While these aspects of meditation can provide us with the support necessary to achieve a stable meditation practice, and while a formal meditation practice is the only way to become familiar with our mind, the primary reason to meditate is to become familiar with our true nature within our ordinary daily life.
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally."
The benefits of teaching mindfulness to adolescents are confirmed in research between Tonbridge School and the Cambridge University Well-being Institute in the UK.
A recent study showed that participants in a three-month shamatha meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado had an increase in their telomerase length. Telomerase decrease has been associated with aging (Cawthorn et al (2003), so an increase in telomerase length would correspond to an increase in longevity. Although of course we'll have to wait quite a few years to check whether this really is the case, and although the statistical significance for these effects is weak, I think these results are quite interesting.
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?
When was the last time you missed a turnoff, misplaced your cell phone, lost your car keys or overlooked an important detail at work?
If you counted the number of times these small errors of mindlessness occur in a single day, you might be taken aback. In fact, a great deal of time, energy, and money can be lost through these simple mishaps of mis-attention.
Mindfulness is not just an esoteric practice for monks ensconced in Himalayan caves. It actually has a very powerful and practical application at work and in daily life. It can increase your effectiveness and productivity, bring more presence into your interactions, and foster more joy in your family life.
When was the last time you gave your mind a good hug? My mind loves being hugged and I love hugging my mind! Unfortunately I often forget to do it. Too many distractions!
The good news is that it is actually very easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. Here is how one of my teachers Tsoknyi Rinpocheexplains how to find and hug your mind. Warning: you might fall in love with your mind and get addicted to hugging it! ... but I think, if that were to happen, that would not be such a bad thing!
I have somewhat of an interest in trying to make my work as efficiently as possible, so I can spend more time meditating and doing other things. I guess it's a casualty incurred from having lived in the US for many years. Anyway, a technique I have recently been experimenting with is the pomodoro technique in combination with the well-known meditation advice of practising short sessions, many times over. The idea of a pomodoro is a period of 25 minutes you devote to a single task with a clear goal, followed by a few minutes break. After this you are ready for another pomodoro. By breaking up your day like that in small chunks, you are motivated to really focus on one task, and feel like you have accomplished something rather than wasting your whole day doing everything and nothing. I then realized this was a perfect chance to bring meditation in the workday: every time you accomplish a pomodoro, you simply drop in for one minute, do whatever you need to do, and get ready for your next pomodoro. No chance to forget your next meditation session. Such brief meditation sessions are surprisingly powerful because they renew your focus, clarity and calm. Normally I always forget to take these brief meditation breaks, but in this way they happen naturally--they are part of the schedule! So the productivity gurus of today are reinventing what meditators have known for a long time.
Just now, I had a treatment at the dentist. To be exact, it was one long treatment in two steps on two days. It was one of those really unpleasant treatments, opened by a countless number of injections all over the mouth, followed by horrible noises and massive mechanical interaction during which the little snatches of pain arriving at your nerves give you a glimpse of what it would feel like if you wouldn't have a tea cup of anesthetics inside your gums. So in one phrase: the whole program of experiences that make those visits at the dentist a nightmare for 9 out of 10 people.
But this time it was different. Or, it was the same but it felt completely different. Why? Because I had made a decision before.
Imagine for 8 days you have no mobile, no television, no email, no mp3 player, no radio, no newspaper, no Internet and you are not supposed to talk at all except once a day. You spend these 8 days in a retreat place sorrounded by a lovely countryside together with a few others in complete silence.
Would you be willing to participate in such an experiment, to see what effect silence or more precisely a full week spent in silent contemplation and meditation has on you?