Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

How to Find a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Near You

A new collaboration between Mindful and colleagues in the mindfulness field, led by Sharon Hadley and Bryan Welch, the Mindful Directory promises increased accessibility to mindfulness for students, teachers, and organizations. 

Hadley—who has held various leadership roles in building and supporting the mindfulness community, and currently serves as CEO of the University of Oxford, Mindfulness Centre—had observed the disconnect between leaders in the mindfulness field and the difficulty many people encounter when they want to find, for example, mindfulness teacher training, a retreat, or a conference: There wasn’t an online platform where information about events relating to mindfulness could be compiled, showing basic information on the teacher qualifications, and allowing any interested student to find what they were looking for in their location and within their timeframe.

“It’s often unclear what type of retreat is being offered, what’s in your local area, or what a teacher’s credentials are,” Hadley said. “So I was trying to bring all of these elements into one place, where people can search for exactly what they need and when.” To fill this gap, Hadley founded EventsList, which provided a web platform to organize and advertise events in mindfulness, list teacher credentials, and share information about the organizations working in the mindfulness field.  

EventsList Becomes the Mindful Directory

EventsList flourished—in part. “There was no real difficulty engaging collaborators once I explained the concept and transparent approach. There was plenty of support for the initiative,” says Hadley. Still, it proved difficult to get the word out to teaching communities and would-be students that the platform existed. 

“This new global directory is meant to provide teachers, coaches, events leaders, and students of mindfulness with the connections they need to cultivate their own mindfulness practice and to chart their own path toward higher levels of compassion, health, and peace of mind.”

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A Guided Meditation for Turning Awareness into Action

This is a foundational awareness practice designed to help bring about three key insights: clarity of intention; understanding of our power, presence, and impact; and opportunities for wise action-taking. If we take a moment to consider how complex, volatile, and uncertain current societal conditions are, as well as the spectrum of emotions we are feeling individually and collectively, it is easy to feel a sense of overwhelm and confusion about how to engage with the world from a place of strength, groundedness, and calm. 

13-Minute Meditation Practice for Wise Action

In this practice, we will move through the four stages of human bridge-building. We’ll explore how we show up in each of the four transformation quadrants of self, family, community, and organizations. The breath we focus on is the normal flow of the in-and-out breath, allowing it to rest in its natural rhythm and cadence, as we meet what arises with self-compassion and curiosity.

1. To begin, silently set an intention for yourself to be open and curious about what comes up, receiving what arises with equanimity. You may sit or stand comfortably, just allowing whichever position you choose to let you feel both alert and relaxed. Feel free to close your eyes or cast them in a softened downward gaze. 

2. Next, let’s take three deep breaths in and out. Allowing your mind to settle…your body to settle…and your breath to settle into its natural rhythm. Breathing in and out as we explore how we can build bridges with others to serve as agents of transformation.

Self

3. First, let us bring our attention to our heart space by gently placing a hand over the heart, allowing it to simply rest there. Placing a hand over the heart can often bring us comfort when we explore difficult thoughts, emotions, or experiences. 

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7 Mindful Parenting Lessons for the Pandemic

As a working mama of three boys, all between the ages of 5 and 11, I want to first say to all my fellow parents: “I feel you, deeply.” This. Is. Hard.

All of our lives have been turned upside down in ways we never could have imagined. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were signing our kids up for spring activities and making travel arrangements for spring and summer breaks, and at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago. Even now, it still seems hard to believe that we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has cost us, our families, and our communities so much.

I also want to say that you are doing an amazing job, even though I know it often doesn’t feel like it. We have all, for the time being, lowered our expectations for our kids, for the order and cleanliness of our homes and even ourselves. We’ve had to do it to survive. We simply cannot do it all, and we certainly cannot do it all well, and that’s okay.

As a clinical psychologist who is supporting my patients exclusively via teletherapy, a parent who is on-the-job learning how to support my kids during at home “crisis schooling,” a devoted partner, a cook, a cleaner, and a deeply sensitive soul—it would be an understatement to say that I have been overwhelmed at times. I know I am not alone in this. We have been asked to hold, adapt to, figure out, and manage on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, more than our nervous systems are designed to handle.

We have been asked to hold, adapt to, figure out, and manage on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, more than our nervous systems are designed to handle.

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A 10-Minute Practice to Fully Experience the Present

mimagephotos/Adobe Stock

One of the things I love the most about mindfulness practice is this duality between the idea that we need to train our minds and build skills and get somewhere, and the conflicting idea that we are to accept ourselves as we are, love ourselves, and offer ourselves compassion. That everything we are is OK, that we have enough, and we are enough. There seems to be a tension between these ideas, but it really only lies in the intellectual realm. When you actually practice mindfulness, you’ll find you can walk this line quite skillfully.

Start by finding a comfortable position. I like to think of myself as embodying my intention for the practice in the way I hold my body: I intend to do nothing, but with a sense of presence, awareness, and relaxation.Take a breath or two to let go of whatever came before this practice, and whatever may come after. You may close your eyes, or keep them open, finding a spot to focus your gaze.When you’re ready, let go of any kind of intention to change anything about what you’re experiencing in this moment. Drop the resistance and let it happen. If you find yourself naturally gravitating to another practice you do—paying attention to the breath, or sounds, or saying an affirmation—let that be a part of your natural state in this moment. You may also notice yourself feeling uncomfortable. Maybe you’re tired, drowsy, or getting bored already. Maybe you’re caught up in racing thoughts about all the challenges we’re facing. Whatever it is you’re noticing, in this practice, there’s no need to fight any of it. Just let it happen, in a radical act of self-acceptance.Maybe you notice some external experience, like your neighbours are banging on the wall, or your roommate or spouse is speaking loudly in the other room. Embrace that as part of the meditation, and accept it as part of your experience in this moment. This is exactly what it’s like to be you in this moment. All we’re doing here is dropping the fight and accepting completely, just to see what happens. Bring a sense of curiosity. What happens when you fully do nothing, and let things be as they are?Often when we’re trying to take a break, that idea of taking a break can be pretty effortful. We can find ourselves trying really hard to relax, to stop thinking, to enjoy something. But is that really a break?In this practice, we are not trying to do anything. Maybe you are thinking. What happens when you just let that happen? Maybe you’re not enjoying this meditation, or you find yourself confused. You can let it happen. Sometimes our self-care routine—whether it’s exercise, mindfulness, or something else—becomes an entry on our task list that we’re trying to check off in our already overwhelmed lives. That can be a useful framing, but sometimes it can take over and we lose track of being present without striving to change something. Let’s refresh our intention, start again, and spend this time truly just being here, without any attempt to change anything about what we’re experiencing. For this next minute, anything you’re experiencing is OK exactly the way it is.Take this last moment to let go of the practice. At your own pace, see if you can carry forward whatever insight you discovered into whatever’s coming next in your day. A sense of balancing on the tightrope between striving to be better, to do better, to help yourself, to help others, to take care of yourself, to get that task done—with the sense of just being ok with the way things are. Especially in challenging situations, this can be a very difficult line to walk. I encourage you to keep this practices to balance out the more goal-directed practices in your routine. 
Original author: Jay Vidyarthi
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Starting Points

Tricycle is offering free access to select articles during this uncertain time.

The following is a piece that was written by Tricycle‘s current features editor Andrew Cooper in 1993. It was published by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in that organization’s quarterly magazine, Turning Wheel.

In the years since, some things have changed a lot, some not at all. One thing that has perhaps changed is the more widespread recognition of the racism afflicting American society, demonstrated notably by the diversity of the current protests. But, as recent events show, something that has persisted is the systemic nature of racism, which is often ignored or minimized by those least affected by it.

We’re republishing this article because it calls attention to what the author refers to as the “unconscious ideology” of race in the dominant culture, which still holds back our progress today, as the deaths of George Floyd and so many others make indisputable. 

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