Sunday, 31 May 2015

Senses Fail 'Pull the Thorns from Your Heart' on New LP

By Gregory Adams

Senses Fail 'Pull the Thorns from Your Heart' on New LP
Everything seems to be in working order for long-running post-hardcore crew Senses Fail, who have announced that they have a new album release on the horizon. The New Jersey band will issue their Pull the Thorns from Your Heart, which will be their first full-length for Pure Noise Records, on June 30.

The group's sixth studio LP album follows a recent split 7-inch with Man Overboard, also released through Pure Noise, but it will be Senses Fail's first full-sized outing since 2013's Renacer. The record features 11 new tunes, which a press release explains were inspired by vocalist Buddy Nielsen's life-changing relationship with Buddhism. The PR adds that Nielsen's "devout dedication to Vipassana meditation and studies of Buddhist teachings have allowed him to find peace within himself, embrace his differences and eventually find comfort in his newfound identification as queer."

"This record is the complete documentation of my transformative spiritual experience from the darkness to the light," the singer said in a statement. "It is the completion of a journey I have been on since I started making music when I was 17. I want this record to be more than just words and music but a blueprint for how through contemplative practice you can come to love, grow and blossom out of the muck of life and into the light. It is not intended to motivate in steps or exact teachings but empower. It is above all a personal story of struggle and realization."

Pull the Thorns from Your Heart is arranged in four "non-sequential" acts that are named after Buddhist concepts (Annica & Sacca, Tisarana, Maransati and Brahmaviharas), with the band's sonic approach apparently hitting quite a bit harder than the enlightened lyrical content... "  full article

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Meditating Made Simple: How I Explained It to a 10-Year-Old

From The Huffington Post  
by Lulu Salavegsen

"...Recently my daughter asked me: "How do you really meditate? It's seems weird! I mean, how do I literally do it?"

Presented with a question like this, I get giddy! Translating something seemingly obscure with deep descriptions, but simplifying it makes me happy.

It went something like this:

It's like the mind is a blank white board, with a fresh start every morning. Then, life "happens." Adults encounter moods, people, stress, news, work, the long list of "to do's" and all the underlying emotional stuff on top of it. The "board" gets scribbled on and covered until no white is left! The point is to breathe deeply, sit in your own quiet to clear the board, wash it over, and erase the noise. What is the negative? You waste five minutes? I do that on social media daily.

How To Meditate (or at least my subjective suggestions):

1. Find a quiet place to sit, lay or be in lotus position.
2. Try to set aside a five or 10-minute block of time (increase to 20-90 minutes as you improve).
3. However you are positioned, close your eyes and try to think of nothing, soften your eyelids, feel your eyes get heavy in their sockets. Let your facial expressions melt into a calm. Relax even your tongue, feel it heavy and lay at the base of your mouth.
4. Stay in that quiet as long as you can.

Easy right? Nope! Not If your mind keeps reminding that you're hungry, or your foot is falling asleep, preschool sign-up is tomorrow... etc. So let me get specific because just getting kid-free, work-free space is near impossible. So here are some other options I love and actually benefit more from:

-- Find cool ambient or chanting music. I Love "Breath of the Heart" by Krishna Das, but go find whatever fits you, there are so many commercialized "meditative collections" available these days.

-- I took a suggestion from Buddha. He recommends we try to smile with every single part of the body starting with your forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, throat, ribs, heart, tummy, hips, thighs, knees, all the way to your toes. Usually, I'm beaming after this, simple exercises... and it takes about 8-10 minutes depending on how detailed you get. Try it! ..."   read it all 

Friday, 29 May 2015

Mindful of the moment

From  Newcastle Herald      

"...The wonderful thing about Buddhism is that there is no leap of faith required, unlike other religions,’’ she says.

‘‘It is simply based on careful observation of reality.’’

Ms Thaarup-Owen is thrilled to have been asked by American psychologist Rick Hanson, author of the New York Times top-seller Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence  to contribute as the mindful eating expert on his next program.

She says Australian companies are catching up to their US counterparts, about a third of which incorporate mindfulness into their workplaces.

‘‘Once upon a time people were saying ‘you do what?’,’’ she says.

‘‘Then psychologists started catching on because the research is there.

‘‘Seventy five per cent of what we know about the brain we learnt in the last three years and every step of the way backs up mindfulness practice.’’

Individuals, she says, contact her because they are overwhelmed, stressed and saying their lives are in chaos. Companies come knocking because they want to boost employee output, reduce absenteeism and lift profits.

In each case, the starting place is attention training and learning the skills to allow thinking to be a tool rather than an obstacle... " read the full article

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Seven reasons to Meditate Now

From Yahoo Lifestyle

The word ‘meditation’ is being thrown around a lot at the moment. Everyone’s emphasising the importance of being ‘mindful’ and conscious of our body’s actions – including us! But why are we suddenly reiterating spiritual practices that have existed for thousands of years? Because it works.

Too often we turn to the medical world for a quick fix, when actually, your body may just be calling out for a meditative break. Don’t write off meditation – here are 7 reasons why you should start practising, now. 

Stop Stressing...

Relieves Aches And Pains...

Reduces Anxiety...

Alleviates Depression...

Maintains Healthy Relationships...

Maximises Gym Time...

Makes You Younger...

read it all

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Researchers probing potential power of meditation as therapy

From Medical Xpress

"...In the anxiety-related research, the subjects reported decreases in everyday anxiety of as much as 39 percent after practicing meditation. The scans of their brains while they meditated, meanwhile, showed increased activity in areas of the cortex associated with regulating thinking, emotions and worrying.

"In these studies we've been able to get a better sense of the brain regions associated with reducing pain and anxiety during meditation," Zeidan said. "Basically, by having people meditate while their brains are being scanned we've been able to objectively verify what people like Buddhist monks have been reporting about meditation for thousands of years."

Zeidan and Wells are currently working together on two new research trials. One, led by Zeidan, will attempt to determine more precisely how mindfulness meditation reduces pain and improves health. The other, led by Wells, will further investigate her pilot study's findings about meditation and migraines with a larger number of participants..."   more

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Kids need downtime

Perth finds peace of mindfulness with growing popularity of meditation in WA

From Perth now


"...CPS principal Anne Fraser said the 550 students at her primary school “loved” mindfulness meditation.

All staff were taught the practice.

“Kids aren’t getting a lot of downtime,” Ms Fraser said.

“We found that being able to take a few minutes out of the day to clear your mind, concentrate on relaxing

your body and put a smile on your mind was beneficial.

“The kids say it’s great to have those moments to just relax and it helps them prepare for their afternoon

lessons.”...  read it all

Monday, 25 May 2015

Buddhism in Russia and the Lankan connection

From Asian Tribune  
by Janaka Perera

“...Russia is in a special position in the sense that it is the only European country that recognizes Buddhism as one of the traditional religions. One of the world’s oldest it has been practiced for over three centuries by Buryats, Kalmyks,Tuvans and other peoples native to this country, Buddhism’s philosophy and spiritual practice have had a deep-reaching influence on the customs and traditions of all those who live here and all those who follow this religion. Of course the unique Buddhist culture is an integral and greatly valued part of Russia’s common historical and cultural heritage.”

Buddhism was incorporated into Russian society in the 17th Century when Kalmyk people traveled to and settled in Siberia which is now the Russian Far East. Russia's main school of Buddhism is Tibetan Buddhism which spread to Mongolia and via the latter to Russia.

The introduction of the Buddhist teaching into the country generated an interest in the subject among Russia scholars and academics. There have been Slavic converts to Buddhism since the 19th Century. But it is only after 1990 that real growth of Slavic converts to Buddhism began. They are based in the large cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg where there is greater access to urban Buddhist centres and facilities.

Although religious practices were suppressed in former Soviet Russia under communist rule, academic interest in different civilizations and cultures was renewed after Stalin’s death. This included the study of Buddhist philosophy and culture and their role in Russia’s relations with Asian countries, including Sri Lanka.

The journalistic notes by Vladimir Yakovlev Russian diplomat and the first Soviet Ambassador in Sri Lanka give a good insight to this. He had taken the decision to write them since very few Sri Lankans remembered his compatriots who had acquainted Russia with this island..."   read it all

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Meditating fireman will risk whales and jellyfish as part of swim to St Kilda

From The Greenock Telegraph

A FORMER Greenock fireman is taking the plunge on a marathon swim in the North Atlantic — among Orca whales and giant jellyfish.

John Dyer, 60, is part of a nine-person relay team swimming 65 miles from the island of Harris to St Kilda for charities, starting on Monday.

They had to give up an attempt to do it last year because of bad weather, but are determined to make it this time.

He will use his body and mind during the epic challenge.

He said: “I’m physically and mentally more prepared than last year, and again I plan to use meditation to help me.

“I learned meditation at the Buddhist Centre in Glasgow and I went to India as part of it. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

“Swimming long distances is all about focusing — and meditation definitely helps.”

The brave swimmers are going from Hushinish on the Isle of Harris to Sy Kilda to raise money for The Leanne Fund, The Fishermen’s Mission, Yorkhill Children’s Charity and Aberlour Child Care Trust..."  more

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Mindfulness could be key to reducing pain and depression for MS sufferers.

From  The Daily Mail 

by Hilary Freeman

"It's the meditation method beloved of Hollywood stars, big business and politicians. Now mindfulness could hold the key to reducing pain and depression in people suffering from the debilitating disease multiple sclerosis.

Based on ancient Eastern methods of meditation, mindfulness is said to ease the stresses and strains of everyday life by encouraging people to pay more attention to the present moment.

Researchers have hailed it as a cost-effective and side-effect-free way to keep at bay the symptoms of progressive MS, which include pain, fatigue and problems with speech and swallowing, and for which there is currently no effective treatment..."     read more:

Friday, 22 May 2015

Is it correct to call the Buddha’s Teaching a religion?

From The Sunday Times Sri Lanka 
By Dr. Primrose Jayasinghe

"Having just ushered in a traditional new year, swiftly to be followed by the most important Buddhist celebrations, it seems an opportune moment to take stock of what one has learned during the past year, especially any ‘new revelations’. My thoughts were mixed as I had done only a few important things, but the one thing that kept recurring was the thought that Buddhism is not really a religion after all! Let’s consider if this might be valid:

To my mind, Buddhism is a doctrine that surpasses the narrow confines of a ‘religion’. These are my own inferences, having read some of the salient features of Buddhist Teaching.

‘Although there are places of Buddhist ‘worship’ that one could visit in order to contemplate His Teaching (The Dharma or The Doctrine), there is no compulsion to attend these temples’

Buddhism is very well established throughout the world, more particularly in the East, and still continues to offer solace, without distinction, to the millions who have followed Buddha’s Teaching for over 2,600 years. Although there’s no convention for an institutionalisation of Buddhism as a ‘religion’, as found in the various other popular religions of the world, the Buddha’s Teaching swept far and wide merely by word-of-mouth, encompassing the Middle East, ancient Greece and parts of Europe (including Russia), on its way to becoming a world ‘religion’. Presently, however, while it persists in the East, Buddhism has dwindled elsewhere, as newer religions have become established. ‘The Teaching of the Buddha’ or Buddhism, in commonly parlance, is generally practised as a ‘religion’, with all the trimmings associated with that word. I cannot help but wonder whether this is truly the right thing to do. It is possible that some readers concur with my line of thinking, but let me present my case anyway, about why I think ‘religion’ is a misnomer here.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘religion’ as a “belief in, and worship of, a superhuman controlling power – a God or Gods”. Thus, it is obvious that Buddhism cannot be defined as a ‘religion’ in these conventional terms. The very first fact we accept is that Buddha is not a God; hence there is no compulsion to ‘worship’ him. There is no acknowledgement of a super-being in heaven, with an omnipotent presence and power over beings on Earth. The Buddha is human, with no ‘controlling power’. Therefore, the use of the word ‘religion’ is already questionable. Buddha is not derived from a ‘powerful spiritual being’, so He is not a ‘messenger’ from heaven; neither has He described Himself as a ‘God’. Though there is no coercion to worship Him, all Buddhists will invariably show Him respect as acknowledgement of His status – as a Buddha or “Enlightened One” – by bringing their palms together. This is not only a mark of reverence but also an expression of gratitude for the incomparable Teaching He has placed before us. According to the Mangala Sutta, to ‘venerate’ those who deserve to be venerated, is a ‘blessing’. So to Buddhists, the Buddha is a ‘special human being’ suitable to be revered and venerated..."   more


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Will mindfulness lessons help to calm my children?

From The Telegraph
by Alice Smellie

"The celebrated meditation technique helps many adults reduce stress levels. But can it be taught effectively to youngsters?

"...Mindfulness, which is said to have originated among Buddhists more than 2,500 years ago, is a form of meditation. It is currently so globally popular it’s being embraced by celebrities, medics and even the military.

Now, and with the backing of experts, it’s becoming increasingly available for children. My three – Archie, 10; Oscar, nine; and Lara, six – as well as Archie’s friend George, are trying out a class with the help of mindfulness and relaxation teacher Sarah Salmon, who teaches in pre-schools, schools and in one-to-one sessions at home.

“Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation,” says Danny Penman, author of the phenomenally successful book Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. “Basically, you are paying full conscious attention to whatever is going on around you and what’s going on in your mind.”

This sounds simple, and even a bit vague, but doing meditation has been clinically shown to alleviate stress, anxiety and even depression and chronic pain, as well as improve general quality of life. Converts talk of feeling calmer and happier..." Read it all

Mindfulness in Schools


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Experts Recommend Meditation to Ease Arthritis Symptoms

From    Digital Journal 

"...Steven Rosenzweig, M.D., an emergency medicine doctor, believes that there are three ways the practice can help patients. It lowers pain intensity, keeps the cycles of pain escalation moderated, and makes pain less intrusive on the patient's thoughts or life. Meditation allows individuals to realize that there is more to life than focusing on pain. It can help patients concentrate on the moments of pleasure and enjoyment.

Many people in the medical community agree that meditation or mindfulness practice can significantly help arthritis patients take control of their emotions and pain, as well as manage them successfully. There are even scientific studies that show meditation practice may have positive results on arthritis pain..."

Read more

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

From  CNN 
by Dan Harris

"If you had told me as recently as a few years ago that I'd ever become a Buddhist -- never mind that I might even admit to it publicly -- I would have coughed my beer up through my nose.

I was raised by secular scientists in The People's Republic of Massachusetts. (I did have a Bar Mitzvah -- but only for the money.) I've spent my career as a proud skeptic. My favorite part of being a journalist is the right -- the obligation, really -- to doubt everything and everyone.

And yet, here I am ... a Buddhist.

This declaration means both less and more than you might think.

Less, because Buddhism is not really a faith -- at least not as I understand or practice it. And more, because the version of Buddhism I've embraced is something that could be useful to millions of skeptical people who might otherwise reflectively reject it. Maybe even you.

But first, how the hell did this happen to me?..."

Read the rest 

Monday, 18 May 2015

Preschoolers taught the art of meditation and pottery

From Channel News Asia
By Nadia Jansen Hassan

"...At My Little Gems Preschool, students learn to take deep breaths to improve their concentration. It is part of the curriculum for the children to meditate with teachers every day. Sessions go on for about 15 minutes, and children keep their fingers on their lips to help them focus on their breathing.

Said Mr Sim Chong, a father of three: "We found that there was a remarkable improvement in their ability to focus and concentrate, even if it's for a family meal or in the evenings, when we sit down to read story books."

Mr Sim’s daughter, Kay Ann, said she practises meditation as it helps her to think faster and clearer. "When mummy and daddy read story books, I can pay attention,” she said.

"Those children with training in mindfulness and meditation would be able to be more perceptive of the environment, and hence have a choice in focusing their attention in what they need to do,” said Mr Ben Lim, the principal at My Little Gems Preschool..."   Read it all

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Why artists need mindfulness

From  ArtsHub 
by Madeleine Dore 

"Mindfulness meditation is in vogue with celebrities singing its praising and countless courses, articles, and workshops promising to make you a guru. But beyond the buzzword, mindfulness has been proven to enhance immune function, increase positive mood and focus attention, make you look and feel younger, and improve mental health. What is more, mindfulness has specific benefits for creative professionals.

For artists who rely on a clear mind to nurture creativity, often face uncertainty in their careers, and have a greater susceptibility to depression, a mindfulness practice can be transformative....

"...Previously a documentary filmmaker, founder of Mindful in May Doctor Elise Bialylew told ArtsHub that mindfulness directly relates to creativity.

It is particularly helpful with creativity block. ‘If I need to write an article or a blog post or if I am just doing any kind of writing and I feel stuck, I will sit and do twenty minutes of practice.

‘I just know if I sit in quiet and not force it but rather be with presence, things usually become clearer rather than when you are getting yourself stuck in a “no idea” kind of place,’ added Bialylew.

To help you generate new ideas

Mindfulness has the ability to clear the mind and make room for new thoughts and ideas. For Bialylew, the idea to start Mindful in May came to her while meditating.

‘We live in a time that is so overloaded with information that our brains don’t have the space to integrate ideas,’ she told ArtsHub. ‘I think that meditation allows you space for a kind of incubation and way for ideas to rise to the surface in new ways.’"  Read it all  

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The ten lessons that I learnt by slowing down

From The Irish Examiner
by Matt Padwick

1 The first step towards contentment was recognising my confusion. I was an adventure travel guide — my dream job — but I was not happy.

It was only when I slowed down, and stopped chasing rainbows, that I realised that inner peace and contentment were the goal, and that the greatest adventure of all was not ‘outside’ in the world-of-things, but within me.

2 I learned to relax and to feel more comfortable in my own company.

Science has confirmed this is possible, that the adult brain is capable of forming new cells and pathways, and that it reshapes itself in response to environment, experience and training.

This rewiring is called neuro-plasticity, and confirms what the Buddha taught 2,500 years ago — that meditation is the path to inner peace and well-being.

I followed a trail left by generations of meditation masters, who had perfected their art and entrusted it to their students with the heartfelt wish that it relieve them of their frustrations and bring them happiness.

3 To sustain ourselves we have to eat — every day. I had the taste of meditation, but I had to practise it — every day.

There was no quick-fix, but I experienced the benefits from the beginning. When I sat still, my mind jumped around.

The meditation taught me to bring my mind into my body. Here. Now.

Every time my mind escaped to another place or time, I brought it home again. Here. Now.

When I did this, I found meditation was not staring at nothing; it was developing an appreciation of everything.

4 We tell children to take a breath and count to ten. Being attentive to breathing is a popular and powerful method of meditation.

Simple, yet profound — it can wipe the mental slate clean...   Read it all

Friday, 15 May 2015

Meditation Should be Taught in School

From Outside
by Katie Arnold

"Instruction in the art of mindfulness is emerging in grade schools around the country to help children relax, focus, and help others. But it still has a long way to go to become part of the curriculum nationwide.

On a recent Thursday just after lunch, 20 first-graders gathered in a circle on the carpeted floor of their public school classroom in Santa Fe. Some sat cross-legged and others on their knees, each with one hand clasped in front of them or resting on their stomachs. Their teacher, Katie Norton, sat with them on a low crate and jingled a little bell. The children closed their eyes, looking surprisingly tranquil, even a little sleepy. But they weren't settling in for an afternoon nap. They were practicing meditation.

The room fell into a deep hush except for the steady, metronomic whooshing of little lungs inhaling and exhaling. I volunteer in my six-year-old Pippa's classroom once a week during science lessons (involving beetles and millipedes), so I can report with some authority that this was the quietest and calmest I'd ever seen this gaggle of wiggly, irrepressible six- and seven-year-olds..."  Read it all

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Buddhist, Jewish Americans are biggest supporters of gay marriage

From Gay Star News

by Darren Wee

"Buddhist, Jewish Americans are biggest supporters of gay marriage
Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and white evangelicals are the least supportive.

Buddhists and Jews are two the major religious groups most supportive of gay marriage, according to a recent survey.

Some 84% of Buddhists and 77% of Jews support gay marriage, as well as 77% of the religiously unaffiliated and 75% of Americans who selected 'other religion' also support gay marriage..."  Read it all   

From The Huffington Post  

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How meditation morphed from freaky to mainstream.

Change without confrontation: The making of mainstream meditation
by Kucinskas, Jaime, Ph.D., INDIANA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 315 pages; 3629911


"This dissertation contributes to scholarship on consensus-based movement mobilization, institutional change, and field theory by exploring how movements with stigmatized cultural elements develop consensus-based tactics to establish legitimacy and build new fields. Using mixed qualitative methods and an abductive, multi-level approach, I examine how Buddhist-inspired meditators legitimized and diffused meditation to create a new contemplative meditation field anchored in multiple secular fields (science, education, business, healthcare, and the military), largely without confrontation. 

In Chapter 1, I investigate how this movement assesses the broader multi-institutional environment it is embedded in, as well as movement leaders' strategies to break into new fields. 

I examine in Chapter 2 how movement leaders adapt and transform Buddhist culture to move it into new secular institutions. I find Buddhist meditation undergoes a secularization process, at the same time as elements of the sacred are infused into secular institutions. Investigating how meditation moves reveals the importance of strategic action in contemporary lived religion, as well as shows how many kinds of institution-specific forms of contemplative culture are produced through interactions with targeted audiences. These diverse forms of contemplative culture enable the movement to recruit and include many different institutional audiences. 

Lastly, in Chapter 3, I show how the movement "intervention" programs, which resocialize organizational inhabitants to align their lives with contemplative perspectives, help the movement transform their targeted institutions from the inside out.

This is an open access dissertation.

Use the link below to access the full text PDF of this graduate work:

Monday, 11 May 2015

College bans Swastika for Buddhists

Hitler Youth?

No, it's  Buddha's Birthday Celebration...

South Koreans celebrate Buddha's Birthday with a Lantern Procession


More Pix and article at the Vancouver Sun

Transcultural shock 

Isn't it strange how a particular symbol can produce an immediate gut reaction of horror and menace in Westerners (at least those of a certain age), and yet seem completely innocent to people of another culture?

The swastika has been an auspicious symbol in Buddhism for 2500 years, long before the Nazis appropriated it for their own evil purposes. But this hasn't stopped a backwoods American college banning it for Buddhists and Hindus in a breathtakingly arrogant display of Eurocentric cultural ignorance and control freakery.

Maybe it's time to rehabilitate the swastika, and reclaim it for its rightful owners, though I don't expect to see it displayed prominently on Western dharma centers anytime soon.  

This is a Buddhist Temple, not the local Gestapo HQ

From the viewpoint of Buddhist philosophy, this  knee-jerk  swastikaphobia clearly shows how the mind projects attachment or aversion onto objects, which in themselves are neither intrinsically good nor bad.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Compassion meditation reduces 'mind-wandering,' research shows

Avalokiteshvara, the Compassion Buddha

From MedicalXpress 
by Clifton B. Parker

"The practice of compassion meditation may be a powerful antidote to a drifting mind, new Stanford research shows.

Compassion meditation focuses on benevolent thoughts toward oneself and others, as the researchers noted. It is different in this aspect than most forms of meditation in the sense that participants are "guided" toward compassionate thoughts.

The research article, "A Wandering Mind is a Less Caring Mind," was recently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

"This is the first report that demonstrates that formal compassion training decreases the tendency for the mind to wander, while increasing caring behavior not only towards others but towards oneself," said James Doty, a co-author on the study, Stanford neurosurgeon and the founder and director of Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

"Mind-wandering" is the experience of having your thoughts not remain on a single topic for long. Prior research suggests that people spend as much as 50 percent of their waking hours in mind-wandering, often without realizing it.

Doty said that mindfulness is extremely useful in today's world with its myriad of distractions, as humans are often overwhelmed and can find it difficult to attend to necessary tasks.

"By closing one's eyes and engaging in attention training through a mindfulness practice, not only does it diminish the negative physiologic effects of distraction, which can result in anxiety and fear, but it can increase one's ability to attend to important tasks and not have an emotional response to the often negative dialogue which is frequent in many individuals," he said..."  Read it all

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Spiritually-Integrated Psychotherapy as Effective as Meds for Longterm Relief from Depression, Says Lancet

From Pantheos
by Dr. Gregory Popcak

"Researchers in the U.K. have found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may offer just as much protection from depression relapse as antidepressants, with no significant difference in cost, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet

“Depression is a recurrent disorder. Without ongoing treatment, as many as four out of five people with depression relapse at some point,” said Dr. Willem Kuyken, lead author and professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford.

What is MBCT?
MBCT teaches people with recurrent depression to recognize and respond constructively to the thoughts and feelings associated with depression relapse, thereby preventing a downward spiral into depression.  It is often considered a more spiritual approach than traditional cognitive therapy because it employs meditation-based practices to teach clients how to step outside of their emotional experiences, observe their circumstances in non-judgmental fashion and, as a result, respond more proactively (rather than reactively) to stressful circumstances..."

Friday, 8 May 2015

Meditation Myth Number 2: 'It's Too Noisy'

From The Huffington Post
by Dean Sluyter

"Some of my best teachers are convicts.

I've volunteered for years at a maximum security prison, running meditation sessions for guys serving long sentences. They live with a lot of chaos, and chaos is loud. Raucous, razzing conversations are the norm on the tiers of cells they call home, with radios and TVs playing nonstop, each guy cranking up his volume to hear it above the others, resulting in a brain-jangling, round-the-clock commotion.

And yet there my guys sit on their bunks with closed eyes, enjoying the bliss of just being.

How do they do it? Have they mastered some secret Eastern technique of mentally blocking out noise?

Nope. It's way too loud for that. It's just one of the many elements of prison life they can't hope to control. There should be a sign over the prison entrance, like the one over the gate to Dante's hell: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. But in a way, that's the secret of their success.

When you eat at a busy restaurant, you're surrounded by other people's conversations, but that's not a problem. You just listen to the conversation at your own table. Simple. You don't have to make some Herculean effort to "concentrate" or "focus" on what your friends are saying, and you don't have to block out the rest: It's just there in the background.

On the other hand, if you were to suddenly decide, "Jeez, I hope those people leave," or, "I hope they stop yakking when their entrees come," or, "I wish they'd pipe down with their dumb political opinions" (as opposed to your smart ones), then there's a problem. But you've created it. You've chosen sides against What Is, and that's always a losing battle. The world is full of motion, and motion produces sound: talking mouths, clinking silverware, zooming cars, chirping crickets, planes, trains, automobiles..."  more

Thursday, 7 May 2015

"If we want the young people to get in touch with Buddhism, we need to use the language and approach that they can accept, otherwise we will lose them"

Millennial temple's advertising for new media talents gets viral

Editor: Gu Liping

"...Promoting Buddhism is not limited in forms," said Li."If we want the young people to get in touch with Buddhism, we need to use the language and approach that they can accept, otherwise we will lose them."

Master Huike, head of the temple's culture department, knows nothing about apps or user interfaces but he supports his young colleagues' innovation.

"The government advocates the rejuvenation of traditional culture and Buddhism is part of it," said Huike. "As a temple, we respond to the government's call and adapt to the development of times."

"Whatever tools we are using, the core will never change," he said."Spread the goodness and kindness of the Buddhism all over the world...." read it all 

See also  Monks turn to social media to spread teachings

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Asia's richest man funds $193M monastery with bulletproof VIP rooms

From  CNN
by Naomi Ng

"Hong Kong (CNN)Nestled in a tranquil hillside, Hong Kong's newest Buddhist monastery features bulletproof VIP rooms and the world's second tallest statue of the Goddess of Mercy -- a Buddhist deity.

The monastery is funded entirely by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, who contributed $193 million from his personal foundation to the building project.

The premises, styled on Tang dynasty buildings, sprawl across a lush, green area of 500,000 square feet - around nine football fields.

It can accommodate up to 400 to 500 visitors daily, but will not be open to tour groups in order to preserve the sacred atmosphere.

Li initiated the project in 2003 to promote Buddhism in the city and construction took five years to complete..." more

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Mosque or Buddhist Temple? The challenge heats up for new place of worship at university

From Daily Sabah 

"I've been interested in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism for a couple years. I want a convenient place to practice my religious duties," a student wrote. "The closest Buddhist temple is 2,000 kilometers away from here. I can't fulfill my Buddhist religious duties under these conditions. I want a Buddhist temple on our campus," wrote another.

These were some of the comments that were made by the students of Istanbul Technical University (ITU) – a preeminent institution offering technical courses in Turkey that educates nearly 25,000 students – for their petition campaign "We want a Buddhist Temple" on the website Undoubtedly, these comments were written for comedic purposes; however, it is an attempt to call attention to the ongoing controversy about building a mosque within the university's Ayazağa campus.

The idea to establish a mosque inside the campus is not a new idea. Nine months ago, ITU student Mahmut Yıldırım started a petition on that was supported by some student groups. While they initially collected 5,000 signatures, nearly 180,000 have signed already. The reason for the students' request for an on-campus mosque is not so complicated. For students, it is a simple case of freedom of religion. Moreover, they also underscore the necessity to have a clean and convenient place to pray. This is difficult to fulfill, especially during Friday prayers, when performed in narrow rooms, not to mention when there is limited time between classes. The students also think that the campus, which consists of 247 hectares, can easily host a mosque without facing a problem concerning space.

The ongoing debate escalated after the announcement of the approval of this request by the university's administration. The students who want to construct a Buddhist Temple, that is, those who oppose the establishment of a mosque, also started a petition campaign on that has collected 19,000 signatures so far..." more

Monday, 4 May 2015

Revolutionary New App Can Teach Anyone to Meditate in 10 Minutes a Day

From prMac 

"At last, a meditation app has finally arrived to demystify the art of OM in only 10 minutes a day! Launching on March 19th, OMG. I Can Meditate! is the revolutionary new way to pave calm and bliss, get better sleep, and feel less stress that's as easy as finding a quiet space, pulling up a chair, and tapping play.

Created for those who have never meditated before, as well as those who already love meditation and those who've been disillusioned or tried without success, OMG. I Can Meditate! sets itself apart through its practical approach. In addition to learning how to meditate, users gain practical "happiness" skills that bring the calm and clarity from meditation into their relationships, workplaces, and personal life situations.

Current products throw people right into meditating without the understanding of the how's and why's, leading many to quickly give up feeling that they somehow "did it wrong" or "aren't good meditators". OMG. I Can Meditate! uses an innovative approach to build confidence, set clear expectations, and help users overcome common meditation roadblocks, creating a gentle and progressive deepening of the meditation experience.

Using simple everyday language and clear explanations, app users are guided through a new meditation each day and taught how to bring a sense of calm and clarity into their lives. OMG. I Can Meditate! includes a full library of specialized meditations and guided visualizations for a wide variety of life situations, such as Attracting Abundance, Releasing Fear, Building Self-Esteem, Managing Anger, and even Dealing with a Boss that's a Jerk..."  more

Sunday, 3 May 2015

How Corporate America Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Meditation

From The Huffington Post 
by  Emily Peck

"What happens when a millennia-old spiritual practice is embraced by the profit-driven world of corporate America? In David Gelles' new book, Mindful Work, the New York Times reporter offers an inside look.

Roughly, "mindfulness" refers to the practice of consciously paying attention to the present, using tactics like meditation, yoga and breathing. For many people, the need for mindfulness feels particularly urgent these days when we're all choking on an endless stream of tweets, emails, texts and other "feeds" -- all of them tearing little bits of our attention away from whatever we're actually doing.

Huge companies like Google, General Mills, Aetna and even Goldman Sachs offer programs that cultivate mindfulness through meditation and yoga, as Gelles writes. Businesses have become so enamored of the concept that attendance at Wisdom 2.0, an industry conference, quadrupled between 2010 and 2013, drawing some of the most high-profile CEOs around.

The trend has taken off thanks to a growing body of clinical research showing that mindfulness can essentially rewire the brain, leading to health benefits like stress reduction, weight loss and pain relief.

“All this data suggest mindfulness has real impactful changes on our minds and bodies,” Gelles told The Huffington Post. “And it’s helped make mindfulness more kosher with the corporate world, where it might’ve previously been considered new-agey.”

Mindful workers report higher levels of happiness and productivity, Gelles notes in his book. Companies that provide mindfulness training for workers, like Aetna, have seen health care costs drop. At Green Mountain Coffee, factory workers who practice mindfulness saw their injury rates decline..."  read it all

Saturday, 2 May 2015

A beginner’s guide to meditation: this is how to become mindful and enjoy your life more

From High 50 Health

"Mindfulness means living in the moment, not ruminating on the past or planning the future. You learn to enjoy the moment that you are in.

Becoming mindful could be the most life-changing thing you ever do. Once you have an appreciation for what is going on in your mind, all sorts of possibilities and opportunities reveal themselves.

We all know what it is like when life seems frantic. Thoughts can be whizzing round our heads and we can feel like we are caught up in it all.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean sitting still; it is about making the most out of life and enjoying every second of it. While we are doing all the things we love to do, we learn to keep our cool and to enjoy the lighter side of life.
How can I become mindful?

Meditation is the daily practice that develops our ability to become mindful. It is a bit like a gym session for your mind.

We know that keeping physically fit is good for our bodies, and our minds are no different in that they need to be kept fit and healthy too. They do so much for us that they deserve some attention, and that means both workout sessions and periods of rest and recuperation.

Meditation requires commitment. The more often you do it the more benefits you see. But unlike going to the gym, it doesn’t need cost anything, you don’t need to travel anywhere and the moment you begin you start to feel the benefits.

Sound too good to be true? Well, give this simple meditation a try... more

Friday, 1 May 2015

Buddhism binding force between India, China: Minister


"Buddhism is the binding force between the two countries and India values the common cultural relations with China, especially those based on Buddhist links," said Sharma.

"India is keen to take forward its relationship with China and it is in this background that India is keenly exploring the possibility of extending the facility of tourist visa on arrival to China," he added.

He made the comments when a six-member delegation led by China's Religious Affairs Minister Wang Zuoan met him.

During the meeting, both sides agreed to work towards holding a jointly curated exhibition on Xuang Zang (Hsuan Tsang) - a Chinese Buddhist monk and scholar - in India and China.

Wang said: "The purpose of this visit is to take the cooperation between the two countries further especially in the area of Buddhist studies and exchange."

India also proposed hosting of virtual museums on Indian culture on Chinese platforms"