Category: freedom

Retreat as rebellion

Resisting the tyranny of productivity Over the last few months, I’ve been having conversations with students – and with myself! – about what feels to be the increasingly relentless busyness of our lives. People often say to me that they don’t have time to meditate every day, and they certainly don’t have time to go

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New neuroscience research on the lasting benefits of meditation

  Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson are both well-known names in the fields of psychology, science journalism and neuroscience, and they have recently co-authored a book laying out their most recent research on the benefits of meditation. Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson, published

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September 2016 full moon – wisdom and (self) compassion

Emaciated Buddha figure, Spirit Rock The ascetic Buddha Back at the end of July, I was an assistant teacher on a nine-day retreat at Spirit Rock, together with a friend and fellow teacher-trainee, DaRa Williams.  One day, as we walked from the teacher housing to the meditation hall, I happened to notice a solitary Buddha

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June 2016 full moon – Inspiration and taking refuge in sangha/community

Graduates of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock four-year teacher training programme, 10 June 2016 – photo by Ben Marshall In my last international newsletter back in April, I wrote about inspiration, an aspect of spiritual practice that surprisingly, doesn’t seem to be talked about very often.  As I discovered back then, “… the

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December 2015 full moon – In praise of trees

This year, the full moon coincided with Christmas Day for the first time in 38 years. I’m in New Zealand visiting family for the holidays and even though it’s the middle of summer, there are evergreen Christmas trees decorated with icicles and snowflakes everywhere. The symbols of Christmas have always been messed up – the

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Three new and interesting books for experienced meditators

I’m currently working my way – slowly! – through three new books that may be of interest to experienced meditators:  Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising Rob Burbea 10 October 2014 Hermes Amara Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas Leigh Brasington 13 October 2015 Shambala Compassion and Emptiness in Early

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July 2015 full moon – dukkha

In last month’s full moon post, I wrote about impermanence.  Impermanence or anicca is one of the three “universal characteristics” recognised by the Buddha as being inherent in all experience; the other two being dukkha (usually translated as “suffering,” but more accurately, unsatisfactoriness), and anatta, or not-self.  Deeply understanding these three characteristics leads to the

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