Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Starting Over

It’s been too long since we took the time No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly But when I see you darling It’s like we both are falling in love again It’ll be just like starting over, starting over —John Lennon (Starting Over) The initial love affair with our sitting meditation practice is over. We can’t remember anymore why we do it. We began our practice with high hopes and enthusiasm. We imagined what life would be like with the “new” mind that our meditative discipline would bring us. But nothing has panned out ... continue reading

What Goes Around…

Congratulations everyone. According to the lunar calendar, it is the beginning of a New Year. The fact that the earth turns and winds up where it left off is somehow reassuring. The fact that we have lived to see it is cause for celebration and reflection. The year was a journey. Where did it take us? Older now, our time and how we spend it can only be more important. In Shambhala, to mark the start of the annual lunar cycle, we distribute a little soft cover calendar called a Practice ... continue reading

Dinner on Me

“Maybe it’s because you were such a sore loser!” My father’s tone was buoyant. He wasn’t whispering. After a sip of wine he can be buoyant, and as he ages he is more buoyant around his kids. My wife Jeanine and I were there, but this holiday dinner was special. His daughter, my (much) younger sister Maron, was visiting from California with her boyfriend Justin. There were six of us at the table, including my step-mom. Dinner, at a local Thai restaurant in St. Johnsbury Vermont, had just been served. Both Justin ... continue reading

Retreat Journal: Unemployed

According to the philosopher John Locke, we think we know what we need to know and we all think we’re right (credits to my 14-year-old granddaughter and her Humanities teachers). As a young person I knew that I was special and superior to others. According to the way I was raised, superiority was then to motivate altruistic behavior. Noblesse Oblige as it were. Good works expressed  ambition. Being good (or better), meant working to “do good” better. To do right was to be right. A group meditation and study retreat is ... continue reading

Salt Minding

A Study The other day, I had a chat with my friend Amos, a doctor. He told me about a study looking at salt in the diet. Excess sodium in our food has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease among other debilitations. Habitually reaching for the saltshaker, or for potato chips instead of carrots, we make a potentially life changing, if not life-threatening decision. In the practice of mindfulness meditation we settle our mind by bringing our awareness to the cycle of breathing. Being with ourselves, we arrive face to ... continue reading

My Avoiding Sitting Meditation Journal

Tuesday: I’m too tired. I really am. Yes, I got plenty of sleep. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps a bug, perhaps allergies, low blood sugar or something more serious. Need protein. Need to conserve my energy. Meditation means sitting up, unkind at this point. Friday PM: New Yorker Magazine. Spent 1½ hours learning about the drug trade. Addiction is so terrible, a destructive thing pretending to be good for us. I have compassion for those people, I really do. New restaurant in mid-town. Read too late, no time to sit. Saturday ... continue reading

Ten Ways to Support Your Meditation Practice

1. Lighten Up. Meditation is making room to be kind to yourself (and by extension to others).  Sure, in this economy it’s good to have extra work, but being hard on yourself is a job you can afford to quit.  Just “let it be” a little.  It’s simple: breathe, look, listen.  It’s a long story.  Let it go. 2. Tell the Truth.  In sitting meditation you face facts (other things too).  Scheming doesn’t help; you’re only fooling yourself.  Choose your words, but say how you feel.  Don’t defend your point of ... continue reading
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Meditation Space: A House?

Let’s face it. A house is not Zen. I never really wanted a house. It was my wife’s idea. My ideal scenario was to live in a van. There are many advantages to a van. Maybe it’s a guy thing. For one, who ever heard of painting a van? I mean the inside. This just wouldn’t come up. There is something beautiful about steel, whatever color it’s painted. Second, keeping the van clean would be easy. Cleaning my house is like cleaning the Potala Palace in Lhasa. There are more rooms than I care ... continue reading

The Cool Kids

Recently the New York Times published an op-ed piece on a conference for Social and Affective Neuroscientists (or “Neuros”) which took place in New York this past week. According to David Brooks, the writer, “the leading figures at this conference were in their 30′s, and most of the work was done by people in their 20′s.” And all of them, he pointed out, were “young, hip and attractive.” Mr. Brooks went on to write, “many of the studies presented here concerned the way we divide people by in-group and out-group categories ... continue reading

Meditation: Your Cup of Tea?

Sometimes, the formal practice of sitting meditation feels like a stretch.  What does sitting quietly, upright on our meditation cushion, have to do with, well, anything, we ask ourselves? Life is moving fast. It seems to require speed and efficiency. Meditation practice is about slowing down. Aren’t these two heading in opposite directions? We feel trapped in a choice of our own making — life and living it — and our discipline of meditation, which doesn’t relate. There is the vague sense that the regular practice of meditation had been important ... continue reading