Sometimes this blog just writes itself.
Today I found this link in my inbox: “5 Reasons You (And Everyone Else) Are Having a Hard Time Meditating” (Trike Daily, 12 Jan 2018). So, rather than draw this out, just follow my link and see for yourself what these folks imagined might be getting in your way.
Reluctant to open another tab on your web browser? I get that feeling a lot. Here’s their list of 5 reasons plus one more that I thought up all by myself. But why dwell on the obstacles? Go to their site and see what you can do about these things. Happy meditating!
- How do I find time to meditate?
- Will people think I’m weird?
- Meditation could bring up too many painful emotions.
- Meditation could make me too soft.
- Something else is my meditation.
- (Alan’s favorite) I meant to meditate, but I forgot. =)
It seems one cannot meditate without confronting one’s mind, thoughts, and experience. This may be sad news for some. Once, after asking visitors to my beginning meditation class to share what they hoped to get out meditation, one young woman looked away from all of us, and said in a low, urgent voice, “I want to stop thinking!”
I suspect that few of us would want to enter a thought-free state for all time, but the notion that meditation might offer a temporary refuge from thought, or at least, certain types of thought, is certainly appealing. So, naturally, we tell ourselves stories about how meditation will accomplish this for us: how sitting still, being quiet, and following the breath, will create a zone of mental peace and quiet.
A few months ago I wrote about the virtues of 5 deep breaths (Reset with 5 Deep Breaths, 5 Mar 2017). Now I’m back with scientific news that shows breathing affects brain function in mice. To put it briefly, there are special brain cells that connect breathing with states of arousal: sleep-wakefulness, vigilance, and emotions.
“Breathing control center neurons that promote arousal in mice” (Yackle et al., Science, 31 Mar 2017, p. 1411) summarizes its findings as follows:
Is the 3-headed monster (final paper, final lab report, final EXAM) chasing you? Don’t hide. Reduce stress and restore focus with a meditation break. Reed’s Community Wellness team is sponsoring:
Thursday, May 4, 12-1 PM, at the Eliot Chapel
Meditate to Reduce Stress and Increase Focus:
Learn a simple yet powerful technique of meditation that reduces stress, improves physical and emotional well-being, and promotes calm focus regardless of outer conditions. Conducted by cellist, teacher, writer and meditation practitioner David Eby, who specializes in exploring the benefits of meditation for performance (http://www.davidebymusic.com).
Open to anyone (Reedies & visitors), regardless of religious or spiritual background, seeking to access their highest potential.
If it helps, come back to the Chapel the following Tuesday, May 9, for silent meditation, 12-12:40 PM.
The election polls closed less than 24 hours ago, and as elections often do, they unleashed a tsunami of emotions: fear, anger, vindication, triumph. I wish I could have escaped, but I was swept away just like everyone else. The current still feels pretty strong, but I’ve also done myself a favor by taking some time to sit still and ask myself, “what is all this really?”
“Anyone who enjoys inner peace is no more broken by failure than he is inflated by success.“ – Mathieu Ricard, “A Way of Being” (Tricycle, Summer 2006)
The Shambhala Mountain Center is convening top researchers and meditation teachers this week (Oct. 19-23) for a free, online summit on The Science of Meditation. Follow the link to learn more and register. Remember, it’s online and free!
Update: I just registered (takes 2 sec) and learned that some (maybe all?) of the materials will be available after the ‘live’ sessions so you don’t have to worry about being in the right time zone, or work-summit conflicts.
I think it was a spring day in San Francisco. My wife was attending a chemistry workshop downtown and I was out for a stroll. I dropped down into the basement of City Lights Books (why had I waited so long?), and a small book, one that wouldn’t weigh me down, called out, “Take me home. I have something to tell you.” The book was The Miracle of Mindfulness by author, Zen master, peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. The book was small, but the heart that wrote it was as big as the universe. This is where my practice began.
Thich Nhat Hanh turns 90 this month and Lion’s Roar has republished three of his essays. Enjoy them. May they help you in your life.
My 5th grade teacher would periodically say, “Alan, you aren’t creative.” Before you jump to any conclusions, let me add that this talented, committed woman was the most important teacher I had in elementary school and she devoted herself to tapping all of the potential – intellectual, musical, artistic – that my classmates and I had locked up inside ourselves. Still, it was more than a little surprising to hear about my apparent lack of creativity.
Her comment made creativity seem very mysterious to me. Why was I missing out on this basic human capability? Continue reading
What am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling that way? What is this in response to? Our lives are filled with emotions, weak and strong, and yet we often fail to detect them because we are caught up in a physical sensation (“Why am I crying?”) or a mental story (“What an awful thing to say to me. Well, here’s an email that will pin his ears back.”)
Psychologists have categorized emotional states, identifying basic emotions, what triggers them, the forms they take as they change in intensity, and the combinations of emotions that often arise together. Psychologist Dr. Paul Ekman, who is known for his work on the connection between emotional states and facial expressions, and who also served as a technical adviser for the Pixar movie, Inside Out, has created a visually intriguing Atlas of Emotions that is worth a look. Let me know what you think about it.