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I attended the first European Mind & Life Summer Research Institute. These institutes are designed to bring together researchers, philosophers, practitioners, and clinicians to talk about how to engage in the science of contemplative practice. As pretty much all the previous Summer Research Institutes (that took place in the United States), this was quite an engaging and thought-provoking week.

Monday, 23 June 2014 16:24

Creating a compassionate organization

Written by Marieke van Vugt

The second day of the Meditation & Human Values in the Workplace conference moved from the individual to the organizational level. We started out by hearing from Federico Daini-Jôkô Procopio, a Zen monk who also works with many organizations and businesses. He opened our eyes to seeing our colleagues as marvelous human beings, rather than as ways to make profit. He also made the point that since we spend so much time at work, we may just as well try to make it a place to work with ourselves and eventually maybe to become buddhas. He invited us to see how actually from one moment to the next everything is possible, if you can just open your eyes. This way of seeing was really quite an eye-opener for me: maybe we can really try to see our organization or business as a place where people come together to develop their talents, and find themselves. Rather than focus on maximizing profit we could see business as a way to together contribute to society.

On the last day of the conference, Monique de Knop shared her experience in being a top manager in the Belgian government. She dissected what wisdom in the workplace really means. Being wise it not necessarily always being gentle. Actually, it is most importantly being solid and stable. She explained how she developed her wisdom by first listening to spiritual teachings, using her meditation as a laboratory to get to know her mind, finding mental calm, contemplating actions, and the finally acting from that ethic. This personal ethic is really important in bringing wisdom in an organization, but in addition you can manifest it in your actions. When you see your workers as a potential to be developed, rather than a resource to be used, then work can be a place where you develop yourself.

With economic crises and various corporate scandals under our belt you may wonder whether meditation and human values actually exist in the workplace. Right now a group of people is investigating this question in Lerab Ling. I am participating as one of the speakers in the conference on Meditation and Human Values in the Workplace, and the first day I already learned a lot.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 18:36

Who Meditates at Work?

Written by Steve Cope

Do you start your work meetings with a couple of minutes of meditation?

This morning, I talked with a teacher who has just introduced meditation into her classroom. "The great thing is," she said, "that it gives me a break in the day. And the kids love it, they keep asking for more!"

Two months ago, she thought meditating at work was simply impossible. Then, after attending a three day training on how to integrate meditation in the classroom, she gained the confidence to simply give it a try. And now, she is even prepared to have her inspector sit through a meditation session in class next week!

Patrick Gaffney is one of the leading authorities on the contemplation and practice of compassion in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and I was lucky enough to hear him speak at the Empathy and Compassion in Society conference in London in 2012. Patrick has kindly allowed us to reproduce the text of his talk here and you can also find the video of his talk below.

Patrick regularly teaches in Europe and the USA and will be leading a five-day retreat on Cultivating Compassion in Lerab Ling, near Montpellier, France, on 5-9 March 2013.

If you are interested in finding out more, please visit:
http://lerabling.org/index.php/lang-en/2014-5-to-9-march-patrick-gaffney

For the last month or so I have been reading Maureen Cooper’s fabulous new book, The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress Reducing Stress. Combining an authentically Buddhist approach with modern scientific discoveries, this book skillfully addresses one of the most beguiling symptoms of modern life: Stress.

Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00

Taking a bite of mindfulness

Written by Marieke van Vugt

Eating is a very touchy topic in our society (see also this recent article on WMRI). There are enormous social problems associated with addiction to food (listen for a discussion of this to Upaya's podcasts about Zen Brain). In fact, for many of us, food occupies a significant portion of our moment-to-moment thoughts. Can we bring some of our meditation wisdom to bear on this aspect of our lives?

Thursday, 31 October 2013 00:00

Non-silent interaction meditation

Written by Marieke van Vugt

If you are anything like me, you spend a good deal of time interacting with other people. Is it possible to integrate meditation in your interaction with others, and if so, what does it feel like? The attitude cultivated in meditation is one of openness, softness, and spaciousness. You can focus on the other person just like any other focus of meditation. This means that you are not focussing on something else, which is actually exceedingly rare these days. This in itself is already a large gift to the person you interact with, because we really see the other person, and don't we all spend a large portion of our time trying to be seen?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 08:16

Imaginary Limits: Grasping at Illusory I

Written by Josh Korda

From the perspective of science, there is no inherent reason for the human mind to have an underlying owner or "self." The brain, the physical structure that creates consciousness and 'the mind,' exists only to provide centralized control over the body, ensuring our survival; it's comprised of numerous subsystems that allow us to engage safely with the world—eg those regions that warn us of threats; others that alert us to opportunities; faculties that monitor body states; systems that process spatial awareness and on. No region can be found via scans or neural anatomy that could feasibly produce a lasting "self." And if consciousness exists to address conflicting impulses and to integrate subsystems, its without doubt an event that changes fluidly over time.

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