David Mendosa, Mendosa.com: Last night my thoughts returned again and again to a missing package. The sender had written me that my order had been delivered, but I hadn’t received it. I tried and tried to suppress that thought and to get back to sleep. Finally, meditation helped.
This was for me a painful example of what psychologists call “thought suppression.” Like many people, I have experienced thought suppression lots of times. But I don’t remember having read about this concept before starting to prepare this article, which reviews a new study of how meditation and mindfulness can help people with diabetes and …
Do you express the intention as a goal or as something already realized?
This gets at a recurring question, even a debate, in Buddhism (and also in psychology and in some religions): Is it about progressing toward an enlightened state, or is it about uncovering the enlightened condition that has always been present? I can’t do justice here to the nuances of that consideration, but I can say what many wise people think is at the marrow of the matter: both are true. (Darn that middle way.)
In other words, it is powerful to focus on intention both as an aim toward a target, and as something that is already the case. The phrasing, “May ____________ “ is a nice way to accomplish this, since “May I be happy” or “May the world be at peace” both embody an aim and an actuality.
And of these two, aim and actuality, it’s usually best to emphasize the latter, the sense of the intention as already realized. For example, one thing that makes the affirmation form of verbalized intentions powerful (whether written, spoken, or thought), is that they are expressed in the present.
We are such a goal-directed culture, and there are so many associations of striving, frustration, and disappointment related to pursuing goals in the minds of so many of us, that there is often greater openness inside to intentions expressed as already true. We are already that way. Our circumstances are already that way.
This also points us to a greater recognition of, and gratitude and appreciation for, what is already good and working and wholesome and wonderful inside ourselves and outside, in our world. This feels good in its own right, which is very good for your brain! And you! And others!
And it directs us toward resources we may have missed, both inside and outside. There really is a profound wisdom and peacefulness already within us – in Buddhism, sometimes called Buddha mind, or bodhichitta. And a beautiful, wonderful harmony latent in the world.
For example, the “resting state” of the brain has a neurological coherence, a quiet hum of relaxed readiness, and a saturation with mildly positive emotion. That is what you return to when something is resolved, and that is what you return to if you start with a positive state and then jiggle it, such as with EMDR or other psychological techniques.
All this means that the universe and mother nature and spirit are all on your side. So, in a sense, a lot of what anyone of us is really trying to do is to re-access a sense of the innate nature of the brain – of our own nature as beings – and settle ever more deeply into that always already true and present condition. Kind of like settling into a cozy comforter in our bed that is home base.
Perhaps take a moment to see if you can sense into your preexisting Buddha nature, inner goodness, spark of the Divine within – in whatever way you experience or name that.
Wildmind needs to raise at least $3000 before the end of July, and preferably a bit more since $3000 would just allow us to scrape by.
Right now we have a financial crisis. The end of the month is coming and we don’t have enough in the bank to pay our staff. That’s rather worrying for all of us on a personal level, for obvious reasons.
(This has been an unusual month for Wildmind, financially. I’ll put a note with more details below.)
Anything you can contribute would be most welcome. You’d not just be helping those of us who work at Wildmind (Mark, Amy, and myself), but also the “greater us,” which is the tens, and even hundreds of thousands of people Wildmind benefits.
It would be wonderful if you could donate $1000, or $100, or even just $10.
If you want to use a credit card, you can go to this page, enter the amount you want to donate, and then begin checking out by clicking on “add to cart.”
If you have a Paypal account, you can click on the button below and enter your chosen donation:
Checks can be mailed to: Wildmind, 55 Main St. Suite 315, Newmarket NH 03857, USA.
If you’ve been participating in our 60 Days to Jhana (which may extend beyond 60 days, since I’ve slowed the pace of posting — a development that many people have welcomed) I hope you’re enjoying and benefiting from the event. If not, I hope to see you when we repeat this event next year.
Wildmind’s activities are largely supported by donations. We’re very grateful to everyone who contributes to what we do. Without the support of people like you, we wouldn’t be able to offer free events like our Year of Going Deeper, or maintain our free online meditation guides, or keep bringing you a constant stream of advice, news, and inspiration to nourish your meditation practice. So please do help support Wildmind!
PS. I said I’d say a bit more about our financial situation this month and why it’s unusual. First, last year our tax accountant messed up our tax filing, and we just paid $3000 to a new accountant to fix the previous accountant’s errors. Second, we had a major computer malfunction and had to pay for specialist help. And lastly, the supplier of one of our meditation timers put a fraudulent charge for over $1300 on our debit card; the best case scenario is that it’ll take a few weeks to get this refunded, and the worse case is that we’ll just have to accept the loss.
Natalia Karelaia, INSEAD: Mindfulness is practiced in board rooms from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. But just how much does it improve the quality of your decision-making?
Five years ago when I introduced mindfulness to my MBA decision-making class it was perceived as something completely esoteric; there were maybe two or three students who could relate to the concept. Today, not only have most of them heard about it, many are practicing it. More and more corporations are offering mindfulness training to their employees. It’s being incorporated into negotiation techniques and leadership manuals, in fact every area of business where strong decisions are …
Just a few moments of meditation a day found to have profound, near-instant benefits on stress reduction
J. D. Heyes, Epoch Times: So-called “mindfulness meditation” has become increasingly popular as a method of improving your mental and physical health, but most of the research that supports or substantiates its benefits has primarily focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs.
However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University has become the first body of work to demonstrate that even brief mindfulness mediation practice – just 25 minutes a day for three consecutive days – can mitigate psychological stressors.
The research, which was published in the journal Psychoneuroenocrinology, examined how mindfulness medication can affect people’s ability to be resilient under stress.
“More and more people …
Denise Dador, ABC7.com: A first-of-its kind study focuses on the parents of kids with special-needs. The thought of providing life-long care to a child brings on many stresses from financial to emotional.
Now researchers say having a stress relief tool at your disposal may give all parents the grounding they need.
Getting centered is one of Marianne Kehler’s strengths. At age two, her 18-year-old son Liam was diagnosed with a severe form of autism. For years, she needed to protect Liam from himself.
“Many households of individuals with autism can be like a warzone,” Marianne said. “He would self-injure. As a consequence, others …
On my son Narayan’s sixth birthday, I gave him an ant farm. He spent hours watching with fascination as the little creatures magically created their network of tunnels. He even named several, and followed their struggles and progress closely.
After a few weeks, he pointed out the ants’ graveyard, and watched with wonder as several of them dragged the bodies of their dead comrades and deposited them there. The following day, when I picked Narayan up after school, he was visibly distressed: on the playground, the kids had made a game out of stepping on ants. My son couldn’t understand why his classmates were hurting these friends he so admired.
I tried to comfort him by explaining that when we really spend time with any living beings—as he had with the ants—we find out that they are real. They are changing, animated, hungry, social. Like us, their life is fragile and they want to stay alive. His playmates hadn’t had the chance to get to know ants in the way he did, I told him. If they had, they wouldn’t want to injure them either.
Whenever we wholeheartedly attend to the person we’re with, to the tree in our front yard, or to a squirrel perched on a branch, this living energy becomes an intimate part of who we are.
Krishnamurti wrote that “to pay attention means we care, which means we really love.” Attention is the most basic form of love. By paying attention, we let ourselves be touched by life, and our hearts naturally become more open and engaged.
We care about this awakened heart because, like a flower in full bloom, it is the full realization of our nature. Feeling loved and loving matters to us beyond all else. We feel most “who we are” when we feel connected to each other and the world around us, when our hearts are open, generous, and filled with love. Even when our hearts feel tight or numb, we still care about caring.
In describing his own spiritual unfolding, Ghandi said, “I hold myself to be incapable of hating any being on earth. By a long course of prayerful discipline, I have ceased for over forty years to hate anybody. I know this is a big claim. Nevertheless, I make it in all humility.”
When we look at our own lives and at the history of humanity, we realize that hatred, anger, and all forms of dislike are a pervasive and natural part of being alive. Aversion arises because we are so deeply conditioned to feel separate and different from others. As Ghandi found, only by dedicating ourselves to some form of intentional training can we dissolve this tendency, and embrace all beings with acceptance and love.
For Mother Teresa, serving the poor and dying of Calcutta was a practice of viewing each person as “Christ in his distressing disguise.” By doing so, she was able to see beyond the differences that might have hardened her heart and to serve with unconditional compassion each person she touched.
Through meditation practice, as we train ourselves more and more to pay attention with an engaged and open heart to see past surface appearances, we too begin to recognize a perennial truth: we are all connected to one another; our true nature is timeless, radiant, loving awareness. With this realization we feel our belonging with ants and redwoods, hawks and rivers. By deepening our attention, we are naturally moved to take care of this living world–our inner life and all those we touch.
What kinds of things do we get up to when we are meant to be meditating, but have become distracted? Most people will say they “think” or “fantasize,” but that’s not very specific. What kind of thinking is going on? What kinds of desires drive our fantasies?
There are five traditional hindrances to meditation. Speaking very non-technically, what we tend to do when we’re distracted is one of the following:
- Getting annoyed about things we dislike
- Fantasizing about things we like
- Worrying and fidgeting
- Snoozing and avoiding challenges
- Undermining ourselves with stories about what we can’t do
These are the five hindrances in very non-technical language. Each of them is a form of mental turbulence that prevents us from experience the natural calmness and joy of the undisturbed mind.
The Buddha suggested a number of ways to calm the mind by dealing with the hindrances.One approach, which we could call “reflecting on the consequences,” uses thought to calm our thinking.
He suggested that we reflect on the disadvantages of continuing to be caught up in the hindrance that is currently dominating our minds. For example, we can ask, What will happen if I continue to let my mind be dominated by anger or doubt? Will it make me happy? Are the consequences of these mental states with those that I want to live with? By consciously reflecting in this way, we bring alternative visions of the future into our present consciousness. We thus create the possibility of choice. We are then able to experience an emotional response to each of the alternatives we’ve imagined.
So, if you imagine that continuing to indulge in angry states of mind is going to lead to isolation and conflict, then the emotional response to that imagined future outcome may well be one of aversion. And generating aversion to the outcomes of anger will tend to lead to aversion to the anger itself. (This is a useful aversion to have!) And we may imagine being calm, confident, and kind, and this exerts its own emotional pull, making it more likely that we’ll choose the path that leads us there.
The Buddha used a very colorful image to describe this antidote. He said it was “like a young woman or man, in the flush of youth and fond of finery, who would be ashamed to have the carcass of a dog or snake hanging round his neck.” I like this image. It reminds us there is beauty already present beneath the hindrance, and that the hindrance itself is something that mars our inherent spiritual loveliness, and that is relatively superficial and extraneous.
So, when you notice you’re in an unhelpful state of mind, see where that’s leading you by reflecting on the consequences. Become aware of the unwholesomeness of the negative mental state that you’re experiencing, and allow a natural and wholesome aversion towards it to emerge. But also be aware that there is an inner beauty just waiting to be revealed.
Andrew May, The Sydney Morning Herald: Over the past few months I’ve constantly been asked by companies we consult to about mindfulness and specifically, how leaders and entire organisations can harness the benefits. Mindfulness has become the plat du jour in corporate performance.
Nearly every one of the above conversations, where we talk at length about creating sharper attention and more creative thinking, a calmer approach to work and life, reduced levels of stress and anxiety plus increased levels of wellbeing, is followed up with something like “yeah, yeah, that all sounds great – but surely there must be a quick-fix?”.
There is, and …
Kate Lunau, Maclean’s: Aliza Naqvi, a 14-year-old student at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute in Toronto, carries a key chain strung with seven coloured beads. When she’s feeling stressed or anxious, she can pull it out as a reminder: The first bead, which is blue, stands for “breathe.” The second, red, cues her to reflect on her thoughts; yellow is to consider her emotions, and so on. “At any school, there’s a lot of stress involved,” Naqvi says. “The expectations are really high.” This small token, which fits in her pocket or handbag, reminds her to “take a mindful breath, and to be …
Last night, stressing about undone tasks, I glanced in a mirror and saw my t-shirt, with its picture of a galaxy and a little sign sticking up out of its outer swirls, saying “you are here.” A joke gift from my wife, I’ve worn this shirt many times – yet for once it stopped me in my tracks. In William Blake’s phrase, the doors of perception popped open and it really hit me: yes we are actually here, off to the edge of a vast floating whirlpool of stars, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas. Here, now, nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos emerged out of nothing. What the?!
My mind stopped yapping and I felt the delight and awe of a little kid who for the first time sees a butterfly, or tastes ice cream, or realizes that the stars above are really far away. Gratitude and wow and something edging into dare I say it sacred washed through me.
In a word, I was amazed – which means “filled with wonder and surprise,” even “overwhelmed with wonder.” Besides the simple happiness in this experience, it lifted me above the tangled pressures and worries I was stuck to like a bug on flypaper. Amazement is instant stress relief. It also opens the heart: I couldn’t any longer be even a little exasperated with my wife. Perhaps most deeply, being amazed brings you into the truth of things, into relationship with the inherent mysteries and overwhelming gifts of existence, scaled from the molecular machinery of life to the love and forgiveness in human hearts to the dark matter that glues the universe together.
Wow. Really. Wow.
Opportunities for amazement are all around us. I think back to that look in the eyes of our son and daughter as they were born, blinking in the light of the room, surprised by all the shapes and colors, entering a whole new world. Seen with the eyes of a child, the simplest thing is amazing: a blade of grass, being licked by a puppy, the taste of cinnamon, riding piggyback on your daddy, or the fact that running your eyes over lines of black squiggles fills your mind with tales of dragons and heroes and fairy godmothers.
Look around you. This morning I sat down to my computer, clicked a mouse, and chanting recorded in a Russian cathedral filled the room. Crazy! Imagine being a Stone Age person transported 50,000 years forward into your chair. Glass windows, pencils, flat wood, the smell of coffee, woven cloth, a metal spoon . . . it would all be amazing.
Try to see more of your world in this way, as if you are seeing it for the first time, perhaps through the eyes of a child if not a caveman. Beginner’s mind, zen mind. If you’re not amazed, you’re not paying attention.
Explore “don’t know mind” – not “duh” mind, but an openness that doesn’t immediately slot things into boxes, that allows a freshness and curiosity. The mind categorizes and labels things to help us survive. Fine enough, but underneath this skim of meaning laid over the boiled milk of reality, we don’t truly know what anything is. We use words like “atoms” and “quarks” and “photons,” but no one knows what a quark or photon actually is.
We don’t know what love actually is, either, but it is all around us. It’s amazing to me that people love me, amazing that people forgive each other, that those once at war with each other can eventually live in peace. Consider people you know, how they keep going when they’re tired, breathe through pain, get up yet again to walk a crying baby, settle down in the middle of an argument and admit fault and move on. To me, that a mother can embrace the young man who murdered her son is more amazing than an exploding supernova. And just as others are amazing to you, you are also amazing to them.
If we were brave enough to be more often filled with wonder and surprise, we would treat ourselves and others and our fragile world more gently.
Anna Maxted, The Telegraph: My mind often feels like a dusty cupboard, full of junk. I have so many thoughts in my head that my brain hurts. Work, social and familial obligations jostle for space. Modern life is fraught. How is it possible not to be stressed? If anyone has the answer, it’s Buddhist monk Bhante Kondanna, who, at 75, travels the world teaching its tenser inhabitants how to find inner peace. London is a frequent base, and on a recent visit I beg to be enlightened.
“Stress,” says Bhante, over tea at Kensington’s Mandarin Oriental, “is a new disease. When I was small, …
Jo Marchant, Mosaic: Is there real science in the spiritualism of meditation? Jo Marchant meets a Nobel Prize-winner who thinks so.
It’s seven in the morning on the beach in Santa Monica, California. The low sun glints off the waves and the clouds are still golden from the dawn. The view stretches out over thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean. In the distance, white villas of wealthy Los Angeles residents dot the Hollywood hills. Here by the shore, curlews and sandpipers cluster on the damp sand. A few metres back from the water’s edge, a handful of people sit cross-legged: members of a …
Ronald Alexander, Ph.D., Huffington Post: Mindfulness is an idea from Buddhism that’s central to meditation, but it’s also a way of life and a crucial tool in living each moment to its fullest. You establish a practice of meditation in order to develop the habit of mindfulness so that your awareness remains engaged when you leave the meditation cushion and go out into the world. Mindfulness allows you to act consciously instead of unconsciously. You are able to quickly and naturally become aware of what’s really going on in any situation instead of being distracted by your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Too often …
Deborah Becker, WBUR: As much of the country grapples with problems resulting from opioid addiction, some Massachusetts scientists say they’re getting a better understanding of the profound role the brain plays in addiction.
Their work is among a growing body of research showing that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.
Among the findings of some University of Massachusetts Medical School scientists is that addiction appears to permanently affect the connections between areas of the brain to almost “hard-wire” the brain to support the addiction.
They’re also exploring the neural roots …
Lee Carpenter, Penn State News: Grant from the Institute on Education Sciences focuses on teaching adolescents mindfulness practices.
Teaching adolescents mindfulness practices that may strengthen their attention, executive function and emotion regulation skills, and in turn improve their academic and social functioning is the focus of a new grant received by the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State. Mark Greenberg, Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research and professor of human development and psychology, is the principal investigator.
The three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Institute on Education Sciences will enable the integration of mindfulness practices and teachings into the regular …
Douglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun: You suspect a trend has peaked when someone attaches to it the prefix, “Mc.” And it sticks. And that’s what has happened to the psycho-spiritual popularity of mindfulness, which has been a buzz word in liberal North American circles and psychology for at least a decade.
As the columns below attest, it’s not that mindfulness is a bad thing. It’s really just one technique for practising contemplation and meditation — of paying attention. And that’s been around forever — and not only in Buddhism, as many North American practitioners of mindfulness so often assertively suggest.
Contemplation has been …
iAfrica.com: In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explored the pathway that leads to short-term insomnia disorder after stressful events.
According to the study, dangerous coping mechanisms that could lead to insomnia include disengaging without confronting the stressor, turning to drugs and alcohol, and using media as a means of distraction.
“Our study is among the first to show that it’s not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia,” says lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in …
We know that before Shakyamuni became a Buddha (waking up to the truth of reality) that he tried extreme self-discipline that included abstaining from all forms of indulgence, which was called the practice of asceticism. His self-mortification included eating just one grain of rice a day, and sometimes walking around with one arm in the air for weeks. In his search for an end to suffering, Gautama became like an addict to asceticism. Like today’s addicts, he had learned how to master pain, or so he thought. He grew as thin as a skeleton, and did not budge from his addiction. Still he did not find an end to suffering. Until one day he realized he was getting nowhere.
It is believed that when he became a Buddha his first teaching to his disciples referred to addiction. He says:
“There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (The Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana.”
There are many stories about the Buddha encountering different people during his travels. There was a King Pasenadi from Kosala who consulted him on many aspects of life. One such story tell us that King Pasenadi who was addicted to eating. One day after eating a bucket full of rice and curries, he was fortunate to have an encounter with the Buddha. The Buddha advised that the King begin to reduce his intake, and recite this sutta
“When a man is always mindful,
Knowing moderation in the food he eats,
His ailments then diminish,
He ages slowly, guarding his life.”
But the king lamented ‘how’. And then he had an idea. I will pay for someone to help me.
It’s said he paid a young Brahmin to watch over him every time he had a meal. The Brahmin would snatch a fistful of food, and recite the sutta. The next day the King was only allowed to eat the amount he consumed the day before, and then the Brahmin would snatch another fistful. And the Brahmin continued to recite the sutta, reduce the King’s food intake until he ate only a pin pot amount and was relieved of his addiction. The Buddha’s method here was harm reduction, with the intention of skilfully leading the King to abstinence.
In the introduction of our book we talk about the Buddha being in recovery. We suggest the following questions for you to work through after reading the introduction.
- What does addiction mean to you?
- What does Recovery mean to you?
- Share your personal story of addiction from the perspective of what was it that got you clean and thinking about the spiritual path
- When you read the Buddha was in recovery what thoughts arise?
- What would it mean if you were to wake up from your present life?
- The Buddha taught the middle way – what would the middle way look like in your life?
- How can this book be for you?
Eight Step Recovery is out now: Eight Step Recovery – Order your book now
Or try a free sample – For a free sample chapter of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: [email protected]
Eden Kozlowski, Huffington Post: In conducting my meditation and mindfulness work, I meet many seemingly happy-go-lucky types who focus their attention on positive thinking. Chances are, many of you also aspire to this lifestyle. There are countless websites, Facebook pages and self-help diatribes dedicated to the upbeat idea.
However, this recent HuffPost blog on PT books states, “Positive thinking is at once the most widely embraced and the most frequently reviled philosophy in America.”
So, let me get straight to the point and continue with more of the reviling (actually, how about we clarify instead of revile). In my professional experience, I find …