When I become the Czar of Worldwide Words, I'm going to abolish the word "meditation."
Isn't that an odd way to start a blog on meditation? Gets your attention, though.
My post here will be written mainly from my role as a scientist, as a psychologist, as one of the founders of a relatively new branch of psychology, Transpersonal Psychology, although as a student of meditation and spiritual paths all my life, my perspective is "inside" and well as "outside."
As a field, mainstream psychology pretty much accepts the materialistic assumptions that dominate in most fields of science today, that only what is material is real, matter and physical energy. The physical matter and electrical and chemical processes of your brain are real, consciousness is nothing but a secondary derivative of those physical processes. From this perspective, all those things called "meditation" are indirect ways of controlling your physical brain's functioning, and so someday you won't have to spend all those (too often boring) hours sitting, because science will develop a pill that directly puts the brain in the best "meditative" state. "Spirit" or "spirituality," from the materialistic perspective, is simply old fashioned nonsense, superstition, and best dispensed with, as it interferes with our rational functioning.
In this video, Sogyal Rinpoche speaks about this awareness and how it relates to the three principles of shamatha or meditation.
Mindfulness probably means slightly different things in different traditions of meditation. At WMRI we usually talk about three principles for using an object, such as the breath, a candle or even the state of non-distraction itself, as the focus of our meditation.
1) Mindfulness – which is the pure knowing or awareness of the object.
2) Watchful Awareness – making sure that we are keeping our attention gently focused on the object
3) Abiding or Remaining Spaciously – It is said that we should ‘train in letting the mind remain’. We should remain in whatever we are aware of, be it:
—meditating with an object like watching the breath, or
—simply remaining in the state of non-distraction or pure awareness of the present moment.
Inspired by the previous post from Marieke van Vugt, I decided to try my hand at sharing what a "normal" day of work-integrating-meditation looks like.
Since preparing to publish my book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, and starting my own business, the unfortunate fact is that the time for my "formal" practice has suffered. Yet, while I lament and moan about the lack of time to formally practice, it seems like the integration of practice into my daily life, and my ability to take life onto the path, has increased.
Dr Paul Ekman is regarded as a world expert on emotions. His 1970s research shows that emotions are universal and the expressions associated with some emotions are common to all humans.
In recent years, Paul Ekman was invited by HH the Dalai Lama to enage in discussions on the nature and quality of our emotional lives and compassion, and co-authored Emotional Awareness.
When you think about caring for another, and about arriving fully present at the bedside, what comes to mind? Does the idea of compassion in caring mean that we have to sacrifice some part of ourselves, or somehow “become” something we’re not in order to arrive present? Is there something that we lack that needs to be gained in order to be compassionate?
A step-by-step introduction to meditation.
I have been traveling a lot lately (a lot of time spent on the NYC subway too!). I loaded up my Ipad with some books and here are mini-reviews of three of the best. One is about how the universe is based on awareness not sub atomic particles, another about how meditation can help you be a better healthcare professional and the last one is an extraordinary book of practice advice and autobiography by one of my teachers, Adeu Rinpoche.
Meditation without action can simply become another way to check out, to absolve oneself of one's responsibilities within the world, leaving us "blissed out" with no particular orbit within the "reality" that is our lives.
As a Registered Nurse, working at the bedside, I’ve found countless opportunities to check-in using my meditation practice, instead of disappearing. Sogyal Rinpoche, as well as other teachers, refer to this checking-in as “integration.”
Sogyal Rinpoche is Basel, Switzerland the 24th & 25th of September giving a seminar called:
What Meditation Really Is: Transforming Everyday Life Through the Wisdom of Awareness
And below is a humorous video about meditation made in honor of the event.