NYT: How Meditation May Change the Brain
People who meditated 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had changes in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.
Free and Easy: A Spontaneous Vajra Song
Happiness cannot be found
through great effort and willpower,
but is already present,
in open relaxation and letting go.
Don’t strain yourself,
there is nothing to do or undo.
Whatever momentarily arises
in the body-mind
has no real importance at all,
has little reality whatsoever.
Why identify with,
and become attached to it,
passing judgment upon it and ourselves?
Far better to simply
let the entire game happen on its own,
springing up and falling back like waves
without changing or manipulating anything
and notice how everything vanishes and reappears, magically,
again and again, time without end.
Only our searching for happiness
prevents us from seeing it.
It’s like a vivid rainbow which you pursue
without ever catching,
or a dog chasing its own tail.
Although peace and happiness
do not exist as an actual thing or place,
it is always available
and accompanies you every instant.
Don’t believe in the reality of good and bad experiences;
they are like today ephemeral weather,
like rainbows in the sky.
Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,
you exhaust yourself in vain.
As soon as you open and relax
this tight fist of grasping,
infinite space is there -
open, inviting and comfortable.
Make use of this spaciousness, this
freedom and natural ease.
Don’t search any further
looking for the great awakened elephant,
who is already resting quietly at home
in front of your own hearth.
Nothing to do or undo,
nothing to force,
nothing to want,
and nothing missing -
Everything happens by itself.
-By Venerable Lama Gendun Rinpoche
Favorite Buddhist Books
A friend recently asked me for “…suggestions for reading about Buddhism…I found an elibrary for Buddhism and was consumed this weekend. I’d love your suggestions - really for anything related to Eastern Philosophy.”
Since I pulled together this list, I thought I’d share:
I guess it depends on what you’re after. If you’re looking for a more informational overview, I’d look at these:
- What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula (http://tinyurl.com/ncp2gk)
- The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh (http://tinyurl.com/mg7qbg)
- The Dhammapada translated by Gil Fronsdal (http://tinyurl.com/lsmw6l)
If you’re more interested in learning about practice, I’d check these out:
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (http://tinyurl.com/lemqb4)
- Seeking the Heart of Wisdom by Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein (http://tinyurl.com/kjabu8)
- Commit to Sit: Tools for Cultivating a Meditation Practice (http://bit.ly/ai4tiE)
- The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh (http://tinyurl.com/nat9tu)
- Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron (http://tinyurl.com/mjhhj4)
- Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck (http://tinyurl.com/n8fhy2)
- Being Zen by Ezra Bayda (http://tinyurl.com/nov9vc)
In terms of other non-buddhist stuff, check any of these out:
Meditation Workshop in Concord MA (starts 9/15)
I’m planning another meditation workshop through Wright Tavern Center for Spiritual Renewal at First Parish in Concord MA this fall. This time out, it will be an eight-week program exploring the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s core teachings on how to live with greater ease, joy and connection. Using the practice of Vipassana Meditation as a foundation, we will examine how to apply these teachings in order to live with greater wisdom and compassion in the midst of the demands, stress, pace and distractions of our hyper-connected modern life.
Each session will include group sitting and walking meditation practice, followed by a brief talk and Q&A/discussion. No previous experience with meditation is needed to participate.
Please feel free to spread the word to anyone else you who think might be interested in joining us and I hope to see you there.
Living the Buddha’s Eightfold Path: Mindfulness Practice in Everyday Life
Wednesdays, 9/15 – 11/3, 7:30-9:00p.m. Fee: $80 (Drop-in: $20/session)