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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Help new Buddhists in India go on retreat

2456436261_befc012827_oBorn as an “untouchable” in India (literally considered so polluted that a caste Hindu would have to purify him or herself after making physical contact) Bhimrao Ambedkar publicly converted to Buddhism on 14 October 1956, in Nagpur, India.

The significance of this is that, despite having been banned from sitting in a schoolroom with other (caste Hindu) children, Ambedkar had managed to gain an education, study abroad, and had become India’s first law minister—and the architect of the newly independent country’s constitution.

Ambedkar realized that most ex-untouchables were chained to the idea that they are inferior and that it was by changing themselves—through the practice of the Buddha Dhamma changing those deep-seated ideas—that they could become truly free.

Ambedkar’s conversion was a symbolic rejection of Hinduism and its brutal caste-based apartheid system. He proceeded to convert half a million of his supporters who were gathered around him. Unfortunately he died soon afterward, leaving his conversion movement adrift.

A number of Buddhists stepped into the breech and continued to provide support and inspiration for these new Buddhists. Among those was Urgyen Sangharakshita, who was later to found the Triratna Buddhist Community (formerly the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order).

These “Dalits” (meaning “the oppressed ones), are largely the poorest in a country in which poverty is endemic. Members of the Triratna Buddhist community have continued working with these new Buddhists, providing much-needed healthcare, educational resources, and opportunities to practice Buddhism.

This November a major retreat is being held at the Urgyen Sangharakshita Meditation Centre, in Maharashtra, India, over the Diwali vacation. I’ve contributed money to supporting this event, and I invite you to do the same.

Of the millions of Dalits who have converted to Buddhism since 14th October 1956, only a small proportion have been able to ‘hear’ the Dhamma. They have much devotion but little knowledge.

These retreats have been held over the last 4 years with between 500 and 600 people attending from some of India’s poorest communities.

These retreats take advantage of the Diwali holiday, when people are more free to attend, to give Dalits the opportunity to hear the Dharma they thirst for. Most are very poor, and to allow them to come, these retreats are offered free. It is a great opportunity for them to not only hear the Dharma, but to experience Sangha. Triratna is undertaking to raise the money for approximately 550 people to go on retreat.

Hearing the Dharma in the context of a retreat can, in India, have remarkable results. Triratna Order member Vipulakirti, who co-leads these events, said, “I met a woman on one retreat who told me that her husband had been on the retreat the previous year and had been completely transformed. Previously he had been a drinker, beaten her regularly and taken no responsibility for the children. Now he didn’t drink, treated her with kindness and helped with childcare. He had discovered what being a Buddhist meant in practice, to the benefit of himself and his family.”

If you want to help these desperately poor new Buddhists to deepen their practice, turn their lives around, and continue with the work of transforming and humanizing Indian religious culture, donate via ‘MyDonate‘. MyDonate take no commission. Your entire donation goes towards spreading the Dharma in India and transforming the lives of hundreds of people.

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A lotus that blooms with your meditating mind?

lotus2Rohan Dixit is a former neuroscience researcher who studied meditation and the brain at Harvard and Stanford University. He also spent a year measuring the brainwaves of meditating monks in the Himayalas, which is nice work if you can get it.

Rohan has a fascinating project that he’s Kickstarting at the moment. It’s called the Lotus and it’s essentially a hand-made brass flower that blooms with your mind.

The Lotus responds to your brainwaves through a supported brain-sensing headset, which is hooked up to a smartphone app. When the headset detects that you’re calm and relaxed, the flower blooms and begins cycling through colors.

The Lotus gradually closes and slowly changes colors when it’s time to meditate again. This is a nice visual reminder to take a mindful break during your day.

That’s nice, but there’s a really lovely feature, which is that you can connect friends to your Lotus. You can assign a particular color to a friend, and when he or she meditates your Lotus will respond and change to their color. I love that idea.

Another really cool thing is that the Lotus isn’t mass-produced by sweatshop workers in China. It’s hand-crafted by artisans in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra in India, forging petals by hand out of metal. As the Kickstarter page says, “Combined with cutting edge neurotechnology, biosensors, and 3D printed components, the Lotus is a blend of the very ancient and the highly modern.”

Some of the rewards are very nice, too, including a bunch of guided meditations for $5. I think the Lotus is an intriguing idea, and if you do as well, why not head over to Rohan’s Kickstarter page and make a donation.

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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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