Meditation: Why It Helps, Even Though It’s Not Doing Anything

Those of us who practice meditation sometimes have a hard time explaining the practice to people who don't. Basically, we just sit there, doing nothing. We forgo entertainment, and we even try not to think when we're sitting there!Why would we want to take precious time out of our busy lives, just to waste it?There are different ways to answer this question, but in a way, the answer doesn’t matter. The best thing to do is just try meditation and see if doing it makes a positive d … [Read more...]

Calming Your Mind Buddhist-Style – A 30-Second Method for Non-Buddhists and Buddhists Alike

In recent weeks, given the political turmoil in the world, I've heard from a lot of people who are wondering how to calm their minds. It's painful and unhelpful to be caught up in anxiety, anger, reactivity, despair, fear, and worry about the future. In addition, these kinds of emotions are what Buddhists call afflictive - that is, they are self-perpetuating and suck up a lot of our energy. Stewing in anxiety, for example, generally leads to more anxiety and exhaustion, not to solutions or re … [Read more...]

Appropriate Speech When Talking Politics: the Buddha’s Five Conditions

Most of us need to talk to others about political matters. We need to vent and process, and try to understand. We need to keep ourselves conscious of what's happening in our world so we can respond appropriately.At the same time, our conversations about politics can get exhausting, depressing, agitating, repetitive, divisive, judgmental, and even hateful. They can discourage us from staying politically engaged - right when we need to stay engaged.The Buddha laid out five things to … [Read more...]

Beyond Mindfulness: The Radical Practice of Unified Presence

I am going to present an alternative to mindfulness practice. I do this because I believe the concept of mindfulness – at least the way it is typically understood – can limit our spiritual development. It can become a dualistic trap that causes us to reject much of what we are as human beings.However, before I describe the potential pitfalls of mindfulness practice and offer a different approach that has worked for me, I want to discuss the metaphor of fingers pointing at the moon. “The moon” … [Read more...]

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Homeless or Not, People Are Just People

On Wednesday our downtown Zen meditation group had a delightful meeting. It gave me a deepening, visceral conviction that homeless or not, whatever someone's history or current challenges, people are just people. This means they live a complete life with its own rhythm, richness, joys, sorrows, views, philosophies, hopes, regrets... you name it.This may seem like a pretty stupid realization - I mean, isn't it obvious people everywhere are just people? However, I have realized that when I … [Read more...]

Renewal in the Silence of Meditation

Although I'm wrestling with all kinds of questions in this journey of conscience, I am fortunate to be doing so in the context of an established meditation practice.The space of meditation, at least Zen meditation, involves a realignment of the self with the universe. Getting caught up in activity can invite me to assert the self against the world, especially when I care deeply about the activity. I get busy trying to understand, maneuver, express, create, change, hurry, finish, resist, and … [Read more...]