In my first years of meditation practice, I went to a Zen center where every so often someone would give a talk called Way Seeking Mind, telling how they came to practice.  Many Buddhists say simply, and accurately, that people begin meditating because they’re suffering, but it’s usually more complex than that.  Way Seeking Mind is often a story about the elements of people’s characters that pulled them, almost magnetically, to a life centered around meditation and Buddhist principles.… Continue reading

When we get into position to meditate, we bring our lives with us.  The full turbulence of our thoughts and feelings accompany our efforts to settle down and focus.  It can help to see our emotional state as part of what naturally hinders mindfulness, but which can also be a valuable part of our practice.

Emotion doesn’t need to be something we fight against in order to meditate.  We can bring an accepting attention to it just as we would do with a physical sensation that dominates our awareness, like pain or pleasure.  The acceptance itself is something to be cultivated.  Whenever we allow ourselves to be fully present with our emotions, we grow in love and understanding.… Continue reading

Like many Buddhist teachers, I’ve been busy for the past 6 months searching for a path of social activism that leads to both opposition and reconciliation.  Sweeping across the world’s democracies is a polarization of liberal and conservative ideologies, facing off against each other with anger and hatred. 

In many First World countries, elections have put totalitarian-leaning regimes into power, shocking and enraging liberals, much the way Obama’s election fueled the rise of the Tea Party.  Those who follow the Eightfold Path are seeking ways to engage politically without further ratcheting up the fury.… Continue reading

‘Tis the season of giving, and an excellent time to explore our capacity for generosity.  Being mindful of how it feels to be generous cultivates an open, loving heart.  This makes available to us the joys that come from recognizing what’s good in our world, and celebrating it through kindness. 

In the Insight tradition of Buddhism, teachers usually don’t charge for the teachings, accepting dana (donations) instead.  This honors the priceless nature of the dharma.  It also gives students an opportunity to observe how gratitude and generosity feel by being mindful as they contemplate giving, actually do so, and then after they have given.… Continue reading

Post-election Stress

The dharma, and mindfulness practice, offer us the best way to cope with the emotional firestorm that has followed the November 2016 elections.  Turbulent passions can make it hard to find wise speech and action that will be truly helpful.   When we take time to be with our inner experience and breathe through troubled feelings, we can regain a sense of well-being and re-establish the paramount intention of good will.

Mindfully following the Eightfold Path can bring relief to the stress of all changes, including political ones.  … Continue reading