Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200603.html

March 2006

Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"The readings were very thought provoking and gave me glimpses of insight and direction. But the most rewarding parts were your insights and encouragement. I feel renewed in my determination to continue down this path whole-heartedly. Thank you very much."

Life member program

  "The Path of Mindfulness and Love" ($90)

  "Change Your Mind" ($90)

  "Awakening the Heart" ($90)

  "Entering the Path of Insight" ($90)

  Life Member Program ($175)

Course Schedules

Plan ahead if you're interested in taking one of our courses! You can sign up for any course at any time.

Upcoming course dates are:

  Mar 6 to 31
  Apr 3 to 29
  May 1 to 26
  Jun 4 to 30

Seven Great Reasons to take a meditation course online:

  1. Personal attention: In your online journal you’ll have an ongoing practice discussion with your teacher, who will give you encouragement and personal feedback based on many years’ experience of meditation.
  2. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll
  3. Depth: As you reflect in your journal, get feedback, and gain new insights, you’ll take your meditation practice to a new level of effectiveness.
  4. Quality: Access to outstanding written and audiovisual materials online.
  5. Support: You’ll benefit from the discipline of a structured four-week course.
  6. Convenience: Log on when you want, fitting classes into your schedule when it’s convenient.
  7. Flexibility: Download audio files that will guide you through meditation at any time.
  8. Availability: There are many opportunities each year to take a course. See the dates above for details.

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

In this month's issue, we bring you our usual monthly round-up of the latest international news on meditation -- including further confirmation that meditation is beneficial in reducing blood pressure, promoting heart health, and increasing the brain's effectiveness, plus three stories about business professionals using meditation to become better leaders. We also feature news of Wildmind's meditation courses, as well as a review of a book on mindfulness for health professionals.


In this issue:

  • Wildmind's online courses
  • Retreat opportunity in NH
  • Meditation in the news
  • Buddhism Behind Bars project
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • CD of the month

Our next online meditation courses start Monday, March 6.

Meditating has been shown in clinical studies to boost the cerebral cortex, to slow the brain's aging, to improve the body's ability to fight disease, and to promote feelings of wellbeing.

If you've ever been curious to find out more about meditation's powerful potential for reducing stress, staying healthy, and for encouraging conscious relaxation, sign up for one of our convenient online meditation courses.

These four-week courses offer a content-rich experience and interactive experience, with online readings, guided meditations in MP3 and RealAudio format that you can download to your computer, a discussion forum, and personal attention in your online journal. And you have access to all these things 24/7.

Our courses are suitable for anyone from complete beginners to more experienced practitioners. You'll learn powerful techniques for reducing stress and developing patience, relaxation, and calmness in a friendly and supportive environment.

Our March online courses will be led by Sunada, an experienced teacher who has been meditating for over ten years. Having established her own practice while working full-time in high tech and then in arts administration, she understands the challenges of balancing a meditation practice with a busy life.


Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Monday, March 6. Make sure you book your place now.

Big Sky Mind Retreat, New Hampshire

aryaloka meditation hall
Inside Aryaloka: The Meditation Hall

Enjoy the bright and spacious qualities of your mind on a week long meditation retreat! Join Bodhipaksa and Sunada from March 24-31 on an intensive silent retreat in New Hampshire's seacoast area.

This is an opportunity to experience letting go into the spacious, sky-like state of mindfulness. We'll explore the practice of dissolving the boundaries of the self, expanding it outwards until "self" and "other" have little or no meaning. We'll use a variety of forms of the mindfulness of breathing practice and walking meditation in order to stabilize the mind, and we'll use the six element practice in order to let go of our limited ways of seeing ourselves, and to enjoy seeing ourselves as part of an interconnected reality.

Aryaloka is one of New Hampshire's most unusual buildings: two wood-framed geodesic domes tucked away in the New England forest, but only an hour from Logan International Airport in Boston, and 45 minutes from Manchester (NH) Airport.

You can read further details, including how to book your place, on Aryaloka's web site.

Meditation in the News

Feb 27 Meditation made easy (Cybernoon.com) Often people stress over getting it right defeating the whole purpose of meditation.

Feb 26 For some, key to health is mind over medicine (ABC News) Many turn to meditation, non-conventional treatments for ailments

Feb 26 Group meets to beat stress (The Minnesota Daily) Last fall, two students founded the Mindfulness for Students Club.

Feb 25 Meditation and the art of becoming a better boss (Stuff) Chief executives are finding their 'Buddha nature' in the practice and disciplines of Tibetan meditation.

Feb 24 Dalai Lama talks about meditation and neuroscience (Technology News) Neuroscience professor Richard Davidson says his results suggest that meditating actually alters the structure and function of some monks' brains.

Feb 22 Meditation medication (The Press-tribune) Heart patients at Kaiser's Roseville Medical Center have a new way to recover from surgery and help reduce their chances of needing another one.

Feb 22 Meditation: A Brain Workout (The Epoch Times) Meditation does more than simply increase feelings of calmness and a sense of well-being—it changes the structure of the brain and increases its effectiveness, confirm researchers.

Feb 22 Study finds meditation lowers blood pressure (WLEX-TV) Instead of popping pills, a growing body of research is finding meditation can lower blood pressure.

Feb 21 Inmate meditation group celebrates fourth anniversary (Cibola County Beacon) Learning how to meditate has helped inmates deal with the conflict and stress of everyday life inside the prison.

Feb 21 troubled First Nation looks to meditation (CBC Manitoba) Residents of a Manitoba reserve plagued with solvent abuse and suicide hope East Indian meditation techniques will help them tackle their problems.

Feb 19 Meditation goes to work (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Robert Zeglovitch, an employment attorney at Leonard, Street and Deinard in Minneapolis, has been practicing Zen meditation for more than 10 years.

Feb 19 Meditation may cut future heart disease risks (Paktribune) Meditation can help heart health, a study from the Medical College of Georgia shows.

Feb 18 Zen emphasizes meditation, teaches morality (IndyStar.com) Zen is distinguished by its emphasis on meditation, de-emphasis of words and conceptual thought, and its everyday, here-and-now focus.

Feb 15 David Lynch's peace plan (Beliefnet.com) The filmmaker discusses his love for transcendental Meditation.

Feb 14 Group touts meditation as cure for ills of Israeli society. (The Jerusalem Post) For members of the International Meditation Society of Israel, peace in the Middle East is tantalizingly close.

Feb 14 Ancient Buddhist meditation technique may provide perfect arena for interfaith interaction (NorthJersey Media Group) It's harder than it looks. Sitting still, counting exhalations, clearing the mind.

Feb 10 When the bottom line is world peace (The Sydney Morning Herald) An entrepreneur's business plan for saving humanity starts with meditation.

Feb 7 MSU students use yoga, qi gong and meditation to help themselves and others (MSU News) Montana State University counseling students are learning how yoga, qi gong and meditation can help them help others.

Feb 6 Meditation shown to reduce aging (The Harvard Crimson) Study shows meditation to have long-term physical effects.

Feb 2 Moving meditation gets you into the flow (The Vancouver Sun) As the name suggests, it's a flowing set, weaving physical elements from tai chi, qi gong and yoga with the mental discipline of meditation.

Feb 1 Meditation finding converts among Western doctors (National Geographic News) The research is one in a string of studies that suggest some time spent getting in tune with the flow of one's breathing can complement a regimen of pills, diet, and exercise.

buddhism behind bars


Support the Buddhism Behind Bars project

Buddhism Behind Bars is a book that Wildmind plans to publish in late 2006 or early 2007. It will be a compilation of writings by inmates and prison volunteers about how meditation and Buddhist practice have transformed lives. We're making this project an educational opportunity for inmates. Each writer is assigned a writing mentor who will help the prisoner to find his voice in order to tell his story effectively.

We will also make copies of Buddhism Behind Bars available free of charge to inmates. To help us reach as many inmates as possible, please consider making a donation to support our work.

begging monk

Support our translation project

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

If you've benefited from our site and would like to give something back, then making a donation can help us enormously. You can give as little as a dollar, but of course feel free to give as much as you want!

All contributions are tax deductible and go to our translation fund, which aims to help us translate Wildmind into other languages. We now have French and Spanish versions of the site online, and Chinese, Polish, and Russian versions are in preparation.

Susan O'Brien

Quote of the Month

"Mindfulness is remembering to come back, over and over again."
Susan O'Brien

The other day I was being interviewed by a journalist and he asked a question about meditation that comes up very often: "So, when you're meditating are you going into a trance?"

I said to him that it was exactly the opposite, that when you meditate you're coming out of a trance. Actually, I could have said that when you're meditating you're continually coming out of trances. In normal, non-meditating life we're constantly slipping in and out of trance states without even realizing it. You'll recognize what I mean when I give some examples:

  • You're in a conversation with someone and you're so busy thinking about what you're going to say in response to something they said thirty seconds ago that you've entirely missed the last thirty seconds of the conversation.
  • You've found yourself lost in an imaginary conversation in which you're really letting someone have a piece of your mind.
  • You've just arrived at the place you were driving to and you can't remember anything about the journey there.
  • You can't remember where you put something that you had in your hand just two minutes ago.
  • You spend time thinking about your failures, telling yourself how nothing ever goes right.

All of these examples are instances where we've been in a trance state, so caught up in our thoughts--so "en-tranced"--that we've been in an altered state of consciousness. Common names for these trance states are: distractedness, daydreaming, spacing out, obsessing, and wool-gathering. We don't think of these as trances because we think that trances are connected in our minds with some kind of mystical and perhaps scary mystical states of consciousness. But actually these trance states are happening to us all the time. We slip in and out of them--and from one trance state to another--without even noticing.

In meditation, what we're doing is noticing when we've been distracted--when we've been en-tranced—and mindfully returning our awareness to some mental "anchor," such as the breath. In other words, our meditation practice involves noticing, and letting go of, trance states. Meditation involves coming out of trance states and instead mindfully observing our experience.

The problem with trance states is that we have surrendered any sense of direction. trance states (or distractions, in simple language) are like fast-flowing rivers. When we're caught up in one we're swept along by the force of the stream of thoughts. We're so caught up in thinking that we don't even realize that we are thinking. Mindfulness starts with realizing, "Oh, yes, there's some unhelpful thinking going on." We scrabble for the bank, and then, all going well, we can sit by the side of the fast-flowing water, observing it as it passes us but not getting drawn in. Although often of course we start to lose our mindfulness; a particularly compelling thought is passing by and we lean closer in, and then before we know it we've fallen in and we're being swept away, without (once again) realizing what's happened.

The Greeks had a myth of the Waters of Lethe, which separated the world of the living from that of the dead. Lethe is the Greek word for forgetfulness, and this metaphor of thought being like a river works best if we think of the river as having this quality of inducing forgetfulness. When we fall into the river--when we become absorbed in a distracting thought--we forget our original purpose, we forget that we were meditating, we forget that we have a choice about whether to continue with the particular thought that we're obsessed by, and we even forget that we're thinking. Perhaps that's why the word sati, which we translate as "mindfulness" has the root meaning of "remembering."

- Bodhipaksa

Still Quiet Place CD

Book of the Month

MINDFUL THERAPY: A Guide for Therapists and Helping Professionals, by Thomas Bien, PhD

Wisdom Publications; Somerville MA; 2006

If, as Henry Thoreau says, "An honest book is the noblest work of man" then Thomas Bien has produced a noble work. His latest book, Mindful Therapy, is an honest effort to bring together mindfulness and psychotherapy. Its primary audience is the broad collection of diverse mental health providers, presumably to include all manner of persons engaged in the, as Dr. Bien refers to it, "healing art" of psychotherapy.

This audience embraces a wide spectrum of personalities, training and theoretical orientations. Attempts to appeal to them as one audience is a challenge most authors undertake with trepidation, or apology. Mindful Therapy makes no curtsies to its readers' professional identities, and aims itself simply at "helping professionals," one and all. Herein is one of the book's strengths and weaknesses: a strength in that his approach has a clarity, a straightforwardness and a freedom from professional terms that will appeal to a general, and not necessarily sophisticated, population; a weakness in that the reader seeking more depth or more intellectual satisfaction or simply more science may be disappointed.

Dr. Bien skillfully weaves through his book the essentials of Buddhism, of which he has an excellent understanding. Although Buddhism is the foundation for his practice and teaching of mindfulness, he is not in any way offensively preaching to others. His focus is on the spiritual healing that can be so important and so efficacious in psychotherapy.

He explicitly envisions psychotherapy as a spiritual path. Fair enough; the illness/heath medical approach, the multiaxial psychosocial view, are not his concern, and they are understandably absent from the book. No diagnoses. No treatment plans. He sees psychotherapy as a spiritual journey and relies on the great spiritual leaders throughout human history, especially the Buddha, as the teachers, the models for effective psychotherapy.

Dr. Bien's writing is ardent and personal. Because it is in an unusually personal tone the reader connects with the writer without the barrier that is often present in books for professionals. It has an easy flow. It is an engaging read. Replete with exercises for the therapist outside of the consulting room, as well as practical suggestions for the therapeutic interaction itself, the book covers a wide territory. The vignettes are an attempt at helpfulness but are too brief.

His blend of the practical and philosophic is commendable. He never strays from his topic, and his first love, mindfulness. The reader receives a steady and digestible diet from cover to cover of the benefits of mindfulness. Nor does Dr. Bien wander from psychotherapy. The clear respect and dignity he shows to psychotherapists and patients--yes, the term patient is consciously employed, as Dr. Bien carefully explains--is a welcome reminder that psychotherapy is a noble undertaking.

In this sense Dr. Bien and his honest book Mindful Therapy has a kinship with Carl Rogers and On Becoming a Person. The general reader will easily appreciate from this book the salutary effects of the practice of mindfulness, and the interconnection of mindfulness and emotional well-being. The book is especially targeted to mental health professionals and any psychotherapist reading Dr. Bien's book, and taking it to heart, can only benefit. The practice of mindfulness, and the peace, respect and kindness that it brings, in psychotherapy and in life, is an ennobling endeavor. This is Dr. Bien's message, and it is unpretentiously expressed in this fine book.

Vidhuma. Vidhuma (Dr. Paul Shagoury) is a practicing Buddhist and psychotherapist practicing in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Copyright © 2006, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.

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