“Harnessing the Power of Kindness”

Over the past three years I’ve been teaching lovingkindness meditation a lot. I ran a course in 2014 and again in 2015 called “100 Days of Lovingkindness,” and earlier this year I split that into four courses that were each 28 days long.

Focusing on lovingkindness practice in this way revealed a lot to me, even though this is a form of meditation I’ve been doing regularly for over 30 years.

For one thing it became clear to me that lovingkindness isn’t the best translation of “metta” and that “kindness” is a better term because it’s more experiential. (We can easily remember what it’s like to feel kind or to be on the receiving end of kindness and can recognize that it’s a common experience in our lives, while “lovingkindness” seems more abstract and something we need to strive to attain.)

Another thing I realized is that it’s important to begin cultivating kindness by first developing empathy. In becoming kinder to ourselves, we can recollect that we want to be happy and that it’s not that easy to actually experience happiness. In other words we’re doing a difficult thing in being human. Our kindness toward ourself comes from recognizing this, and therefore offering ourselves support and encouragement as we go through life’s difficulties. And we can then extend these same reflections to others, seeing that we’re all fundamentally the same. As a Scottish author said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

These, and other lessons I’ve learned, are things I’d like to bring to a wider audience, and so Wildmind, this year and next, is publishing four guided meditation CDs on the practice of kindness, compassion, and appreciation. The first of these will be released in August, and is called “Harnessing the Power of Kindness.”

To fund the publication of this CD, we’ve set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding project. For the smallest level of donation, we’ll send you a copy of the CD. So basically you’re just buying a copy in advance, and thus helping us with the publication costs. Higher levels of donation get you access to abridged and extended versions of the meditations in MP3 format. We also have a top-level donation which will allow us to give copies of this CD to a project that provides educational support for teens from low-income families.

At the moment of writing we’re four days into our 30-day fundraising project, and just a few dollars short of being 50% funded. This is fantastic! I’d invite you to pitch in, and also to bring our campaign to the attention of your friends on social media. It would be a BIG help, and much appreciated.

You can click here to visit our Indiegogo page and offer your support!

Thank you!

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Support our next guided meditation CD!

harnessing the power of kindness CD cover

I teach meditation because nothing makes me happier than seeing other people become happier through practicing.

My life’s mission is to promote compassion and mindfulness by teaching meditation. “Harnessing the Power of Kindness,” my next CD/MP3 album, represents the latest evolution in my 30 or so years of teaching lovingkindness meditation. It contains practices that I’ve found particularly useful in developing empathy and kindness.

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. The $2,500 we’re seeking will go to cover the recording studio, graphic design, and CD publication costs.

Kindness and compassion have been shown in studies to bring increased happiness, improved relationships, enhanced health, and a greater sense of meaning in life. Fortunately kindness and compassion are skills that can be learned.

Making our CDs available helps people have access to powerful tools for self-transformation. By supporting this project not only do you get access to my latest teachings, but you help make them available to others as well.

We have perks for all donors! The most basic perk, for a $10 donation, is that you’ll be mailed a copy of the CD when it’s published. Your CD will be on its way to you by August at the latest!

For a donation of $15, you’ll receive a downloadable version of the album in addition to the CD.

For $25, you’ll receive all the above, plus alternative, abridged and extended versions of the tracks, so that you can choose to meditate for a longer or shorter time.

To learn more about our fundraising project, or to contribute, visit our Indiegogo page.

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The “Now Bench”

The Now BenchI just got word of a Kickstarter for an interesting new meditation tool.

For many people, sitting cross-legged isn’t comfortable, or even possible! For those who aren’t so flexible, the traditional kneeling, or “seiza” posture is very handy. It provides stability, comfort (once you figure out the right height, angle, and floor cushioning), and a sense of groundedness (certainly compared to being perched on a chair).

A good seiza bench, usually made of wood, can cost anything from $60 to $200 for a decent model.

The Now Bench is a different approach, using modern foam technology. It’s a simple U-shape, allowing the bench to find the right angle for having the spine naturally erect. It’s something I’d like to try out.

The pros of this are that it’s very light and inexpensive. One con would be that it’s “one size fits all,” which is never ideal. Tall or still people need more height than small or flexible people. Ideally a seat like this would come in a range of sizes. Another con would be that it’s rather bulky compared to a folding wooden bench. I can throw my Kindseat into a standard carry-on bag without it taking up any significant room. I suspect the Now Seat isn’t going to leave room for much else.

But those caveats aside, not everyone travels, and if the Now Seat fits you then it might be a great choice.

The Now Bench comes with an optional “Now Mat,” which is a foam version of the traditional “zabuton,” offering your knees and ankles protection against hard flooring.

You can check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

And you can see images of the bench in use below:



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Transforming self and world

dancerYears ago, when Bodhipaksa described what Wildmind was about, he expressed it along these lines: that our mission was to to benefit the world by promoting mindfulness and compassion through the practice of Buddhist meditation. Twelve years later, our intent is still the same.

Bodhipaksa wanted, and still wants, to have an impact on contemporary culture. He wants to show the benefits of meditation, and also make it easy for people to learn to meditate.

And that’s why this site is here. We have hundreds of pages of freely available meditation instruction, where people can walk themselves through structured guides to a variety of practices. And we’re constantly adding new materials on our blog. This year, for example, we’ve posted something like 100,000 words of guidance (the equivalent of a couple of books) along with several hours of recordings.

Here are some other highlights:

  • More than 1.5 million people visit our site each year.
  • Our most popular web page (not counting the home page) has been read by half a million people.
  • Our most popular blog post has been read more than a quarter of a million times.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people have learned to meditate here — for free.
  • We also publish guided meditation CDs, which help fund our activities, and those have reached hundreds of thousands of people as well.

For one thing, the way people are using the web is changing.

People want smaller, more easily-digestible chunks of information.

They want more multimedia content.

They want presentations that are more “app-like” and that work well on mobile devices.

They want more interactivity — like being able to track how many times they’ve meditated, or how much progress they’ve made in working through a program of instruction.

They want tools that mesh seamlessly with their daily lives — for example mindfulness reminders that pop up on their computer, cellphone, or tablet.

They also want more of a sense of community — a sense that they’re not practicing in isolation, but are practicing along with others.

These are all things we’re working on, or plan to work on. We see people’s embrace of mobile devices as an opportunity to help them integrate the practice of mindfulness and compassion into their daily lives.

But we need your help to take Wildmind to the next level. That’s why we launched the Free Bodhi project. We need to build a team around Bodhipaksa (a.k.a. “Bodhi” or sometimes “Mr. B.”) to be a kind of “amplification system.” We need to free him from his admin responsibilities so that he has more time to teach, and to write, and to develop new ways to bring mindfulness and compassion into our society.

So, please help Free Bodhi so that we can help make the world a more mindful and compassionate place.

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Why free Bodhi?

posterEarlier this year I got on a roll. We’d had a 100 Day Meditation Challenge, during which I managed to write blog posts for 35 days before having to drop down to posting every five days because I just had too much to do. Then we had our 100 Days of Lovingkindness, and somehow — mainly by having no more than 5 ½ hours of sleep a night, I managed to post every day. And some of those posts were recordings of guided meditations. I did it, but it was tough.

The 100 Days of Lovingkindness posts are still there, available as a resource. In fact I know some people are working through that series of posts together.

I’d like to do more of that kind of thing, but right now my time gets taken up by tasks that aren’t about writing and teaching. I spend a lot of time doing website maintenance, answering the phone, filing taxes, photographing things we’re going to sell on our store (that’s one way we fund Wildmind), Photoshopping those images, doing publicity, upgrading computer software, doing graphic design, handling student registrations for our online courses, etc. It actually amazes me that I manage to write anything. Some weeks I don’t.

My creative productivity is grinding to a halt. The problem is that organizations need organizing, and right now I’m the only person who can do that. Apart from me there’s one person who works part-time taking care of our online store, a bookkeeper who comes in twice a month, and Linda up in Toronto taking care of the news posts in our blog. I do everything else.

Next year we’d like to run a year-long program of meditation challenges and special events, like our 100 Days of Lovingkindness. I think it’s going to be a brilliant program. We’ll be posting information about these activities soon. But to produce all the material for these projects I need to be free of all this admin I’ve been doing.

I need a business manager.

And we’ve found the perfect guy — a former engineer called Mark, who has already done a few days of work with me. It’s been fantastic working with Mark. He’s really helping next years’ program to come together. He’s helping with publicity. He’s starting to take a whole bunch of tasks off of my to-do list.

But the trouble is we can’t afford to employ Mark for more than a few hours a week at the moment.

So what we’re trying to do is to raise $22,000, to cover the first six months of Mark’s wages, along with associated costs such as employers’ Social Security and Medicare.

Once Mark’s up and running full time, he’ll free me up so that I can not only write more materials that can be freely available, like the 100 Days of Lovingkindness posts, but he’ll also free me up to record more CDs and to turn more of my writing into books. And those kinds of things will bring in more income for Wildmind, so that we can cover Mark’s wage costs in the longer-term. So it all will be sustainable. We just need the seed money to get started.

I really need this in order to be effective as a teacher. And so I’m asking that you contribute to our Free Bodhi Fund. Now I know, there are many things you could contribute to. But not only will you be benefiting the hundreds of thousands of people who come to this site for spiritual guidance and nourishment, but you’ll be benefiting yourself quite directly, because we’re offering some great perks to our donors.

Please do check out our Indiegogo project, and help set me free to teach and write.

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