If you’re already on your cushion and working to tame your wild mind through meditation, then please congratulate yourself because you have already accomplished quite a lot.
If not, then you might want to read this…
I recently bought a house (for the first time ever!) and moved into it a few days ago. I was surprised at how unsettling the whole experience was, and yet, it showed me how practice helps you to be at home wherever you are. In preparation for the move, I was somewhat scared of the prospect of living out of boxes for a few days.
And then there are all the unknown things that you could be forgetting... While I spent many a meditation practice going through lists in my head of what I could be forgetting, the practice also made me more calm and settled, and confident that somehow it was going to be all right. While I am quite a nervous person, just simply sitting helped me to avoid getting too caught up in worry. After all, if you can make intercontinental moves, a move within a city shouldn't be so bad... Then as more and more boxes got packed, I was surprised to see how little I really need. What I imagined to be terrible really wasn't so bad. I was actually quite comfortable between the boxes, and life just went on.
Meditation whilst sitting upon one’s cushion is all well and good but that’s not what meditation is about…at least not for me. When I practice formally, I’m working on learning how to bring my “meditative mind,” or “meditative awareness” into my life. For me, no aspect of life is better for testing my meditative abilities then the experience of fear.
Buddhist psychotherapy, which has been adopted in the last several decades, is a novel approach to the clinical practice of mental health. It combines aspects of conventional psychotherapy with traditional Buddhist psychological theory and practice. Because there are several sub-schools of psychotherapy and Buddhism from which to integrate, there currently is no single formalized clinical approach to its practice. Therefore, Buddhist psychotherapy differs widely in its presentation among diverse practitioners.
One of the most common reasons we turn to spiritual practice is to reduce worry, anxiety, the mental agitation that can be life's most consistent challenge. As the Buddha taught in the Sabbasava Sutta and elsewhere, while certain dangers in life are avoidable, most stressful events are inevitable, and our challenge is to learn how to skillfully tolerate each day's fresh "mosquito bite".
Actually, days without difficulties and challenges are often days without growth, for its the roadblocks and setbacks that force us to develop new, successful coping strategies. So a good start to reducing stress is to begin approaching challenges as valuable learning opportunities; once we find a way to adapt to situations without adding unnecessary stress, we have tools that are always at our disposal.
What follows are six useful approaches to facing our challenges without adding stress and suffering into the equation.
I caught up with Dan Goleman recently in New York. Neither of us could think of where to meet, so somehow we ended up at the infamous Olive Garden chain's Time Square Flagship. Well, it is the pinnacle of the Olive Garden experience with views in every direction of the Square. And we discovered they have gluten-free pasta for those of you where that is an issue.
Dan was especially interested in hearing about the whatmeditationreallyis.com meditation program. I posed the following question to him and this was his answer:
Dr. Jonathan S. Kaplan speeks about the connection between mindfulness, meditation and therapy.
Meditation can change the brain. Wow! Did you read that? Last spring when I first found this post, it was all over the internet. In fact, the net was buzzing with the the results of this study carried out at Massachusetts General Hospital, headed by Sara Lazar at Harvard University. The results showed that by participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program, individuals were able to make what appears to be measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.
The other night I attended a talk at the Interdependence Project in New York. The talk was given by two psychologists who use mindfulness meditation in their practice.