Is Buddhism true? A finely woven conversation

Oh, boy, I adore the work of Sam Harris. I have been an avid fan since reading his Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, two or three years ago. I listen to pretty much every podcast Sam produces, and had the opportunity to see him live at one of his events in Toronto this past September.

In this podcast, Sam speaks with Robert Wright, author of Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

Their conversation is intricate, dense and finely woven. This is a ‘must listen’ for any reasonable, and reasonably serious, practitioner of Buddhism.

It’s suitable whether you have years of experience with meditation, or if you’ve never meditated before and are wondering what it’s all about.

 

(via SamHarris.org)

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The mirror of mindfulness

sunny sky background

This past summer I very much enjoyed reading Sam Harris’ book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

A helpful Redditor extracted and posted all of the meditation instructions from the book, including the following simple eight-point instructions on “How to Meditate.”

  1. Sit comfortably , with your spine erect, either in a chair or cross-legged on a cushion.
  2. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the points of contact between your body and the chair or the floor. Notice the sensations associated with sitting— feelings of pressure, warmth, tingling, vibration, etc.
  3. Gradually become aware of the process of breathing. Pay attention to wherever you feel the breath most distinctly— either at your nostrils or in the rising and falling of your abdomen.
  4. Allow your attention to rest in the mere sensation of breathing. (You don’t have to control your breath. Just let it come and go naturally.)
  5. Every time your mind wanders in thought, gently return it to the breath.
  6. As you focus on the process of breathing, you will also perceive sounds, bodily sensations, or emotions. Simply observe these phenomena as they appear in consciousness and then return to the breath.
  7. The moment you notice that you have been lost in thought, observe the present thought itself as an object of consciousness. Then return your attention to the breath— or to any sounds or sensations arising in the next moment.
  8. Continue in this way until you can merely witness all objects of consciousness— sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, even thoughts themselves— as they arise, change, and pass away.

Those who are new to this practice generally find it useful to hear instructions of this kind spoken aloud during the course of a meditation session.

You can make use of two excellent guided meditations (one shorter, one longer) over at SamHarris.org.

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Let’s make happy

‘Let’s make happy’ is the slogan over at Mochimochi Land, where Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in Chicago, showcases her original designs.

I love this joyful, sweet & funky video she made in collaboration with Maureen Boyle (music by William Steffey).

Don’t be ashamed if you, too, like cute things. Have you heard about the 2012 study conducted to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance? Basically it concluded that cute improves concentration. Which leads me to conclude that you should view adorable, sweet, heart-warming things before you sit on your meditation seat.

(via Mochimochi Land on Facebook)

 

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Mindfulness is a superpower

Another sweetly animated and succinct mindfulness video narrated by Dan Harris, the practically-minded author of the New York Times bestseller 10% Happier.

“Mindfulness is not going to solve all your problems. It’s not going to render your life a non-stop parade of unicorns and rainbows. Nonetheless, this is a superpower. And one that is accessible by you immediately.”

I sure do share Dan’s view on the future of mindfulness and meditation:

“It’s going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like brushing your teeth, eating well and taking the meds your doctor prescribed for you.”

GDS gobblynne post

If you missed it, enjoy Dan’s and animator Katy Davis’s: Meditation 101: A Beginner’s Guide

(via happify.com, video animated by Katy Davis gobblynne.com)

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Sitting through March

We’ve added more dates, continuous now through the end of March 2015, for the “Just Sit!” sessions on Tuesday evenings. (Please check back monthly for future dates.) These guided meditations are open to any and every one. All levels of experience and all faith or no faith backgrounds are welcome. Just Sit! is an opportunity to sit with others in contemplation and meditation, whether you are just learning how to meditate or have been at it for years.

For those of you who haven’t come to sit — or haven’t come in a while — we are currently dividing the hour into three meditations, or, one mediation with three sections. However you slice it:

Part 1 — 15 mins on the breath, developing concentration and allowing our mind to settle by counting our exhalations (to 3 sets of 21 exhalations) and then simply sitting without counting for a little longer, deeply experiencing the breath.

Part 2 — 20 mins on allowing, noticing and meeting our direct experience with an embracing mind of love, coming back again and again and again to the direct experience of each moment, allowing, allowing, allowing…

Part 3 — 20 mins on ‘feeling into’ our basic nature: the awake, alert awareness in which direct experience is arising — that which is always already present. We turn our focus from the experiences, the thoughts, feelings, sensations and pay attention instead in each moment to the space in which the experiences are arising.

 

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December meditation sessions in Guelph

Two more Just Sit! sessions are scheduled for 2014: tomorrow evening, December 9th, and next week, December 16th. Join us from 7-8pm at 123 Woolwich St, 2nd Floor, for simple guided meditations. Learn to be still and relax. Sessions will resume in the new year, dates TBA (to be announced — check back here in the next few weeks).

There is also a final 2014 sit in December with Ken Hood, over at Living Yoga & Health, 105 Wyndham St N, 2nd Floor. Join him this coming Sunday, December 14th at 10:30am. Ken is planning to continue regular sessions in the new year too.

 

Sitting December 2014 v1

 

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Cute improves concentration

File this under S for SWEET!

In addition to making the heart all warm and fuzzy, have you heard that exposure to cute things has been studied and shown to improve concentration? This means if you’re looking to hone your attention, study for an exam, even engage in some practice that requires manual dexterity, you ought to warm up with exposure to sweetness!

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