Jeena Cho, Above the Law: In case you missed it, there was a cover story in the Wall Street Journal on mindfulness in the legal profession. It’s fair to say that when the WSJ is writing about mindfulness in law, it’s gone mainstream. I was interviewed and quoted in the article, and I’ll admit, I got a little teary eyed when I saw my name on the cover of the WSJ. Not bad for an immigrant “salon girl.”
In the July issue of the ABA Journal, there was an article titled How lawyers can avoid burnout and debilitating anxiety, citing meditation and mindfulness …
This morning as I was walking to the office, I noticed that I had an earworm stuck in my head. In case you’re unfamiliar with this term, it refers to a song or jingle that runs in a repetitive loop in the head. Often it’s only one or two lines from a song. Sometimes it’s not even a song we like. It may even be one we detest.
I have a very effective technique that not only helps get rid of earworms but also turns them into mindfulness triggers should they recur, but this morning it occurred to me that mantras could be regarded as a form of self-induced spiritual earworm.
Mantras are self-induced because we consciously cultivate them. They’re spiritual because they act as reminders of the qualities of awakening (e.g. Om mani padme hum reminds us of the compassionate warmth of Avalokiteshvara). And they’re earworms in that they often take on a life of their own, and present themselves to us unbidden.
I briefly considered invoking the mantra of Padmasambhava, but then I realized that the song I had in my head was actually teaching me something. I’m just back from a long road-trip with my kids, and one of the ways we passed the time in the car was by listening to my six-year-old son’s limited CD collection, which includes some Disney songs. The particular song I had stuck in my head was a Muppet track called “Life’s a Happy Song,” and the specific lyrics that my mind kept turning to over and over were these: “I’ve got everything that I need, right in front of me.”
Those words seem like a perfect invitation to let go of craving for things to be other than they are, and to pay attention to and appreciate the present moment. As often happens, my mind had found a teaching that I hadn’t even been aware, at a conscious level, that I needed. As far as earworms go, this one turned out to be perfect.
Rosie Hopegood, The Mirror: Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Goldie Hawn has been dropping the buzzword ‘mindfulness’ lately.
But while celebs are only just cottoning on to the technique, it’s actually been practised for thousands of years, and is now popping up in all sorts of unlikely places – big banking and tech firms are paying for their employees to take classes in order to reduce stress and anxiety at work.
And according to mindfulness expert Will Williams, anyone can benefit from the practice. “It can be particularly helpful for middle aged women, because hormonal imbalances during or approaching the menopause can be …
When I reflect deeply on this step, I can see how unreliable my addictions are. In the end they bring great suffering. Once upon a time, my addictive habitual behaviours were at the centre of my life. I was so unhappy. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I began to place more reliable refuges at the centre of my life.
In the 12 step tradition people turn their lives over to a God of their understanding, they do this because it is a reliable refuge. Placing a God of your understanding at the centre of your life is far more reliable than our addictions.
In Buddhism we call this Going for Refuge, or taking Refuge in the Three Jewels. We take refuge in the Buddha, not the human being, but the aspiration of what the Buddha attained at the centre of our lives. We place the Dharma, the truth, the teachings at the centre. And we place the Sangha, the enlightened spiritual community that has gone before us.
So we turn our lives over to freedom and liberation from Samsara, from the hell of our minds.
We can begin by turning our lives over to the breath. Often we turn our lives over to our thoughts, because we think we are our thoughts. We think our thoughts are facts. Often we lean into our suffering with thought and become so overwhelmed that we end up in the vicious cycle of addiction.
If we leaned into our suffering with breath, disappeared into the breath rather than disappearing into the thoughts, when we are at risk, it may keep us abstinent and sober.
So reflect on what is at the centre of your life.
What are you turning your life over to?
What is your God of understanding? Is it reliable?
What are you going to refuge too when things get hard in life?
For a free sample of the book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: [email protected]
David Mochel, Huffington Post: As human beings we have a tremendous capacity to respond positively and purposefully in the face of challenge. We have the ability to act on our goals and commitments even when we don’t feel like it. As a society, we have an unprecedented capacity to feed, clothe, educate, provide healthcare, and share useful information. Why then, despite our most sincere efforts, do we get stuck in repeated patterns and fail to follow through on our best intentions? Why does life sometimes feel like a struggle even when we have everything we need? The answer to these questions lies in …
The Mindfulness Pedagogy: What we do, think, say and feel as teacher is embedded in social structures that most often are invisible but no less real. The social structures of schools and classrooms are complex, layered with aspects of power, and usually taken for granted. Mindfulness is a fruitful way to unpack or come to see these structures more clearly, thereby coming to know your pupils, way of teaching, social interactions more fully.
Being in a school environment where mindfulness is encouraged can open opportunities for learning & reflecting. Focusing on critical incidents within your day in a state of mindfulness creates space …
Kimberly Marselas, LancasterOnline: A dozen tattooed and cross-armed teenage boys shuffle into the nondescript chapel at the Lancaster County Youth Intervention Center.
Operating against a backdrop of two-way radio chatter and fluorescent lighting but speaking in hushed tones, Wynne Kinder and Christen Coscia greet each by name.
The instructors with Wellness Works in Schools aim to encourage troubled and neglected kids to open their minds, let go of their pain, and start making better choices. Though they may not tell them this, they want to help the teens develop internal tools they might use to regulate emotions.
And the instructors likely won’t refer …
This is a preview of the first of the posts from our forthcoming online meditation event, “Just Being, Just Sitting.” This event runs from July 1–28, and is by donation. Click here for more details or to book your place.
“Just Sitting” is a meditation practice where the aim is just to be, allowing thoughts, feelings, and sensations to come and go within awareness. It’s a very open and spacious meditation practice, in which there is simply the observation of whatever arises in experience, whether that’s from the body, the mind, or sensations arising from the outside world.
In a sense, this is a meditation practice without a goal. We’re not trying to do anything, except to return in a gentle way to an open and accepting awareness. Just sitting is essentially a state of aware rest in which the mind self-organizes. In other words, “you” don’t do the meditation practice. The meditation practice does itself. “You” simply notice this happening.
At least that’s the ideal. Just as we may have to do a lot of preparatory work before going on vacation, in practice we may have to do a certain amount of work in order to achieve a state of aware rest in Just Sitting. Sometimes the turbulence of our emotions and thoughts is such that we need to consciously apply the brakes—slowing the mind down in order to create a little calmness. As with any meditation practice, the mind will tend to wander, and again we have to make an effort to bring our attention back to our experience. But gradually the mind settles down, and as it does so we can make less effort. Eventually, we can let go of any effort or willed intention, and simply let the meditation practice happen.
The “non-meditation” of Just Sitting is a useful complement to other, more active, forms of meditation. Overall it is necessary for us to make effort in meditation, and to have goals at which we aim (e.g. cultivating calmness or kindness) but sometimes our efforts can backfire on us. For example, we can become addicted to doing, so that we become unable to sit back and let our experience unfold. Or we can end up repressing certain aspects of our experience, not allowing them into awareness as we make a willed effort to focus. The radical letting go that takes place in Just Sitting helps us to trust our own deeper nature, giving us confidence that the mind, on some level, wants to be calm and spacious, and also knows how to bring this about.
Just Sitting can be a standalone practice, but it is also something we can do at the start and end of other, more effortful, meditations. For example, we can Just Sit at the start and end of a period of mindfulness of breathing or metta bhavana (lovingkindness practice). Over the next two days I’ll discuss in more detail how we can start and end other practices with Just Sitting, but for now try setting a goal of spending five minutes “arriving” at the start and at least two to three minutes “assimilating” at the end of every meditation you do.
Later we’ll explore in depth the practice of Just Sitting as a meditation (or “non-meditation”) in its own right.Guided Meditation
Starting with tomorrow’s email, I’ll introduce some guided meditations to help you feel your way into the practice of Just Sitting. We’ll begin with how we can use the principles of Just Sitting at the start and end of a period of meditation practice.
To register for “Just Being, Just Sitting,” click here.
Sit : Breathe : Love is a 28 Day Meditation Challenge with the aim of helping you to set up the habit of meditating daily.
It’s suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.
The benefits of regular meditation have been demonstrated again and again in multiple studies. Meditating makes you happier, is good for your health, protects your brain from aging, boosts your intelligence, and helps reduce pain, stress, and depression.
But it’s not easy to set up a regular meditation practice.
So we’re here to help you!
The aims in the 28 Day Challenge is to work build up a daily habit of meditation by sitting every day for 28 days.
We set the bar for success at a realistic level: although we hope you’ll meditate for 20 to 40 minutes a day, a “successful” day is one in which you’ve done some form of sitting meditation for at least five minutes — because there are Days Like That, aren’t there?
In the 28 Day Challenge we’ll teach you how to find a comfortable meditation posture (“Sit”); we’ll teach you how to calm your mind and settle agitated emotions by practicing the mindfulness of breathing (“Breathe”); and we’ll teach you how to appreciate yourself and others more through the practice of lovingkindness (“Love”). Hence, Sit : Breathe : Love”.
You’ll receive an email every day containing meditation instructions and links to guided meditations.
Once you’ve registered for the event you’ll be invited to join a Community on Google Plus where you can share your experiences and receive support and encouragement from other participants in the challenge. If you already have a Google account, then joining the Community is easy. If you don’t have a Google account, it’s simple to set one up.
Join us in this 28 day meditation challenge! Register today!
Just Sitting is a form of meditation in which we simply allow the mind to settle itself. It is a practice of non-doing. As we sit, we allow thoughts to pass through the mind unobstructedly — and without getting caught up in their storylines. In time the mind stills, and a state of pure, effortless awareness emerges.
In this 28 day event you’ll learn to:
- Sit without judgement
- Allow thoughts and feelings to arise and pass without obstruction
- Rest in an open and expansive state of awareness
- Enter an effortless state of meditation
- Recognize that it is not “you” who meditates, and allow your meditation to unfold spontaneously, from within
This event is suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.
Daniel Goleman, Lion’s Roar: While we can’t control when we feel anger or fear—or how strongly—we can gain some control over what we do while in their grip. If we can develop inner radar for emotional danger, we gain a choice point the Dalai Lama urges us to master.
When I asked the Dalai Lama how to find this inner choice point, he suggested one method: questioning destructive mental habits. Even though there may be a bit of legitimacy to our grievances, are the disturbing emotions we feel way out of proportion? Are such feelings familiar, recurring again and again? If so, we …
Have you ever scolded a dog and seen him or her look guilty?
Obviously, animals do not have the elaborated textures of thoughts and feelings that humans do. But our emotions, even the subtlest ones, have their roots in our ancient evolutionary history. By understanding that history better, we do not reduce our feelings to animal instincts, but instead find illuminations from our past that paradoxically give us more choices in manifesting ourselves as fully human.
We can find two sources of shame spectrum emotions in our evolutionary history.
First, many animal species live in social groups with clear dominance hierarchies. Once those pecking orders are established, it can be lethal to challenge them. Consequently, many species have developed ways of signaling submission to the established order of alpha-males and –females. Consider how dogs losing a fight will bare their throat, or chimpanzees will display gestures of deference.
Birds, and especially mammals, have rudimentary forms of the brain circuitry that produces emotion in humans. Those circuits would not have developed, consuming lots of metabolic resources, if they did not produce reproductive benefits.
Emotions function in the brain to motivate and guide behavior. We can’t read the mind of a chicken, sure, or that of a dog or an ape, but it seems like a very efficient way to keep these animals in line if they are experiencing emotions or attitudes that are the equivalent of feeling less than the Big Dog of the pack.
Second, taking this one step further, pack animals evolved cooperative behavior. Think penguins huddling together in the Antarctic winter, and cattle circling around their calves in response to wolves hunting in packs. But in most cases, their cooperation does not involve personal sacrifice for the good of others.
That comes in, big time, with primates, who appeared around the middle of the Cretaceous period, roughly 80 million years ago – so they had lots of time to evolve altruistic behaviors such as food sharing. And the full flowering of altruism – giving to others with no immediate tangible reward – is really seen in humans.
But how could altruism evolve when it would seem to confer reproductive disadvantages on the one who was altruistic? This has been a thorny question in sociobiology, with some interesting answers.
What they have found is that altruism makes sense from an evolutionary perspective when three conditions are present:
- People (including our hominid ancestors several million years ago) lived and predominantly bred within social groups (typically around 20 – 200 members). Consequently, even if a person’s altruism led to her not passing on her genes, close relatives would live and pass on their own, and would be more likely to do so, given her sacrifice.
- Social groups competed intensely with each other for scarce resources in the wild, so ones that worked well together – including because of personal, altruistic sacrifices of some group members – would have their reproductive advantages make a big difference.
- The reputation of individuals would be known to others. So if someone became known as a non-reciprocator – a taker, not a giver – then he risked others no longer sharing food, shelter, etc. So people developed a natural interest in their reputation, in what others thought of them.
An unpleasant emotion that punished individual tribe members for not stepping up for the tribe in fights with other tribes, and for not reciprocating today for help offered yesterday, would help a tribe succeed in its brutal competition with other tribes. And as a variant on that theme, an unpleasant emotion that enabled tribe members to train their young quickly in proper behavior – proper in central Africa, a million years ago, or during the last Ice Age, say 15,000 years ago – would also confer advantages to that tribe.
Thus the origins of shame and guilt in the long slow grind of evolutionary history.
Exercise: “Letting Go of Shame”
Here are the instructions for the exercise, which you can adapt freely:
Imagine that you are sitting beside a powerful river on a beautiful sunny day. You feel safe and contented and strong.
Imagine that sitting with you is a wise and supportive being. Perhaps someone you know personally, perhaps a historical figure, perhaps a guardian angel, etc. Know in your heart that this is a very wise and honest and caring being.
Imagine a small boat tied to the bank of the river, there near you. Imagine an empty and open box in the boat that you can reach easily. Now, continuing to be centered in feelings of worth and well-being, bring to mind lightly something you are ashamed of. Represent it, whatever it is, as a small object on the ground in front of you.
Imagine that the being is telling you, or that you are telling the being, some of the many causes and conditions that led to that thing you are ashamed of. You don’t need the whole story; often a few seconds in your imagination can summarize the heart of the matter.
With that summary of the causes of the shame, see if you can feel a letting go inside.
If you like, in your imagination, bow to the object representing the shame: it exists, it is what it is.
Then put the object in the box, and let it go as much as you can.
Now bring to mind, lightly, something else you are ashamed of. Represent it, whatever it is, as a small object on the ground in front of you.
Feel free to repeat this exercise, and to go at your own pace, slowing down to dwell on certain parts, or speeding up to get through them to additional things you’d like to put in the boat.
Marissa Harshman, The Columbian: Thirteen months ago, Dobson suffered an embolic stroke caused by a blood clot. The stroke left Dobson unable to move his arm, hand, leg or foot on the left side of his body. His left hand was frozen into a claw shape, and the left side of his face was numb. His vision was distorted, his hearing muffled.
In the days and months that followed, Dobson used mindfulness meditation to help him focus on his recovery and healing. And now, more than a year after the stroke, Dobson has made significant strides, according to his physicians.
“From Dr. Milfred’s …
Asha, Bold Sky: The health benefits of meditation are numerous and we all are aware of it. But, have you ever thought about the importance of implementing mediation in schools?
Many studies prove that children who practice meditation are above the average quotient for behavior, emotion and intelligence. Meditation allows them to have a little time to relax and set themselves free of all sorts of tension and stress.
Training and consistency are the important factors required to make mediation in schools a successful effort. Studies show that students who practice meditation in schools have low levels of stress hormone called cortisol, when …
Stephanie Weaver, Huffington Post: More than 100 million adults in the U.S. deal with chronic pain. After reading an article by Dr. Christiane Wolf, I reached out to her to learn more.
You say that chronic pain is a malfunctioning side of evolution. What do you mean by that?
This is my theory as I’ve considered chronic pain. Acute pain is important; it alerts the brain that there is danger. But for chronic pain, there is no separate system. It continually alerts the brain that there is something wrong, and yet it doesn’t stop. There is no way to calm it down.
Does mindfulness …
Cherese Jackson, Guardian Liberty Voice: Practicing mindfulness is quickly gaining popularity in America. Based on Buddhist principles, being mindful is living in the moment and fully experiencing external sensations as well as your emotions and internal thoughts. While practicing mindfulness can be challenging for a child, an aspect of it, opening up your senses, is a tool that parents can use to introduce their child to new things.
Kids can be very picky eaters. Every parent knows the difficulty of trying to get their child to try new foods. A lot of children won’t stray too far from chicken tenders and french fries …
Press release: Meditation has long been used by many people from around the world to reduce stress, soul search and improve overall physical and mental health. However, it seems that arthritis patients can also get some benefits in practicing the healthy activity.
The Arthritis Foundation has provided some meditation techniques to ease arthritis pain. According to experts, meditation is not like running a race, but it does require time and patience. Those who do not have either or both can still meditate.
According to experts, there are four meditation techniques that can help patients get started. First is to make the session brief. This is very helpful to individuals who do not have an hour to allocate for meditation.
Mark Thornton, author of “Meditation in a New York Minute: Super Calm for the Super Busy” and New York City-based meditation teacher, suggested that people should strive to meditate for at least one hour every day. He also added that doing it for a few minutes throughout the whole day can be as effective as meditating for one full hour.
“Experts also suggest that patients should ensure they are consistent in meditating, and this means doing it like working out at the gym,” said VitaBreeze Supplements spokesperson, Michelle O’Sullivan.
Thornton added that daily practice of meditation is highly recommended. However, patients can start meditating every other day if doing it on a daily basis seems overwhelming. They should make sure that they set a type of meditation schedule that they can maintain on a long-term basis.
Experts also suggest active meditation. Patients do not have to meditate in a dark room alone and sitting in the lotus position. They can actually do it in the shower, while washing dishes or even when standing in line at the grocery store. They can start doing active meditation by taking slow deep breaths. They need to tune into their surroundings such as the water flowing from the faucet or the smell of fresh lemons in the kitchen.
“It is also imperative that sufferers are able to adjust their focus. Patients will see whether or not they are doing it right when they notice their attention wandering, and they are able to get their focus back,” added O’Sullivan.
Meditation has been used by many people, especially those suffering from arthritis, to achieve pain relief. It is a natural treatment method and is not just believed to be effective, but also safe too.
It’s been said that the most powerful tool for physical health is a fork (or spoon), since the choices you make with it determine the good or bad things you put into your body.
In the same way, perhaps the most powerful tool for your mental health – and certainly for the health of your relationships – is your tongue. Thousands of times each day, it (or your fingers on a keyboard: same thing) offers the good word or the bad one out into your world.
If you say what’s true for you, and say it clearly and kindly, you get one kind of results. But if you use a sharp tongue, speak falsely, exaggerate, or leave out the parts that are most important to you, you get different results: unnecessary conflicts, lost opportunities, a tightness in your chest, etc.
Of course, the most important person to speak truly to is yourself, with inner speech. Come to peace with the truth: the facts, your experiences and intentions, the goodness inside your heart, what’s led to what for better or worse.
On the other hand, if you act like something is true but deep down there’s a knowing that it’s not – like it’s OK not to go after an important dream, or that you can keep putting off dealing with a health issue such as smoking, or that everything’s fine in a cool and distant marriage – you’re living on thin ice: hard to build a good life on that foundation.
Truth is bedrock. Even if you wish the truth were different, it’s what you can count on in a world of full of selling, spin, and BS. It’s your refuge.
Speaking truly does not mean saying everything. You can cut to the chase in a conversation, not burden a child with more than he or she can understand, be civil when you’re angry, and not spill your guts in a meeting.
Nor should you confide more than is appropriate. There’s a place for privacy, for not telling A everything you know about B, for recognizing how intimately you can safely communicate in a particular situation or relationship.
Speaking truly – to yourself and to others – does mean being authentic. Is your outer expression lined up with your inner experience? Most of us have “that thing” which is hard to express. For me growing up, it was feeling inadequate. For many men, it’s feelings of fear or weakness. For many women, it’s feelings of anger or power. Could you find appropriate ways to say your whole truth, whatever it is?
Ask yourself: “What am I actually experiencing?” Relax your face completely and look at it in the mirror: What does it tell you? What does it say you really need these days?
Also ask yourself: “What’s important that’s not getting named?” This applies both to you and to others. Consider the hurt or anxiety beneath irritation, or the rights or needs that are the real stakes on the table. Is there an elephant in the room that no one is mentioning? Maybe someone has a problem with anger or with drinking too much, or is simply depressed. Maybe someone’s jumbo job – 60, 70 hours a week or more, counting commute and weekend emails – is crowding family life out to the margins.
Especially when you’re upset, watch out for distortions in the words you use. These include leaving out the context (like getting mad at a misbehaving child who’s hungry), using extreme language – words like “always” or flat statements that should be qualified – or using a tone that’s harsh or nasty. Without talking like a robot, look for ways to be more judicious, accurate, and to the point in what you say.
Last, accept the fact that no one is a perfect communicator. You’re always going to leave something out, and that’s OK. You have to give conversations room to breathe, without continually judging yourself as to whether you’re speaking truly! Communicating is repairing. As long as you come with basic sincerity and goodwill, your words will weave and mend a tapestry of truth in all your relationships.
Brooke Lumsden, Domain: Most of us deal with some form of stress on a regular basis, whether from workplace pressure, the weight of exams, family dynamics, or a myriad of other reasons, and, let’s face it, we’d all like to keep it at bay.
Staff at the Mayo Clinic recommend starting with a meditation session as a way to keep yourself more calm throughout the day, while researchers from Harvard suggest meditation is particularly useful for treating conditions such as anxiety, pain and depression.
Fortunately, you don’t have to climb to the top of a mountain with your guru to achieve this. Like …
I’ve talked here before about Brent E. Huffman’s film, Saving Mes Aynak, the making of which Wildmind helped sponsor. Mes Aynak is a unique archaeological site: an abandoned Buddhist city in Afghanistan, where priceless relics have been unearthed. Unfortunately a Chinese mining consortium plans to destroy the entire site in order to mine for copper. This is equivalent to Greece bulldozing classical buildings like the Parthenon.
Saving Mes Aynak follows archaeologist Qadir Temori as he races against time to save this 5,000-year-old Buddhist archeological site from imminent demolition. So far only 10% of Mes Aynak has been excavated, though, and some believe that future discoveries there have the potential to redefine the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself.
This brief trailer gives just a flavor of some of the precious finds that have been excavated from Mes Aynak.
According to the Saving Mes Aynak Indiegogo fundraising page:
The only way for Mes Aynak to be saved is if the Afghan government intervenes, halts mining, and officially petitions to UNESCO to make Mes Aynak a World Heritage Site. Only the Afghan government can approach UNESCO.
Through our film Saving Mes Aynak, our major goal is to raise mass awareness of the impending demolition, creating an international movement to put pressure on the mining company, the Afghanistan government, and UNESCO to make Mes Aynak a World Heritage Site.
This is the ONLY WAY to #SAVEMESAYNAK.