Writing

Concentration & Relaxation

When we go on a residential retreat, we often hope that our meditation will result in a deepening of concentration: a quality of composure, collectedness, of settled attention. But unfortunately, we can’t force concentration to happen! We can, however, support the conditions that allow it to arise. This simple fact has been really helpful for […]

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Understanding Delusion

Buddhism teaches us that suffering and unskillful states of mind arise out of three basic roots: greed, aversion and delusion. While greed and aversion are often fairly easy to recognize in our experience, delusion is much harder to recognize! Learning about some of the different ways that delusion happens can help us recognize it. One

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Hidden Beliefs about Accepting What Is

In mindfulness practice, we often emphasize accepting experience as it is, simply observing what is happening, without holding on to or pushing away experience. Yet, sometimes unseen beliefs or views can creep into “accepting”. So it can be useful to explore subtle, perhaps hidden beliefs even within the practice of accepting. Accepting is the possibility

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Recognizing Mindfulness

At the end of a recent residential retreat, someone asked me for a simple practice to engage with in daily life. I offered the practice of becoming familiar with what it is like to be aware and mindful. When we more readily recognize the sense of being mindful, the many moments when we are spontaneously

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Taking Retreat Practice Home

As we settle into a retreat, from time to time we might experience states of calm, peace, happiness, and joy. Leaving retreat and returning to our daily lives, we sometimes feel that these states are very far from our experience. In your daily life, let yourself be open to the possibility that this kind of

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Personal and Collective Suffering

In our meditation practice we often emphasize exploring our inner, personal experience. Through our practice we begin to open to the personal suffering that each of us experiences based on the conditioned patterns of our lives. Yet as our exploration of our personal suffering deepens, a question can naturally arise: “How can this practice help

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The Impulses that Move Us

As mindfulness becomes steadier, we can begin to see the impulses that move and motivate us: mental urges to take action. Every action of body, speech, or mind is preceded by a such an impulse, which is subtle, yet can be noticed. We can know we’re going to move before we move. We can know we’re going to

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Awareness of Thinking

Thoughts are a natural function of our mind. Another function of the mind is to be aware. The mind does its job of producing thoughts and emotions, and the mind also can know thoughts and emotions. Since the mind both produces thoughts and is aware, sometimes we might think both those things can’t happen simultaneously, believing thatif

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Noticing Agendas in Meditation

As we become more familiar with meditation, we might think we know how practice should unfold. We can begin to carry hidden agendas into our practice. One such agenda is that the mind needs to be in a certain state in order to meditate. There might be a belief such as “good meditation has a

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Love and Wisdom

Our mindfulness practice asks us to open to all aspects of our experience: both our joys and our struggles. It can be challenging to open to suffering: to the frustration of wanting things we cannot have; to the fear that the things we have will go away; to anxiety about the health and happiness of

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Your Questions About Practice

How do you stay in the present moment when it’s physically painful (not a posture issue)? Andrea Fella responds: One reason it’s hard to stay in the present moment when there is physical pain is that we are reactive to the pain.  We react with fear, confusion, aversion, the feeling of being out of control.

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Patience

Patience supports mindfulness practice when it is joined with gentle persistence and active exploration.  Such patience allows for our practice to simply unfold, neither discouraged about nor anxious for results.  As the Indian Vipassana teacher Munindra-ji said, “When the fruit is ripe, it will fall from the tree.”  For me, this image has been very

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Recognizing Mindfulness

At the end of a recent residential retreat, someone asked me for a simple practice to engage with in daily life. I offered the practice of becoming familiar with what it is like to be aware and mindful. When we more readily recognize the sense of being mindful, the many moments when we are spontaneously

Recognizing Mindfulness Read More »