This is a post by Vishvapani, a mindfulness trainer and senior member of my Buddhist order. I’m very much in agreement with his views — that the meeting of these two streams is creating a wonderful synergy that can profoundly benefit both. I, for one, am dedicating my energies to advancing this cause.
We’re in the middle of the Mindfulness Boom as Buddhist-derived meditation practices enter the cultural mainstream. But is this the Dharma touching and transforming western society, or is Buddhism being turned into a self-help technique and a consumer product? Its time for Buddhists to start reflecting seriously on the mindfulness movement and to learn its lessons.
Can’t seem to find a comfortable way to sit in meditation? Here’s something really simple to try. It’s actually a mindfulness practice in itself. It’s a way to balance your natural ability to relax with the forces of gravity to find a well-aligned posture that’s effortless and free. I do this myself at the beginning of every sit, and find it really helpful.
For a visual cue, imagine your body as like a bunch of children’s wooden blocks, stacked one on top of another. It can rise up pretty high, as long as you place each block squarely on the one below. Gravity exerts a pull straight down the middle of the stack that keeps it well-balanced.
Doing this in effect also creates an upward flow of energy that allows you to stack the blocks up high – certainly higher than if you piled them crooked. So even though we think of gravity as a force that pulls downward, when it’s used well you can think of it as creating a natural upward lift as well. Continue »
A friend posted this beautiful piece on Facebook recently, reminding me how much I’m always so moved it. It’s by the contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Called “Spiegel Im Spiegel” (“Mirror in the Mirror”), it refers to the infinity of reflections that happen when you have many mirrors reflecting off each other.
It also reminds me of the Buddhist image of Indra’s Net, which is a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all life. Imagine there’s a huge net that has a mirror at each node, and each mirror reflects all the others. We can imagine that each of us, as a single human being, is one of those mirrors. We infinitely receive and reflect back the images in all the mirrors of all other beings in a vast and interconnected web of life.
The whole piece is based on a repeating triad of three notes on the piano, and a solo violin which plays a simple ascending or descending scale above it. It’s so remarkably simple, and SO tranquil and beautiful. I think the “mirror in the mirror” title refers to how a very subtle change in just one note of the piano or the violin ripples outward and shifts the whole tonality of the piece, which then keeps rolling onward in ever changing waves.
This is an excellent post by Martin Murphy about what it takes to live up to our potential. As he puts it, “Your ability to create and experience more success is equal to your potential (which nobody knows), minus the resistance… Successful people experience the same challenges as everyone else but they respond effectively as opposed to reacting out of fear.”
Steps to facing uncertainty and unleashing your potential.
“We all know fear.
But passion makes us fearless”
- Paulo Coelho
The Transformation Age is here and we are all going to have to step up our game. Now is not the time to play small; it is time for amplifying your vision, unleashing your passion, unlocking your potential and going after your dreams.
Success = Potential – Resistance
Your ability to create and experience more success is equal to your potential (which nobody knows), minus the resistance. The resistance can be many things but the biggest challenge humanity faces is fear. Continue »
This is a wonderful interview with Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for the New York Times, who often covered the worst of human suffering — like Darfur. In particular, I appreciated his insight that telling the stories of individual people help pierce through the wall of compassion fatigue.
Joe, a student in my online class, was worried that meditation would hurt his career. He works in a very competitive business where everyone is single-mindedly pushing and driving hard all the time. The whole idea of “letting go” seemed absurd in that context. But at the same time his stress and anxiety levels were sky high. He knew this wasn’t a sustainable way to live.
Yes it’s true that in meditation, we’re told to drop everything and let go. But that doesn’t mean becoming passive and ineffectual. There’s more to this instruction than meets the eye. Continue »
In the traditional Metta Bhavana (Lovingkindness) meditation, there’s a stage where we bring to mind someone we don’t know very well and imaginatively offer our well wishing to him. I always thought this practice was perfectly suited for us modern citydwellers. We probably encounter many times more people we don’t know every day than those we do.
And so I was particularly pleased to find this post by Emily Herzlin today (the photo credit also goes to her). She blogs about someone who has found a way to talk kindly to complete strangers and not be seen as a weirdo. I’ve actually tried some of these myself. It really works. Continue »
Why are we so reluctant to show our appreciation to others? And why do we feel it’s not OK to ask for appreciation from others? This is a short (only 3 minutes!) lovely TED talk about the power of saying thank you. Why not?