www.wildmind.org Wildmind

November 2003

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

Have a happy Halloween!

And welcome to another of Wildmind's newsletters. As always, we bring you a roundup of recent news-stories about meditation, a book recommendation, a quote of the month with commentary by Bodhipaksa -- and of course news about our forthcoming courses.

[If your email program can't handle HTML (i.e. if you can't see images and formatting in this newsletter) you can see this edition online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200311.htm.]

Our courses can help you to deal more effectively with stress, so that you can experience more joy and creativity in your life. Make sure you book your place now so that you can experience the benefits of meditation. Our next online meditation courses start Monday, November 3.

In this issue:

  • Meditation in the news
  • Workshops in New Hampshire and New York
  • Give $1 to Wildmind
  • Our online courses
  • Book of the month
  • Quote of the month

Meditation in the news

As always, we've collected together recent news stories concerning meditation. It seems that meditation is still generating a lot of interest in the press, and some of these stories appeared in more than one news outlet.

The science of meditation (SciDev.net)
Recently, Western neuroscientists have flocked to study Buddhism. The attraction? Meditation, that introspective inquiry into the workings of the mind that Buddhists have practiced for millennia.

Meditation techniques gain popularity -- and teen adherents, too (Star-Telegram, Texas, USA)
Teens, like the rest of America, are embracing meditation as a way to strip off stress.

Meditation or Medication? (KTVO, Missouri, USA)
Statistics show that nearly half of all Americans will die from heart disease, despite advances in medication and surgical procedures. According to many doctors, it's time to practice alternative healing.

Buddhist monk helps rugby club (BBC)
A rugby club is calling on the skills of a Buddhist monk to help improve their game.

See the light (The Advertiser News, Australia)
GONGING a giant bronze bell at 3 o'clock in the morning isn't everybody's idea of a must-do holiday experience, but if you are staying in a South Korean temple, it's part of the job description.

Sheree's Tips (Edmonton Journal, Canada)
Meditation is exercise for the mind. In terms of health, the benefits are, well, mind-boggling.

Sitting Meditation (Boston Globe)
Sit upright on a cushion on the floor or in a firm chair, with your eyes open, hands resting on your thighs.

The tortuous path to 'pretzel karma' (Boston Globe)
A while ago, I had what writer James Thurber would have called "a permanent case of the jumps." "Meditation versus medication," a friend advised me.

Putting Meditation Under the Microscope (Newsday)
Marietta Sabetta decided that the way to make a stand against her moderately high blood pressure was to sit still. The 52-year-old Seymour, Conn., woman asked her doctor if she could try lowering her blood pressure by taking a meditation class.

Medicine for the mind (The Independent, UK)
Meditation has never been more popular - and not just as a stress-buster. Research shows it can also lower blood pressure and help to fight disease. Julia Stuart meets some converts

Forthcoming workshops with Bodhipaksa in New Hampshire and New York


Saturday, Nov 22.
"The Enlightened One." A day retreat for men at Aryaloka Retreat Center, Newmarket, NH. A day of study and meditation on the Buddha chapter of the Dhammapada. Check website for details.

Saturday, Dec 6.
Awaken Your Spirituality -- Develop Your Intuitive Voice & Inner Power
at the Learning Annex, NYC. 10am to 6pm. "Bodhipaksa shares recent research that's uncovered how the Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation contributes to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Practice meditations and learn how it can have a profound effect on your happiness and soul." Check website for details.

Sunday, January 18.
"Yoga and Meditation with the two Scots". Led by Bodhipaksa and Gregor Singleton, New Hampshire Power Yoga Studio, Merrimack, NH. 10am to 3pm. Check website for details.

begging bowl


Give $1 to Wildmind

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting awareness and compassionate values through the practice of meditation.

If you've benefited from our site and would like to give something back, then making a small donation can help us enormously. Of course you can feel free to give more than a dollar!

Title: Seven great reasons to learn meditation with Wildmind
  1. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll have an ongoing practice discussion with Bodhipaksa, who will give you encouragement and personal feedback based on over 20 years' experience of meditation.
  2. Depth: As you reflect in your journal, get feedback, and gain insights from learning new practices, you'll take your meditation practice to a new level of effectiveness.
  3. Quality: Access to outstanding written and audiovisual materials online.
  4. Support: You'll benefit from the discipline of a structured four-week course.
  5. Convenience: Log on when you want, fitting classes into your schedule when it's convenient.
  6. Flexibility: Download audio files that will guide you through meditation at any time.
  7. Availability: Courses start every month -- check the website for dates.

A Current Student Writes

"I can say that I have gotten a great deal of benefit from this course, although I am not yet even a competent beginner. [The] benefits I notice are: physically, no migraine for a whole week; emotionally I still feel pretty stressed and "on the run" most of the time, but I can come out of that more easily; spiritually I feel more at ease"

Our online courses

We offer four online courses as well as our popular Life Member Program. For more information, click on any of the photographs or links and you'll be taken to our online store, where more details are available.

Our next online courses start on Monday, November 3.
Book your place now!

Life member program
Life Member Program

Lifelong access to all of our course materials, but without personal feedback and guidance. Suitable for self-directed students. ($95)

The Path of Mindfulness and Love

"The Path of Mindfulness and Love"

Our introduction to meditation, helping you to transform your life through mindfulness and lovingkindness, and helping you to set up a regular practice. ($65)

Change Your Mind

"Change Your Mind"

A level two course, introducing advanced techniques for combating negative mental states and for cultivating calmness, energy, contentment, and concentration. ($65)

Entering the Path of Insight
"Entering the Path of Insight"

Introducing the practice of insight meditation, which helps us to appreciate the interdependent nature of the reality we live in. ($65)

Awakening the Heart
"Awakening the Heart"

An alternative level two course, introducing the cultivation of lovingkindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and emotional balance. ($65)

book cover

Book of the month

Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor (Paperback, $9.60)

[If you want to buy this book from Amazon.com, click on the cover or title above. To purchase from Amazon.co.uk, click here.]

Stephen Batchelor was formerly a Tibetan monk, a monk in the Korean Zen tradition, a respected translator (of Shantideva's "Guide to the Buddhist Path"), and a student of existentialist philosophy. He's now a determinedly freelance Buddhist practitioner and thinker, and "Buddhism Without Beliefs" is an uncompromising guide to his existentialist, stripped-to-the-basics, agnostic Buddhist practice.

As such I found the book both irritating and deeply inspiring, although on balance I was more inspired than annoyed. Batchelor got me thinking -- which is very much his aim -- about the way in which a well-lived life should be conducted and, if this doesn't sound too grand, about the nature of reality.

Batchelor is a deep thinker, and he guides us step-by-step into an appreciation of "emptiness", the Buddhist teaching that all things are "interactive processes rather than aggregates of discrete things", and how an experience of emptiness necessarily results in the experience of compassion. It's hard to convey in writing the effect this has, but ordinary things cease to look so ordinary, and begin to have an aura or wonder. It's the depths of experience to which Batchelor leads us that I found particularly inspiring, as well as the freshness of his thinking and of his writing.

The irritability? Well, on occasion I got the impression that Batchelor thinks he has "got" what the Buddha taught, while just about everyone else is just "doing religion" -- saying the words without understanding or practicing them. In fact he comes across as being rather dismissive (and unfairly so) of traditional Buddhism. Does this mar an otherwise excellent book? To me it does, and yet I found it worthwhile to breathe deeply and to let go of my irritation and delve joyfully into the many insights that Batchelor presents.

On balance, I found this to be a deeply satisfying and practice-provoking book.

[If you want to buy this book from Amazon.com, click on the cover or title above. To purchase from Amazon.co.uk, click here.]


Quote of the month

"If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent". -- Sir Isaac Newton

Newton was of course primarily interested in exploring the outer physical world through scientific inquiry, but his words are equally applicable to the work of exploring our own consciousness.

It's easy to think of meditation just as a tool for calming ourselves down or for relaxing, but actually the main purpose of meditation is to get to know ourselves intimately and to develop insight.

It's also easy to think of the distractions that we experience in meditation as "the enemy". Because we want to develop focus and stillness, we see our rampaging thoughts as obstacles. In reality, every "distraction" we experience is an opportunity to learn. And how do we make use of these opportunities? Through "patient attention".

Newton took ordinary experiences -- most famously a falling apple -- and instead of "tuning out" those experiences as the vast majority of people do, he took an attitude of gentle curiosity into those experiences. Why does the apple fall as it does? Exactly how does it fall? What's the force behind the falling? Rather than taking these experiences for granted, he used them as opportunities to learn

"Patient attention" is an excellent way to describe a process by which we can approach out experience in meditation and learn about ourselves. In meditation we call this patient attention "mindfulness".

The other day, a student was saying that when he wished himself well in the metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness) practice, he would hear in his head the cynical response, "bullshit". I suggested that he treat this expression not as an enemy, but to approach it with patient attention. What emotion is the word "bullshit" expressing? He came to the conclusion that this judgment was expressing fear -- fear that he might not be able to change.

Just mindfully bringing this fear into consciousness by naming it is itself a powerful tool for change. When the fear is not fully experienced, it seems to be like an alien voice in the head -- an enemy sniper out to get us. With patient attention, the voice turns out to be more like a frightened child, needing empathy.

The same is true for every other "distraction" we experience in meditation (or outside of it, for that matter). When we sit giving patient attention to restlessness, it may reveal shame. Anger may reveal frustrated desire. Desire may reveal fear. Hatred may reveal hurt. In this way we get closer to what's really going on, and can respond more appropriately.

Practicing mindfulness in this way ultimately helps us to be free from restricting and reactive mental states, so that we can live more meaningful and joyful lives. It all starts with giving "patient attention" to seemingly ordinary experiences.


Copyright © 2003, Bodhipaksa.

To stop receiving this newsletter, simply reply to this email with the word "remove" as the subject line.