Mapping my mind: a summer doing contemplative science
Last summer, I was lucky enough to spend almost 2 months as a visiting scholar at the Mind & Life Visiting Scholar house in Amherst, Massachusetts. In this house, scientists…
How should we conduct research on contemplative science? News from the first European Mind & Life Summer Research Institute
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…
Creating a compassionate organization
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,…
How to practically embody a strong personal ethics in the workplace
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…
Meditation and Human Values at the Workplace?
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…
Who Meditates at Work?
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…
The Great and Curious Truth: Cultivating Compassion, The Contemplative Approach
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…
Read This Book!: The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress by Maureen Cooper
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…
Taking a bite of mindfulness
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…
Non-silent interaction meditation
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…
Imaginary Limits: Grasping at Illusory I
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…
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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I've been seriously addicted to Buddhist philosophy and practice for over 15 years.
Originally from Oregon in the USA, I studied international relations and modern dance at the University of Washington in Seattle, but finding little desire to become a lawyer or work for the UN, as well as a complete lack of coordination in Dance, I found my way to the Lerab Ling Institute for Wisdom and Compassion in the south of France and also to a study college college for Buddhist philosophy in Nepal (the Rigpa Shedra). Both are part of Rigpa, the spiritual organization under the guidance and inspiration of Sogyal Rinpoche, whose practical and loving wisdom I do my best to follow.
I've been a full time student and volunteer in Rigpa for the past five years, mainly in the area of writing, but do a little bit of instructing in meditation and Buddhist philosophy as well. I currently call planet Earth my home, and my office an aging Dell Laptop.
Just in case you are not a fan of a clear and determined intention to practice right after getting up or you don't feel like morning meditation is something to look forward to, maybe this one works ...
If this first tip doesn't do it for you, here is another way to motivate us to meditate first thing in the morning
2. Something to look forward to
My teacher told a bunch of us once that it is very important to make sure your practice is something you look forward to doing. I think you can do this in a couple of different ways. For a start try to remember your original intention for taking up meditation. Somewhere, way back in the past, before it became some sort of penance or remedy for spiritual guilt, you may have had a real enthusiasm and interest in meditation, and it was something that you could hardly wait to try out. The key is to remember this feeling again and generate some sort of excitement about the thought of getting back to your cushion.
The only time of day when I can usually fit in some meditation practice is in the morning after I get up and before I start my day’s activities. Usually in the evening I’m too tired to sit for more than just a few minutes. Practicing meditation in the morning works very effectively for me as long as one thing happens first: I actually get up.
I’m sure there are one or two of you out there, or reading this, who have struggled to wake up earlier to do a bit of meditation, and so to express my camaraderie with you, I wanted to share a few things that have helped me out. Of course going to bed earlier is an obvious one, but here are a few others:
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…
Not long ago I came across this very simple statement from the Buddha in a book by the great Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh:
Love is understanding.
I find this to be such a beautiful statement and I think it reveals a lot about how the practice of meditation can change the world and make us more loving. Here are a few reflections…
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…
I’ve been meditating now for over 15 years. It’s one of the most important things in my life and also one of my favorite things to avoid.
My alarm is set for 5:45 am…I think. The theory is to have enough time to do at least an hour of meditation in the morning before I seize the day. What often happens is...
Recently I was watching a movie called, “The Peaceful Warrior” about a young athlete at a California University who happens upon a spiritual mystic and teacher in the guise of an old mechanic working at the neighborhood gas station. One of his mysterious guru’s most pointed messages is that we completely miss out on life because we’re always distracted by thoughts of past and future. At one point he takes his student to a park and asks him to take a look around. The student replies, “There’s nothing going on here,” At which point the teacher takes the student by the shoulder and miraculously transforms his perception.
Just last weekend in Nepal, I attended a public teaching on meditation with a well-known young Tibetan teacher at a picturesque temple situated in the hills above Kathmandu. The following extract comes from memory, but I thought it would be worth sharing.
“What is the essence of meditation?” asked Mingyur Rinpoche, with eyes twinkling and a smile ready to break across his face.
A variety of creative answers drifted back from the audience, which was made up of about 100 people: Americans, Tibetans, Chinese, and Europeans, all packed into a colorful medium-sized shrine room on a comfortably cool morning.
After listening to several honorable attempts to answer his question, Rinpoche continued, “Those are all good answers. But, the real essence of meditation is...