Dying with Dad, Part 3

By Jessica Graham It was my dad’s birthday recently. He would have been 54 years old. Most people think that he died pretty young, but it’s amazing he lived that long, given his lifestyle. I could have easily died much earlier too. My Dad and I were very similar. I remember my aunt calling me when I was about 15, …

The Multitasking Quagmire

I enjoy thinking of myself as a present and mindful person. This week, however, I fell into a what Rita Schiano called a multitasking “quagmire,” and I have the dented bumper to prove it. Thursday was a busy day. Lots of texting, voice-texting, emailing, facebooking, acting class, and work. After squeezing in lunch at a popular spot, full of celebrities …

Dying and Dinner Parties

by Michael W. Taft In the long run, meditation is about creating a better life for yourself and for everyone else. Mindfulness has been used for twenty-five centuries because practicing it reliably leads to a deeper, richer, less anxious or depressed experience of being alive. Paradoxically, meditation does this because it is embedded in a clear understanding of the reality …

Slump Killers

by Jessica Graham Experiencing a slump in your practice? We all experience occasional downturns in the urge to practice, as I know from personal experience. This year has had a lot of slumps. For me a slump consists of a strong resistance to sitting my butt down and putting in the time on the cushion. This comes in the form …

Fingernails

by Jessica Graham I’m a little worried today. The usual stuff: money, relationships, time management. I caught myself biting my nails, which is usually a sign that I’m taking the worries personally. Nothing that I ever worry about is actually occurring in the moment; it’s always something that might happen in the future, or more likely, will never happen. The …

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Attention vs. Distraction

Want to learn how to focus and concentrate better? Nothing is more important to meditation than the quality of attention. In mindfulness meditation, we are doing more than just concentrating—the point is to concentrate on something useful—but to do it requires high quality attention. Between the rise of mindfulness practices in America and the rise of the Internet and a …

Meditation Promotes Rational Thinking

Studies looking at the brains of people playing a fairness game found very different responses between Buddhist meditators and other participants. By Michael Haederle It’s no secret that humans are not entirely rational when it comes to weighing rewards. For example, we might be perfectly happy with how much money we’re making — until we find out how much more …

Dying with Dad, Part 2

by Jessica Graham My teacher Shinzen teaches that mindfulness meditation has three parts: concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity, which all together lead to a reduction in suffering. But sometimes people have “freak-outs.” A freak-out is a state in which you lose the ability to concentrate and maintain sensory clarity. As a result, your equanimity falls apart, and you have a …

Dying With Dad

by Jessica Graham Part One My meditation practice has helped me with all kinds of things. I don’t lose my keys as often. I don’t have meaningless sex with strangers. I don’t wake up with bits of teeth in my mouth from grinding them. My sisters enjoy my company. I usually don’t eat foods that make me feel sick, even …

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No Place to Stand

Shinzen talks about why it is important to let go of the idea of “witnessing” in Vipassana. Oftentimes meditators find comfort and stability in dissociating themselves from experience. That is, in getting an internal sense of distance from their own experience. Sort of sitting back, outside the experience, and watching or observing it go by (which is why it’s called …