Buddhist Mantras

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How mindful children react differently

December 17, 2014 - 8:52am

Mindfulness Meditations for Teens, by Bodhipaksa (CD) Renee Jain, Psych Central: Growing up, I was a firecracker. I reacted quickly to situations and never hesitated to express my “passionate” opinions. This often led to hurt feelings. I remember once, after a heated discussion with my brother, he asked my parents to put a coffee filter over my mouth to “keep the yucky stuff inside.”

My dad later took me aside and said, “Renee, you need to think before you speak. You’re going to hurt people with that sharp tongue. This is something I really want you to work on.”

“I’m …

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The spiritual power of a smile

December 16, 2014 - 9:07am

Studies have found that smiling makes people happier. Normally of course we think of things working the other way around: being happy puts a smile on our face. But the reverse is true as well. Feelings of happiness are triggered even when we don’t realize we’re smiling—for example when we’re clenching a pencil with the teeth, which causes the face to use the same muscles that are used when we smile. So the emotional impact of smiling is obviously not just the power of association, and it seems that it’s the activation of our “smiling muscles” that triggers the happiness response. But maybe it doesn’t matter why it works, as long as it does.

So as you meditate, smile, and help joy to arise. You don’t have to have a grin on your face. A gentle, almost imperceptible smile can have a transformative effect on how you feel. Smiling is a short-cut to unleashing your repressed joy.

One of the things that smiling does is to give us a sense of reassurance. When we smile, we send ourselves a signal saying “It’s OK. We got this. We can handle this.” When we smile, even in the face of difficulties, we remind ourselves that there’s a grown-up present. There’s a part of us that can function as parent, as mentor, as wise friend. We become our own spiritual guide.

Radical Self-Acceptance is available on our online store.Smiling shouldn’t however become a way of avoiding our experience. We don’t smile in attempt to drive away or replace difficult experiences but in order to be a friendly presence for them. Smiling, and the confidence it can bring, should make it easier for us to be with our experience, and less likely to turn from it.

A simple smile can help us to feel more playful. Playfulness—letting our effort be light, allowing our heart to be open, not taking things personally, and appreciating the positive—allows joy to arise. On the other hand, taking things too seriously is a sure-fire way to kill joy. When we try to force or control our experience—trying to do everything “right”—our experience becomes cold, tight, and joyless. Smiling helps us to lighten up.

When we smile, we’re more confident, and we can let go of our fear-driven need to police and control our experience. We’re less likely to judge, and can be more accepting. So we might, for example, notice that many thoughts are passing through the mind, and yet find ourselves at ease. We might notice an old habit kicking in once again, and rather than blame ourselves for messing up, feel a sense of kindly benevolence.

Guided Meditations for Self-Healing, by Jack KornfieldOne potent illustration of the power of a smile is the image of the Buddha being assaulted by the hordes of Mara, the personification of spiritual doubt and defeat. In this allegory, which has been depicted many times, Mara’s armies, which consist of hideous demons that symbolize craving, discontent, laziness, and fear, surround the Buddha. At the center of a tempest of demonic fury, the enlightened one sits, smiling serenely. A radiant aura extends around him, and when the weapons of his foes touch it, they fall harmlessly as flowers.

In a sense the Buddha’s aura is the radiance of his smile—the protective effect of his determined yet playful confidence. Every time we smile in meditation, we create the conditions for joy and peace to arise. Every time we smile in meditation, we connect ourselves to the Buddha’s own awakening.

Are you mindful? The meditation practice that’s connecting the world

December 16, 2014 - 7:53am

Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn James Maynard, Tech Times: Mindfulness is an ancient practice which encourages people to direct their thoughts toward the present, rather than obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. This relatively simple notion is starting to become a more common practice among people concerned with worry and fear.

Scientific studies are starting to provide evidence that the ancient practice of mindfulness can create beneficial physical changes in brains.

“I don’t feel I’m very present in each moment. I feel like every moment I’m either thinking about something that’s coming down the road, or something …

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The Third Noble Truth – the Noble Truth of the end of suffering

December 15, 2014 - 9:07am

The Third Noble Truth comes directly from the Second one: The end of suffering comes with the end of clinging.

As Achaan Chah said, “If you let go a little, you’ll have a little happiness. If you let go a lot, you’ll have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely . . . you’ll be completely happy.”

You can do this at the macro level, in letting go regarding lights turning green, or payments arriving, or your teenage children giving you a hug. Sure, you’d like things to turn out well, and that’s fine. You take practical steps toward them turning out well, and that’s also fine. But you can simultaneously have a peaceful, accepting attitude about however it turns out.

And you can let go – practicing non-clinging – most fundamentally at the micro level, with moment to moment experience.

For example, when you observe your experience, you will see that there is always a feeling tone automatically associated with it – a tone of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. That tone – called “feeling” in the Pali Canon (distinct from emotions) – usually triggers craving, which is the seed of clinging.

But if you can simply be mindful of the feeling tone without reacting to it – then you can break the chain of suffering!

In the short-term, we can’t do much about the feeling tone. So you’re not trying to change the feeling tone itself. But you are trying to not react to it via one form of clinging or another.

The epitome of non-clinging is equanimity — which is not, according to a teacher, U Pandita, “. . . insensitivity, indifference, or apathy. It is simply nonpreferential. . . . One does not push aside the things one dislikes or grasp at the things one prefers.”

He goes on to say:

“The way to bring about equanimity is wise attention: to be continually mindful from moment to moment, without a break, based on the intention to develop equanimity. . .

In the deepest forms of insight, we see that things change so quickly that we can’t hold onto anything, and eventually the mind lets go of clinging. Letting go brings equanimity; the greater the letting go, the deeper the equanimity. . . .

Freedom comes when we begin to let go of our reactive tendencies. . . .

In Buddhist practice, we work to expand the range of life experiences in which we are free.”

When we do this, much of what we see is how we fall away from equanimity, from perfect balance, again and again. But seeing that ever more deeply and precisely . . . slowly but surely helps us tip over less often.

Meditation may physically alter regions of the brain

December 15, 2014 - 6:58am

Stress-Proof Your Brain, by Rick Hanson (2 CDs)Sravanth Verma, Digital Journal: Harvard researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital reported that the practice of mindfulness meditation can physically alter regions of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

The study, to be published in January 2015, in “Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging” indicates that the brain’s gray matter may change as a result of meditation.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” said …

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The bells!

December 14, 2014 - 5:00am

Here’s a funny story for you.

One of the things we do to fund our activities at Wildmind is selling meditation supplies, which means that our office is also a mini-warehouse, stocked with incense, Buddha statues, meditation cushions — and mindfulness timers.

One day my work kept getting interrupted by a bell that would go off from time to time. The first couple of times it was no big deal. I thought that someone had perhaps jostled a wind chime, which will happen when stock’s being moved around. But as the sounds continued to happen, it became an annoying interruption.

The puzzling thing was that no one seemed to be doing anything that could be making this noise. I asked around to see if anyone, for example, had some app running that was creating a chiming noise, because I was trying to write an article and the interruption was really bothering me. It turned out that everyone else was also being disturbed and had been wondering what the noise was. In fact they’d all assumed it was the result of something I was doing!

Eventually we realized that one of the mindfulness timers we stock had somehow been switched on, and it seemed that the offending item was one that was boxed. The trouble was, which one? There was a pile of perhaps two dozen boxed meditation timers, and the bell would only ring once every few minutes. And by the time someone had dashed over to the place the timers were stored, the sound had already stopped.

It became my mission to find out which timer was ringing. This involved splitting them up in a process of eliminating non-offending timers. To cut a long story short, I finally tracked down and deactivated the timer that had been interrupting us, and we were all able to work undistractedly. The whole episode was very disruptive, not just because the bell had been interrupting our work, but because it had taken so much effort to switch the timer off.

The ironic thing, of course, is that the random bell was supposed to be an invitation to practice mindfulness — to stop what you’re doing and to spend a few moments tuning into the breath, to relax, and to let go! None of us had remembered to be mindful when we heard the bell ringing! In fact we’d all rather unmindfully been irritated by something that was supposed to me a mindfulness tool!

One trivial thing to learn from this is that something like a mindfulness bell only works when I have the expectation that it will. Unless, when I hear the bell, I have an assumption “this bell is intended to help me be mindful” it’s not going to function as a prompt for mindfulness.

But something I wonder is, why don’t I regard every annoyance as a mindfulness bell! Ironically, as I was writing this article I kept being interrupted by a co-worker who needed my advice on a number of questions. It dawned on me that I could use these interruptions to my routine to mindfully check in with myself. And the other week, when I found myself irritated by some software that didn’t function as expected, someone pointed out to me that I could be grateful to the company concerned because they were giving me an opportunity to become mindful of my impatience. I think that’s a brilliant idea, and something I need to work on.

Basically, I’d like to train myself to see the experience of annoyance as a mindfulness bell — letting it jolt me into a deeper awareness of myself. When I find I’m irritated by something, instead of going on a rant I can drop down to the level of feelings, recognize that the feeling of frustration I’m experiencing is a form of pain, and then send compassionate thoughts to that pain.

PS. Yes, I know that Quasimodo never said “The bells!” but I couldn’t resist the temptation to use a photograph of that character.

Perspectives on Satipatthana

December 13, 2014 - 5:01am

An interview with Bhikkhu An?layo, author of Satipa??h?na: The Direct Path to Realization.Bhikkhu An?layo’s latest book, Perspectives on Satipa??h?na, uses a comparison of three different versions of the Satipatthana Sutta to reveal what the original core teachings are likely to have been.

Hannah Atkinson: Perspectives on Satipa??h?na is a companion volume to your earlier publication, Satipa??h?na: The Direct Path to Realization. How are the two books distinct and how do they work together?

Bhikkhu An?layo: My first book, Satipa??h?na: The Direct Path to Realization, came out of a PhD I did in Sri Lanka. It was the product of my academic study of the Satipa??h?na Sutta, the practical experience I had gained in meditation, and what I had read about the experience of other meditators and teachers – I tried to bring all that together to come to a better understanding of the text itself.

At that time I was working on the Pali sources of the Satipa??h?na Sutta because the Buddha’s teachings were transmitted orally from India to Sri Lanka and then eventually written down in Pali, which is fairly similar to the original language or languages that the Buddha would have spoken. However, the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings also went in other directions, and we have versions of the Satipa??h?na Sutta in Chinese and Tibetan. So after completing my PhD I learnt Chinese and Tibetan so that I could engage in a comparative study of parallel textual lineages, and this is the focus of my new book, Perspectives on Satipa??h?na.

Although this was, at the outset, mainly an academic enterprise, what I discovered really changed the focus of my practice. When I took out the exercises that were not common to all three versions of the Satipa??h?na Sutta, I was left with a vision of mindfulness meditation that was very different to anything I would have expected. Contemplation of the body, which is the first of the four satipa??h?nas, for example, is usually practised in the form of the mindfulness of breathing and being mindful of bodily postures, but these exercises are not found in all versions. What I found in all three versions were the exercises that most of us do not like to do: seeing the body as made out of anatomical parts and thus as something that it is not beautiful, as something that is made up of elements and thus does not belong to me, and the cemetery contemplations – looking at a corpse that is decaying.

So then I understood: body contemplation is not so much about using the body to be mindful. It is rather predominantly about using mindfulness to understand the nature of the body. As a result of these practices one will become more mindful of the body, but the main thrust is much more challenging. The focus is on insight – understanding the body in a completely different way from how it is normally perceived.

Normally we look at the body and see it as ‘me’, but these texts are asking us to take that apart and see that actually we are made up of earth, water, fire and wind, of hardness, fluidity and wetness, temperature and motion. They are asking us to directly confront our own mortality – to contemplate the most threatening thing for us: death.

Bhikkhu An?layo is a Buddhist monk (bhikkhu), scholar and meditation teacher. He was born in Germany in 1962, and ‘went forth’ in 1995 in Sri Lanka. He is best known for his comparative studies of early Buddhist texts as preserved by the various early Buddhist traditions.

I found a similar pattern when I looked at the last satipa??h?na, which is contemplation of dharmas. The practices that were common to all three versions were those that focused on overcoming the hindrances and cultivating the awakening factors. The emphasis is not so much on reflecting on the teachings, the Dharma, but really on putting them into practice, really going for awakening. As a result of this discovery I have developed a new approach to the practice of satipa??h?na which I have found to be very powerful, and this would never have happened if I had not done the academic groundwork first.

HA: Your books are a combined outcome of scholarly study and practical experience of meditating. Do you find that these two approaches are generally compatible with each other, or do they ever come into conflict?

BA: It is not easy to be a scholar and a practitioner at the same time. If you look throughout Buddhist history, it is more usual to find Buddhists who are either practitioners or scholars than Buddhists who are both. However, for a while I have been trying to achieve a balance between these two sides of me, and I have found a point of concurrence: the main task of meditation is to achieve ‘knowledge and vision of things as they really are’ and actually this is the main task of academics as well. We use a different methodology, but the aim of both is to understand things as they really happen. If I take that as my converging point, then I am able to be both a scholar and a meditating monk, and this has been a very fruitful combination for me.

Both of my books are aimed at people who, like me, are interested in academic study and meditation. They are academic books where the final aim is to help people develop their meditation practice. They are not books for beginners, and the second book builds on the first book, so one would need a basic familiarity with what I covered in Satipa??h?na: The Direct Path to Realization in order to fully engage with Perspectives on Satipa??h?na.

HA: Both of your books mention the idea of satipa??h?na as a form of balance, and the title of your new book suggests that there are many different perspectives on satipa??h?na that could be taken into account. Is the very essence of satipa??h?na practice a balance of perspectives or is there one particular perspective on satipa??h?na that has been most useful in the context of your practice?

BA: I think that balance is an absolutely central aspect of mindfulness practice. If you look at the Awakening Factors, the first one is mindfulness and the last one is usually translated as ‘equanimity’, but in my opinion it would be better to understand it as balance or equipoise. To be balanced means to be mindful and open to the present moment, to be free from desire and aversion, and this is what the Satipa??h?na Sutta continually comes back to.

I believe that balance is also an essential element of academic study. If, through my mindfulness practice, I am cultivating openness and reception then how can I say that one approach to a topic is totally right and another one is completely wrong? If I do that, I have to exclude all of the other approaches from my vision. Often, when we get into very strong opinions, we have tunnel vision – we see only one part of reality, one side of it, but that is not how things really are. So, in my academic work, if I find one approach that seems more reasonable to me, I keep it in the foreground, but I have to keep the other approaches in the background, I cannot just cut them out.

HA: Satipa??h?na: The Direct Path to Realization and Perspectives on Satipa??h?na both mention the importance of combining self-development with concern for others. Does satipa??h?na practice lead naturally to a person becoming more compassionate or is it necessary to engage in other practices to achieve this? Is satipa??h?na practice a solitary activity or is it important that it is undertaken in the context of a Sangha?

Buy Perspectives on Satipa??h?na for Kindle or iBooks.

BA: I think that compassion is a natural outcome of Satipa??h?na practice, but it is also good to encourage it in other ways as well. There is a simile from the Satipa??h?na Samyutta of two acrobats performing together on a pole – we need to establish our own balance in order to be in balance with other people and the outside world, but other people and the outside world are also the point at which we find out about our own balance. I can be practising alone, sitting in my room, feeling that I am so incredibly balanced and equanimous, but let me get out into the world and have some contact with people, come into some problems, and see how balanced I am then! Of course, time in seclusion and intensive meditation is essential, but there must always be a wider context to our practice.

Republished with permission from Windhorse Publications.

(#EthicalChristmas) What kind of society are you creating?

December 13, 2014 - 5:00am

Recently I wanted to buy some herbal tea in bulk. I did my research on Amazon, found the brand I wanted, and then promptly headed over to the manufacturer’s website to make my purchase. This cost me a little more, but I was happy to pay the extra expense. Why, you may wonder?

Whether we consider it or not, every penny we spend has some effect on the direction our society takes. We can choose to spend our money at businesses that are exploitative and socially harmful, or at businesses that make a more positive contribution to our world. We collectively create the world we live in.

I’ve stopped shopping at Amazon. In some ways the company is wonderful. It’s an amazing example of entrepreneurialism. It offers a huge range of goods, often at significantly lower prices than can be found elsewhere. I have to admit I’ve shopped there a lot in the past. And there’s a benefit to that. I’ve definitely saved some money (and time — let’s not overlook the convenience of shopping from home). In theory the money I’ve saved is of benefit to me.

But there’s a bigger picture too. Amazon thrives in part by employing people at rock bottom wages. In the US, workers are forced to toil in huge warehouses where temperatures can be over 38°C (100°F) in the summer. Many have collapsed with heat exhaustion. The work is brutal, involving constant movement, bending, stooping, lifting, and fast-paced walking for miles on hard concrete floors. Even young and fit employees find themselves in constant pain. Workers are electronically monitored in a way reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, and even bathroom breaks are strictly timed. Staff have to queue up for long periods of time in order to pass through security checkpoints when leaving at the end of their shifts, and Amazon refuses to pay them for that time, on the basis that it’s not an “integral” part of their work. Is this the kind of world we want to build for ourselves?

There’s also the financial pressure that the company puts on suppliers, including the tactics they used in their recent dispute with the publisher Hachette, such as increasing the shipping times of Hachette’s titles, refusing to take pre-orders, or simply removing the “buy” button. This was all in an effort to force the publisher to drive down its prices.

And then there’s Amazon’s highly effective (although legal) tax avoidance strategies. They’re a company that benefits from the infrastructure and services that taxes fund, and yet gives little or nothing back to the tax system.

Check out our online meditation supplies store for gifts, meditation MP3s & CDs, and more!We have choices. We can choose to support other retailers, online or off. So that’s why I decided to boycott Amazon. I feel better giving my money to a small herbal tea company that, I’m pretty sure, treats its workers with more respect and, like most small businesses, pays into the taxation system. I consider that the extra costs I incur by avoiding Amazon aren’t really costs. After all, if Amazon isn’t paying the taxes that support our national infrastructure and essential services, then someone else is. That someone else is me, and you.

We may think our economic choices don’t make a difference, but as someone who runs a small online store, I have to tell you that that’s not the case. Every order for a CD, or for incense, or for a Buddha statue that we receive on Wildmind’s store is received with gratitude — and sometimes relief. And our suppliers, many of them artisans in the developing world, being paid fair wages for their work, are grateful too.

So this is the point of #ethicalchristmas. Over the next few weeks you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend your money at small companies, some of whom make a positive contribution to the world. You have a choice. I’d suggest you choose with wisdom, and with compassion. Choose to create a better world.

Prisoners and guards ‘should meditate together’, MP says

December 12, 2014 - 7:38am

Meditation MP3 – Mindfulness of BreathingBill Gardner, The Telegraph: Prisoners and their guards should meditate together to reduce violence and improve behaviour, an MP has suggested.

Mindfulness is said to change the way people think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety, an approach adopted by around 115 MPs and peers in the “hothouse” of Parliament.

Using meditation, devotees are trained to “accept the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”.

Labour’s Chris Ruane said the “chic” approach would help prisoners to learn “gratitude, appreciation and balance”. Meditating would …

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(#EthicalChristmas) Wildmind supports ethical businesses

December 12, 2014 - 5:00am

As a small independent enterprise, Wildmind is keen to support artisans and local producers where possible.

Many of the items that we sell are Fair Trade products, where local artisans in Nepal and India work in good conditions and are fairly recompensed for their labors.

Other items we sell are made locally in and around New Hampshire, where we’re based, or are made by Buddhists.

Here are a few of the things we sell…

The Kindseat meditation stool

The Kindseat meditation stool is made from beautiful birchwood ply which is sourced from sustainably managed forests from Finland. The Kindseat is shipped internationally through a courier company that operates a carbon offsetting scheme to care for the environment. It is professionally manufactured in the UK on a computer controlled machine and hand finished by an established company that also produces furniture for young people with special needs. The Kindseat was designed by Viramitra, an Order member who lives in the UK.

Zafu/Zabuton Combination

Made specially for Wildmind by a local seamstress, our cotton Zafu/Zabuton Combination comes in a choice of red, forest green, black, or royal blue.

Both our zafus and zabutons are made from hard-wearing cotton twill.

The zafu (the round meditation cushion) is generously filled with organic buckwheat hulls. The cover contains a zipper so that the buckwheat hulls can be replenished or removed for washing.

The zabuton (the floor mat) also has a removable cover, and is stuffed with cotton batting inside an inner cover.

Both items proudly bear Wildmind’s own label. We’re happy to guarantee these products for five years, and if you have any problems related to defects, we’ll give a free replacement.

Old Palmwood Wrist mala

Hand-made exclusively for Wildmind by “Buddha Bob,” this mala of polished old palmwood makes a perfect accompaniment to mantra recitation, or can simply be a beautiful decorative object.

Buddha Bob” is a former prison inmate who was part of a prison meditation class run by a number of Order members from Aryaloka Buddhist Center. Prior to his release he started selling malas in order to provide a financial cushion and ease his transition to the outside world.

This mala has 25 beads, plus a larger guru bead made of buri wood. It is securely strung, and has an imitation silk tassel.

Six Inch Hand-beaten Singing Bowl

This hand beaten singing bowl is one of our Fair Trade products. It’s an exceptional example of traditional craftsmanship. It is made by Nepalese craftsmen with a special 7-metal alloy that produces a powerful harmonic resonance when played. It comes with a wooden striker.

The cushion is for illustrative purposes only, and isn’t included with the singing bowl.

Turquoise and Silver Prayer Wheel Earrings

A superb example of a Fair Trade product, these little prayer wheel earrings bear the Tibetan sacred mantra of compassion, Om Mani Padme Hum. These prayer wheels actually spin, and are not merely decorative!

Each earring is accented with a tiny garnet spinning bead. Made with Sterling Silver and Turquoise, the mantra is in brass.

Large Tara Prayer Flag Set

This Fair Trade gift is a set of five large prayer flags printed with the image and mantra of Tara. Tara is known as the goddess of compassion or The Swift One because of her immediate response to those requesting her aid. She is also called the Liberator and goddess who grants all wishes, and is regarded as a fully awakened Buddha. She is said to have been born from a lotus blossom that sprang from a tear shed by Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion.

These prayer flags are printed from hand carved woodblocks in the traditional manner. The five flag colors represent the five elements: Blue (earth), White (water), Red (fire), Saffron (infinite space), and Green (winds).

This purchase helps to provide food, shelter, and psychological support to former Tibetan political prisoners.

Conscious breathing to regular breathing

December 11, 2014 - 8:03am

Mindfulness of Breathing – Meditation MP3 Partha Pratim Bose, The Hindu: A 65-year-old alcoholic with irregular heartbeats was subjected to a rehabilitation programme. He was subjected to cognitive behaviour therapy and trained on this breathing technique to control his mind.

Have you observed that when you tickle your own armpits you do not feel ticklish. If another person does the tickling, however, you feel ticklish. Why is this? Recently, it has come to light that when you move your bodies, the cerebellum, related to physical movement, suppresses emotions. We also now know that emotions are suppressed even at times when the results …

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(#EthicalChristmas) Wildmind: the accidental publisher

December 11, 2014 - 5:00am

Wildmind stumbled into publishing back in 2002, and has now brought out eight guided meditation CDs, with plans to publish a number of books.

Wildmind’s foray into publishing started because many meditation students requested that the guided meditations Bodhipaksa recorded for his online courses be offered in CD format as well. Bodhipaksa used the services of a local recording studio in order to record the mindfulness of breathing, development of lovingkindness, and walking meditation practices. This CD was self-published under the title, Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love. Amazon ordered a copy. Then two. Then a dozen. Then a hundred! For several years, Bodhipaksa’s first CD was Amazon’s best-selling meditation title, and it has now sold a very respectable 200,000 copies.

Wildmind has since published a number of other titles, which are of course also available in MP3 format:

More CDs are planned, and so are several books. Materials that Bodhipaksa wrote for Wildmind’s 2014 Year of Going Deeper is also destined to be published in book form — initially as ebooks, then as paperbacks.

The first book to appear will be The Path to Jhana, which grew out of an online event called “60 Days to Jhana.” This title breaks down, in a step-by-step way, how to eliminate the five hindrances to meditation. It also explains how to cultivate calmness, “piti” (the pleasurable energy that is experienced when we’re attentive to the body as it relaxes), and joy. Together these three factors support the arising of sustained absorption (jhana).

The second book will be 100 Days of Lovingkindness, which was developed from an online event of the same name. This is a guide to cultivating the four heart-based qualities of kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), joyful appreciation (mudita), and loving wisdom (upekkha). The emphasis is not only on developing these qualities in meditation, but in daily life.

Thirdly, Bodhipaksa is a keen exponent of the Six Element Practice, and an as-yet untitled book on that topic will be published in 2016. This will be a more practical accompaniment to his more reflective book, Living as a River, which was published by Sounds True in 2010.

Wildmind’s CDs are available in the UK from Windhorse Publications, in Australia from Windhorse Books, and in the rest of the world from Wildmind’s own meditation supplies store, which ships worldwide.

Free book giveaway!

December 10, 2014 - 10:59am

We’re giving away a copy of Radical Self-Forgiveness: The Direct Path to True Self-Acceptance by Colin Tipping!

Simply sign up for Wildmind’s bi-monthly newsletter for a chance to win!

We will choose one new subscriber at random on Friday, December 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm (US EST). The winner will be notified by email. If you are already a subscriber then please share this with a friend.

Most of us have plenty of experience with self-blame and guilt—but we are often at a loss when it comes to forgiving ourselves. According to Colin Tipping, this is because our idea of forgiveness usually requires a victim and a perpetrator—which is impossible when we play both roles at the same time. Tipping’s Radical Forgiveness process allows us to navigate this dilemma for deep and lasting healing.

Many of our fears, anxieties, and even physical health problems originate from the parts of us that we consider unforgiveable. Yet when we recognize that we are worthy of forgiveness—no matter who we are or what we have done—we gain access to the loving energy of spirit that can heal our deepest wounds.

Enter your name and email address below if you wish to join the thousands of people who receive our monthly newsletter and to have a chance to win this great book. You can see examples of past newsletters here.

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The Power of Mindfulness: a four-week course starting Jan 5, 2015

December 10, 2014 - 8:13am

Give the gift of meditation Make a resolution to bring mindfulness and meditation into the New Year!

The next Power of Mindfulness online course starts January 5, 2015. It’s a four-week meditation course that’s accessible 24 hours a day, every day of the week, wherever you are. All you need is an internet browser. You can even participate on an iPad or other mobile device.

The convenience makes this perfect for people who don’t have meditation classes nearby, or who work irregular hours or who can’t travel because of illness, childcare arrangements, etc.

The course is web-based, and involves readings, guided meditation MP3s that were specially recorded for this course, a discussion forum, and email exchanges with the teacher, Bodhipaksa.

Weaving together the latest scientific research with ancient Buddhist wisdom, this four-week course provides a comprehensive introduction to living mindfully. It’s not just about the skills of meditation. You’ll also learn how to take what you learn into action. This course gives you the tools to gain more insight into yourself, and be more at ease and content through life’s ups and downs.

For more information, or to register for the course click here to go to the online store.

Mindfulness meditation physically changes the brain

December 10, 2014 - 7:09am

The Enlightened Brain: The Neuroscience of Awakening, by Rick Hanson (7 CDs) Crystal Shepeard, Truthout: In 1987, a lawyer, a neuroscientist and Tenzin Gyatso, known more commonly as the 14th Dalai Lama, had a meeting about science and spirituality. The three felt that the use of science as the dominant method in which to investigate reality was, at best, incomplete. They were convinced that “well-refined contemplative practices and introspective methods could, and should, be used as equal instruments of investigation.” This would, in turn, complement scientific discoveries, adding a more humane element to science.

It was from that meeting that Adam …

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(#EthicalChristmas) The evolution of donation-supported online teaching

December 10, 2014 - 5:00am

There’s been a rapid evolution of how Wildmind runs online courses. For years we held online courses with anything from half a dozen to 20 participants. Then we decided to start 2013 with a more public 100 Day Meditation Challenge, followed by another 100 days exploring the four Brahmaviharas. For these events I wrote a daily (or almost daily) article on Wildmind’s blog, accompanied by guided meditations.

When Mark joined the team, we decided to develop that model yet further, in order to create a year-long schedule of meditation events for 2014. This became our first Year of Going Deeper. We offered a program of eight online courses, covering everything from learning basic meditation techniques, to cultivating absorption (jhana), to developing insight.

We’ve learned a lot on the go! With the two events in 2013 we didn’t know how many people were participating; we guessed it was a few hundred, but we were simply posting material on the blog and hoping that people were paying attention! So for our first Year of Going Deeper we decided to run the events via email. This gave us a clear idea of how many people were participating. As it happened, we had over 1,200 people sign up for each of the eight events!

We’re building on that success by offering another Year of Going Deeper in 2015 with an even larger program.

One thing we’ve learned is to have shorter events. For example, instead of a 100 day event exploring the four Brahmaviharas, we have one 25 day event for each of the four practices. This is less daunting for potential participants, and allows people to join at different times.

We’ve also learned not to use the “f-word” — that is, the word “free”! We’d said that our first Year of Going Deeper was “free,” but that donations were welcome. That turned out to be a mistake! The word “free” is very attractive, but it sets up an unhelpful expectation: last year only around five percent of participants donated.

Like any organization we have financial needs, and we’ve really struggled this year because of our missteps in communicating them. So for 2015 we’re encouraging participants to donate when they enroll, being more upfront about our needs while (we hope) avoiding being pushy.

If you like our articles and want to support the work we do, please click here to check out our books, guided meditation CDs, and MP3s. Or you can make a donation.Our first event of next year — a 28 day meditation challenge called “Sit Breathe Love” — starts on January 1, and so far the indications are good. It’s quite likely that we’ll end up the same number of participants as last year, and so far about 50% of those who’ve enrolled have made a donation: a ten-fold increase on last year. We’re hopeful that this is going to bring us some much-needed financial stability.

Wildmind, I think, does an amazing job in reaching out and making meditation instruction available on a mass scale. We’ve literally touched millions of lives through our website. I’m looking forward to the day when no longer have to do this on a shoestring and with an anxious eye on our cash-flow, but instead have an abundance of resources to draw on!

I’m sure that 2015 won’t be our last Year of Going Deeper. In fact I’d like to keep running these events and for them to grow. Wouldn’t it be inspiring to have 10,000 people participating in each of these events? Or even 100,000? I hope you can join us for one of them!

(#EthicalChristmas) Wildmind: an online meditation center .. and more!

December 9, 2014 - 8:00am

Wildmind is an online meditation center, a blog, an online meditation supplies store, and a publisher of guided meditation CDs.

These varied activities are run by a small team of three people working from an office in a former cotton mill on the Lamprey River in Newmarket, New Hampshire, just down the road from Aryaloka Buddhist Center.

As an online meditation center, Wildmind has a global, reach. In the past twelve months Wildmind’s website, which offers structured guides to meditation as well as a constant stream of news, reviews, and articles on various aspects of practice, has had visitors from every single country in the world, with the exception of Western Sahara.

The website is visited by one and a half million people per year, making Wildmind Triratna’s busiest center! The two most popular blog articles, both written by Bodhipaksa, have each been read by over a quarter of a million people, which probably makes Bodhipaksa Triratna’s most widely read author.

Wildmind sprang to life in 2001 as a project that Bodhipaksa undertook while completing Master’s degree in Buddhism and Business at the University of Montana. At first the site offered just structured guides to the mindfulness of breathing, development of lovingkindness, and walking meditation practices, using a combination of text and audio. Within a year, Wildmind had started offering online meditation courses, and shortly after had branched into publishing guided meditation CDs. Because these CDs were being sold through the site, it made sense to sell other meditation items as well, leading to Wildmind having a fully fledged meditation supplies store, which retails locally made meditation cushions and fair-trade craft items from across the globe.

Check out our online meditation supplies store for gifts, meditation MP3s & CDs, and more!Wildmind has been through cycles of growth and contraction in its 13 years of existence. Weathering the recession that began in 2008 (and which doesn’t appear to have entirely ended yet) was a major challenge, but Bodhipaksa decided that growth was the best strategy. At the end of 2013 Mark Tillotson joined Bodhipaksa and Shantikirika (who has since been replaced by Amy Kosh) so that Bodhipaksa could devote more time to teaching and writing. Mark’s addition was instrumental in allowing Wildmind to set up a program of eight free meditation events in 2014, from 28 to 100 days in length, called “A Year of Going Deeper.” Each of the events attracted over 1,200 participants.

Wildmind is running an expanded series of thirteen meditation events in 2015, all of which are by donation. The material that Bodhipaksa wrote for these events last year will be appearing in book form next year in Wildmind’s newest venture — becoming a book publisher.

This post is part of the #ethicalchristmas series on Triratna’s thebuddhistcenter.com.

Practice mindfulness to curb anxiety and depression

December 9, 2014 - 7:47am

Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction (MP3)Panorama: According to a new study out of Lund University in Sweden, mindfulness can be just as effective as your typical therapist who practices cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which necessitates focusing on negative thoughts and having a discussion, as well as running experiments, on them, Medical Daily reports.

The study, led by Professor Jan Sundquist, was held at 16 primary health care centers in southern Sweden. The researchers trained two mindfulness instructors at each health care center during a six-day training course. Participants of the study, who suffered from depression, anxiety, or severe stress, were gathered …

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Mindful intervention boosts brain activation for healthy cravings

December 8, 2014 - 9:02am

Meditation MP3 – Being in the moment Business Standard: A new study has shown that how an intervention program for chronic pain patients called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) decreased patients’ desire for prescription drugs.

The study conducted at University of Utah suggested that more intervention concentrates on helping people to recover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in everyday life, embracing its pleasures and pain without turning to substance use as a coping mechanism.

Eric L. Garland, associate professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work. Garland and colleagues’ study received eight weeks of instruction in applying mindfulness-oriented techniques …

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Three tips for developing the habit of daily meditation

December 8, 2014 - 5:00am

Sometimes I find it hard to set up a good habit. Other times it’s easy. I’ve been wondering if I could look at a habit I’ve found easy to set up, and then apply those principles in other areas. Now I already meditate daily, but perhaps this is something you’ve found difficult and could use some pointers with, or maybe, like me, you’re already a regular meditator but have other areas you need to be working on (and let’s face it, who couldn’t). So I thought I’d share my observations and reflections.

One good habit I’ve been successful in setting up is going out running three times a week, with the aim of building up to running a 5k. I’ve been going out very regularly, and have been enjoying a sense of joy during every run and a glow of satisfaction afterward. I’m not even deterred by bad weather!

Now I’ve tried to get into running before, but I’ve never enjoyed it so consistently. What’s different this time?

Lesson 1

First, I have a running buddy. If he’s not available for some reason, I’ll still go running on my own, but I’m more motivated to go running with a friend because it’s much more fun when we’re together and we keep each other accountable.

What’s the lesson for meditating regularly?

You may not be able to meditate with others every day in the flesh, but you can use an app like the Insight Timer, which shows you how many other people are meditating at the same time as you. Or you can have a meditation buddy that you can text or email each other with a brief message confirming that you’ve meditated. If you haven’t heard from your partner you can send her a quick reminder. At times I’ve meditated with a friend on Skype. Of course we’re in silence, but there’s a real sense of being with another person.

Lesson 2

The second difference from my usual attempts at running is that this time I’m using an app. We have a “Couch to 5k” app that provides a structured nine-week program of running, gradually building up to a solid 30 minute run, which is easily enough time to cover 5 kilometers.

What’s the lesson for meditating regularly?

Set short but attainable targets for yourself. It’s OK to do a short meditation each day to begin with. There are lots of meditations of about eight minutes in length (I’ve made a CD of them myself) and that’s enough to make a subtle difference to our day.

And for most people, the equivalent of a meditation app is a timer or a guided meditation. Both will give you a sense of structure. A guided meditation not only gives your practice some structure, but is also like having a meditation buddy who walks you through the meditation.

Lesson 3

The third difference is that we congratulate ourselves and each other.

Our running app is structured: we’ll run, walk, run, walk, run for 25 minutes or so. At the end of each leg of running we’ll high five each other and give ourselves congratulations on our progress. The boost in mood that we get from doing this is very noticeable.

Remember it’s OK to congratulate yourself. You could get to the end of a meditation and say to yourself “Target achieved! Yay, me! That’s awesome!” and so on. Be your own cheerleader. Some of us have been brought up to be suspicious of self-congratulation, but remember that you’re not praising yourself in order to make yourself look good but so that you can associate a positive habit with feelings of pleasure, and look forward to your practice.

I think these three lessons from my running practice are something I can bring into other areas of my life — and perhaps you’ll find them useful too.