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12/8 Practice Circle: Hope in Darkness

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are rapidly approaching the Winter Solstice. Darkness and cold are gradually encroaching. The trees that not long ago were full of color now stand bare against the pale sky. The harshest part of winter is nearly upon us. I know I’m not the only person who struggles a…

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9/22 Practice Circle: Listening to the Felt Sense

I’m going with my gut on this.  It’s what’s in my heart.  I have a funny feeling inside.  These common phrases indicate that we recognize that physical sensations in the body have important things to tell us, things that may be beyond the grasp of our conscious awareness. Several of the world’s wisdom traditions put…

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9/8 Practice Circle: Mountains Flowing

I recently returned from a vacation in the Rockies, where we stayed in a little cabin near the tree line. We had a wonderful view of a hilltop just across the valley, with patches of snow lingering in the August heat. We spent hours on the front porch watching that mountain as the sun moved…

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Mindfulness Meditation, Meaningful Distraction, and an MRI

Dive in California

In a TV commercial a mom is sitting alone in a room, meditating, and children noises from nearby are getting louder and louder. Suddenly she screams, “Shut up! I’m trying to meditate!” It’s a common misconception that you need a quiet place without distraction to meditate, or that distraction is something we are never supposed…

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8/11 Practice Circle: Compassion for Ourselves and the World

The key to compassion, either for ourselves or for others, is the understanding that suffering is something we share.  It may be easy to grasp intellectually that all sentient beings experience suffering, but this insight is also deeply counter-intuitive.  When I am in pain, that suffering is mine, part of a drama that is bound…

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Practice Circle 7/28: Four Tasks

When Practice Circle meets on July 28, 2019, at 6 pm Pacific, 7 Mountain, 8 Central and 9 Eastern, we’ll share practice and discussion of how the Four Noble Truths manifest themselves in secular dharma practice. To prepare, I’m sharing this article I originally wrote in 2013. A link to our free, online practice community…

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7/14 Practice Circle: Relax

I think every contemplative technique I’m aware of involves at least some degree of relaxation. The practices I was taught in MBSR all begin with bringing awareness to areas of tightness and holding in the body and inviting them to relax; the Body Scan, which is the first technique one learns in MBSR, consists of…

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Liberate Meditation App: A Review

Article in English and Spanish. Artículo en inglés y español.   English:   Update (12 August 2019): Recently, it was brought to my attention that this app is part of a for-profit business, owned by the developer and ran by 10 select employees. I do not know if this represents a change (I never checked…

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6/9 Practice Circle: Letting Go

In the Pali texts, Gotama teaches that one cause of our suffering is our inability to allow and accept our experience the way it is. Because we so desperately want conditions to be the way we want them, despite the realization (or perhaps because of it) that we can’t really control our circumstances in any…

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