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How to make sure you meditate everyday

30 Sep

Extract from the article:

“These days, meditation for me is like brushing my teeth. Remember how it was when you were young? Your parents had to force you to brush your teeth. But now you do it every morning and night without being asked. Why? You do it because you know how much better you feel after you finish. You do it because you’d never get a date if you didn’t. You do it because you’d be embarrassed to talk to your coworkers with stinky breath and stuff stuck to your teeth. So you do it for yourself and you do it for others.

Do your meditation for the same reasons. Do it because you know how much better your interactions with others are on days when you do your meditation as opposed to days when you find some excuse to skip it. Do it because it makes your mind feel minty fresh! Then you won’t need any sure-fire tips.”

Here’s the article: How to make sure you meditate everyday

 

Watch the breathing, not the breath

26 Sep

It seems that many people, when they hear the suggestion to observe “the breathing,” take this as a suggestion to observe “the breath.” But the breathing and the breath are two very different things. The breath is air (or the sensation of air) flowing in and out of the body. The breathing is all and any sensation connected, however indirectly, with the process of air flowing in and out of the body. This potentially includes sensations from the whole body, since indirect sensations connected with the process of breathing can be experienced even in the hands and feet. But it at least involves the whole of the trunk of the body: the front, sides, and back of the chest and abdomen, sensations on the skin that covers those parts of the body, the shoulders, the spine — and of course air flowing through our airways.

When we’re paying attention to the breathing in this more expensive way, the practice becomes much more interesting. Focusing on just a small area of the breathing just doesn’t give the mind enough to do, and because the mind doesn’t like being under-occupied it invents distractions for itself. When we pay attention to many different sensations the mind has plenty to do, is less likely to go wandering, and is more engaged and absorbed.

This absorption can go even deeper than simply noticing lots of different sensations. Once we open ourselves to noticing sensations of breathing over the entire body (or at least a large part of the body) we can notice how those sensations are connected with each other and move together.

After all, the breathing is one process. No matter which sensations we observe, they’re all part of a single wave of movement driven by the movements of the diaphragm. Air flowing in and out of the nostrils, the rise and fall of the shoulders, the ever-changing pattern of sensation where our clothing moves over our skin, the movements in the spine, and of course the movements of the rib cage and of muscles in the abdomen — all of these are part of a wave of sensation, surging back and forth through our entire being.

Paying attention to the breathing as a body-wide, dynamic, rhythmic flow is far more engaging than observing just one small area of the breathing, and even more fascinating than observing several sensations at the same time. It brings about a deep level of absorption in which we can be content, calm, and fully engaged with our sensory experience.

By Bodhipaksa

(Wildmind Meditation)

Six ways to NOT Meditate

25 Sep

six ways not to meditate

Do you compete when meditating? Can you stay on the cushion longer than everyone else?

What about the results of your meditation? Are you efficiently achieving the targets?

Do you feel you are above all the other meditators and even the teacher at the front?

 

If such thoughts dominate your mind while meditating, you need to learn what NOT to do while meditating.

Download and read this piece by Ken McLeod here: 6 ways to not meditate

Vipassana experience

30 Jan

My wife recently did a 10-day Goenka Vipassana course and wrote about it.

Here it is: my-vipashyana-experience

Tibetan v/s Vipassana

3 Nov

A few months back I wrote and presented a short paper on my comparative experience with Tibetan and Vipassana (Goenka) styles of meditation retreats.

Here it is: Dhamma or Dharma

Get Real. With Meditation

31 May

Excellent piece, “Get Real” by Thanissaro Bhikhu.

Here’s an extract: “Recently I’ve been looking through a field guide on nature observation. The author, when he was a child, was trained by an old Native American. One day the child asked the old man, “Why is it that you’re not afraid of heat and cold?”
The old man looked at him for a while and finally said, “Because they’re real.”
And this is our job as meditators: to try to learn not to be afraid of things that are real.
Ultimately, we discover that things that are real pose no danger to the mind. The real dangers in the mind are our delusions, the things we make up, the things we use to cover up reality, the stories, the preconceived notions we impose on things. When we‘re trying to live in those stories and notions, reality is threatening. It’s always exposing the cracks in our ideas, the cracks in our ignorance, the cracks in our desires. As long as we identify with those make-believe desires, we find that threatening. But if we learn to become real people ourselves, then reality poses no dangers.
This is what the meditation is for, teaching yourself how to be real, to get in touch with what’s really going on, to look at your sense of who you are and take it apart in terms of what it really is, to look at the things that you find threatening in your life and see what they really are. When you really look, you see the truth. If you’re true in your looking, the truth appears.”

Get Real_Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Dark Side of Meditation

17 Sep

There seems to be a cure-all attitude towards meditation, as if it were a panacea for all types of illnesses. This is a dangerous trend in the West, where meditation seems to be de-linked from its ‘spiritual’ (and ethical) component and used as a tool or instrument to solve certain medical problems, thus creating a sort of “spiritual bypassing”.

Here’s the news item from TIME magazine that provoked a lot of comments:

http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/17/aaron-alexis-and-the-dark-side-of-meditation/

 

Here’s the abstract of a scientific report that claims that meditation is only moderately (or not really) better than other forms of traditional therapies for treating anxiety,depression, stress/distress, positive mood, mental health–related quality of life, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep, pain, and weight control.

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1809754

 

And finally here’s an excellent interview with one of the most serious investigators in this area, from Brown University and it also includes the issue of lack of scientific validity with a lot of the research done on the effects of meditation:

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/meditation-nation

 

In my opinion, the larger issue seems to be the de-linking of meditation from its centrality in Buddhist practice, which includes many other factors as outlined in the Eight-Fold Path.

Cherry-picking just one arm of this eight-fold path reduces and maybe even completely eradicates its real significance – which is the development of insight into reality and the associated characteristics of non-self, impermanence and unsatisfactoriness (anatta, anicca and dukkha).

In order for meditation to be truly meaningful in this sense, it needs to be given an ethical context within the five precepts and the skilful development of the Eight-Fold Path.

Sati Pasala

Sati Pasala aims at sharing mindfulness with students, teachers, and entire school and university communities, as well as those in other relevant sectors.

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