Buddhist Mantras

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The most important thing right now, is right now

October 18, 2016 - 7:51am

The problem with distractions is that they’re compelling. They make us think that they’re important. They draw us into their stories. It’s as if they’re saying, “This is what you need to be thinking about right now.”

And so, over and over, we end up immersed in stories driven by anxiety, anger, desire, and self-doubt.

These distractions come from relatively primitive parts of our programming, which evolved as protective mechanisms. As mammals who suffered from predation, we needed to be anxious and alert for potential physical threats to our wellbeing. When such threats became actual—a stranger approaching our camp, for example—we might respond with displays of anger in order to invoke respect or fear in the other party. Living in an environment where resources were scarce, our sensory desires motivated us to seek and hold on to food and other essentials. Self-doubt promoted caution, so that we didn’t recklessly put ourselves in danger, and also helped us fit into a hierarchical social group where not everyone could be the leader.

Although we still do face threats, uncertainties, scarcity, and so on, for the most part the kinds of mental states I’ve been describing don’t really help us in modern life. In fact they hinder us in many ways, and rather than protect us they mostly cause us to suffer. The circuitry in our brains connected with these states is still there and keeps looking for things to get anxious, angry, greedy, or doubtful about. Sometimes that circuitry gets out of control and has a destructive effect on our lives, as with stress, social anxiety, and depression.

Even outside of pathological conditions, though, these mental states diminish our wellbeing. We’re always happier when we’re mindfully attentive to whatever we’re doing, even if it’s just our breathing, than when the mind is off wandering.

The thing, then, is how do we convince ourselves that our distractions are not actually important for our happiness, and that mindfulness is what’s truly important?

The Buddhist tradition offers lots of ways to do this, including reflecting on the drawbacks of our distractions (“Anxiety doesn’t solve my problems, it just makes it harder to tackle them”). But one of my favorite approaches is to drop in a gentle reminder that it’s valuable to disengage from distracted thinking—that it’s important to be mindful.

In the past I’ve used the phrase “But right now … right now.” I’ve also used “It can wait.” I’ve found them both to be very useful.

My current phrase is, “The most important thing right now, is right now.” This is a simple reminder of priorities. In a sense there’s nothing “wrong” with anxiety, doubt, and so on. Having those things show up isn’t a sign of failure. It’s not a weakness. It’s not a sign that you’re a bad person. They’re simply part of your old programming, and tend not to make you happy or bring you a sense of contentment. Instead, they stir us up emotionally and create worlds of pain. What is a higher priority, what is important for us to do, is to be mindful of our present-moment experience.

If you like my articles, please click here to check out my guided meditation CDs and MP3s.The second “right now” in “The most important thing right now, is right now” is pointing to everything that’s arising in our direct sensory experience. Sounds, light, the body, our feelings are all arising right now. Paying attention to those in a mindful way allows the mind to calm, our body to let go of tensions, and our emotions to come to rest in a sense of contentment, or even joy.

This “mantra” suggests exploration. What is “right now?” That’s for us to find out, through mindful exploration.

So as you find yourself coming out of a period of distracted thinking in your meditation, and re-emerging in a more mindful state, try dropping in the phrase “The most important thing right now, is right now,” and let it direct your attention to what’s truly important, which is your immediate sensory reality.

One student, Zia, wrote to me to let me know how the words had changed as she practiced with them:

Over several days, the reminder “The most important thing right now, is right now” has morphed in my mind into “All that matters right now is right now”. At some times, it further morphs into “ALL that matters right now is right now”. The capital “ALL” brings more of a sense of the vastness, the divinity, that is contained in the present moment and that becomes more accessible through attention.

This is a beautiful reminder that we can treat phrases like these as living things that you’re inviting to share your life, rather than objects that you keep around. Let them adapt, grow, and evolve.

Mindfulness can help combat test anxiety

October 13, 2016 - 9:05am
Check out Mindfulness Meditations for Teens (MP3) by Bodhipaksa!Dr. Caryn Richfield, Montgomery News: With the school year well under way, many high school students are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of tests looming on the horizon. Some teens are taking AP courses as early as ninth grade and many are simultaneously taking an intense load of rigorous classes, which can make test preparation quite daunting.

These academic demands are compounded by the additional stress of preparing for standardized tests, such as the SAT, SAT subject tests and the ACT. Our teens are constantly having to study and retrieve information under pressure, over and …

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Meditation helps tame the brain’s emotional response

October 5, 2016 - 8:45am
Learn to relax with Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction (MP3) by BodhipaksaAlice G. Walton, Forbes: Of all the reasons people have for trying meditation, being less emotionally reactive is usually pretty high up. “Being mindful,” or “being zen,” is synonymous these days with rolling with the punches, and being non-reactive (or less reactive). And there’s definitely something to it: Neuroscience is starting to back up the subjective emotional changes we notice by illustrating what’s going on in the brain when people are confronted with stressors. A new study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience finds that people who naturally lack mindfulness can achieve at …

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The components of self-compassion

September 30, 2016 - 7:33pm

This post is taken from one of the emails from our online course, How to Stop Beating Yourself Up: Learning the Art of Self-Compassion, which starts tomorrow, October 1. Click here for more information.

Self-compassion is treating ourselves with the kindness, respect, and gentleness that we would offer to those we most love.

There are four components of self-compassion.

There’s mindfulness, which is the ability to observe our experience rather than merely participating in it and being swept along in it. Mindfulness requires that we stand back from our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and see them as objects separate from ourselves, rather than as what we are.

There’s equanimity, which involves accepting difficult experiences rather than denying them, ignoring them, or obsessing and ruminating over them.

There’s self-kindness, where we treat ourselves with gentleness, understanding, and compassion. Self-kindness requires that we recognize that we are feeling beings and that happiness and well-being are states we desire. These states can only arise when we treat ourselves kindly.

There’s the ability to put our suffering in perspective, which is where we recognize that we, like everyone else, are doing this difficult thing of being human. We all desire happiness, and find happiness elusive. We all wish to be free from suffering and yet encounter suffering over and over again. When we lack perspective, we tend to assume that there’s something uniquely inadequate and even broken about ourselves. We see our difficulties as a sign of failure. When we have a wiser perspective, we don’t judge ourselves, and in fact we may find that we have compassion not only for ourselves, but for others too.

These four factors work together in order to produce self-compassion. They’re not entirely separate from each other, but are manifestations of each other. For example, mindfulness, equanimity, and perspective are all expressions of self-kindness. When we’re kind to ourselves, these three other qualities are how we act.

These four qualities will be woven into all of the writings and guided meditations in this course, although at different times some will be emphasized more than others. Our first meditation, the “kindfulness of breathing” from yesterday’s email, principally brings together mindfulness, equanimity, and kindness.

We’re reaching out for your support

September 28, 2016 - 11:41am

We need to raise $4,000 in donations in order to get over a cash-flow crunch and cover our payroll and rent at the start of October.

It would be wonderful if you could donate $100, $10, $5 — or whatever you can afford — in order to show your support.

  • If you want to use a credit card, you can click here, enter the amount you want to donate, and then click on “add to cart.”
  • If you have a Paypal account, you can click here and enter your chosen donation.

There are more details below the chart, if you’d like more information about our situation and how you can support us.

Here’s Our Progress So Far!

Our target is $4000, which has now been reached! Thank you! Further donations are of course welcome, and will help us to work with less financial stress.

Here’s Some Background!

We think we’re actually doing well, and that there’s much to be cheerful about! We continue to make all our courses available by donation, so that people of all levels of income can experience the benefits of meditation. In general our courses are well attended.

Although we lost a little money in the first half of the year, we broke even by August, which is great! We’d like to thank everyone who’s contributed by participating in our courses or has made other donations. We’re deeply grateful for your support.

The donations for our courses income fluctuate considerably, though, and this month it’s been about half of what it usually is. Another problem has been a seller of our CDs that went bankrupt, owing us thousands of dollars. This has left us with very little in the bank, and a number of bills coming up.

For those who are interested in such things, we’re keeping our expenses very low. We don’t pay ourselves a lot, and we recently moved into a much smaller office in order to save money.

We see this as a temporary problem, and we’re still very optimistic about the future. We have an exciting program of online events planned for 2017. We’re also bringing out another CD before the end of this year, and we have further CD titles planned for next year as well.

We’re on the way to being financially stable! We’re looking forward one day, perhaps soon, to having our days of worrying about money behind us! We just need a little more help to get there!

Please Show Your Support

We believe passionately in the power meditation has to transform lives for the better. We’re doing everything we can, with the resources at our disposal, to help others. We’re seeking a balance where what we give out to the world in energy is met with enough support so that we can flourish and help the world to flourish. We’re not at that point of balance yet, but we believe it’s attainable. Please support us and help us get there!


PS. Again, the two ways you can make a donation are:

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My doubts about Deepak Chopra and the monetization of meditation

September 28, 2016 - 8:56am
Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love (MP3) by BodhipaksaJohn Horgan, Scientific American: A key to Deepak Chopra’s success has been his monetization of spiritual practices and promotion of their health benefits. But has he crossed an ethical line by suggesting that meditation and other mind-practices can “heal” cancer?

My first morning at “Sages & Scientists,” I walked into a cavernous ballroom as Deepak Chopra, on a stage, brilliantly illuminated, assured the audience that “consciousness is reality.”

He looked weird, almost too real. Then I realized I was seeing not Chopra himself, the spirituality and holistic-health mogul and host of the meeting, but an …

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Replacing detention with meditation

September 23, 2016 - 9:10am
Check out Mindfulness Meditations for Teens (MP3) by Bodhipaksa!James Gaines, Upworthy: Imagine you’re working at a school and one of the kids is starting to act up. What do you do?

Traditionally, the answer would be to give the unruly kid detention or suspension.

But in my memory, detention tended to involve staring at walls, bored out of my mind, trying to either surreptitiously talk to the kids around me without getting caught or trying to read a book. If it was designed to make me think about my actions, it didn’t really work. It just made everything feel stupid and unfair.

But …

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Join me on Insight Timer!

September 23, 2016 - 8:58am

Most of the time when I meditate, I use the Insight Timer app on my iPhone. (It’s also available on Android). I use it to time my sits, and at the end, when it shows me how many people have been meditating with me (and sometimes that’s more than 5,000!) I say “Thank you for sitting with me” to some of the meditators using the app that live locally. It’s a great way to feel supported in your practice.

I’ve never used the guided meditations on the app, although I have contributed a few. Recently I was checking the stats that the app’s creators have made available, and was rather stunned.

At the moment by guided meditations have been played 440,500 times by 115,500 meditators, who have cumulatively spent 164,000 hours listening to them. That’s almost 19 years! Wow! I’m grateful that the app developers have helped me reach such a wide audience.

There are loads of other teachers on the app as well.

If you don’t use the app, I’d highly recommend it. There are buttons below, linking you to the iPhone and Android versions.

Here’s a link to my profile, which shows you which guided meditations I’ve made available. And if you do give it a try, please do check out my meditations.

When does craving become addiction?

September 22, 2016 - 9:07am
Available in our online store: Recovery One Breath at a Time by Kevin Griffin (2 CDs)Joan Duncan Oliver, Tricycle: Only two things have I ever craved as much as life itself: drink and a man. To save my life, I had to give up the drink. To give up the drink, I had to give up the man.

My desire for both was total, visceral: passion seeking its own DNA. The bond was physical, emotional, spiritual, chemical—drink, man, and I locked in a menage a trois.

It began, however, as a folie á deux. Alcohol was my first love: a constant, if feckless …

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Why is meditation good for team building

September 21, 2016 - 7:37am
Help build your team with Harnessing the Power of Kindness (MP3) by Bodhipaksa!Sven, Mindful Teams: After Yoga, mindfulness is becoming the new fast-growing trend. Leaders around the world would confirm the positive impact of meditation on work. Though mindfulness is becoming very popular, we are just at the beginning of its business application. At Mindful Teams we do think mindfulness at work is important for both individuals and team. Today we will focus on the benefits of meditation on teams.

1. Develop Team Harmony

Mindfulness practice and group meditation helps people to be closer and in harmony. By practicing together team members develop a …

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Three reasons you can no longer afford to ignore the mindfulness trend

September 20, 2016 - 7:31am
Practice mindfulness using Harnessing the Power of Kindness (MP3) by BodhipaksaJulia Samton, Inc.: What was once optional has emerged as a unique solution to the demands of the modern workplace.

Everyone from Fortune 500 executives to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are talking about mindfulness. Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when you pay attention to the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment. By using the breath or another sensation as an anchor during meditation, diligent practitioners are able to achieve this mind state in everyday life. Research has shown that we perform optimally and feel at our best when we are focused on the …

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“Non judgment day is coming!”

September 15, 2016 - 5:23pm


Mindfulness goes to school

September 13, 2016 - 8:50am
Check out Mindfulness Meditations for Teens (MP3) by Bodhipaksa!Dr. Susan Mathison, Inforum: Our kids are back to the routine of school. The energy is high as we walk through the hallways, with lots of chatter and sharing events from the prior day. But high energy doesn’t always translate well to listening and focusing on tasks at hand in the classroom. Some schools around the country are turning to mindfulness as a strategy for improving attention and helping kids make better choices.

Mindfulness was a term first used in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and is defined by him as paying attention on purpose …

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The magic of mindfulness

September 8, 2016 - 8:20am
Download Mindfulness of Breathing (MP3) by BodhipaksaEd Halliwell, Mindful: Health writer Ed Halliwell explains that mindfulness can help improve our mental and physical well-being, if we don’t sabotage the practice.

Barely a week goes by without some new clinical trial showing how programs which teach mindfulness can help people minimize suffering and enhance their well-being. Whether it be through reducing stress, managing illness, boosting the immune system or moving away from addictive habits, science is confirming what meditators have reported for thousands of years—that mindfulness is beneficial in a wide range of ways. At the same time, it’s important not to get …

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Watch SIT, a short documentary

September 3, 2016 - 8:34am

SIT – Short Documentary Film from Yoko Okumura on Vimeo.

Chris Ruiz, one of the producers of SIT, a short documentary by Yoko Okumura, suggested that I might want to share this video. Yoko Okumura is the daughter of Shohaku Okumura, a Zen abbot and Eihei Dogen translator. Confounding stereotypes of Zen strictness, Shohaku is a really easy-going guy. Her brother, Masaki, lacks direction, and although he’d like to go to college to learn to cook, he’s perpetually “not ready” to take any concrete steps, seeming to have retreated into a world of video games and finding interaction with the world to be scary.

As Ruiz said to me, the documentary helps “dispel myths about the traditionalism, closed-mindedness, and rigidness attributed to Asian families.”

It’s a very short documentary, and slow moving. It’s rather interesting and surprising, though.

Systems biology research study reveals benefits of vacation and meditation

September 1, 2016 - 8:21am
Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction (MP3) by BodhipaksaScientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of California, San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School used a rigorous study design to assess the biological impact of meditation compared to vacation. They examined the effect of meditation on gene expression patterns in both novice and regular meditators. The researchers found that a resort vacation provides a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune pathways, in addition to short- term improvements in well-being, as measured by feelings of vitality and distress. A meditation retreat, for those who already used meditation regularly, was associated with molecular networks characterized by antiviral activity. The molecular signature of long-term meditators was distinct from the non-meditating vacationers. The study was published today in Springer Nature’s journal Translational Psychiatry.

The study involved 94 healthy women, aged 30-60. Sixty-four women were recruited who were not regular meditators. Participants stayed at the same resort in California for six days, and randomized so that half were simply on vacation while the other half joined a meditation training program run by the Chopra Center for Well Being. The meditation program included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and self reflection exercises. It was designed by Deepak Chopra, MD, who did not participate in data collection or analysis.

For greater insight into the long-term effects of what scientists dubbed the “meditation effect” compared to the “vacation effect,” the team also studied a group of 30 experienced meditators who were already enrolled in the retreat that week. Researchers collected blood samples, and surveys, from all participants immediately before and after their stay, as well as surveys one month and ten months later.

“In the spirit of other research efforts we have pioneered with other groups, this work underscores the importance of studies focused on healthy people,” said Eric Schadt, PhD, senior author on the paper and the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Founding Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology. “By combining an interrogation of gene networks with advanced data analysis and statistics, we have generated clinically meaningful information about stress and aging that is relevant to the broader population.”

The research team examined the changes in 20,000 genes to determine which types of genes were changing before and after the resort experience. Scientists performed an integrative transcriptomic analysis, comparing gene expression networks across all three groups of participants and finding unique molecular profiles and pathway enrichment patterns. Study results show that all groups — novice meditators, experienced meditators, and vacationers — had significant changes in molecular network patterns after the week at the resort, with a clear signature distinguishing baseline from post-vacation biology. The most notable changes in gene activity were related to stress response and immune function.

Researchers assessed self-reported measures of well being. While all groups showed improvements up to one month later, the novice meditators had fewer symptoms of depression and less stress much longer than the non-meditating vacationers. The psychological effects appear to be enduring and it is unknown how much of this longer lasting benefit may be due to continued practice or lasting changes in how people view events in their lives.

“It’s intuitive that taking a vacation reduces biological processes related to stress, but it was still impressive to see the large changes in gene expression from being away from the busy pace of life, in a relaxing environment, in such a short period of time. These findings will have to be replicated to see if the changes are reliably invoked under the same circumstances, in future studies, and compared to an at-home control group,” said Elissa S. Epel, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco and first author of the study.

“Based on our results, the benefit we experience from meditation isn’t strictly psychological; there is a clear and quantifiable change in how our bodies function,” said Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Meditation is one of the ways to engage in restorative activities that may provide relief for our immune systems, easing the day-to-day stress of a body constantly trying to protect itself. The prediction is that this would then lead to healthier aging.”

Paper cited:
Elissa S. Epel, et al. Meditation and vacation effects impact disease-associated molecular phenotypes. Translational Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.164

The Conscious Couple, Day 1: The Dharma of Intimate Relationships

August 30, 2016 - 1:52pm

by Shelly Chatterelli and Bodhipaksa

Our intimate relationships are a vital area for practice. Each day, each moment, they offer us fresh opportunities to practice kindness, love, and compassion. They give us practice in forgiving and asking for forgiveness. They allow us to cultivate honesty and to become more skillful in our communication. They provide us with opportunities to give and to receive and to learn about ourselves and our partner.

Intimate relationships challenge us. They unerringly find our emotional weak spots, highlighting our insecurities and failings in ways that can cause great discomfort. Yet this too is spiritually beneficial; how else can we change, but by bringing into conscious awareness that which needs transformation?

Our intimate relationships can also be a source of aspiration and inspiration. The desire to live in love and harmony with another person, to know them deeply and to let ourselves be known, can give us a positive motivation to change and to become better partners, better lovers, better people.

Many people are aware that the Buddha described intimate relationships, and the desire for them, as one of the main distractions in the spiritual life! Fewer know that at the same time he often applauded lay practitioners for the depth of spiritual practice they manifested.

The Buddha praised married couples who practiced and lived harmoniously together, saying that they were living a divine life. We’re told, in fact, that many, many householders attained various degrees of awakening, showing that family life is hardly an insurmountable obstacle to spiritual progress.

There is no contradiction between the Buddha’s emphasis on relationships both as a hindrance and as a practice. The spiritual community had a monastic wing, which practiced simplicity of lifestyle (no work, no kids, no marriage) in order to focus intensely on meditation, study, and teaching. Monastics were therefore required to regard romantic and sexual entanglements as distractions. But there was also a householder wing of the community, consisting of people who worked for a living, who married, and who brought up children — and whose members could, as we’ve seen, be practicing deeply.

The purpose of this 28-day online course is to help us explore the ways in which our intimate and romantic relationships provide opportunities for us to deepen our practice, and how our practice can in turn help us deepen the intimacy we experience with our partners.

There are many different approaches we could have taken to structure this course. We could have had no structure, and just sent you a number of reflections! But we’ve settled on the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, since it’s one of the most important frameworks for exploring how to bring practice into daily life. In each post you’ll see a “map” of the Eightfold Path, with the current phase highlighted.

In the next email we’ll start with the cultivation of Right View, which involves looking at the ideas, opinions, assumptions, and models we use in regard to our relationships. In fact we’ve already begun with this exploration, since we’ve been discussing views about the relationship between married life and the spiritual life.

Cultivating right view means bringing our views into line with the Dharma. But this doesn’t mean blind conformity! It simply means that sometimes we have views that hinder the development of love, intimacy, and honesty. We may not be conscious of those views, or it may be that we don’t see the harmful effects they have. (We humans have a perplexing ability to keep doing things we are sure will make our lives better, when actually they cause harm.) Our views have to be brought into consciousness if we’re to avoid causing suffering to ourselves and to our partner. And we need to nurture views that lead to a deeper and more harmonious connection with ourselves and with the person most dear to us. We need views that allow us to be part of a conscious, thriving couple.

With love,
Shelly and Bodhipaksa

Homework: For the next 24 hours, just notice your interactions with your partner (or in other relationships), without trying to fix anything. Notice in particular times that you interact in a way that you perceive as kind or loving, and times that those qualities are absent. As best you can, make these observations without judgement: that is, don’t engage in self-criticism or ruminate about your interactions. Feel free to make notes, and to discuss your observations in the online community we’ve created to accompany this course.

Guided meditation: This brief guided mindfulness meditation can be done with a partner, or on your own.

Register: This article is taken from the first email of our 28-day online event, The Conscious Couple, led by teachers Shelly Chatterelli and Bodhipaksa. While both partners in a couple are welcome to participate, and it’s fine if you want to join on your own, or even if you aren’t currently involved in a relationship. To register, click here.

The best way to calm your thoughts is to give them plenty of space

August 29, 2016 - 7:25am

The ancient Romans had a special punishment for those guilty of parricide, which involved sewing the guilty party into a leather sack and tossing him into a river or the ocean. This, according to Cicero, symbolized how the heinousness of the offender’s crime sundered him from the realm of natural law.

This punishment evolved over time, with the addition to the sack of animals such as a viper and a dog. Eventually four animals were used, and this became the classical form of this punishment, which was known as the pœna cullei.

It’s hard to imagine how horrible this would have been. Suffocating would be awful enough, but throughout the ordeal you’d have two terrified animals working themselves into a panicked rage as they clawed and bit each other, as well as you.

This image came to mind last week when I was at a meditation class and people were talking about trying to manage the restless thoughts that intruded into the meditation practice. People mentioned various ways that they try to calm their thoughts, such setting an intention to stay focused on the breathing. But it struck me that this is a bit like trying to calm down a dog and snake that are tied in a sack with you.

It’s difficult to calm your thoughts when you feel trapped with them in what feels like a confined space.

What I find works best for calming thoughts is to develop a sense of spaciousness. This is akin to opening the sack and setting the dog, the snake, and yourself free in a large meadow. You’re all still together. But there’s less pressure, less fear, and therefore more calmness and ease.

What does this mean, to develop a sense of spaciousness?

Although beginners to meditation often think about noises as being distractions, these sounds are simply sensations that we can be mindful of. In other words, rather than being distractions from meditation, sounds are opportunities to practice meditation.

So, right now, try being aware of the sounds around you. (You might want to close your eyes.)

As you pay attention mindfully to these sounds, notice how they are inherently spacious. The sounds you hear may come from several yards away, or even from miles away. This is a much larger space than the tiny “leather sack” of your head, where you may often feel you are suffocating with your thoughts.

As you’re mindfully paying attention to the sound and space surrounding you, notice what’s been happening with your thoughts. They will probably still be there, but it’s likely that they’re no longer bothering you. The snake and dog of your thoughts are off doing their respective things, and aren’t causing a disturbance.

Now, let your attention narrow again until it’s inside your skull, and you’re focusing on your thoughts. How does this feel? Does it feel constricted, tight, and unpleasant?

Broaden your awareness to the sound and space around you once again, and notice how that feels. Perhaps it’s more relaxed, calm, and easeful?

Try alternating in this way a few more times, to reinforce the fact that whether you let your awareness be expansive or contacted is a choice. Also, you can reinforce that an expansive and calm awareness, even if it’s unfamiliar to you, is someplace you can feel at home.

Trying to negotiate with our thoughts can sometimes work, but often it’s as futile as trying to calm trapped and panicky animals. It’s better broaden your attention—to open up the leather sack—and to let your thoughts exist in a spacious field of awareness, where they will naturally and spontaneously find peace and calm.

Mindfulness has lost its Buddhist roots, and it may not be doing you good

August 26, 2016 - 10:11am
Mindfulness Meditation: Nine Guided Practices to Awaken Presence and Open Your Heart, by Tara Brach (2 CDs)Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, The Conversation: Mindfulness as a psychological aid is very much in fashion. Recent reports on the latest finding suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as anti-depressants in preventing the relapse of recurrent depression.

While the authors of the paper interpreted their results in a slightly less positive light, stating that (contrary to their hypothesis) mindfulness was no more effective than medication, the meaning inferred by many in the media was that mindfulness was superior to medication.

Mindfulness is a technique extracted …

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Mindfulness meditation uses distinct neural pathways to reduce pain better than placebo

August 24, 2016 - 8:11am
Click here for Mindfulness of Breathing: Managing Pain, Illness, & Stress with Guided Mindfulness Meditation (MP3)Thomas Rosenthal, Pain Medicine News: Recent research showed that mindfulness meditation is significantly more effective at reducing pain intensity and pain unpleasantness than placebo analgesia, sham mindfulness meditation and other cognitive-based approaches by using distinct neural mechanisms (J Neurosci 2015;35:15307-15325).

“This study is the first to demonstrate that mindfulness-related pain relief is mechanistically distinct from placebo analgesia,” the researchers wrote. “The elucidation of this distinction confirms the existence of multiple, cognitively driven, supraspinal mechanisms for pain modulation.” Specifically, mindfulness meditation–induced pain relief was associated with greater neural activation in higher-order …

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