New Hampshire

Meditation, technology, and Google Glass

glass buddha projectNew Hampshire magazine had a nice piece on some of the meditation facilities and teachers available in the state, and part of the article was about my work.

The Future of Meditation?
You’d think not much has changed about meditation in the two and a half millennia since Siddhārtha Gautama sat beneath the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment. After all, it’s hard to modernize a practice that involves little more than sitting down and shutting up.

But according to Bodhipaksa, the founder of, an online meditation resource, meditators have been early adopters of technology ever since the invention of the book. “The world’s oldest printed text was a Buddhist book.” He explains that they understood the potential. “Buddhists were on it, ‘Oh, this is a way to reach people.'”

Bodhipaksa (pronounced bo-dee-pack-sha) started Wildmind as a grad student in Montana when he realized meditators were falling behind the curve in the Internet age. Now from his offices in Newmarket he publishes guided meditations online and via CD and mp3. He leads live Google + hangouts where meditators chat (and meditate) together. People from as many as six different countries have attended online sessions.

“For some people the sun was just rising and for some people it was kind of late in the evening and for some it was right in the afternoon,” he says. “It was fascinating.” On the other hand he has at least one student who attends classes online from just up the road in Newmarket.

The website gets about a million and a half visitors a year, he says.

“Whenever new tools come out, my first thought is ‘how can I use this to reach more people?'”

He’s currently experimenting with Google Glass (pictured) and has found that it can be a tool for teaching good meditation posture and perhaps offer a view of a serene landscape to someone actually surrounded by a bustling environment.

With various apps and social media, it’s possible to find support and fellowship online. “Someone who is geographically isolated can feel the power of being involved in this community,” says Bodhipaksa.

“How can I use this to reach more people?” pretty much sums up my attitude to technology and meditation, although “How can this be used to teach meditation better?” is an equally important question.

I’ve had Google Glass for a month now, but for most of that time I’ve been involved in a rather intensive project to teach study skills and personal development skills (including meditation) to teens from low income families, in order to boost their chances of getting into college, and that’s slowed down my explorations of Glass as a teaching tool.

But I have found Glass to be very useful as a recording device. I recorded several of the guided meditations I led for my summer teens, and although for reasons of confidentiality I probably won’t be posting the video on Youtube, I plan to extract the audio and make that available.

I’ve also made a couple of initial explorations of the potential for using Glass to show how mindfulness can be practiced in daily life. For example I might be driving while wearing Glass (yes, it’s safe) and get stuck behind a garbage truck doing its pickup, and record just a 30 second video explaining the situation and showing how rather than getting impatient you can use the time to connect with your body and your breathing, and to experience gratitude that there are people who help make our environment a better place to live in. It’s very early days with these explorations, but I hope to post some videos along those lines before long.

Lastly, I’d like to express my gratitude to the many people who contributed to our Glass Buddha Project in order to help me buy Glass so that I could experiment with it. In particular I’d like to acknowledge the exceptional support of Adrian Lucas of Sassakala Microfarm. Sassakala promotes “urban homesteading” — creating vertical microfarms in tiny spaces. Earlier this year I visited Sassakala’s microfarm in Florida and was blown away by the amount of food that could be produced in a truly minuscule space. Please visit Sassakala’s site. You never know, it may bring out the farmer in you!

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Practice Meditation in New Hampshire

meditation3Madison Kramer, Day planners are filled to capacity with scribbles on every line. Work days have never felt so crammed. To-do lists are longer than ever before. We are busy and we can feel it — in our bodies and in our minds. Although our society has made the idea of burning the candle at both ends sound fulfilling, the reality is that we just feel drained.

We know we can’t fix the cause. Life does not slow down. Business must be done. No one has figured out a way to add more hours to the day or an extra day to the…

Read the original article»

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Wildmind is moving!

On Feb 1, Wildmind is moving to a new office in a converted mill building on the Main Street of Newmarket, NH, right next to the waterfall that runs over the Macallan Dam.

The place is still a building site, as you can see below, but you can also appreciate how lovely it’s going to look.

Grab the picture with your mouse and drag to move around inside the panorama.

We’ll post further news and photographs as things progress.

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Windham family finds peace in meditation (Union Leader, New Hampshire)

Carol Robidoux, Union Leader, New Hampshire: Gloria Norris Schwartz discovered Transcendental Meditation – TM – five years ago after a mostly fruitless search for a natural remedy for healing and stress.

Since then she and her husband Jeffrey, a mathematical scientist, and their two sons, 13 and 11, have trained in the technique described by TM enthusiasts as the opposite of concentration, completely effortless and totally life-changing.

How true for the Schwartz family.

They meditate regularly and follow a TM-recommended natural health program. And as soon as they can sell their home in Windham, they’re moving to Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, a new city built three years ago in the middle of farm country just beyond the Maharishi University of Management – a college founded in 1974 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Yes, guru to the Beatles during the late 1960s.

“I can’t wait to get there. As soon as I heard about it I had to see it. We’ve been there twice – I loved it,” Schwartz, 50, said.

Although they arrived in New Hampshire from the Washington, D.C., area already practicing TM, Schwartz wanted to connect with a TM teacher here.

She met Sherry Levesque, director of Manchester’s TM Program Center and part of the faculty at Maharishi Vedic University in Antrim, which last year took over the campus of the defunct Nathaniel Hawthorne College. The organization is looking to build a meditation “Peace Palace” in the Manchester area, as well.

Tonight Levesque will offer an introductory TM lecture at Manchester City Library auditorium at 7 p.m. Levesque said her presentation, “The TM Program: Opening a New World of Knowledge, Health and Quality of Life,” is based on data proving the physical and mental benefits of TM from more than 600 scientific studies at more than 200 credible universities and research centers, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford University and UCLA.

Goal: World peace

Levesque cites benefits ranging from enhanced creativity, memory and alpha wave brain function (key to taming attention deficit disorders), to solving blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety and stress-related ailments.

“TM provides the mind with the ability to transcend to a place TMers refer to as the ‘universal unified field of intelligence’ – called the unified field, in ultra modern physics,” Levesque said.

Albert Einstein was among those great thinkers who first explored the so-called Theory Of Everything (TOE) in the context of the universe.

Only now are physicists catching up with Einstein and applying TOE to the current controversial buzz in the scientific community, “String Theory” by Columbia University physicist Brian Greene.

But make no mistake: TM is a trademarked, worldwide non-profit educational organization based solely on the sacred teachings of “His Holiness” the Maharishi. It relies heavily on repetition of a mantra. And the goal is nothing short of world peace.

“What Maharishi says in the language of science – we call it Natural Law – in layman’s terms might be called the will of God. In whatever language you use, peace should be the way of the world,” Levesque said.

“For the cost of a B-2 bomber, we could set up a group of 40,000 people in India to meditate and act as peace keepers by creating a major effect on the unified field,” Levesque said.

A $2,500 check

Anyone interested in learning TM must participate in three preliminary lectures – two group and a one-on-one with a certified instructor. After that, a $2,500 check buys you a lifetime of instruction at any trademarked Maharishi Vedic center around the globe.

“The fee may sound high, but it’s a standard fee, and actually, it’s the best bargain in America,” Levesque said.

Schwartz has borrowed money in order to pay that much, times four, and agrees with Levesque that it’s a wise investment in her family’s future.

“What does a person pay for a course in college? What do you pay for a one-week vacation for a family of four? How much is a laptop computer and some software and, in a few years, it’s obsolete?,” Schwartz said.

Townies vs. gurus

Meanwhile, in Vedic City, Iowa, it’s hard to say whether the city that chants together achieves world peace together. But it seemed like a logical question for Jefferson County Iowa Sheriff Jerry Droz.

“This whole county is low crime, has been for years – since before they got here,” Droz said. “Everybody there is involved in TM.” Although he’s never tried it, some of his best friends are TM’ers.

He said Vedic City has caused a rift between some Iowa natives and their new mystical neighbors.

“It’s become the ‘Townies’ and ‘Gurus,’ a ‘we’ and ‘them’ situation, when it should be ‘us.’ Although the factions are getting a little less, you can understand it. When something new comes into your neighborhood you wouldn’t like it,” Droz said.

One of the persistent controversies surrounding TM is its connection to Hinduism through mantras, and the cult-like influence of the Maharishi over his followers. Some say it undermines traditional Biblical teachings on the absolute truth of Christian doctrine.

Droz said he would be reluctant to say what he thinks, but offered this anecdote.

“When Maharishi said all the toilets had to face East, everyone changed their homes around. All the buildings have to be facing East. Why? That’s what he said to do. There are several things they have to do, because he says so,” Droz said. “Sure, we’ve had people disgruntled with the program, but the bottom line is, you can’t please everybody.”

A ‘destructive cult’

But Andrew Skolnick, a former editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association and current director of the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health, a newly formed New York-based organization dedicated to debunking overblown alternative medicine and health theories, is not so diplomatic.

He says TM is nothing but BS.

“It’s widely considered by cult experts to be a destructive cult, in that its followers believe in a divine-like quality or powers of their leader and they accept his teachings, which are blatantly absurd, self-contradictory and harmful,” Skolnick said. “And it costs a fortune.”

He said the Maharishi’s rationale is based on his interpretations of Hindu mysticism wrapped in scientific jargon.

“What he did in the 1950s was he started to rewrite his Hindu theology, replacing it with scientific words. And that’s enough for the ‘believer,’ who will not try to see the consistencies or inconsistencies for himself,” Skolnick said.

“You go take a basic TM course that teaches you to meditate. Then you come back for ‘checking’ and they say you can’t advance in TM without the checking sessions. And it’s during those sessions you’re baited for costly courses. Then, slowly, they reel you in,” Skolnick said.

That kind of criticism does not sway Schwartz against her decision to move her family West, to Vedic City. She’s heard it all, and said her commitment to TM was made for exactly the opposite reason.

“I wanted something that wasn’t going to interfere with whatever religious path I was taking, and that’s exactly what you get with TM. So many of these other methods of relaxation and healing are either all spiritual or all scientific. This is both,” said Schwartz. “And at the same time, it’s not like a religion, like you have to subscribe to a particular belief system. It’s just a technique.”

Original article no longer available…

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