids. And as the month … Read more »

Loving and supporting whatever is difficult within you

November 30, 2017

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash.

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 »

“We forget our faults easily when they are known only to ourselves.” Francois de la Rochefoucauld

November 22, 2017

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

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 »

Mindfulness: freedom from, freedom to

November 21, 2017

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/BkkVcWUgwEk

Mindfulness is everywhere these days, but it’s often poorly defined. To me its central and defining characteristic is self-observation. When we’re unmindful, there’s no self-observation going on. The lights are on, but nobody’s home.

Thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions are all functioning, but there’s no inner observer, and so there’s no evaluation going on. Without evaluation there’s no mechanism for recognizing that certain thoughts etc. are causing us or others suffering. And so we’re really nothing more than a complex bundle of instincts and habits. Those instincts and habits can do amazing things, like drive a car (ever “woken up” to find you’ve driven somewhere and have no recollection of the journey?) or read a … Read more »

Buddhist Recovery Summit

November 6, 2017
Vimalasara and Noah Levine having a high five moment.

Over a hundred people gathered at the Buddhist Recovery Summit in Lacey, Washington to share their knowledge and passion for the worldwide movements integrating Buddhism and Recovery, on October 20th to 22nd 2017. Dharma teachers, health care professionals, psychotherapists, counselors and people in recovery discussed the future of Buddhist Recovery.

Together we explored a range of recovery styles and practices, including Refuge Recovery, the Eight Step Recovery, Sit and Share, Heart of Recovery, Noble Steps, and Mindful Recovery.

There was a keynote panel including Noah Levine and Kevin Griffin from the USA, myself Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John from Canada, and Vince Cullen from Ireland, which discussed “What … Read more »

Finding meditation’s intrinsic rewards

October 30, 2017

The mind is pulled in two different directions in meditation.

Peace, calm, and joy are the intrinsic rewards that meditation offers, and in theory that reward system should help keep you anchored in your direct, moment-by-moment experience. That can happen, and in fact that’s a good description of the experience of jhana (dhyana in Sanskrit). Jhana is a state of “flow” in which meditation becomes effortless because the rewards of joy, pleasure, and calmness keep you immersed in your present-moment experience. The rewards of meditation can pull you into your practice. That’s the first pull.

But it’s not always easy to experience those rewards. There’s another pull, which we’re all too familiar with: the pull … Read more »

Bodhi Mind meditation app now available for free download

October 26, 2017

The Bodhi Mind app for iPhone and iPad is now available for download on the app store. Our app offers a library of well over 200 guided meditations, and the number will keep on growing. We intend that Bodhi Mind will be Wildmind’s main publishing platform from this point on.

You’ll find all the guided meditations from my CDs and meditation courses, plus materials that I’ve recorded for other purposes. Some live recordings from retreats and workshops have been added, with more on the way!

The app is free to download. Go get it now!

All of the meditations are available for a two week trial. After that you’ll have access to a … Read more »

“The painting paints itself”

October 26, 2017

The maker of a brief documentary sent me a link to this video. It’s worth setting aside the six minutes or so that it takes to watch it.

It shows Gert Johan Manschot — a Dutch artist who meditates — in action, creating beautiful Zen calligraphy–inspired paintings. Manschot lives in Texas, which I wish had been mentioned earlier in the video since at first I was baffled at his otherwise out-of-context references to longhorn cattle and cowboys.

Anyway … Monschot discusses his creative process, which involves waiting until the painting paints itself. This is a beautiful way of describing how the creative process involves an absence of clinging to self. This certainly matches my experience … Read more »