I've begun teaching my course on Mindfulness at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now called Sofia University) this week (September 25,2012), and think that some remarks and diagrams I created for my students to help clarify some things about two kinds of concentration and their use in meditation would be of general interest. While “progress” in spiritual development calls for profoundly more than better words, I do note that physical science has made enormous progress in the last few hundred years, but it’s not clear that spiritual knowledge and development have made much, if any, “progress.” One element allowing progress in basic science has been precise definition and usage of key terms, which allows for clear communication of observations and understandings.

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I was very lucky to attend the recent Mind & Life meeting between the Dalai Lama and neuroscientists. The theme of the meeting was stress, which indeed seems a pretty timely topic in today's challenging world. In fact, as I continue on the path of meditation I am starting to be more aware of just how much stress I have in me every moment.
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Sunday, 24 February 2013 14:21

Sogyal Rinpoche: Who Are We?

Sit quietly for a moment or two. Now ask yourself: “Who am I?”

If you are anything like me, what happens next a bunch of thoughts arise such as a list of qualities (e.g. Talkative, honest, irascible…) or relationships (Blogger, Husband, Meditation Instructor…) or perhaps we might  start thinking paradoxically that “I am not my thoughts.” But almost all the time our response to the question is to think about who we are, rather than actually experience who we are.

In this video, Sogyal Rinpoche suggests an alternative to the habitual self-identification with our thoughts and emotions. Normally, it is as if the thoughts about who we are or what we are experiencing are in fact who we are.

My suggestion is that before you watch this video, take a few moments to meditate, calm the mind and allow yourself to come into the present moment. Then hit the play button. You might find that not only do you hear what Rinpoche is saying, but you can even get an experiential taste of what he is pointing us towards.

Have fun!

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Do you ever give yourself time to focus on your true nature rather than the ego self that usually runs your life? If you practice meditation, then you do, but for how long at a time? Twenty or thirty minutes or more a day, perhaps? That's great, but what if you took a week or two off from your usual routine just to focus entirely on your greater self, the you that is free of the thoughts and emotions that batter us daily. Wouldn't that be the best of holidays? I think so, and that's why I go on retreat every year.
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This is the last in a series of 5 posts on the history of meditation, adapted from Meditation- an In-depth Guide by Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson.
See here for the first, second, third & fourth part.

One of the most exciting new developments in meditation research has been the realization meditation can prolong life in an extraordinary way.

This knowledge has emerged from the remarkable Shamatha Project, a high level investigation of the effects of intensive meditation. During a closed, 3 month retreat led by Alan Wallace, a renowned meditation teacher, writer and researcher, a vast amount of scientific research data was recorded. Analysis is ongoing but already some remarkably significant findings have been recorded. 

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It was just another busy day in the hospital and I was sitting in front of my W.O.W. (workstation on wheels) trying to catch up on my notes and charting. One of my coworkers ran up to me, and knowing that I'd written a book for nurses on meditation, said, "Help! I really need to learn how to meditate at work. I'm so stressed out here. I need to learn...now!" Without even thinking about it, I said, "I'm meditating right now, while I'm charting. That's what meditation is."
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An important idea in the Mind and Life dialogues is that meditation is a way to train introspection. It is a different kind of science, in which we are our own laboratory. Francisco Varela used to call it the portable laboratory. Surprisingly, there has been little scientific investigation into whether meditators really get better at introspection. A recent paper changes this.
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Last year I had the opportunity to ask Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche some questions about meditation, while he was visiting the Lerab Ling retreat centre in southern France

Andy Fraser: These days we have all kinds of ideas about meditation. We see it everywhere, on television, in adverts, on YouTube and so on. Could you tell us very simply what meditation really is?

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Meditation is a process of getting to know yourself, or a process of getting to know your own mind. The great meditation masters from Tibet often defined meditation as becoming familiar with your own mind and its nature.

This is what meditation really is.

Published in Meditation Blog
Thursday, 06 December 2012 17:57

Awareness: The Lightbulb of Meditation

awareness in meditation is the lightbulb that provides clarity

Lately I've been aware of my unawareness. And it's amazing how awarely unaware I can be!! I mean, when I train my awareness on my unawareness, it's like I'm aware and unaware at the same time! If this sounds a bit like Alice in Wonderland or Dr. Seuss, read on...
Published in Meditation Blog
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 10:22

Meditation and Creativity

If Jackson Pollock was the archetypal boozing, tortured artist, would he have painted anything worthwhile if he had found inner peace? Or would he have been an even better painter if he had indeed found inner peace.

If Steve Jobs was the super-cool Zen creator, would Apple even have come into existence if he had not meditated?

If, as Spike Milligan said “it is all in the mind”, how does sitting quietly to train your mind through meditation build creativity?

Maybe it is because of the type of mind meditation produces.

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