Wildmind https://www.wildmind.org Learn Meditation Online Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:58:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://static.wildmind.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg Wildmind https://www.wildmind.org 32 32 “It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/quote-of-the-month/it-seems-that-perfection-is-attained-not-when-there-is-nothing-more-to-add-but-when-there-is-nothing-more-to-remove-antoine-de-saint-exupery https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/quote-of-the-month/it-seems-that-perfection-is-attained-not-when-there-is-nothing-more-to-add-but-when-there-is-nothing-more-to-remove-antoine-de-saint-exupery#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 22:55:42 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40177

“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.”
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

When he wrote these words the legendary aviator and author of the children’s classic, The Little Prince, was talking about the evolution of flying machines, but they apply equally to meditation.

One of the traditional terms for meditation is “bhāvanā” which means “cultivation,” “producing,” or “developing.” We use that term when we talk about lovingkindness meditation, for example: mettā bhāvanā. And this can give us the impression that meditation is something we do. But essentially meditation is about not doing. It’s about letting go of all …

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“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.”
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

When he wrote these words the legendary aviator and author of the children’s classic, The Little Prince, was talking about the evolution of flying machines, but they apply equally to meditation.

One of the traditional terms for meditation is “bhāvanā” which means “cultivation,” “producing,” or “developing.” We use that term when we talk about lovingkindness meditation, for example: mettā bhāvanā. And this can give us the impression that meditation is something we do. But essentially meditation is about not doing. It’s about letting go of all effort that interferes with our wellbeing and that hinders our being in harmony with ourselves and others.

Where we’re headed in meditation — our “goal” if you want to use that language — is a state of natural ease and awareness. Resting in natural ease and awareness is not something you can “do.” It’s something that emerges as we let go of unnecessary effort. By way of an everyday analogy, sometimes when we’re tense we unconsciously make a fist. The muscles in our hands tighten, and so our hands ball up. Tightening your muscles is doing something. It’s an example of unnecessary effort. What we call “relaxing” isn’t doing something. It happens when we cease to do something that isn’t necessary and isn’t helpful. When our hand is not doing anything it is naturally open and relaxed.

Meditation involves ceasing to do things that aren’t necessary or helpful. It’s about becoming naturally open and relaxed.

Every time we let go of distracted thinking and let our awareness settle down into the body, we’re letting go of unnecessary activity that makes us unhappy.

When we let go of unnecessary thinking, we start to become happier. Happiness isn’t something we do. It’s something that starts to happen naturally when we stop pummeling the nervous system with thoughts of worrying, wanting, disliking, and doubting. When the nervous system is at rest — when we’re at peace with ourselves — we feel happy and balanced.

We often talk in terms of “bringing our awareness back” to the breathing or to the body, but actually our awareness has never left the breathing or the body. Our nervous system doesn’t stop functioning when we’re not paying attention to something. So even if we aren’t consciously aware of the body or the breathing, nerves are still carrying sensations up to the brain. This is happening in every moment. We’re never really bringing our attention back anywhere: we’re simply letting go of focusing unnecessarily on something else. As soon as you start to let go of unnecessarily and unhelpfully focusing on your thinking, sensations from the body (which are always there) are noticed. Your attention brings itself back to the body, by no longer excluding it from conscious awareness.

As we spend more time in the body, pleasant feelings of relaxation and aliveness begin to emerge. Again, this isn’t something that we do. It’s something that simply arises as the body responds to being noticed, and as we stop flooding it with stress hormones.

I’m not making the argument that we shouldn’t ever do anything in meditation. For a long time it’s inevitable that we’re going to have a feeling we’re doing something. There are times we might want to direct our thoughts — for example when we’re cultivating compassion and we direct the mind toward suffering, or when we’re cultivating appreciation and turn the mind toward things that are good.

But the more there’s a quality of allowing, the more alive and vital our meditation practice is likely to be. Allowing brings with it openness and receptivity, and those things enrich our experience; sensations and connections we hadn’t noticed before become evident, and there’s a sense of joyful discovery. The more we think in terms of “doing,” the narrower our focus becomes. And this kills joy.

So I suggest that you think less in terms of doing and more in terms of letting go and allowing. Think less in terms of “meditating” and more in terms of simply sitting and allowing what is unnecessary and unhelpful to fall away, revealing joy, beauty, and presence. And as we allow this to continue, day after day, moment after moment, we let go of everything that diminishes our wellbeing, until there is nothing more to remove.

My 28-day online meditation course, Sitting With Bodhi, starts April 20. Sitting With Bodhi brings you a daily guided meditation to help enrich your practice. Each of the recordings is only 10 minutes in length, and guides you into a particular approach to practice, which you can continue for as long as you want. Click here to learn more or enroll.

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Find and sustain your inspiration https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/find-and-sustain-your-inspiration https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/find-and-sustain-your-inspiration#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2018 18:39:49 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40161 sitting with bodhi

Sometimes our inspiration dries up and we find ourselves going through the motions. We might even stop meditating regularly. And sometimes we listen to a guided meditation, online or at a retreat or workshop, and it feels like new life has been breathed into our practice. But then after a while things go back to normal again.

So here’s a new thing I’m doing that can help you sustain your inspiration: offering a new 10-minute guided meditation every day.

Last year I piloted this project with a meditation app start-up company, offering a daily 10-minute meditation, with the aim of providing spiritual nourishment to people who’ve been meditating for a while. Here are some of …

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sitting with bodhi

Sometimes our inspiration dries up and we find ourselves going through the motions. We might even stop meditating regularly. And sometimes we listen to a guided meditation, online or at a retreat or workshop, and it feels like new life has been breathed into our practice. But then after a while things go back to normal again.

So here’s a new thing I’m doing that can help you sustain your inspiration: offering a new 10-minute guided meditation every day.

Last year I piloted this project with a meditation app start-up company, offering a daily 10-minute meditation, with the aim of providing spiritual nourishment to people who’ve been meditating for a while. Here are some of the comments people made:

  • This was awesome. I could not only quiet my mind, focusing on the skin, but the sensations of my circulatory system at work as well. The heart beat, but also sensing arteries at work through the skin. This has been unique. Thank you Bodhi!
  • The introduction to this meditation was a masterpiece!
  • Sitting with Bodhi feels like “I am sitting with Bodhi.” It’s intimate, and primes the pump just enough for me to then “riff” off of the theme or tone Bodhi sets. I have a little digital timer that I start for 25m when I start the session. This has worked well for me…
  • This was my first meditation with Sitting With Bodhi and it’s my new favorite. The imagery resonated immediately and the timing was perfect. Beautifully done! I meditated for 30 minutes but then just continued after the bell for some time.
  • Your tone of voice always calms my mind, Bodhi. I do struggle to stay focused throughout intros at times but with these meditations as it is something new every time I seem to be staying much calmer and focused. Maybe the trick is because it is a different topic each day.
  • I really enjoy and value the daily feed of meditation guidance. It’s helping me progress.

These short meditations don’t have an “end.” They simply introduce an approach to meditating and then leave you to sit for as long as you like. So you can set a timer for anywhere from 12 minutes (the minimum recommended) to 20, 30, 40 minutes — however long you want. These introductions give the raft of your practice a little “shove” into the river to get you started.

Sitting With Bodhi is a great way of learning new skills and of nourishing your practice. The first month-long series introduces highly effective ways to help you slow down your thoughts, calm the mind, and create a sanctuary of peace in the midst of your busy life.

There are two options for Sitting With Bodhi. You can opt simply to stream the guided meditations, or you can have both streaming meditations and a daily download. You can see more details and sign up below!

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Mindfulness: portal to a more conscious life https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/mindfulness-a-portal-to-a-more-conscious-life https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/mindfulness-a-portal-to-a-more-conscious-life#comments Fri, 06 Apr 2018 18:21:43 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40150 Photo by Madison Grooms on Unsplash

Mindfulness is a huge buzzword at the moment. Hundreds of clinical studies are run every year, looking at how it might benefit our health and wellbeing. It’s being used for stress management, pain management, addiction treatment, and to help people become better leaders.

But let’s go back to basics and ask, what is mindfulness anyway? Yes, Jon Kabat-Zinn says that it’s “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” And that’s true.

But to me the essence of mindfulness is observation. When we’re unmindful there’s no sense, or only a very distant and insignificant one, of us being an observer of our experience. We’re so caught up in …

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Photo by Madison Grooms on Unsplash

Mindfulness is a huge buzzword at the moment. Hundreds of clinical studies are run every year, looking at how it might benefit our health and wellbeing. It’s being used for stress management, pain management, addiction treatment, and to help people become better leaders.

But let’s go back to basics and ask, what is mindfulness anyway? Yes, Jon Kabat-Zinn says that it’s “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” And that’s true.

But to me the essence of mindfulness is observation. When we’re unmindful there’s no sense, or only a very distant and insignificant one, of us being an observer of our experience. We’re so caught up in our experience that there’s no part of us outside of it.

So we might be angry. You know what that’s like. There are angry thoughts. Our body tenses. Our endocrine glands release stress hormones, pushing up our blood pressure and raising our heart-rate. We raise our voice and us vocabulary that’s critical, sometimes designed to hurt, and say things that are often not entirely true. There’s lots going on. But there’s no significant portion of us that’s stepping back, observing all this happening, and asking the very important questions, “Is this really what I want to be doing right now? Is this helpful for my long term benefit and wellbeing?”

My online course, Living With Awareness, which provides a practical and accessible step-by-step guide to developing mindfulness, starts April 10.

Everything changes when we’re mindful. Now there’s a part of us that’s observing and monitoring our experience. We notice an angry thought arising. We notice tensing in the body, the presence of unpleasant feelings in the gut, signs of stress building. We notice that this is unpleasant. We might notice that perhaps the thought isn’t entirely true, but contains an element of exaggeration, which is contributing to our stress. We can ask those questions: “Is this what I want to be doing? Does this serve my wellbeing?”

We can let go of some of the anger, take a breath, come back to balance.
Now we’re able to sort though the anger response — to know better what it is we’re angry about and whether there’s something in the world around us that we might like to see changed. And we might be better equipped to do that in a way that’s sensitive to others, straightforward, and effective — at least compared to when we simply let off steam.

Now we all have the capacity to be mindful, but we spend a lot of time being unmindful as well, and so our habits of unmindfulness are well developed. We have to train ourselves to be mindful. It’s a practice.

At first our practice can be very bumpy. It can actually make our inner turmoil seem worse. Say we’re now observing all the things I mentioned up above: the angry thoughts, the tensing, the unpleasant feelings. We’ll often find ourselves getting upset because this isn’t how we want to be. And so we might switch from being angry at someone to being angry with ourselves (or perhaps being disappointed, doubting ourselves, or anxious). This can happen at first. But we learn to be mindful of that too, and to let go of it and simply be with and observe our experience.

All of this is deeply transformative. Mindfulness is a portal to a more conscious and purposeful approach to life. Mindfulness itself is not curious, but it allows curiosity to arise. Mindfulness itself is not kind, but it allows kindness space to manifest. Mindfulness is not itself wise, but it opens a doorway through which wisdom can make an appearance.

Mindfulness much more than a “relaxation technique,” a therapy, or a way to become a better leader. It’s the foundation for a life of spiritual practice, a life based on the conscious intent to be the best possible version of ourselves.

My online course, Living With Awareness, which provides a practical and accessible step-by-step guide to developing mindfulness, starts April 10.

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Calmness as a revolutionary act https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/calmness-as-a-revolutionary-act https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/calmness-as-a-revolutionary-act#comments Fri, 06 Apr 2018 01:55:32 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40146 Extract from  "Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig.

I came across this extract from “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig this morning. I thought it was worth sharing:

The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an antiaging moisturizer? You make someone worry about aging. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a

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Extract from  "Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig.

I came across this extract from “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig this morning. I thought it was worth sharing:

The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an antiaging moisturizer? You make someone worry about aging. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.

To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own nonupgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.

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Don’t believe everything you think https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/mind-fake-news https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/mind-fake-news#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 01:11:13 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40127

We’re rightly concerned about “Fake News” — fabricated stories created in order to sway people’s political choices or simply to sell online advertising. But our thoughts are often “fake news,” and similarly have powerful effects on us. Much of what we think isn’t true, and that’s especially true of the thoughts that make us freak out and cause us to become anxious, panicked, or depressed.

Our minds create stories. They perform the important function of taking fragments of information and turning them into narratives. Sometimes these stories are true and helpful — for example when our ancestors learned that eating a particular berry led to painful stomach cramps. Creating a story out of those two …

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We’re rightly concerned about “Fake News” — fabricated stories created in order to sway people’s political choices or simply to sell online advertising. But our thoughts are often “fake news,” and similarly have powerful effects on us. Much of what we think isn’t true, and that’s especially true of the thoughts that make us freak out and cause us to become anxious, panicked, or depressed.

Our minds create stories. They perform the important function of taking fragments of information and turning them into narratives. Sometimes these stories are true and helpful — for example when our ancestors learned that eating a particular berry led to painful stomach cramps. Creating a story out of those two snippets of experience could literally be life-saving.

But we often create stories that are neither true nor useful. For example, when we’re in pain or sick, depressed or anxious, we commonly assume that how we’re feeling is going to continue forever, or that it’s going to get worse. We might tell ourselves that nobody cares. Those thoughts are stories, and they take already existing pain and add on top an extra and unnecessary layer of suffering — hence the expression, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

The worst thing is that we’re like gullible news-consumers; we tend to believe every thought that passes through our minds, often not even entertaining the possibility that they might be lies.

As you practice mindfulness, however, you can learn to be more skeptical. You can learn to notice whether or not a particular thought is true and whether it is helping you. One rule of thumb is this: notice what effect your thoughts are having on your feelings.

Do your thoughts spark feelings of joy, connection, and engagement? Or do they make you feel small and powerless, or push your emotional buttons until you feel that your mind is out of control, in a spiral of anxiety, depression, or anger?

In observing the effects that your thinking has on how you feel, it’s particularly useful to observe the area around the heart and the solar plexus, since these are the primary places our feelings are experienced. And when we talk about noticing feelings, we’re talking about observing sensations in the body. Often when you ask someone how they feel, they’ll say something like “I feel like a loser.” But “like a loser” is a thought, not a feeling. The actual feeling — the pattern of sensations in the body, might be something like “despondency” or “sadness.” Name what you feel. Let go of the thoughts.

If you find yourself noticing that a thought makes you feel unhappy, this can be a prompt not just to let go of engaging with it — dropping the story — but to investigate whether the thought is actually true. Ask yourself, “Is this thought true?”

Often the mind clings to old patterns, however, and so it’ll say “Yes, it’s true! Of course it’s true!”

So ask again, but this time ask probe a little deeper: “Is this absolutely true?” Asking a second time usually prompts us to find exceptions and counter-examples to the story we’ve been telling ourselves. It helps us to let go of old patterns of thought.

And another very interesting question for us to ask ourselves is this: “What would things be like if I didn’t have this thought?” (This is a question that the spiritual teacher Byron Katie is famous for.)

So a typical pattern might be like this:

We have a thought like, Nobody likes me. I’m always going to be lonely.

Notice that the thought creates unpleasant feelings.

Ask: Is this true? “Yes!” comes the response.

Ask: Is this absolutely true? “Well, I do have friends, and there are people I get on with at work.”

OK. Now we’re less attached to our suffering-inducing thoughts.

Ask: What would it be like not to have this thought? “Well, I guess maybe I’d feel less fearful of whether people liked me or not. Maybe I’d feel more confident. Stronger.”

Now you’ve begun to step out of your normal mindset — the trap of stories that you’ve woven for yourself — and have opened up to the possibility of change.

But it’s crucial to allow the insight “Not all of my thoughts are true or helpful” into awareness. We need to seriously take this on board, and start to be more skeptical about our thinking. Only then will we start to see how often our minds exaggerate or lie to us, creating stories that cause us to freak out.

Our 28-day online course, Stop Freaking Out: Finding Calm Amidst the Chaos, starts April 1.

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Enjoy life https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/enjoy-life https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/enjoy-life#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2018 12:00:23 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40058
Available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk.

What’s a great way to lower stress, strengthen your immune system, and help you settle back down if you’ve been stressed or worried? Taking time to Enjoy Life.

In my new book

Resilient I offer practical strategies for growing the 12 inner-strengths you need for lasting well-being in a changing world.

In the excerpt below, we’ll explore one of those:

Enjoying Life.

If a drug company could patent enjoyment, there would be ads for it every night on TV. Enjoyable experiences – such as petting a cat, drinking water when you’re thirsty, or smiling at a friend – lower stress hormones, strengthen the immune system, and help you settle …

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Available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk.
What’s a great way to lower stress, strengthen your immune system, and help you settle back down if you’ve been stressed or worried? Taking time to Enjoy Life.

In my new book Resilient I offer practical strategies for growing the 12 inner-strengths you need for lasting well-being in a changing world.

In the excerpt below, we’ll explore one of those: Enjoying Life.

If a drug company could patent enjoyment, there would be ads for it every night on TV. Enjoyable experiences – such as petting a cat, drinking water when you’re thirsty, or smiling at a friend – lower stress hormones, strengthen the immune system, and help you settle back down if you’ve gotten frustrated or worried.

As enjoyment increases, so does the activity of key neurochemicals, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and natural opioids. Deep in the brain, circuits in the basal ganglia use rising dopamine to prioritize and pursue actions that feel rewarding. If you’d like to be more motivated about certain things – such as exercising, eating healthy foods, or pushing through a tough project at work – focusing on what’s enjoyable about them will naturally draw you into doing them. Norepinephrine helps you stay alert and engaged. In a boring afternoon meeting, finding something, anything, to enjoy about it will keep you awake and make you more effective. Natural opioids, including endorphins, calm your body if you’re stressed and reduce physical and emotional pain.

Together, dopamine and norepinephrine flag experiences as “keepers,” heightening their consolidation as lasting resources inside your brain.

Let’s say you’d like to be more patient at home or work. To grow this inner strength, look for opportunities to experience some patience. Then focus on whatever is enjoyable about it, such as how good it feels to stay calm and relaxed. An experience of patience or any other psychological resource is a state of mind, and enjoying it helps turn it into a positive trait embedded in your brain.

Enjoying life is a powerful way to care for yourself. Think about some of the things you enjoy. For me, they include smelling coffee, talking with my kids, and seeing a blade of grass push up through a sidewalk. What’s on your own list? Not so much the million dollar moments, but the small real opportunities for enjoyment present in even the toughest life: perhaps feeling friendly with someone, relaxing when you exhale, or drifting to sleep at the end of a long hard day. And no matter what is happening outside you, you can always find something to enjoy inside your own mind: maybe a private joke, an imagined experience, or recognizing your own warm heart.

These small ways to enjoy the life that you have contain a big lesson. It’s usually the little things adding up over time that make the largest difference. There is a saying in Tibet: If you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.

What’s the most important minute in life? I think it’s the next one. There is nothing we can do about the past, and we have limited influence over the hours and days to come. But the next minute – minute after minute after minute – is always full of possibility.

Are there opportunities to be on your own side, bring caring to your pain, accept yourself, and enjoy what you can? Is there something you could heal, something you could learn?

Minute by minute, step by step, strength after strength, you can always grow more of the good inside yourself. For your own sake, and the sake of others as well.

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“Turn toward the fire, and enter, confident.” Dante Alighieri https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/quote-of-the-month/turn-toward-the-fire-and-enter-confident-dante-alighieri https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/quote-of-the-month/turn-toward-the-fire-and-enter-confident-dante-alighieri#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2018 21:23:50 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40038

Today I’m going to talk about pain and how meditation can help you deal with it. You may not be experiencing pain today, but it’s something that happens to us all, and hopefully there will be something here that you find useful. Also what I’m going to say applies not just to physical but to emotional pain (hurt, anxiety, loneliness, etc.) so it’s relevant to everyone.

In the midst of pain there is magic. If you find this puzzling, let me tell you how I know this and how you can see it for yourself.

I started having migraines when I was perhaps 13 years old. When I first tried meditating with migraines it did …

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Today I’m going to talk about pain and how meditation can help you deal with it. You may not be experiencing pain today, but it’s something that happens to us all, and hopefully there will be something here that you find useful. Also what I’m going to say applies not just to physical but to emotional pain (hurt, anxiety, loneliness, etc.) so it’s relevant to everyone.

In the midst of pain there is magic. If you find this puzzling, let me tell you how I know this and how you can see it for yourself.

I started having migraines when I was perhaps 13 years old. When I first tried meditating with migraines it did not help. As soon as I took my awareness to the nausea it would become more intense. And there was no way on earth I wanted to turn toward the headaches. I just wanted them to go away.

It turned out, though, that being mindful of less extreme forms of discomfort, like an aching back, hunger, an itch, or even emotional forms of pain, such as sadness or grief was a useful way to train for more extreme pain. It became more natural to turn toward what is painful rather than to turn away. I found that much of the pain that is involved in such experiences is actually caused by my resistance. When we tense up physically or emotionally around pain, it gets more intense.

Part of the practice of investigating pain was to see that it wasn’t a unitary phenomenon. We can use the single word “pain” to refer to, say, a sore back, but that doesn’t capture the richness and complexity of the experience. When I looked closely, I found that the pain was composed of a number of interwoven sensations. There might be heat, pressure, tingling, pulsing, throbbing, stabbing, and so on. One or another of these might be the most prominent part of the pain at any given time. Each of them changed, moment by moment. Pain stopped seeming so solid. In fact even the individual interwoven sensations I’ve mentioned stopped seeming solid, and instead had the appearance of twinkling points of sensation suspended in space. Sometimes, in turning my attention toward pain, I’d find that there was no pain to be found.

I’ve noticed the same in other arenas in life. I often edit my own meditation recordings, and sometimes I’ll have to remove a click that’s in the middle of a sound, like the AH sound in the word “relaxed.” And I noticed that when I zoom in really close to a sound like AH — down at the level of fractions of a hundredth of a second — there’s no AH to be heard. This morning, at the end of my meditation, I was looking at a white candle, and I couldn’t see any white. There were infinite shades of browns and yellows, but no white. So, sometimes when you look close enough at a thing, it has a completely different appearance from when it’s viewed from further away or with less attention.

So a few days ago I woke up with a migraine. I observed that there were many sensations in the body that were unrelated to the migraine at all. When we fixate on pain we miss those. I found that my calf muscles in particular were full of pleasurable tingling energy, and the more I paid attention to everything that was not the migraine, the more intense and widespread those sensations became. And then turning toward the pain and the nausea, everything very quickly took on that now familiar sense of transparency. Around 15 minutes into the meditation my tummy started rumbling, which is always a sign that the migraine is on the way out, since my entire digestive tract shuts down during a migraine. At that point the migraine wasn’t entirely gone, but it was quite manageable and I was able to get up and go about my day.

I don’t want to give the impression that I have this sorted out. Sometimes pain sneaks up on me and I forget to be mindful of it. And there are some forms of emotional discomfort that I have most definitely not learned to embrace in awareness, and that I react to strongly. I’m still working with all this and trying to learn to do it better.

But I’d strongly suggest, if you have problems with pain (and you all will at some point) that you practice turning toward smaller discomforts as a way of training yourself to be mindful and equanimous with difficult experiences. Over time I hope you’ll find, as I have, that in the midst of pain there is magic.

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The world needs your kindness https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/the-world-needs-your-kindness https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/the-world-needs-your-kindness#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2018 19:15:20 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40061

Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world.
–The Buddha

Just as a child needs nurturing parents, the world, now more than ever, needs our wisdom, compassion, and care. But changing the world starts with changing ourselves.

For 2,500 years the Buddhist meditation tradition has offered powerful tools for self-transformation — for becoming wiser, kinder, and more compassionate.

Our 28-day online course introduces the practice of lovingkindness meditation, which helps us to be more at ease with, more patient with, and more supportive of ourselves, as well as calmer and kinder to those …

The post The world needs your kindness appeared first on Wildmind.

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Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world.
–The Buddha

Just as a child needs nurturing parents, the world, now more than ever, needs our wisdom, compassion, and care. But changing the world starts with changing ourselves.

For 2,500 years the Buddhist meditation tradition has offered powerful tools for self-transformation — for becoming wiser, kinder, and more compassionate.

Our 28-day online course introduces the practice of lovingkindness meditation, which helps us to be more at ease with, more patient with, and more supportive of ourselves, as well as calmer and kinder to those in our lives — from our dearest friends to those we find ourselves in conflict with.

I invite you to join me on this path of the heart, this discovery of the hidden power of kindness.

The post The world needs your kindness appeared first on Wildmind.

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Three reasons to be for yourself (book extract) https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/three-reasons-to-be-for-yourself-book-extract https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/three-reasons-to-be-for-yourself-book-extract#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2018 03:45:17 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40051
Available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk.

Compassion for yourself is fundamental, since if you don’t care how you feel and want to do something about it, it’s hard to make an effort to become happier and more resilient.

My new book Resilient focuses on growing 12 essential inner-strengths for lasting well-being in a changing world, and Compassion is one of them.

In the excerpt below, you’ll learn the importance of growing compassion for yourself.

When we treat others with respect and caring, the best in them usually comes out.

Much the same would happen if we could treat ourselves the same way.

Yet most of us are a better friend to others than we are …

The post Three reasons to be for yourself (book extract) appeared first on Wildmind.

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Available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk.

Compassion for yourself is fundamental, since if you don’t care how you feel and want to do something about it, it’s hard to make an effort to become happier and more resilient.

My new book Resilient focuses on growing 12 essential inner-strengths for lasting well-being in a changing world, and Compassion is one of them.

In the excerpt below, you’ll learn the importance of growing compassion for yourself.

When we treat others with respect and caring, the best in them usually comes out.

Much the same would happen if we could treat ourselves the same way.

Yet most of us are a better friend to others than we are to ourselves. We care about their pain, see positive qualities in them, and treat them fairly and kindly. But what kind of friend are you to yourself? Many people are tough on themselves, critical, second-guessing and self-doubting, tearing down rather than building up.

Imagine treating yourself like you would a friend. You’d be encouraging, warm, and sympathetic, and you’d help yourself heal and grow. Think about what a typical day would be like if you were on your own side. What would it feel like to appreciate your good intentions and good heart, and be less self-critical?

Why It’s Good to Be Good to Yourself
It helps to understand the reasons why it’s both fair and important to be on your own side. Otherwise, beliefs like these can take over: “It’s selfish to think about what you want.” “You don’t deserve love.” “Deep down you’re bad.” “You’ll fail if you dream bigger dreams.”

First, there’s the general principle that we should treat people with decency and compassion. Well, “people” includes the person who wears your nametag. The Golden Rule is a two-way street: we should do unto ourselves as we do unto others.

Second, the more influence we have over someone, the more responsibility we have to treat them well. For example, surgeons have great power over their patients, so they have a great duty to be careful when they operate on them. Who’s the one person you can affect the most? It’s yourself, both you in this moment and your future self: the person you will be in the next minute, week, or year. If you think of yourself as someone to whom you have a duty of care and kindness, what might change in how you talk to yourself, and in how you go about your day?

Third, being good to yourself is good for others. When people increase their own well-being, they usually become more patient, cooperative, and caring in their relationships.

Think about how it would benefit others if you felt less stressed, worried, or irritated, and more peaceful, contented, and loving.

You can take practical steps to help yourself really believe that it’s good to treat yourself with respect and compassion. You could write down simple statements – such as “I am on my own side” or “I’m taking a stand for myself” or “I matter, too” – and read them aloud to yourself or put them somewhere you’ll see each day. You could imagine telling someone why you are going to take better care of your own needs. Or imagine a friend, a mentor, or even your fairy godmother telling you to be on your own side – and let them talk you into it!

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Breaking the cycle of resentment https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/breaking-the-cycle-of-resentment https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/breaking-the-cycle-of-resentment#comments Sun, 11 Mar 2018 16:39:48 +0000 https://www.wildmind.org/?p=40026

Most of our suffering is self-inflicted.

When we call to mind some resentment from the past, we often assume that it’s the other person who’s making us suffer. And perhaps they did hurt us at some point. But unless they’re still in our lives doing the same thing that hurt us before, right now it’s our own thought processes that are causing us pain.

There’s a 5th century text by a monk called Buddhaghosa, “The Path of Purification,” that discusses reflecting on this very thingas a way of getting rid of resentment. He suggests we ask ourselves why, if another person has hurt us, should we then hurt ourselves?

So when resentful thoughts come into …

The post Breaking the cycle of resentment appeared first on Wildmind.

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Most of our suffering is self-inflicted.

When we call to mind some resentment from the past, we often assume that it’s the other person who’s making us suffer. And perhaps they did hurt us at some point. But unless they’re still in our lives doing the same thing that hurt us before, right now it’s our own thought processes that are causing us pain.

There’s a 5th century text by a monk called Buddhaghosa, “The Path of Purification,” that discusses reflecting on this very thingas a way of getting rid of resentment. He suggests we ask ourselves why, if another person has hurt us, should we then hurt ourselves?

So when resentful thoughts come into the mind, we can be aware that we’re causing ourselves pain. Now our problem with a person we have a grievance about is that they caused us pain, and yet here we are doing the same thing to ourselves!

Reflecting this way is probably not going to stop the whole process of resentment straight away. But it lessens the stream of resentful thoughts enough that we can start to think straight again.

Implicit in the practice that Buddhaghosa is suggesting is that we become aware of the way that feelings and thoughts affect each other. When we have resentful thoughts, this triggers feelings of pain, hurt, anxiety, etc. And those feelings in turn trigger further resentful thoughts. So our resentment becomes cyclical, which is one reason it becomes such a problem for us.

The Buddha talked about this in terms of two arrows. He said that being hurt is like being shot by an arrow. That’s obviously painful, but the stream of thoughts that springs up in reaction to our pain hurts us even more. He said that it’s like being shot by yet another arrow. Actually, each thought is an arrow. And because we can have a thousand resentful thoughts in reaction to being hurt, we often fire many more arrows at ourselves than the other person ever did.

Buddhaghosa offers some other reflections as well. He points out that in your life you’ve had to give up many things that brought you happiness. So why, he says, should we not walk away from resentment, which makes you miserable?

He also suggests that if another person has done something we disapprove of, then we should reflect on why we are doing something (like getting angry and resentful) that we would also disapprove of them doing? We should hold ourselves to the same standard we hold other people to. He’s suggesting that we practice integrity.

Buddhaghosa further points out that if someone wants to hurt you, why give them satisfaction by joining in? You may make the other person suffer with your anger. Then again you may not. But you’ll definitely hurt yourself.

These are all just ways of tapping the brakes.

I find that a very useful and important practice is to notice where thoughts appear to come from, which you’ll probably find is up in your head, and where feelings arise, which is probably down in the body, mainly around the heart and the gut.

Bodhi Mind iPhone app
Download my FREE guided meditation iPhone app!
Once you’re aware of this separation, you can more easily see the dynamic that’s in operation between those two parts of our being. You can see how a thought affects how you feel — for example causing you to be afraid or feel hurt or despondent — and how those feelings can affect how you think — provoking you to have further resentful thoughts.

When we do this we can start to see the whole cycle in operation.

Now lovingkindness practice is very important here, because we can find ourselves becoming aware of the cycle of resentment, and start criticizing ourselves. In practicing lovingkindness, however, we’re learning how to be more supportive, gentle, and understanding toward ourselves. So we can recognize that we’ve been caught up in a cycle of resentment. We can recognize the pain of knowing that we cause ourselves suffering. And we can offer ourselves kindness: “May I be well. May I be at ease. May I be free from suffering.”

None of these practices I’ve mentioned is a quick fix, but they help us to soften around our resentment, and this in turn helps us to let go and be at peace.

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