Concentration: Light as a Feather

by Michael W. Taft I was in Paris recently, and visited the Rodin museum. I’ve always loved his work, and some of the best pieces are at this gorgeous 18th century hotel-cum-museum. In the garden outside sat the French sculptor’s most well known piece, the Thinker, atop a tall granite plinth. As I gazed at this masterpiece, I noticed that …

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Deconstructing the Self with Mindfulness Meditation

I remember as a teenager, feeling that the Monty Python joke “my brain hurts” was talking about me. It was clear to me that my biggest problem in life was my own mind. I was very anxious, sometimes experiencing paralyzing anxiety attacks. Have you ever been so afraid you couldn’t move? But most of all my mind was filled with …

Concentration and Silence

by Michael W. Taft Yesterday I was deep inside a website, working on a project that took my full attention. Just as I was getting really focused, a neighbor busted out his leaf blower and started making a terrible racket. I have pretty good concentration skills, so I could continue working, but I noticed how much mental effort it took …

Meditation Bench DIY — How To

Want a nice meditation bench but don’t want to shell out the cash? No problem. You can build one yourself with this meditation bench DIY. Meditation benches are a tradition in Japanese Buddhism. The are called seiza benches, because they help you to sit in the traditional way, kneeling on the floor with your knees in front, which is called …

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Downtime for the Stone Age Brain

by Michael W. Taft Recently, I found a meditation retreat center in rural Massachusetts. Its super-affordable price included a room of my own, and delicious, organic hippy food. As I was moving to a new city anyway, I let go of my apartment, put my stuff in storage, and went off to the center for three months. Ninety two days …

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Concentration: Why Bother?

by Michael W. Taft In the last three articles, I wrote about concentration as an iterative process, the activity of listening, and the skill of breaking things down into smaller, manageable pieces. In other articles we also looked at how multitasking is multi-failing, and ways to reduce distraction. At this point you probably get the idea, but you may still …

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6 Ways to Be Mindful Right Now

by Michael W. Taft You may think that you are too busy to practice meditation. But there is nobody who doesn’t have a spare minute here or there to be mindful. Even in the midst of a crazy workday, focusing on sensory events now and then is a powerful way to banish stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and depression. Here are six …

Concentration: The Hammer

by Michael W. Taft “Never eat anything bigger than your head.” — B. Kliban A good friend of mine recently returned to school. As an adult learner, he set a goal for himself to do the best job possible, to ace every class he could. As someone with slight learning disabilities, however, school posed special challenges. There was a lot …

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Learning to Listen

by Michael W. Taft You’re having complex feelings about the things that happened with your partner yesterday. You feel upset and confused, there’s so much going on. You meet your friend at a coffee shop, hoping to talk about some of this. But as soon as you start, she digs out her iPhone and starts rubbing and poking the glass. …

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Meditation — Why “Deconstruction”?

by Michael W. Taft The name of this blog is “Deconstructing Yourself,” but what does deconstruction have to do with meditation? In short: everything. Deconstructing your experience—in the sense of analyzing or seeing through experience—is the essence of the meditative endeavor. Specifically, deconstructing your sensory experience, including the experience of being you, an ego. On first blush that can sound …

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Concentration: An Iterative Approach to Focusing the Mind

by Michael W. Taft Concentration is the eternal secret of every mortal achievement – Stefan Zweig There is an ancient story from India that tells of five young princes who were practicing archery in the woods with their teacher, named Drona. One day Drona decided to test the boys by having them shoot birds—an extremely difficult thing to do with …

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Multitasking Fail

by Michael W. Taft You’re working on a paper, and the kids need dinner. Music is playing in one room, and the tv is on in the other. You don’t want to miss tonight’s episode of Futurama, so you peek at that while you type in your notes, getting up every once in a while to stir the pasta. Maybe …