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Wednesday, 07 December 2011 16:43

A Short Buyer's Guide to Meditation Cushions

Written by Erric Solomon

In this video I review a bunch of different kinds of meditation cushions and one meditation bench. I have spent so much time on cushions in my life, not just while I was pretending to meditate, but also while receiving teachings. A good meditation cushion is essential at least as important as a good mattress. A good cushion  supports your meditation posture and is still comfortable after many hours of use. A great cushion is still comfortable after “many hours for many months or even years” of use.

Monday, 05 December 2011 14:15

That word "Meditation"

Written by Charles T.Tart

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.

Scientific evidence that mindfulness produces demonstrable effects on well-being and health is well established.(1) Mindfulness classes are offered in many different contexts, to healthcare professionals, secondary school students or patients suffering from depression.(2) There is now also a significant body of research showing that mindfulness-based methods to develop empathy lead to a decrease in the biological markers of stress. (3)(4) Participants found they had greater compassion for themselves and for others after just two weeks of applying the techniques.(5) Happier teachers means happier students. An article in next month's Review of Educational Research corroborates existing studies on how teacher empathy improves student's engagement and achievement.(6)

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…