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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Hi. I’m an author who writes heart-warming and inspiring metaphysical fiction in the form of fantasy and magical realism. I’m also a book reviewer, extremely casual high school teacher and occasional mask-maker.
I’ve studied the mind and philosophy in various forms most of my life and studied and practiced with Sogyal Rinpoche since 1996.
After creating and performing in Visual Theatre shows for 20 years, I'm now a bone-fide expatriate of the performing arts. I live in an Australian rainforest, am married with a teenage daughter and love cats, but I don’t have one because they eat native birds.
Along with some others, I set up the Rigpa Australia Distance Education Centre (The Bush Telegraph) in 1998 and was the Teaching Services Director until early 2012. I have instructed for Rigpa since the year 2000.
Published works include:
- *Lethal Inheritance<http://tahlianewland.com/the-novel/lethal-inheritance-2/>
*, and other novels in the *Diamond Peak Series<http://tahlianewland.com/the-novel/>
—*an analogy for a young man and woman’s path to enlightenment;
- *You Can’t Shatter Me <http://tahlianewland.com/cant-shatter-me/>*, a
young adult magical realism novel about a girl and boy discovering a loving
kindness solution to bullying;
- A collection of urban fantasy and magical realism short stories called
*A Matter of Perception <http://tahlianewland.com/short-stories/>* (on
I post book reviews, and posts on reading, writing and metaphysics on my blog http://tahlianewland.com/blog & I write book reviews for independent fiction on the Awesome Indies blog <http://awesomeindies.net/blog/>.
You can follow me on
* , *Twitter <http://twitter.com/#!/TahliaNewland>,*
I remember Sogyal Rinpoche saying that learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself. He was right. The best thing I ever did, not just for myself but for everyone around me, was to take the time I did to learn to meditate so that I can snap my fingers / switch my perspective / turn my mind and instead of being confused, frustrated, rushed and tense, I become calm, clear and undistractracted. It's a kind of magic. I feel the tension and stress fall away. A smile blossoms on my face and in my heart. My work proceeds more efficiently and I am more empathetic to others.
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 it's difficult and so we make it so. Really, it's not. We just have to have a daily mediation practice.
But even if we know that a daily mediation practice will help us, we see it as just another thing we have to try to fit into our day, and our ego battles us all the way, always finding some reason why we can't to it today. Then we may feel guilty, which adds even more stress to the situation. And on it goes. It's easy for not mediating to become a habit. Even if we're just taking a break for a while, the break can become our routine. Making ourselves happy, as in truly deeply happy - the kind that doesn't rely on anything external - does take discipline. There's no way around it.
So how do we make the leap? How do we fit mediation into our day?
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.
I find myself in a top year ten Maths class without internet connection and without my computer. I brought my iPad with me, thinking I would answer some emails if the kids didn't need my attention. I left my laptop in the staffroom, but I can't connect to the Internet. Everything on my to do list requires the Internet. They're good kids. Great kids actually, they don't need my attention.
Clearly it's time to write something.
What is the point of all this posturing? This defending and promoting your point of view, as if only you know the truth and everyone else must have it wrong unless they agree with you. Why is it so important to be right when rightness and wrongness of ideas are only mental constructs, merely different ends of the same sliding scale, a scale that is evaluated differently depending on who is looking at it. Does it even matter where you tip the scales from wrong to right when your ideas about reality are merely that, ideas, and not reality itself. Why spend your life trying to affirm your ideas about reality when you can experience reality directly?
How often do you stop? Really stop? Stop so that your mind is still, stable in the moment without reaching forward to what you're planning to do next, or roaming over something that happened in the past? If you're like most people, the answer is probably, rarely or even never. Our minds tend to constantly whirl ahead of where we are, perhaps to the next thing on your 'to do list,' the date you're planning for saturday night, or the destination of your journey. Even when we think our minds are still, there's often a subtle reaching towards the next moment.
When we start to meditate, we usually use our breath as the object of our meditation, then we might make sound or a visual object the focus for our practice.
The sound could be any sound we can hear, or we could make the sound ourself using a mantra which has the added advantage of working with our energy and having a meaning that evokes our deepest nature. In the same way as singing an inspiring song lifts our spirits, so does a mantra.
The Buddhist teachings tell us that wisdom and compassion are like the two wings of a bird that will fly you to enlightenment and that you need both wings in order to fly. What does that mean for us?
First of all we might just reject this as irrelevant to us because we don’t think we want to be enlightened, we’ll settle for happiness. What we don’t realize, however, is that enlightenment is just a fancy name for the highest form of happiness, a state that is not only our birthright but the end point of our evolution. We’re heading there anyway, whether we think we want to or not. Some of us aren’t moving of course, some of us are even going backwards, but our innate desire for happiness will keep pulling us towards it.
We think we see reality as we go about our day, but do we, really? See that person over there whispering to a friend and looking at you and giggling. Are they talking about you? Are they saying horrible things about you? That’s what it looks like to you, but what if they’re actually looking at the person behind you or they’re planning your surprise birthday party, not talking about what a terrible person you are?
We make assumptions all the time. My mother used to call it ‘jumping to conclusions.’ It means that we perceive what is happening based on what we think, rather than what is. Sometimes it might be the same, but when we get it wrong, we can make a real mess of things. For instance, if we decide to spread bad rumours about the friend who was whispering about us because we’re sure that’s what she was doing to us, that surprise birthday party will probably never happen and we’re likely to lose a friend as well.