Thursday, 30 April 2015

Dharmapunx teacher Josh Korda on Buddhism, psychology, mindfulness, and his upcoming retreat

From American Buddhist Perspective
by Justin Whitaker

"...Can you say a bit about who/what Dharma Punx is?

    A: Dharma Punx is a  lot of things; certainly a community of people interested in pursuing spiritual lives, based on core buddhist principles of compassion, wisdom, meditation, social interactions based on egalitarianism rather than wealth, power, status. Dharma Punx was started by Noah Levine, who brought to buddhist teaching via rigorous, honest self-disclosure based on 12-step sobriety; teachers such as Noah, Vinny Ferraro and myself focus on presenting ourselves authentically, as flawed people trying to grow spiritually, ‘warts and all’ so to speak. I’d definitely note that we grew out of the recovery movement and other communities historically underserved by buddhist centers.

Coming with that honest, ‘warts and all’ approach has brought Buddhist teachings to a whole new audience. And your upcoming retreat is open to all ages and people of all meditation backgrounds, including complete beginners..." Read more

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Dina Proctor: Using Mini-Meditation for Transformation

From Elevated Existence
by Jennifer McCartney

"...Dina discovered 3 x 3 meditation (3 minutes of meditation 3 times a day) at a low point in her life when she was struggling with alcohol addiction, and tried meditation but found that sitting still for 20 minutes just wasn’t working. She found her body “maxed out” at around three minutes. Instead of being frustrated by this, she decided to listen to her intuition and instead of sitting for a full 20 minutes, she broke up the time throughout the day in three-minute segments.

“Our intuition always knows the best route for us,” she explained. “If we nourish our bodies three time a day why not nourish our soul three time a day?” And 3 x 3 meditation was born.

These short bursts can also be a good starting point if people are curious about meditation, she noted. “Just putting yourself into a relaxed state for three minutes is taking you out of your stress state. And putting yourself in a relaxed state has a huge effect,” she said. “I don’t doubt that if you’re going from zero to once a day that you’ll have a positive benefit..." read it all

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Eight Easy Ways to Boost Your Happiness -- Permanently

From The Stir 
by Kiri Blakely

... 3. Mindfulness. "Mindfulness" comes from the Buddhist concept that most of our suffering is caused by regretting the past or agonizing about the future. Studies have shown that living more in the present -- and letting the past go and not trying to predict the future -- will make you happier. You can learn to practice this just by doing something as simple as chewing your food slowly and taking in the smells and flavors rather than gulping things down.

4. Meditation. A main cause of unhappiness is the brain's tendency to be more chaotic than a popular toddler's birthday party. People often take drugs or drink alcohol because it slows down the restless loop of the mind. Meditation can do the same thing but without harmful side effects or the potential of getting addicted. You can find lots of guided meditations online -- sit comfortably in a chair or on a pillow, and listen to a meditation. The goal is usually to pay attention to your breathing and dismiss ALL thoughts that come into your mind. If you think quieting the brain is easy, you'll soon find out it's nearly impossible. But if you keep doing it, you will find that it really does help keep you calmer and more balanced. Do NOT get stressed that you didn't "do it right."... read it all

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mindfulness for kids and corporations

From The Australian
by Verity Edwards

"MELBOURNE entrepreneur James Tutton was worried about his children becoming stressed as they prepared for their annual NAPLAN tests.

Tutton, who founded the Moonlight Cinema Group in 1996 and sold it for more than $8 million 10 years later, developed a mindfulness program for children. The modern form of meditation is becoming popular in the US with high-profile people who include Arianna Huffington.

Two years ago he teamed up with public relations specialist Jane Martino to found the not-for-profit Smiling Mind that began offering a free app for children to use mindfulness. Its popularity grew and the Smiling Mind app and program is used by more than 4500 schools, 300,000 individuals and a growing number of companies, including IBM Australia and Google. “Mindfulness makes one a lot more cogniscent of one’s emotions and it gets people to focus on far more positive things than work, work, work and not doing anything else,” Tutton says. While some criticise the techniques as being a Band-Aid solution to underlying personal and work-related problems, Tutton says mindful meditation is a preventive tool and claims his programs allow people to think more clearly about their underlying problems..." more

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Meditation to get rid of headache

From   Care2      
by Lindsay Patton


Like massages, meditation is another way to manage stress. If you don’t have the budget to fit regular massages in, meditation is much cheaper and can be just as effective. If you have Internet at home, you can easily search “meditation” and get simple tutorials on how to start and how to keep up with it. Meditation fights stress by making the body and the mind slow down and relax for however long you are comfortable meditating. By focusing on your breathing and meditation, your body and mind are able to relax and get rid of the muscle tension and subconscious clenching that cause headaches...."

Read more

Friday, 24 April 2015

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood's rock and roll life of, erm, meditation and House of Cards

From the Daily Mirror  
By Halina Watts

The guitarist and recovering alcoholic admits his biggest battle is staying sober but that now he loves the quiet life.

Eight meditation books a day, eggs on toast and bucketloads of Red Bull.

It doesn’t sound like the daily life of a Rolling Stone.

And 10 years ago guitarist Ronnie Wood would have been on the kind of drug-fuelled bender that led him to rehab eight times.

Life was so crazy he and bandmate Keith Richards “used to go at each other with broken bottles, all kinds of things” he says.

Now, as a recovering alcoholic, Ronnie’s biggest challenge is staying sober.

Thankfully, his wife, actress and theatre producer Sally, has got his back.

She too quit the booze when they wed in December 2012 and she says “his recovery comes first”.

As we sip on Diet Coke at London’s Roundhouse, where she is chairing charity fundraiser Time To Shine, she tells me: “Before Ronnie performs he has a lie-in and egg on toast, reads his meditation books, then it’s time to go to sound check.

“He has about eight meditation books that he reads every day. They are recovery books to keep his mind focused on being sober and clean every day..."  Read it all


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Apple founder Steve Jobs used Zen mindfulness as path to success


"Steve Jobs used one particular technique to help clear his mind and achieve dizzying heights of success.

It was mindfulness, the kind taught in Zen Buddhism, which an old-fashioned high-flyer might have dismissed as New Age mumbo-jumbo.

The Apple co-founder’s life changed after a visit to India in 1974. When he returned — head shaved, in traditional clothing and espousing the benefits of LSD — he embarked on a lifelong dedication to Zen Buddhism.

The Apple co-founder’s life changed after a trip to India in the 1970s. Source: Supplied

He went on long meditation retreats to Tassajara, the first Zen monastery in the US, where he learned to tune in to the activity of his brilliant mind. A Suzuki disciple, Kobun Chino Otagawa, officiated at Jobs’s 1991 wedding..."  more

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress

From Yuma News 
by Mayo Clinic Staff

"..When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.

The emotional benefits of meditation can include:

    Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
    Building skills to manage your stress
    Increasing self-awareness
    Focusing on the present
    Reducing negative emotions..."  Read it all

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

University of North Dakota hockey player turns game around with meditation.

Nick Mattson
From Grand Forks Herald 
by Brad Elliott Schlossman

"It was mid-December and senior Nick Mattson had been a healthy scratch in exactly half of UND’s games. He had been in the stands for the last four.

“At that point,” he said, “I didn’t think there was much of a future left in the season for me.”

Mattson went back in the lineup that night, scored a goal, tallied an assist and was a key part in UND’s 3-1 win at the University of Denver.

Mattson hasn’t missed a game since.

The defenseman has turned into UND’s best scoring threat. He has 18 points in 19 games since that time, leading the team in scoring. Nobody else has more than 13.

Why the big turnaround?

Mattson said one key was doing mindful meditation.

“There’s a lady that works with the school,” Mattson said. “A couple of us started working with her. It’s kind of what Phil Jackson used to do with his old basketball teams...."   more

Monday, 20 April 2015

Emptiness and possibility within Zen Buddhism

By Kurt Spellmeyer

"To the Buddhist way of thinking, emptiness is the space of possibility. In the tradition of Buddhism I teach, the tradition known as Zen, we actually meditate on emptiness. To try it, you probably should sit down on a cushion or a chair, ideally with your back held straight and your palms folded in your lap. Then you should calmly watch your breath as it goes in and out. You’ll notice that your mind quickly veers away from the breath and rushes back to your familiar thinking. You’ll find yourself planning the next meal or rewatching “Downton Abbey” in your head or worrying about the dental bills. But if you keep returning gently to your breath, you eventually will reach a place where the thoughts diminish. Now, as you continue to breathe attentively, you will begin to feel that spaciousness.

When the Buddha was asked to describe his awakened state of mind, he would sometimes say, “I am always at the beginning.” Most people didn’t understand because they didn’t meditate and they hadn’t heard about emptiness. But when meditators reach that empty space, it’s like starting all over again. Everything becomes fresh and clear. No matter how blocked or trapped you feel, you see that anything is possible...." more 


Sunday, 19 April 2015

West’s first Buddhist mission was in London

From Japan Times

by by William Hollingworth

"LONDON – Buddhists in Japan — aided by an Irishman — established the religion’s first Western mission in London, according to research by a team of academics in Ireland and Japan.

The recent discovery overturns the long-held assumption that the first Buddhist mission in the West was set up in California in 1899.

Brian Bocking, one of the team members from University College Cork, said in an interview: “It’s a rather remarkable discovery. It transforms the story of how Buddhism first came to the West.”

The London mission was set up in October 1889 and educated thousands of people in Buddhism years before similar establishments were set up on America’s West Coast, according to the researchers..."  full story

Islamic Jihad against Chinese Buddhists

Following on from the previous post on the eradication of Buddhism from Kazakhstan, here's the historical background...

From  The History of Jihad

"...The Muslim victory on the Talas river also had its negative fallout in the conversion of the Chinese border population to Islam. In this encounter with the Arab Muslim invaders, China lost many of the Westernmost provinces of its empire in the 8th century. In fact Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan were once Chinese provinces of the T’ang empire up to 751. These provinces were like the rest of China overwhelmingly Buddhist.

Their Buddhist character was lost and the population slaughtered and the rest forcibly converted to Islam from the 8th century onwards after the defeat of the Chinese at the Battle of the Talas river. And only when these provinces were overrun by the Muslims after the Battle of Talas in 751 that they were separated from China and annexed to the Muslim Caliphate. The Kazaks, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and Tajiks are Chinese converts to Islam. Even today inside China the Uyghurs do not consider themselves to be Chinese. They constitute the Chinese converts to Islam, but are agitating against the Chinese government for secession from China to form a separate country they call Eastern Turkistan!

After the Chinese defeat at Battle of the Talas river, the conversion of the Qarluq Turks to Islam was followed by the conversion of the Uyghur (Ughirs). Later the Hui Chinese (a branch of the Han Chinese) were also forced into accepting the faith imposed on them by the Arabs and by the other Chinese converts to Islam. These Chinese who converted to Islam gradually gave up their rich Chinese heritage and became Arabized, although they continued to look Mongoloid like the Chinese. These are the Kazaks, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Tajiks who today do not even consider themselves Chinese or a part of the great Chinese nation. Even inside China proper, the descendants of the Hui, Ughirs, and Qarluqs who populate the Westernmost Chinese province of Xinjiang want to secede from China and are agitating for a separate Islamic state to be a part of a resurgent Muslim Caliphate. Many of them are sympathetic to the Al Qaeda but their attempts to secede from China have been so far successfully resisted by the Chinese Communist regime.

Of late the animosity of the Muslim Uyghurs against the Chinese has spilled over outside China across to Afghanistan and Pakistan where before the siege of the Red Mosque, the Uyghurs instigated the local Pakistani Muslims to abduct Chinese ladies and humiliated them for being un-Islamic. There have been instances of Chinese engineers being abducted and murdered in NWFP (North West Frontier Province) of Pakistan and around Gwadar port where the Chinese have a major involvement in helping the economic development of Pakistan.

Many non-governmental agencies in Pakistan such as the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) have co-opted the Uyghurs in their strategy of a global Jihad which is also aimed at China to complete the task they consider unfinished, of converting all the Chinese to Islam. A task which was initiated when the Muslim prophet Mohammed sent his invitation to the Chinese emperor to convert to Islam in 629 and which almost came to be a reality after the Chinese defeat at the Battle of the Talas river in 751..."  read it all

See also Islam Will Destroy Buddhism 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Is Meditation The Best Thing For Your Anxiety?

From Refinery29
by Colleen Barrett

While meditation can hardly be considered mainstream, psychologists are beginning to use mindfulness techniques in their work with patients. Lizabeth Roemer, PhD, one of the authors of The Mindful Way Through Anxiety, uses them to treat anxiety, and she sees how meditation could be beneficial, too. “If people learn to pay attention with acceptance and kindness to the present moment through their meditation practice, and are able to apply this in their lives in ways that keep them engaged with what matters to them, then I think this can help with anxiety.”?

This idea is not a new one, but has recently started gaining momentum. Last year, the Journal of the American Meditation Association of Internal Medicine  published a study that found meditation to be as effective as antidepressants in treating anxiety and depression. The findings are backed by brain scans from before and after people meditate. They show the brain is capable of building new cells and pathways — a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Meditation weakens the part of the brain that makes us take things personally and strengthens the part that allows us to feel empathy. Put simply, meditation changes the brain for the better..."  read it all

Shambhala Sun endorses Ted Cruz for President

From Lion's Roar
by April Primmero

"The Buddhist magazine Shambhala Sun (part of the Foundation that also publishes this website) has announced its first-ever explicit endorsement of a U.S. presidential candidate: Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Being that Buddhists are usually assumed to be liberals, the magazine’s move might come as a shock to some. In a press statement released late yesterday, the Shambhala Sun’s editorial board explained the decision.

“We’re in our fourth decade,” reads the statement. “As our work and Buddhist practice have become more mature, we’ve begun to feel that a more conservative, established approach is a better fit with where we’re at. Ted Cruz emphasizes limited government and personal responsibility, and these are in line with Buddhist values..."  more

Friday, 17 April 2015

New University of Arizona Course in Buddhism

From UA News 
By La Monica Everett-Haynes

A Buddhist studies minor will be available starting in the fall, and it will draw from the University's existing expertise in religious studies, East Asian studies, Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, and South Asian religions.

In response to the increased adoption of traditions originating from Asia and to the expanding transcultural nature of the world, the University of Arizona is introducing an undergraduate minor focusing on Buddhism, which is practiced by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The program is targeting students in a range of disciplines to provide them with a greater understanding of Buddhist societies, cultures and values. The minor will become available for the fall semester.

Given the recent rise of East Asian economies and markets, it will be even more critical that new-generation professionals are not merely trained in their home disciplines — whether that be business, law, sociology, journalism or otherwise — but that they also are better equipped to engage with Buddhists, said Albert Welter, head of the UA Department of East Asian Studies.

"Much, if not most, of the Asian world is Buddhist, or has Buddhist traditions, and Buddhism is a large component of the Asian value system regardless of the country you visit," said Welter, also the associate director of the School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures. "We are here to inform people and to create knowledge and understanding about different traditions. Overall, the program is meant to help students appreciate different philosophical, ethical and spiritual approaches to knowledge..."  more

Meditation Technique: The Oprah Style

From  Health Aim 
by  Belinda Peter

"Knowing that stillness is the space where all creative expression, peace light and love come to is a powerfully energising, yet calming experience. Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is – still – the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life,” says Winfrey...  more

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mindfulness for treatment of depression and anxiety

By Tabeer Shaikh

One in five Americans have suffered from mental health issues. As mental health becomes more prevalent in the discourse of overall health, medical practitioners are looking for alternative ways to alleviate depression and anxiety. One of these methods that has been garnering attention lately is mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness meditation, which has recently entered our lexicon but has been a Buddhist practice for more than 2,400 years, focuses on cultivating self-awareness, being present in the moment by paying attention, all while being non-judgmental of any thoughts or feelings that may arise. Meditation helps us understand how our minds work and better connects us with ourselves by facilitating changes in brain regions associated with self, empathy, stress and memory.
How is mindfulness being incorporated into the mental health field?

In the past 40-years or so, we have seen mindfulness emerge into the medical field. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-trained molecular biologist, developed a program known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which essentially combines mindfulness meditation with medicine...  more

Meditation and concentration skills for business success

Top Scottish entrepreneur Jim McColl contemplates business success

From The Courier
by Andrew Argo

"...Mr McColl learned a valuable technique for reviewing aims and activities from Buddhism, and it is one he commends to others.

“I use meditation to go over goals, and find it a really worthwhile exercise.”

He spent some time with Buddhist monks who taught him how to develop his concentration skills to see things clearly.

“Once you set goals you use meditation to review them regularly — daily, weekly, monthly — to see where you are and if you need to do things differently to reach the goals you have set,” he revealed..." more

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

I've been using a meditation app on my phone for a week and it's changing my life

From UK Business Insider
by Matt Johnston

"I work in New York City, and like any typical New Yorker, my state of mind is endlessly fluctuating between sort of stressed out, and totally and completely stressed out. There are only two speeds.

I've found throughout my life that living that way, day to day, is not healthy. Stress-filled days build on each other, and can leave you often jaded about the world, isolated as you are in the little anxiety-ridden universe you've created.

For the past eight months I've been training a lot in Yoga, and I love it. That's gotten me thinking more about meditation. I've done a little reading here and there, and plan to do more on how to actually start truly meditating on my own.

But in the meantime, I've discovered a really awesome app for my phone that provides guided meditations separated into categories depending on what you're using it for.

It may sound counterintuitive — phones, technology, that's all about a culture obsessed with their own short attention spans, right?

Nope. This app — called "Buddhify" — is completely awesome. And the key is in their compassionate delivery.

Think of it as on demand meditations for every part of your day. I love it.

Here's the extremely simple way it works:

Let's say you're on a train on the way to work, and you want to clear your mind to prepare for the day. You put on your headphones, open the app, and you see this handy wheel:

Each of these little slivers of the pie represent the part of your day or event you need the meditation for. For example, you could select "feeling stressed," "walking in the city," "work break," "difficult emotions," or in our current example, "traveling."

Once you click a category, you'll get four or five options of different meditations...  Read it all 

Three simple tips for new meditators

From WellBeing
by Jodie Gien

1. Don’t try to not think...

2. Every meditation is different...

3. There is no one way to meditate...

Read it all

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Reincarnation: Boy Remembers Past Life As Hollywood Agent

From News Everyday 
by  Revathi Siva Kumar

When he was just four years, he began to have "horrible nightmares". When he was five, he said that he had something to tell her, and explained: "I used to be somebody else."

He would then talk about "going home to Hollywood, meeting stars like Rita Hayworth, traveling overseas on lavish vacations, dancing on Broadway, and working for an agency where people would change their names."

Ryan remembered a big, white house and a swimming pool in Hollywood, miles away from his Oklahoma home. He said he had three sons, but couldn't remember their names, which made him cry.

"I really didn't know what to do," Cyndi said to uvamagazine. "I was more in shock than anything. He was so insistent about it. After that night, he kept talking about it, kept getting upset about not being able to remember those names. I started researching the Internet about reincarnation. I even got some books from the library on Hollywood, thinking their pictures might help him. I didn't tell anyone for months."

"His stories were so detailed and they were so extensive, that it just wasn't like a child could have made it up," she said.

Being a Baptist, she kept his "memories" secret from everyone, even her husband, but kept searching in the library for a clue. "Then we found the picture, and it changed everything," she said to today..."  more

Also, from the Daily Mail

 "Meet the 10-year-old son of Baptist parents who has baffled experts with his vivid and accurate accounts of a past life dancing on Broadway and acting opposite Mae West.

Ryan, 10, a boy from Muskogee, Oklahoma, with Baptist parents claims he has been reincarnated and was an actor and agent in a past life

He claimed he was Marty Martin, who was in the Mae West film 'Night After Night' and performed on Broadway, after seeing him in a movie still

Ryan began seeing Dr. Jim Tucker soon after, a highly respected child psychiatrist who works with children who remember past lives

Even Dr. Tucker was amazed by Ryan's story, and found that 55 of his details match perfectly with Martin's life

What's more, Martin is such an obscure actor that there were no articles of pieces about him at all, and it took a film archivist to even learn his name

Ryan also knew the year Martin was born, even though it was listed incorrectly on his public death certificate...   read more

Truc Lam Giac Tam Meditation Monastery


"A Buddhist meditation monastery that overlooks Bai Tu Long Bay, a lookalike and neighbor of UNESCO-recognized Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam, offers visitors worthy experiences and peace of mind.

Truc Lam Giac Tam Meditation Monastery, also known as Cai Bau Pagoda, nestles on a 20-hectare plot in Van Don District in Quang Ninh Province.

The path leading to the monastery is pristinely picturesque and adorned with lush pine forests and fields of richly-colored wild flowers.

The monastery was built in 2007 on the base of the former Phuc Linh Pagoda.

According to the monastery’s head monk, the former pagoda is where homage was paid to the highly-merited generals under the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400).

The religious foundation leans against a towering mountain and faces Bai Tu Long Bay, which boasts several islands of different sizes.

Occupying an area of 6,000 square meters, the main edifice has two stories, where statues of different Buddhist deities and King Tran Nhan Tong, founder of Truc Lam Meditation, one of the country’s major Buddhist sects, are reverently placed and worshipped.

Its walls, shelves, and bells are filled with reliefs which depict the enlightening process made by Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha – as well as his teachings and religious poems.

A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper contributor observed from his recent trip to the monastery that security and tourist services in the area are rather good.

Visitors are also treated to vegetarian meals at the monastery.

From the second story of the monastery’s main edifice, one can enjoy a good view of the resplendent Bai Tu Long Bay.

Bai Tu Long is located some 60 kilometers northeast of UNESCO-recognized Ha Long Bay.

Bai Tu Long seems to be overshadowed by its neighbor’s overwhelming fame, and its landscape remains pristine probably thanks to the lesser popularity..." more

Monday, 13 April 2015

Smartphone app offers gym workout for the mind


From The National   

by Jessica Holland

"Meditation is not just for fans of scented candles and whale music any more. The Headscape app, which allows users to listen to a 10-minute guided meditation on their smartphones each day, is being marketed as a gym membership for the mind: designed to make you smarter, happier and more productive.

Its users are just as likely to be high-powered executives who need to clear their mind in the middle of chaos as anyone who has ever spent time in an ashram in India.

I had never really meditated before I tried it, and have quickly come to depend on it to help me pull back and get some perspective in times of stress.

It is slickly designed, and intersperses short animations about the principles behind meditations with actual sessions..."   more

Two breathing exercises to help steady the mind before meditation

From Tricycle
by Lauren Krauze

"When I first started practicing meditation, my teacher taught me that the breath—ever-present and unconditional—is the link between body and mind. When we place our full attention on the breath, we pull ourselves out of the past, away from the future, and directly into the present moment. Or at least that’s how the common instruction goes. But using the breath to enter the proverbial here-and-now is easier said than done.

The first few times I sat to meditate, I tried to focus on the steady rise and fall of the chest and the sensation of the air passing in and out through the nostrils. When my mind wandered away, I noted the distraction and returned my attention back to the breath. It didn’t take long for me to notice that my inhalations felt short and shallow, like I wasn’t taking in very much air. I also experienced tightness and congestion in my chest and throat. These sensations weren’t surprising—my breathing had been fraught since I was a kid. Growing up, I often experienced scary bouts of shortness of breath and wheezing. I managed these breathing issues by distracting myself and avoiding the activities that aggravated them. As I got older, I hoped they would go away on their own.

Alas, as I progressed with my meditation practice, the distressed breathing remained right there to greet me. Coming face-to-face with my breathing did not bring me into the coveted present moment; it dredged up memories of coughing during soccer practice and waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. I began to lose faith in my ability to meditate. With my breath causing so much anxiety, how could I ever use it to deepen my practice?

Around this time I began to study pranayama, a yogic discipline that offers many different techniques for steadying and controlling the breath. I discovered two very useful practices to prepare for meditation. These techniques are especially helpful for those who feel anxious or feel tightness in their chests and air passages. Both practices can bring equanimity to the breath and a sensation of expansiveness to the chest, preparing one to sit in a steady and composed manner..."  read it all

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Global project to convert Buddhists to Christianity

U.S. Evangelicals target Buddhists for conversion.

The Joshua Project - an American evangelical missionary outfit - has identified over 600 groups of Buddhists worldwide for conversion to Christianity.  Are you on their list?

See also  Denigration of Buddhism & conversion of the vulnerable: Christianity’s latest ploy    

This Quick Trick Can Help When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed


From  Yahoo Health
by Lewis Howes

One of the top brain experts shares an easy tip for de-stressing.

I had an incredible opportunity to take a deep dive into the world of the brain with one of the world’s leading experts, Dr. Daniel Amen. His knowledge on the effects of sports injury and brain disorders is incredible, but he also gives tips on how to repair and strengthen your grey matter.

Our conversation was one of the most enlightening and powerful interviews I’ve experienced yet. Dr. Amen not only motivated me to think about my brain health on a much more responsible level, but he also opened my eyes to how important breathing and meditation are to cognitive health.

Many brain specialists once thought that meditation calms the brain down, but they were wrong — it actually optimizes its function. Meditation fires the brain up, increases focus, and is a wonderful tool to utilize in your life..." more

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Experts say meditation can help manage everyday stress

 Sandiee Peters - Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer
From Herald-Mail Media
by Meg Partington 

“...I think they can do it wherever they are,” said Sandiee Peters, who teaches meditation at her home, the Holiday Inn, and for Berkeley County Schools’ Adult and Community Education Program, all in Martinsburg, W.Va. She said simple practices such as visualizing something relaxing, perhaps a tropical scene, or merely closing one’s eyes, even for a few moments, can help.

While those tips might sound simple, many people avoid meditation because they think it’s too difficult, Peters said.

“We want to make it too hard,” agreed Mary Ann Allan of Maugansville, who has been teaching meditation since 1985.

Allan said there’s a misconception that in order for meditation to be successful, a person’s mind must be completely blank.

“They have a feeling they have to think of nothing, and that’s impossible,” Allan said. “You don’t stop thinking, you don’t stop self-talking.”

What Allan does as a a “meditation mentor” is help people refocus their self-talk, to move their minds a bit.

Shutting down completely is a drastic concept to those living in the Western world, Allan said, where the reigning belief is that if a person is still, they’re idle, which is not acceptable. In the Eastern part of the world, on the other hand, people are taught from childhood how to quiet themselves, she said...."  Read it all

China's stressed-out 'millenials' embrace Buddhism

by Lu-Hai Liang, for CNN 
"Five years ago, Beijinger Robert Zhao went on a trip to Tibet. What he encountered left him confused but intrigued.

A science graduate from China's elite Tsinghua University, he had been taught to mistrust superstition and religion, but in the culture and devotion of the Buddhists he met he found something worth knowing.

Now 25, he is considering giving up his job and becoming a monk.

"It means I will have to give up everything of the ordinary world," he told CNN.

While Buddhism has a long history in China, entering via missionaries from India during the Han dynasty, it was repressed during the Maoist era -- many monasteries and temples were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and monks actively punished for believing in "superstition."

But now, a growing number of Chinese are rediscovering the country's dormant Buddhist traditions.

Some, like Zhao, are looking for a spiritual anchor in a competitive, fast-changing society. Others take comfort in meditation and enjoy volunteering.

However, it's not always easy to combine Buddhist beliefs with the demands of modern life.

Zhao works as an assistant to the boss of an environmental company. His religion means it's difficult to entertain clients and partners -- a key part of the role.

"Not drinking, smoking or eating meat affects my socializing. So the company has to send someone else to go with me, which creates extra expenses," he says.

Zhao has not told his family about his desire to become a monk yet, fearing that they might oppose it.

Fenggang Yang, the director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, Indiana, says it's difficult to explain exactly why so many young people are turning to Buddhism.

Some discover it at university, where Buddhist groups are active and famous monks and lamas give lectures. Others have devout parents and grandparents.

He also says that the Chinese Communist Party policy has "moved toward treating Buddhism more favorably than other religions..."  read it all

Friday, 10 April 2015

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to Buddhism in the West

In recent years, Buddhism has been undergoing a rapid expansion in the West, especially America. But what of the future?   This article applies a simple SWOT business analysis to the potentials and limitations affecting the growth of Buddhism in the West.  

SWOT stands for

- Strengths: characteristics of the 'business' that give it an advantage over others.

- Weaknesses (or Limitations): are characteristics that place the business at a disadvantage relative to others.

- Opportunities: external chances to improve performance in the 'business  environment'.

- Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble...  full article

Why You Must Meditate 12 Minutes a Day

From The Huffington Post
by Jon Wortmann

"My mind can find a million reasons every day why I don't need to have my daily sit. In the past, my extensive to-do list, the people who need me right now, and the false belief that I'm fine without it have gotten in the way of my practice. More truly, I have let them get in the way of my time to just be.

Now to be fair, I meditate regularly and I have for years. But, I confess, for years I have not been meditating every day. Sure I do mindfulness exercises most hours of every day. It is what keeps me well most of the time and one of my spiritual teachers, a Trappist monk, once told me that I don't need to meditate long if a short prayer brings me back to the present.

But he meditates for 12 minutes as many as seven times a day.

He was very kind in making room for my brain to work differently than his. He was gentle in not demanding more of my practice. Here's the thing: mindfulness is essential. We want to be mindful all the time. It is not an option. But meditation is a special kind of mindfulness and it really needs to be a part of every day..."  more

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Meditation as medicine; Alzheimer's care innovations

From   The Arizona Daily Star  

By Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Q: I know that meditation makes people feel better, happier and calmer, but is there a scientific explanation of why it works? — Keith G., Carbondale, Illinois

A: Meditation has been practiced in one form or another for as long as recorded history. But it wasn't until the 20th century that Western societies embraced it and began studying its physical effects. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 10 percent of you meditate at least occasionally (that's more than 30 million "Oms" in North America alone).

We're great advocates of mindfulness meditation (we both do it daily) and find that it reduces the stress response, refreshes the body and makes it easier to sort out tasks and thoughts. (For instructions on how to start meditating, visit And we're glad that recent studies have shown that meditation can help women overcome fertility problems; lower blood pressure; relieve anxiety and depression; and ease pain and increase mobility in folks with arthritis. As we gain more understanding of the effects of meditation, we may find there are even more and more applications.

Now we are starting to understand the science behind meditation... more

Vajrasattva Purification Meditation for Twelve Step Recovery

From  The Way of Sunshine

"...The key element is to get in touch with our innate purity, and visualise white healing light dissolving or smashing out all of your imperfections, all your defects, all resentments, hurts, hates, jealousies, pride, and so on. There is the possibility of entreating Vajrasattva, or God, to help you in this, to remove all that would obstruct you from being a pure hearted servant of life, all that would disturb your loving kindness.

Thus, this practice is a perfect prayer for many of the twelve steps, or for general recovery work. There are aspects to suit steps three, six and seven, ten, eleven and even twelve, so any stage of the path. Whether you are starting out in the process of forgiving and loving yourself, or are decades in and struggling with various personal demons or defects, I would suggest this beautiful practice will be of immeasurable benefit.

I forget, sometimes, how beautiful, how stirring, how wonderful that connecting with one’s highest aspirations can be. Direct experience of the vow to serve others, the wish to liberate all life, can transport the meditator to purity, to bliss, to ecstatic tears.

One feels so beautiful, or so in touch with Beauty, in an aspiration so fresh, innocent, tender, perhaps nascent, as one is ready to dissolve into the boundless realms of love. The vow to serve life, to give, to cultivate wisdom and compassion so that one may further benefit others, is profoundly moving, childlike in its innocence, perfect as a reason for being in this world.

Although purification is not Vajrasattva’s only power, or attribute, it is one of the ones for which he is best known. So his practice and mantra are a part of the foundation yogas of tibetan buddhism, for purification of ethics and motives are very important. Without this kind of positive resolve, near perfect ethics, and pure intent, genuine spiritual attainment is very difficult.

So it doesn’t matter if you are in a dark place or are experiencing a degree of brightness in your life right now, this meditation will always be of benefit, until of course, you are Vajrasattva, but whether or not this might happen in this lifetime is only down to you..." Read it all

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Micromeditation works

From  StyleCaster

By Leah Bourne

"...Yes, micro-meditation works.

...Micro meditation has been in the news a lot lately, and D’Cruz is a proponent. “If you are short on time, I teach the value of three to ten second clearing breaths, just having those minutes of meditation while your shaving or putting on makeup, will help you be present. 60 seconds of total stillness [is another tool]. Have you had that moment when you are going into an important meeting, and you have heart palpitations, and you feel uncomfortable? We have all been there. The result [of practicing micro-meditation] is bringing your heart rate down, and clearing your head...”  more

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Introduction to Kadampa Buddhism PDF Booklet



"A Kadampa is someone who integrates their knowledge of all Buddha’s teachings into their everyday lives.

The New Kadampa Tradition is an association of study and meditation centres dedicated to helping people everywhere find meaning and purpose in their lives, and to the developing of genuine inner peace and happiness.
Putting Buddha’s teachings into practice in the context of our family and work commitments, we discover they are unsurpassed methods to resolve daily difficulties and problems.

Find out more in the booklet Modern Kadampa Buddhism (PDF)

For more information please see the main Kadampa Website

Monday, 6 April 2015

How India Is Squandering Its Top Export: The Buddha

From The Huffington Post 
by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

"India and Nepal gave the world one of its most precious resources -- the Buddha. Yet neither country truly values this extraordinary legacy, let alone takes pride in it. In the Buddha's own birthplace and homeland, his teachings are marginalised, his wisdom is unappreciated, and his legacy is invisible in society.

The pervasive neglect of this treasured inheritance is an inestimable loss. After all, few products from this region have ever been so widely valued and respected, or travelled as far and as successfully, as the teachings of the Buddha.

Yes--yoga, curry, basmati rice and Bollywood have their global influence. But Buddhism has transformed whole societies in China, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Japan and more, is fast penetrating the Western world, and continues to touch the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

And yet, amazingly, this intense global interest is barely evident in the lands where the Buddha himself was born, became enlightened, and taught. It is unfathomable that neither governments nor the vast majority of people here in India and Nepal truly cherish the Buddha today or hold him in their hearts and minds as one of their own.

This lack of concern for their Buddhist heritage is both a leadership failure and an endemic societal blindness. In Nepal, interest in Buddhism only seems to be roused when someone claims the Buddha was born in India, at which time the Nepalese zealously declare their own country as his birthplace -- even though neither Nepal nor India existed as entities 2,500 years ago.

The disregard for Buddhism is manifest everywhere... even at the most sacred Buddhist shrine in the world, the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, where the Buddha became enlightened, which remains under majority Hindu management -- a situation akin to having the Vatican or the Kaaba in Mecca run by a majority of Buddhists."

In India the blindness extends from the failure of India's educated elite to learn about, appreciate, and preserve their country's Buddhist heritage all the way to those who make a living selling Buddha's pictures and bodhi beads at pilgrimage sites, and to the fake monks and charlatans who score donations from unsuspecting Buddhist pilgrims.

And this disregard for Buddhism is manifest everywhere, like at the bookstore at Varanasi airport -- the gateway for countless pilgrims to the sacred site of the Buddha's first teaching -- which carries not a single book on Buddhism in the midst of its rich Hindu and Indian collection.

And it is manifest even at the most sacred Buddhist shrine in the world, the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, where the Buddha became enlightened, which remains under majority Hindu management -- a situation akin to having the Vatican or the Kaaba in Mecca run by a majority of Buddhists, or a Jewish congregation run by mostly Protestants.

It is not easy to explain this wilful neglect. To some extent the plight of Buddhism in India today may be a legacy of the country's long colonial history, which seems to have led to a wholesale embrace of secular values at the cost of forsaking India's own profound spiritual heritage.

One recent example is the supposed revival of Nalanda, the world's oldest and greatest Buddhist university, which predated the founding of Oxford University by 650 years. The project's first Chancellor, Amartya Sen -- in the name of a firm "distinction between religious studies and the practice of religion"-- indicated he would tone down any Buddhist or spiritual teaching in favour of a secular curriculum. Indeed Prof. Sen writes about Nalanda with no mention of its Buddhist heritage.

India purports to value its heritage, but in practice acts more in accord with Western, worldly, materialist and non-spiritual values than with the profound wisdom its traditions have bequeathed to the world. And so, while India proudly claims its place as the world's largest democratic country, the Buddha remains a stranger to most Indians. Indeed, India's educated intellectuals know more about Marx and Marxism than about Buddha and Buddhism.

In the case of the Hindu and Muslim destruction of Buddhism... India has unfortunately opted for a more cowardly political correctness. It has given in to the pressure of violence and intimidation, but has failed to reward non-violence with any protective action.

Western secular political correctness is on display even at the entrance to the Nalanda ruins, where the historical marker fails to mention that the university and its huge, invaluable library were actually destroyed in 1193 by Muslims on religious grounds because its texts did not uphold the Qur'an. The government prefers to tell visitors simply that the destroyer was a man by the name of Bakhtiyar Khilji... read more 

China re-discovers priceless value of Buddhism

From Lanka Web
by Senaka Weeraratna

"In as much as two global religions, Christianity and Islam, are given leadership today by powerful countries based in the West and Middle East respectively, the time has come for the oldest of the three global religions, namely Buddhism, to be backed by a powerhouse to dispel the widely circulated myth that it is a weak religion sustained by relatively weaker countries in Asia, despite Buddhism’s unmatched contributions to the sustaining of world peace, unqualified respect for the natural environment including reverence for the lives of all living beings and promotion of Ahimsa and non-violence as the basis of resolution of conflict.

No other country today fits the description of a powerhouse with a close association with Buddhism lasting for more than two millennia than China.  It has re-discovered the priceless value of Buddhism and the role it must play in the dissemination of Buddhism worldwide.

The 27th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) that was held in Baoji, Shaanxi Province, China from October  16 to 18, 2014, being the first occasion a WFB Conference was held in mainland China, was a clear indication of the new role that China has embarked upon. It was meant to send a strong message to the rest of the world that the China of the future will not only be a supplier of goods and services but also a source of enlightened thinking based on Buddhism..."  read it all

Friday, 3 April 2015

Decline of Buddhism and growth of Islam

From The Malay Mail Online 

"...The biggest decline will be with for Malaysia’s Buddhists, who will make up an estimated 10.8 per cent of the country’s population in 2050, compared to 17.7 per cent in 2010.

“In many other countries with large Buddhist populations, the Buddhist share of the population is expected to decline in the decades ahead, because Buddhists tend to be older and have fewer children than non-Buddhists,” Pew said in its report.

The projected decline of Buddhist and Hindu populations stemmed mostly from their population growth rate, with Malaysian adherents of the two faiths having less than two children in their lifetime, with a fertility rate less than 2.1.

In comparison, Malaysian Christians and Muslims have a fertility rate of between 2.5 and 3.49 on average.

The report pointed out that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, owing to its adherents’ comparatively youthful population and high fertility rates.

By 2050, the number of Muslims globally will be nearly equal to Christians ― currently the biggest religion ― and is poised to take over as the world’s biggest by 2070.

“Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman – well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population,” said the report...
- See more


Islam will destroy Buddhism


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ancient pagodas around Hanoi’s West Lake


From VietNamNet Bridge

"Around Hanoi’s most famous lake, Ho Tay (West Lake), are more than 20 temples and pagodas ranked as national relic sites for their unique cultural and architectural values such as Tran Quoc, Kim Lien, Pho Linh, Tao Sach and Van Nien.

Tran Quoc is one of the oldest temples in Vietnam, located near the West Lake, at the end of Thanh Nien road.

It was originally constructed in the sixth century during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De (from 544 until 548), thus giving it an age of more than 1,450 years. When founded the temple was named Khai Quoc (National Founding) and was sited on the shores of the Red River, outside of the Yen Phu Dyke. When confronted with the river's encroachment, the temple was relocated in 1615 to Kim Ngu (Golden Fish) islet of the West Lake where it is now situated. A small causeway links it to the mainland. The last major repair to the temple was undertaken in 1815 when the main sanctuary, reception hall and posterior hall of the dead were renovated.

Over the years, the temple was variously named An Quoc (Pacification of the Realm) and Tran Bac (Guardian of the North) as well.

With its harmonious architecture taking advantage of the watery landscape, the pagoda is a picturesque attraction. The sunset views from the temple grounds are renowned.

Among the historic relics are statuary pieces dating to 1639.

On the grounds of Tran Quoc is a bodhi tree taken as cutting of the original tree in Bodh Gaya, India under which the Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment. The gift was made in 1959, marking the visit of the Indian president Rajendra Prasad..."  more

Community meditation initiatives in Manchester

Bringing the benefits of meditation to the local community

Thursday Morning Parent & Babies

"This class has arisen through a request and we are learning as we go.

It is an opportunity for parents & babies to get together and while the babies crawl around and play together there is a 15 minute guided meditation for the adults.

We are always open to suggestions for further classes for children & toddlers."

Dealing with anxiety

"Anxiety and stress are an increasingly common problem for people in our busy, modern world. These states of mind prevent us from experiencing peace and enjoying life.

Learn how to identify and remove the causes of anxiety and worry, and enjoy a more balanced and happy life.

These workshops offer an introduction to meditation and methods from Buddha’s teachings that we can bring into our every day life to deal with problems and find inner peace and calm.

Each session is 1 hour long and consists of guided meditation, a talk and discussion.  There is a break in the middle for continental brunch."

Children's classes

"This club aims to develop and nurture the good qualities in children, through meditation and positive thinking.
It provides an opportunity to come along with your children and learn more about Buddhism and the basics of meditation.  

Each session focuses on a positive state of mind that we can cultivate, and aims to help children to experience inner peace and calm through meditation, discussion and play.

Parents and children do not need to be Buddhist, as the class is open to everyone.

Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Cost: £2 per child.

The session lasts for half an hour in the meditation room, then there is an opportunity to relax in our World Peace Cafe area for art and craft activities."

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Buryat sculptor Dashi Namdakov inspired by Buddhism and Siberian Mystical Shamanism

Dashi Namdakov
From The Siberian Times
by Derek Lambie

"He is an artist favoured by the British Royal Family and his works are collected by the likes of actress Uma Thurman and former German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder.

Yet, strangely, Siberian Dashi Namdakov is barely known within his homeland, let alone around the world.

However, this could be about to change with a new eight-week exhibition of his work currently on show at the prestigious Gallery Shchukin in New York. Called Journey to a Mystic Land, it showcases more than 60 of his best pieces, including bronze sculptures, drawings and jewellery.

Born close to Russia’s border with China, Namdakov's work is steeped in Buddhism and draws inspiration from the traditions of the Turkic peoples of Siberia and Buryat legends and tales..."

"...His latest solo exhibition in New York is his second in the city and showcases many of his works from over the past 12 years. Experts have described it as 'art within a worldview that is syncretic, embracing his identity, mysticism, the forces of nature, nomads of the steppes, and shamanism.'  Read it all

Fantasy (bronze). Boy in the mask - Dashi Namdakov