Tag Archives: Zen

Meditation: Day 365

31 Dec

A year ago I resolved to meditate every day. Today, I can report that I have succeeded in meditating every single day of 2013.

Even though I practice a very demanding form of power yoga, for me meditation remains the most difficult practice. There is nothing harder than wrestling with, what the Buddhists call, your monkey mind.

I started out sitting for only ten minutes a day, after about a month I moved up to fifteen minutes, where I remain. When I began I used recorded  guided meditation programs. I found these helpful at first, they made made it easier to sit for the allotted time. However, over time I found them distracting and I abandoned them.

Most teachers recommend that you meditate at the same time every day but, given my schedule, this was impossible. On many days it was a struggle to find the time and was only possible by being flexible about time of day.

The Insight Time app was invaluable, especially because it makes you feel part of community of meditators, which helped to maintain my motivation.

I have tried various forms of meditation, and have settled on a version of Metta (loving kindness) meditation. I also use the word Metta as a traditional two syllable mantra. One of the reasons I like Metta is that it is meditation for an ethical purpose. Even though meditation has been shown to increase compassionate behavior, reading Mark Oppenheimer’s The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side convinced me that meditation can become unmoored from ethical practice. Metta meditation recognizes the centrality of Buddhist ethics to practice.

Here is Larry Terkel explaining mediation:

“There is no time. What is memory?”

1 Aug

This is a koan from Susan Blackmore’s fascinating book Zen and the Art of Consciousness.

Blackmore does a good job of describing her meditation practice and raising issues about the relationship between science and the subjective exploration of self. However, she is more impressed with Daniel Dennett’s book Consciousness Explained than I am.

While I have enjoyed some of Dennett’s writing (especially Darwin’s Dangerous Idea) I found Consciousness Explained to be the single most disappointing book I have ever read. It simply did not deliver on the promise of the title and I continue to think that consciousness is our deepest mystery.

Shinzen Young on meditation

31 Jul

Journalist Robert Wright interviews meditation teacher Shinzen Young on Bloggingheads. Watch the video or download the mp3. It is worth the time just to hear Shinzen Young’s story of how, growing up as a teenager in the Eisenhower era, an interest in Japanese Samurai movies led to an interest in Zen Buddhism.

Speaking of Samurai movies, I recommend The Tale of Zatoichi (Zatôichi Monogatari in Japanese, watch the 1962 original, not the remake).

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