Friday, November 22, 2013

Anger and the Limits of Acceptance

One of the doctrines of meditation, especially Buddhist inspired meditation, is radical acceptance.  Often misunderstood, at its root lies the need to experience things as they are, not bound by judgment, opinion, or our desire to change things to better suit our expectations.  Also informing many people’s meditation practice is the Buddhist idea that an attachment to anger is one of the causes of suffering, again colored by judgment, opinion, and a desire to change.  Desire itself, or an attachment to desire, is cited as another cause of suffering.   Not accepting things as they are, wanting them to be different, can cause us great emotional distress.

But what if our experience itself is unacceptable?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Resting in Stillness

I just had another article published on PsychCentral.  It addresses how long periods of meditation are just too much for some people, and how, or if, one can benefit from shorter, less frequent practice periods.

Please read it here.

For a short meditation that can still yield positive results, read my post A Simple Practice.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Taking the Opportunity to Come Apart

I’ve cited James Austin in a post about counting breaths, and often come back to the things he taught in a retreat I attended with him.  It was at Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills.  Austin spent most of the day Saturday presenting information from his book Meditating Selflessly, and from other research he and others have conducted on Zen and the Brain.  His exhortation to get out of the meditation hall and spend some time in nature looking at birds, or, if early morning, the planets and stars, led me to leave the retreat on Sunday and disappear for a few hours into the woods (Austin’s presentation was over).

During the retreat I asked Dr. Austin what he thought about people with a serious mental illness practicing meditation.  I have bipolar disorder 1 and had scheduled a very intensive, silent retreat.  Austin said that people with a “mental defect” should not undertake intensive meditation.  I was surprised at both the language and the sentiment, especially as I have gained so much from my meditation practice.  But I have respect for Dr. Austin’s work, and was so influenced by his retreat, that I decided to take his caution under consideration. 

I went on the silent retreat anyway.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Community Wellness Project Meditation Workshops

I'll be conducting free, drop-in meditation workshops for the Community Wellness Project.  The project is a venture of The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services.

We'll be meditating on Thursday afternoons at 1:30 at Broad Street Ministries in Philadelphia.  Details are on The Community Wellness project site, under upcoming events, here.

I hope you can drop-in one Thursday, and please pass this along to anyone you know who may benefit from learning about meditation and practicing with a group.