I was teaching a class the other night and after a guided meditation one woman said she’d found it hard because lots of thoughts came up, and she’d get absorbed in them. Then she had to keep letting go of the thoughts and returning to the breathing. Of course I reassured her that that’s absolutely normal. In fact, noticing that we’ve been caught up in the mind’s stories and returning to our present-moment experience (whether of the breathing or something else) is what meditation is about.
Once you accept that fact, you’re less likely to think of yourself as being a “bad meditator” or to think that your meditation practice isn’t going well just … Read more »
Almost ever summer over the last ten years, I’ve been teaching low income teens how to use their minds more effectively so that they can be more successful students, but also so that they can be more successful, happier, less stressed individuals.
We cover a lot of ground in my six-week course, but a core element is the practice of meditation. I was hesitant to do this. I wondered whether these restless teens would be able to sit still even for five to ten minutes. And what if they thought it was lame?
As it turned out, the most common comment in the end-of-term evaluation reports was “The best part was the meditation. I wish … Read more »
I just read a news story about an 18-year-old woman whose car went out of control and hit a dump truck. The woman and her 10-month-old son were killed. On her phone was a half-finished text message.
Now, not all multitasking is as catastrophic as that. We do it all the time, don’t we?
But why do we do it? Sometimes we say it’ll make us more efficient, but if you’re trying to type a report and keep interrupting yourself to send text messages and check Facebook, you’re not exactly being very efficient. It seems to me that what’s really going on is that we’re being anxious, and trying to find a distraction from our … Read more »
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 »
These days there’s an increasing interest in gaining insight — accepting the loaded word “gaining” for now.
On the whole this is a good thing. For a long time many in the West have been doubtful about whether awakening is a realistic goal. “Maybe we’re too messed up,” and “Maybe the modern world isn’t conducive to awakening,” were common doubts. As the years have gone by, however, more and more practitioners have had insight experiences, and this has been very encouraging for others. More people now think not just that awakening is possible, but that they personally are capable of it. This is great! How can there be a downside to this?
One thing I’ve … Read more »
We can use our attention in two ways: either as a flashlight or as a candle.
Flashlight attention is where we have a narrow, focused beam of awareness. We observe one aspect of our experience, and because our focus is narrow, we don’t notice much else. This is how we tend to use our attention during the day. You’re almost certainly using your attention like a flashlight right now as you focus on these words. You’re mostly aware of one word flowing after another, building up a pattern of meaning in your mind. You’re probably not aware (until I mention it) of the feeling of your bottom on your seat, or your shirt touching your … Read more »
Right now we’re crowdfunding so that we can bring out a meditation app. The app is called “Bodhi Mind,” and its going to offer a huge selection of my guided meditations, which you’ll literally have at your fingertips.
We’ve already raised almost 75% of what we need in order to develop the app. If you’re interested in becoming a backer, you only have five days left, so head over to our campaign page and select your perk.
But you might want to know what’s going to be in the Bodhi Mind app, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here.
In short, the Bodhi Mind app offers a path to spiritual awakening. It includes … Read more »
As a social species, human survival has depended on being part of a group. The greater the crowd, the smaller the chance of any one person being eaten.
There is safety in numbers.
The accompanying fear of silence, presumably related to the silence that falls when a predator is close at hand, seems to go beyond a …
“Just as the ocean may be turbulent above, but is always still in its depths, so beneath the surface noise of our thoughts there is always available a deep reserve of calm and tranquillity.” Bodhipaksa
Over my years of teaching and almost 35 years of practice, I’ve evolved a number of very effective meditation techniques for calming the mind. This album of four guided meditations (in CD and MP3 formats) contains the best tools I know of for creating inner peace.
To help us bring these teachings to the world, we’re asking that you help sponsor their production by purchasing the CD (or MP3s) in advance. Or you can simply make a donation. Head over … Read more »
“Do Buddhists celebrate Christmas?” is a question I’m often asked. My answer is usually along the lines that most Western Buddhists do, although not as a religious holiday.
It seems fair enough that a lot of Buddhists do Christmassy things in December, like giving and receiving gifts, and gathering together on the 25th to feast with friends and family. After all, Christianity itself “borrowed” the holiday from European Paganism, where it was known as Yule — a word that’s still in use in Northern Europe. Most of the things that we think of as “Christmassy” — trees, mistletoe, feasting — are in fact “Yule-y,” and nothing to do with the Bible. No religion has a … Read more »