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Meditation Blog

Lost in the land of hopes and fears. That’s what happens when I drop my formal meditation practice. Like an early winter fog that at first forms innocuously but then pervades the entire atmosphere in a thick cloud. Hope, fear, desire, frustration and indifference subtly seep into my thinking process, slowly infecting each mental process with a sticky quality.  Sadly, my spacious and clear approach to living is dominated by a tightly clenched jaw and a narrowed self-centered focus.  YUCK!

From time to time these states of mind take me over, and I find it a real chore to bring myself home, back to a wholeness, where all of the discordant aspects of my being can rest like dust settling after a strong wind.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 16:59

The Fullness of Emptiness

Written by Elizabeth Namgyel

(Editor's note: We are very pleased to have Buddhist teacher and author Elizabeth Namgyal as our newest whatmeditationreally.com blogger. You can read her biography and find links to her web site by clicking here. To get things rolling I posed a couple of questions to her. This is part one of her response.)

 

Q: In Buddhism, we often hear about the word emptiness. What exactly is emptiness? How do we apply the understanding of emptiness to our lives?

 

The teachings on emptiness are at the heart of the Buddha’s path.

And yet people often have misunderstandings about them. I suspect this is partly because some of the teachings on emptiness can be a bit cryptic and require years of study with a learned teacher. The other reason is that people often struggle with the word “emptiness” itself. What does it mean to rest in emptiness? We associate emptiness with “empty nest,” “a glass half empty” or an “empty feeling in our chest”…there is a sense of negation we associate with this word. But there is a twist. When we start to really understand emptiness as an experience we see that it leads us to an experience of fullness. This is what I want to talk about here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 20:27

Meditate and...Change Your Brain In 8 Weeks?!

Written by Jerome Stone
 

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.

 

Friday, 25 November 2011 16:31

NYC What Meditation Really Is Events

Written by Erric Solomon

If you live near New York or know someone who does, you might want to check out one of the What Meditation Really Is events that are taking place in the next two weeks. More info after the jump...


Wednesday, 23 November 2011 01:26

Was Pizza Invented by Korean Buddhists?

Written by Erric Solomon

Watch this hilarious video about the origin of pizza.

Monday, 21 November 2011 11:30

Is Meditation a Foreign Idea?

Written by Ian Ives

Just the other day I found myself in the all-too-familiar situation of trying to explain what I do when I meditate to a curious and inquiring stranger. I’m sure this has happened to you before…You know, you’re sitting on the bus or in a coffee shop and you strike up a friendly conversation with someone next to you. One thing leads to another, and before you know it you’ve let it slip that you meditate. Then comes that slightly tense moment as you wait to find out whether or not the other person thinks you’re a total wacko and if you need to try and change the subject to something safer…like sports or IKEA.

This time it was a little bit different though…

Saturday, 19 November 2011 02:06

Holding the Train in Your Arms

Written by Erric Solomon

This was sent in by Melle, a friend of ours from the Netherlands...

Holding the train in your arms

The train can be an excellent place to meditate. Especially when you manage to get a seat. The train I regularly commute on is one of the busiest lines in the country. It has the airport as one of its main stops and lots of business people use the coaches as their first working space of the day. You have the grumpy people hiding in their papers, avoiding any contact, and the rise-and-shine early chit-chat ladies all mixed together in a relatively small room, travelling at about 100 km/hr. Feelings are bound to rise, and not always in a very flowery way.

 

Mindfulness probably means slightly different things in different traditions of meditation. At WMRI we usually talk about three principles for using an object, such as the breath, a candle or even the state of non-distraction itself, as the focus of our meditation.

1) Mindfulness – which is the pure knowing or awareness of the object.
2) Watchful Awareness – making sure that we are keeping our attention gently focused on the object
3) Abiding or Remaining Spaciously – It is said that we should ‘train in letting the mind remain’. We should remain in whatever we are aware of, be it:
—meditating with an object like watching the breath, or
—simply remaining in the state of non-distraction or pure awareness of the present moment.

Sunday, 13 November 2011 21:27

The power of habits

Written by Marieke van Vugt

In my research I have been thinking a lot lately about the power of habits, which was stirred by David Neal, who visited our institute and gave a talk about this topic. He showed how we think we are in charge of our lives and in control, and how we do what we want to do. But actually, we spend most of our time performing habitual actions (Wood & Neal, 2007)). This is why it is so difficult to kick our habit of distraction, for example.