Can Western Appropriation of Buddhism, Mindfulness, and Yoga be Good?

As Buddhism continues to mature in the Western world, we are currently seeing an explosion of one particular aspect of the religion: mindfulness. As we look at the growth of mindfulness practice today, along with its relationship to various forms of Buddhism in the West and around the world, it is often helpful to look at a similar "Eastern" practice that has taken up roots in the West: yoga.I put "Eastern" in scare quotes because some writing has recently suggested that what we c … [Read more...]

An End of Academic Critique: Mindfulness and a Philosophy of Humility

Teetering on the edge of academia, I watch eagerly as each new hiring cycle rises and falls. This year marks the first season that my PhD, the longest single endeavor of my life, is finally done. My parents and many of their generation assured me throughout that once that diploma was in hand, the doors to milk and honey would be opened.Or at least an entry level job with benefits.But they were living in the past. I, along with countless friends and colleagues in academia, watched the … [Read more...]

Re-Fleshing Mindfulness with Buddhism, Dr. Miles Neale

My earliest academic Buddhist teacher, Alan Sponberg, had the apt Dharma name Saramati, "one who gets to the pith of things."I remember an exercise he gave to a group of students early on. He had us write down the Buddhadharma in three words. I scribbled something like: "Buddha, Dharma, Sangha."Not bad, I suppose, but still on the surface of things.Dr. Sponberg suggested, "Just. Let. Go."Often, when teaching a new idea or practice, it helps to try to boil it down to its es … [Read more...]

Introducing Hey Mama! a children’s ebook on Meditation

Andrew Berkley Sharp is a 25 year-old social worker living just south of Seattle. He has been interested in meditation since his late teens, writing, "I was a bit depressed at the time, experiencing periods of insomnia along with fluctuations in weight, and when I encountered Buddhist philosophy and meditation it was very much a moment of something mentally "clicking" into place for me. I was studying psychology at the time, and I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Psychology, focusing … [Read more...]

Settling into Online Meditation with Guideful

Mindfulness: Where We Are There is no escaping it. Mindfulness is everywhere these days. And while it hasn't hit the cultural saturation of meditation and yoga just yet, it is steadily on the rise (as shown in this Google NGRAM viewer, which goes through 2008):Mindfulness, while still lacking a single widely accepted definition, is a quality or skill being sought out more and more in today's fast-paced and heavily distracted world. The founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), … [Read more...]

A Roundup of Critical Perspectives on Meditation

A guest post by Pierce SalgueroI am not a scholar of Buddhist meditation. My own research has only touched on meditation insofar as it was claimed to have therapeutic benefits in a handful of texts in premodern Asia. But, as a long-time on-again/off-again practitioner myself, I have been following the rise of meditation in American popular consciousness over the past 15 years with interest. More recently, I have also begun following the critiques of meditation that have circulated in … [Read more...]

A Survey on Mindfulness Coaching

With the ever-increasing awareness of mindfulness as a worthwhile practice and skill for everyone, new avenues are being sought to teach and guide new participants. For the last year, I have been teaching small groups the basics of mindfulness using mindfulness of breathing, walking meditations, and loving-kindness, along with other practices. I have also stressed the importance of community, ethics, and philosophy (understanding the nature of oneself and the world) in these classes while doing … [Read more...]

Bhikkhu Bodhi on Mindfulness in the Buddha’s Words

Mindfulness in the Western world is perhaps best known in the terms of the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn as: “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Bodhipaksa of Wildmind presents a helpful breakdown of each part of this sentence after offering his own definition of "the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience." Culadasa (John Yates, PhD), author of The Mind Illuminated, describes mindfulness in terms of "optimizing the inter … [Read more...]