Tsoknyi Rinpoche: Healing our Trauma and Stress
Theses days, it seems like nearly everyone is barely managing to cope with the stress of day-to-day life. In addition, we are often reacting to situations based on unhealed wounds…
Transcending our Addiction to a Busy Life
A busy life can be experienced as an addictive video game, comprising the twisty route from a morning coffee to the time we return home and close the door on…
Sogyal Rinpoche - Awake 2013 in Sydney
Here is a full teaching from Sogyal Rinpoche on meditation and understanding the mind which he gave in Sydney at the end of March 2013.
Phakchok Rinpoche - Creating space in daily life
Sometimes it seems so difficult to meditate. We might try to sit, but our minds are all over the place; or perhaps we have too much pressure and stress in…
Sogyal Rinpoche - Who are we?
In this video, Sogyal Rinpoche suggests an alternative to the habitual self-identification with our thoughts and emotions. Normally, it is as if the thoughts about who we are or what…
Adam Engle - Creating a planetary awareness of fitnees for the mind
Adam Engle argues that most of the biggest problems in the world and for individuals are made by human beings. But recent developments in contemplative science are paving the way…
Adam Engle - Is enlightenment still relevant?
Adam Engle and Erric Solomon discuss whether the traditional goal of profound spiritual transformation, popularly referred to as enlightenment, has any role to play in the new emotional/mental fitness industry.
Sky High Meditation with Tsoknyi Nuns in Muktinath Nepal
A group of us joined Tsoknyi Rinpoche on a trip to Muktinath in the Mustang district of Nepal. At nearly 4,000 meters (or 13,000 feet), the views of the valley…
Having Nothing to Do
I never have nothing to do. There is always something awaiting my attention. I never get writers block, there is always something to write. Inspiration is never far away. Until…
The discipline of Happiness
It is easy to spiral into depression or to find our lives suddenly stressful and racing along at a clipping pace. It easy to stop it too, but we think…
Meditation meets technology
I’m a geek. I love technology. I feel it empowers me to get what I need, or mainly what I don’t need but want, almost instantly. I want a movie,…
To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. If you want to attain perfect calmness in your zazen [meditation], you should not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come, and let them go. Then they will be under control.
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Can we be wide awake and acutely aware of everything that occurs within and around us while being free from judging and comparing?
In the recent study on decision making in meditators that I wrote about before, the decision that meditators made was accompanied by a very different pattern of brain activity from controls. Upon receiving an unfair offer, meditators activated more of the right posterior insole and posterior parietal cortex, about which I have written before. The right insular activation would even predict whether the person was going to make an accept decision, and its activity correlated with the amount of self-reported mindfulness (scientists measure mindfulness with a questionnaire in this case, which is not perfect, but the best measure we have).
A recent study by the renowned Montague lab in Frontiers in Neuroscience looked at how meditators behave in an Ultimatum Game, one of the many economic decision paradigms that are around. Erric already mentioned this research before, but I wanted to give a little more context. So what did the study look like? In the Ultimatum game, a proposer offers to split a sum of money with a responder. The responder can choose to accept or reject the offer. If he accepts, then both people receive the amount of money designated to them by the proposed split. If the responder declines, both people receive nothing. If you were completely rational, you would always accept the offer, no matter how small, because something is better than nothing. However, it turns out that people often do not accept all offers. They only accept offers when they are somewhat fair (i.e., when they receive at least 20% of the money).
The New York Times ran an article on March 18th on Transcendental Meditation and celebrities which you can read here, providing you haven’t exceeded the Times new policy of demanding payment if you go over 20 articles in a month. Now, aside from the really cool photo and quotes from one of greatest all-time movie directors, sometimes quoted on WMRI, David Lynch, the article celebrated the latest celebrity to evolve into meditation practice, extolled some medical benefits of meditation and how the recession caused the lowering of the cost of a TM seminar and that in turn dramatically increased the number of people who practice TM. Sorry Jeremy, the celeb wasn’t Lindsay Lohan but we might be getting close.
But what caught my attention was the seeming implication that meditation was good for having million dollar thoughts, making successful hedge fund decisions, and generally being intelligent and creative while experiencing lots of bliss.
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.
At first glance, this might sound like a strange question, but actually there are meditation instructions that use these examples!
I recently listened to a collection of teachings called “What Meditation Really Is” by Sogyal Rinpoche. In this 3 disc DVD set Sogyal Rinpoche talks about the lion’s and dog’s approaches in meditation. When I heard this, I thought it would be nice to share this story here.
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?
It was on a bright summer afternoon that I tried it for the first time. I was a teenager looking for states of rapture and mystical revelations, self-assured that those were within my reach.
I still remember it vividly: The family had gone out and I found myself a quiet spot on the living room carpet. I placed my new book in front of me and got ready to pick a method and finally do it.
It had taken me a few years to actually find instruction on how to do it, and just today I had stumbled upon this book in the bookshop. I had bought it, rushed home with it and had read the introduction. Getting more excited by the minute, I had skipped ahead to the second part which included a variety of methods that one can try. Meditation methods, that is.
So now I was ready: I picked the simplest method, got in position and… well…
A few weeks ago I travelled to South Asia to investigate something I know very little about:
My own mind.
After a couple long flights and a dusty taxi ride, I arrived at a small retreat center in Nepal. In no time I discovered that the internet has indeed made its way to every corner of the globe and that I could still get online. So with great excitement I checked e-mail, BBC World News and half a dozen other sites including, of course, the latest college basketball scores. However, after an hour or two, I remembered my mission, closed facebook and skype, shut my computer, and sat down…for quite a while.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” - Aristotle
There are times when my mind seems to turn against me. It brews up a tumultuous storm. Gnarly emotions trying to get my goat and succeeding from time to time - or so it seems. Even meditation seems like a Herculean feat.
Does that ever happen to you?
One day, as my mind was bombarded by an onslaught of strong emotions, I wandered down to the ocean’s shore. Sitting on the firm black sand, watching the waves roll in again and again, this is what came into my mind.