Watch this WhatMeditationReallyIs.com interview with Arturo Behar, an Engineering Director at Facebook, on the opportunity for mindfulness, compassion and empathy in social media and the necessity for developing tools within Facebook for enabling it. This interview took place between sessions at Wisdom 2.0.
Last November, I had coffee with Linda Lantieri, who has an amazing track record for bringing mindfulness and emotional intelligence to kids in really challenging inner city schools. She serves as the Director of The Inner Resilience Program whose mission is to cultivate the inner lives of students, teachers and schools by integrating social and emotional learning with contemplative practice.
We think we see reality as we go about our day, but do we, really? See that person over there whispering to a friend and looking at you and giggling. Are they talking about you? Are they saying horrible things about you? That’s what it looks like to you, but what if they’re actually looking at the person behind you or they’re planning your surprise birthday party, not talking about what a terrible person you are?
We make assumptions all the time. My mother used to call it ‘jumping to conclusions.’ It means that we perceive what is happening based on what we think, rather than what is. Sometimes it might be the same, but when we get it wrong, we can make a real mess of things. For instance, if we decide to spread bad rumours about the friend who was whispering about us because we’re sure that’s what she was doing to us, that surprise birthday party will probably never happen and we’re likely to lose a friend as well.
As many of us have experienced, it can be hard to speak with family and friends about our meditation practice. And yet it is so important to be able to speak about what we believe and to do it with courage.
Not long ago I came across this very simple statement from the Buddha in a book by the great Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh:
Love is understanding.
I find this to be such a beautiful statement and I think it reveals a lot about how the practice of meditation can change the world and make us more loving. Here are a few reflections…
A little while ago I had a radio interview with the Dutch Buddhist Broadcasting company, and one of the things I talked a lot about with the interviewer was the relation between my meditation practice and my passion for ballet. Then when I read the wonderful book Confessions of a gypsy yogini by fellow blogger Marcia Dechen Wangmo, where she wrote about her passion for dance, I decided it was time to blog about it.
Do you ever long for dead silence in your mind? Do you think this is what meditation really is?
Basic meditation is sometimes called “calm abiding”, “peacefully remaining” or “tranquility meditation.”
Sounds good, right? Given the 15,000 to 50,000 thoughts popping about in your brain on any given day, a moment of quiet seems like outright bliss. I bet you’re wondering, “Where can I sign up?”
Many novice meditators believe that meditation means putting an end to thoughts and emotions. Well, at least the bothersome ones. I’ll tell you a little secret. Even experienced meditators may be hoping for the same isle of peace.
Is it devilish of me to burst the bubble?
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.