spirituality

Why a Buddhist monk doesn’t need an app to meditate and why you do

wildmind meditation newsDragos Bratasanu, Huffington Post: A few years ago I traveled to Nepal to hike in the Himalayas, learn a bit more about myself and about the world from the Buddhist spiritual teachers. For over seven years I have went back and forth across the bridge between science and spirituality. I have studied both, trying to understand why we try to separate them, why we need to follow one path or the other. I never could quite understand why a scientist cannot spend time in meditation or pray and why a person on the spiritual path can’t actually think?

As the night embraced the …

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Sam Harris’s Vanishing Self

wildmind meditation newsGary Gutting, New York Times: Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and prominent “new atheist,” who along with others like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens helped put criticism of religion at the forefront of public debate in recent years. In two previous books, “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation,” Harris argued that theistic religion has no place in a world of science. In his latest book, “Waking Up,” his thought takes a new direction. While still rejecting theism, Harris nonetheless makes a case for the value of “spirituality,” which he bases on his experiences in meditation. I interviewed …

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Meditation is not religion or spirituality—it’s technology

Jay Michaelson, RD Magazine: What inspired you to write Evolving Dharma?

This is really the book I wanted to write right now. I wanted to tell the story of a phenomenon that is rapidly changing the Western world—the mass adoption of meditation—but I also wanted to tell it from a personal point of view, about my own winding road in practice and how it’s impacted my life.

It’s corny but I really do think that contemplative practice may change the world. I don’t know of a better way to help us become better animals than we might otherwise be.

What’s the most important…

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Indian meditation lends spiritual touch to Africa’s golden jubilee

Bella Jaisinghani, The Times of India: There was an Indian touch to the 50th anniversary celebration of the African Union.

Last week, 23 countries came together to celebrate the golden jubilee with a spiritual quotient.

Around 10,000 people of all races and religions joined an online meditation ‘I Meditate Africa’ conducted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living.

People of all age, races and religions gathered at different centres in these 23 countries to meditate for an Africa free of violence and stress.

The campaign started with 2,800 students meditating for peace in the city of Soweto, Johannesburg, the home of…

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Footballers’ wives, prime ministers, lawsuits, and spiritual meditation

Every so often a new celebrity turns to meditation in a time of crisis. It’s Cheryl Cole’s turn apparently, according to numerous news sources, who all appear to be recycling an interview in Vogue. Now Magazine, for example, quotes Cole as saying:

‘Recently I’ve been trying meditation,’ she tells Vogue, ‘but I can’t really seem to get it. My mother does it, and I really think that actually may be the way forward for me, but the thoughts keep coming in. Always. How do you stop them coming in?’

It’s a common problem.

Who is Cheryl Cole? Apparently she’s married to a football player and has been on TV. We’ve never heard of her, but wish her well, and hope she sticks at her practice in the same way Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has. He’s quoted as saying:

I started [meditation] about two, three years ago when Ng Kok Song, the Chief Investment Officer of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, I knew he was doing meditation. His wife had died but he was completely serene. So, I said, how do you achieve this? He said I meditate everyday and so did my wife and when she was dying of cancer, she was totally serene because she meditated everyday and he gave me a video of her in her last few weeks completely composed completely relaxed and she and him had been meditating for years. Well, I said to him, you teach me.

The meditation practice Lee Kuan Yew was taught is a form of Christian Mantra (maranatha).

With all this interest brewing, you’d think meditation would be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately the Justice Department has had to file suit against the town of Walnut, California, because of the town’s six-year long obstruction of the building of a Zen Center over technicalities, while it simultaneously allowed other religious and secular groups to go ahead with building projects, overriding the same technicalities.

Meanwhile, Ed Halliwell in The Guardian gives a much-needed reminder that meditation is not just a “therapy” to help us deal with traumatic emotional events or to promote health. He notes that he has “become more content because meditation has enriched [his] life through opening [him] up to a sense of deepened meaning.” He doesn’t disparage the more secular applications of meditation. In fact he has written about them extensively, and he rightly sees them as a “way in” to a more spiritual perspective: “While some people may be drawn to practise through the scientific promise of betterment, they may end up finding that once they’ve got started, the path is far more interesting than that.”

Let’s ask Cheryl Cole in a few years…

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The tao of happy kids

Araina Bond (Ottawa Citizen): Want your children to be happy? Help them develop their spiritual side, researchers say

When Kayleigh Brown began to suffer severe, unexplained knee pain that kept her from doing yoga and the sports she loved, at first she was upset.

Each time her knee flared up, she visited countless experts, from doctors to physiotherapists to naturopaths, but no one could pinpoint the cause. It was a frustrating, discouraging experience — especially for a 12-year-old — but young Kayleigh found strength and resilience in a daily ritual: her evening aspiration.

“Each morning when we wake up and each night before we go to bed, we take some time to be thankful for the world around us and think about the other people we’re sharing it with,” Kayleigh says of her ritual. “Realizing there are lots of other children out there in the world who may be going through the same thing and wishing they wouldn’t feel pain helped me feel better.”

A new study shows that the positive effect Kayleigh felt by focusing on something bigger than herself may be one of the keys to happiness.

“Until recently, there has been very little research done on happiness in children and almost nothing on spirituality in children,” says Mark Holder, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and co-author of a recent study on spirituality in children aged nine to 12.

One of the findings that surprised the researchers, Holder says, is that spirituality – having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life as well as a connection to something larger than your personal experience – has a big influence on children’s happiness.

“In our other studies we have shown that family income and the marital status of parents accounts for less than one per cent of children’s happiness,” he explains. “But a child’s spirituality accounts for up to 26 per cent.”
Another compelling finding was that there are striking differences between the paths by which adults and children find happiness. For example, spirituality can account for only four to five per cent of adults’ happiness, though being religious — which doesn’t give children a boost – does raise adults’ contentedness levels.

Holder believes that one of the reasons being religious – defined as attending services of worship – may not affect a child’s mood is because many children don’t attend voluntarily; their parents make them go. Spirituality, however, comes from within.

Kayleigh’s mother Sheila Craig believes connecting with that spirituality can be fun for children.

A Buddhist, Craig teaches the children’s group at the Ottawa Shambhala Meditation Centre, where one of her students’ favourite practices, called Candy Meditation, involves eating two candies either really slowly or really quickly and noticing the difference in taste, texture, enjoyment. The children then eat a third candy whichever way they like.

“This helps the kids slow down and focus on the moment, instead of having their minds go in 10 directions,” Craig says, adding that feeling connected to the moment you’re in is a big component of being spiritual. “It’s amazing to see the transformation kids can go through when they get in touch with their spiritual sides.”

Craig also owns and operated Windhorse Yoga in Wellington Village and teaches children’s yoga in schools.

“Even the toughest kids, who start off goofing around, usually end up connecting with a calmer, more contented part of themselves.”

Believing in something greater than yourself affects happiness because it gives you a sense of meaning and purpose, explains Dr. Sonja Lyumbomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want.

Lyumbomirsky also believes that the benefits of spirituality are much larger than just one child’s personal happiness.

Happy people, she has found, are not only healthier, but also “more creative, helpful, charitable and self-confident, have better self-control, and show greater self-regulatory and coping abilities.”

That means that by helping your child enjoy the advantages of being spiritual, you’re also making the world a better place. Now who can argue with that?

Original article no longer available…

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A hunger for depth

Shirley Lancaster: Today’s search for a meaning is not so much ‘spirituality lite’ as a quest for authenticity in a culture obsessed with the trivial

Spirituality today, less bound to religion, is part of everyday life. A person’s spirituality might be expressed in listening to Bach, walking in the countryside, doing voluntary work or comforting a friend. We talk of a spiritual dimension to athletic excellence or great art.

And a common yardstick for evaluating spirituality is not a bad one: do our spiritual values or practice make us better people? Are we more forgiving, kind…

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Brain activity altered during religious experience

In America there’s a feeling of Christmas. But that’s not the only winter holiday going on. Jews are lighting Hanukkah candles, Muslims recently feasted on Eid al-Adha, and pagans celebrated the solstice. So it’s a good time for researchers to consider spirituality—from a scientific point of view.

One experience central to major religions around the world is that of transcendence, the idea of almost losing a sense of self to the feeling that there’s something bigger out there. Now scientists at the University of Missouri say they’ve located that experience in our brains. All the people studied, from Buddhist monks in meditation to Francescan nuns in prayer, experience this transcendence. And they all have decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain. That area has to do with senses such as orienting yourself in the space around you. The study was published in Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science.

Interestingly, people with injuries to the right parietal lobe report increased levels of spiritual experiences. The researchers are quick to say that this connection doesn’t minimize the role of religion, and that religious or spiritual experiences might decrease activity in that region and thus increase that special feeling of transcendence. Just in time for the holidays.

From Scientific American.

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Ritual outside religion: the power of group meditation

Huffington Post: A few years back I discovered that meditation or contemplative practices done in a group setting are quite different than practices done alone. At the time, I was reading Steven Strogatz book ‘Sync’ about the science of synchronicity (the phenomenon of naturally arising sync in nature) and saw that the group experience was a syncing of individual transformative experiences. Read more here.

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