Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Meditating Congressman

Meditation: congressmen and kids do it
The other night I went to hear Congressman Tim Ryan talk about his meditation practice, his new book called A Mindful Nation, and why mindfulness practice makes sense in American schools, our military, and just about every institution. It was empowering to see someone in the most quintessentially mainstream institution in America talking about mindfulness. It gave me hope that meditation is no longer just a fringe practice for punks and hippies to keep secret when they grow up and get real jobs. 

Congressman Ryan pointed out that the Marines are studying and using meditation. Schools in his district of Youngstown and Warren, Ohio are using meditation and seeing test scores improve dramatically. Google and Proctor & Gamble teach it to employees. The Cleveland Clinic is using it with patients and seeing speedier recoveries. Even coach Phil Jackson of the LA Lakers and the Chicago Bulls has been teaching it to his players, so they can use it to get their minds in the game.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Way in is the Way out

An old friend told me he felt like something was missing in his life. He talked about filling a void. He took a new job thinking that would solve it. But the void was still there. He talked about his lack of mindfulness, his habit of over-eating and the way he always feels like having the TV on to fill the silence.

I can relate to feeling like there is something missing. This is what led me to meditation. But what I've come to realize through the practice of meditation, is that this feeling of emptiness, which we might refer to as a void, is not the problem.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How Can I Meditate When the World Is Suffering?

How do we stop climate change?
I just aided a weekend workshop at the DC Shambhala Center and one of the students raised a great question, something every social activist or engaged Buddhist has struggled with. The question went something like this: "how can I justify sitting on a cushion when others are suffering?"

There is no strategy for ending homelessness or saving the world in Buddhism. There is no formula, no sense that you should do this, or not do that. There is no way you are supposed to feel.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Three Reasons I'm Still On the Path

After about 5 years of meditating like my life depended on it, I hit a wall. For the past two months, getting my butt on the cushion has been a struggle and a constant internal negotiation process. Summer felt good. Life felt good. Samsara didn't seem so bad. I started asking myself why was I meditating so much.

I realized I had done most of the things I originally wanted to achieve through meditation. I meditated for a whole month this spring, and that felt like an achievement. I've experienced more