I spent last week at the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute, a very special place where scientists and contemplatives get together for 6 days to practise, discuss and think about how we can study contemplative practice scientifically. For people like me, who are both scientists and practitioners, those are an amazing opportunity. It does not happen often that you get a chance to engage in science with people and practise meditation and yoga with them as well.
Sogyal Rinpoche says that meditation is really a process of non-judgemental awareness.
Have you been trying out taking meditation mini-breaks throughout the day? How is it going? Did you plan to take a few mini-breaks during the day but only remembered once? Did you at least have the intention to try? If so, that is great!
Too often we belittle the progress we are making in meditation, rather than appreciating it. We immediately go for the dissatisfaction, focusing on all the ways we come up short, rather than appreciating what we were able to accomplish. No wonder we can so easily lose interest in meditation!
I just finished reading „In the Shadow of the Buddha“ by Matteo Pistono. It´s a fascinating book about a nearly decade-long pilgrimage through Tibet, on the footsteps of a great master of the past. And it’s also a detailed description of the author´s inner journey, a journey through the various levels of meditation.
After 8 years of sometimes dangerous travels, Matteo arrives at the last sacred place that his teacher had told him to go to – and finds a completely devastated, “empty” and abandoned place at the end of the world. Right there, with all his expectations being crashed, he has a fundamental insight.
Michael Wood, Amsterdam 2007 | high-res image
Yes that’s right, contemplative photography: The Practice of Contemplative Photography by Andy Karr and Michael Wood to be precise, recently published by Shambhala. In it, an activity that too often places an overbearing emphasis on technology, equipment and technique meets two experienced meditation practitioners with an approach to the medium that focuses on developing the photographer’s clarity of perception.
(this is a part of a series of blog posts on how to integrate meditation practice into our daily life)
Having goals are an important part of life. We are often times obsessively motivated to meet goals, especially if the goal is one we picked. From meeting a good friend for a cup of tea at three, to planning what to get for dinner or saving for a vacation, we spend most of our life making plans and working towards enacting the plan or goal.
In the previous post in this series, I mentioned how it’s helpful to have a trigger to remind you to take a meditation mini-break during the day. Here is a list of three things you can try:
Whales - with their dramatic presence and playful spirit - always captivate my attention. Suddenly, all my thoughts drop away. My mind is wholly attuned to watching the water, waiting for the next appearance of these magnificent creatures.
When this happens, it's almost as though meditation has naturally dawned in my mind. Wouldn't it be wonderful if meditation were always so easy?
Developing attention, a step towards compassion?
In the West, we often think that it is simply selfish to be sitting on a meditation cushion. There is so much suffering in the world, how can meditation be of any use to help relieve it?
In this TED talk, Daniel Goleman shows how developing our mindfulness and attention is such a key step towards compassion (see also Erric's post from 28 April).
Daniel is the author of the ground-breaking books Emotional intelligence and Social Intelligence as well as speaker at the Mind & Life Conference and at The Wisdom of Awareness Understanding the mind and transforming the heart through meditation, love and compassion retreat led by Sogyal Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
You may have experienced that meditation develops our attention and care towards our own body and mind, well the good news is that it will also develop develop our attention and care towards others. And it can work whether stories of the Good Samaritan did it for you or not.
Currently Sogyal Rinpoche is conducting a retreat in Amsterdam called "How to be Happy." We started yesterday with a very powerful teaching that seamlessly blended integration instructions with a deep teaching on meditation. What struck me in particular was how Rinpoche taught on how we can work without stress. We can work hard, yet we have to not create stress. And when do we create stress? Rinpoche mentioned two ways: one is when you bang your head against the wall, you keep forcing yourself to go on when your at a dead end. Sometimes it is then better to take a short break, so you'll feel better, and often in that break you'll see a new solution.