http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... April 22, 2003


In This Issue:

2. UR professors study benefits of mindfulness ...by Matthew Daneman
3. Mindfulness Meditation
...by Jon Kabat-Zinn
4. How to do Mindfulness Meditation
...Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
5. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: True Yoga
6. Book Review:
Emotional Healing through Mindfulness Meditation: Stories and Meditations for Women Seeking Wholeness
...by Barbara Miller Fishman, Shinzen Young
7. Peace Quote...


2. UR professors study benefits of mindfulness
...by Matthew Daneman ...Democrat and Chronicle

* http://www.democratandchronicle.com/news/0422story8_news.shtml

(April 22, 2003) — You go through the morning routine without thinking or fully waking up -- the coffee, the shower, the morning commute. And the daily grind at work brings the usual stress headaches and feelings of powerlessness.

A possible salve, according to research from the University of Rochester, is in a concept that has been a foundation of Buddhism for many millennia -- mindfulness.

That mental state brings with it a slew of emotional and physical benefits, from less depression and fatigue to more satisfaction and optimism, according to a paper by psychology faculty members Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Mindfulness -- an awareness of the present experience -- is at its core about paying attention. “It’s about paying attention to what’s really going on,” said Ryan, a professor of psychology and psychiatry. “It’s about not having your mind in other places, not being in the future when you’re here in the moment, not being in the past.”

Although mindfulness is the topic of mountains of books and armies of seminars, there has been little research into what mindfulness does for mental health, Ryan and Brown said.

The first step in the study was to come up with a way to measure this subjective state. Ryan and Brown devised a scale, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, and then applied it to different populations, from local college students and working adults to Buddhists and cancer patients.

Hospitals frequently provide instruction on mindfulness techniques to cancer patients, who are often suffering emotionally as well as physically.

However, “no one has really looked at whether mindfulness itself is making the difference,” said Brown, a visiting assistant professor of psychology.

The study -- even when controlled for changing levels of pain and fatigue in the patients -- still showed that as mindfulness scores rose, “levels of stress went down, mood state improved,” Brown said.

While mindfulness is closely associated with Buddhism, the concept is found in numerous other religions, such as the idea of “contemplation” in Christianity, said Daniel Muller, an associate professor of medicine at the Mind-Body Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Ryan and Brown are doing further mindfulness research, including the use of an electroencephalograph (EEG) to map brain waves as a way to chart mindfulness.

3. Mindfulness Meditation
...by Jon Kabat-Zinn ...Mind/Body Medicine

* http://www.ramsjb.com/talamasca/avatar/mindfulness.html

Today, like every other day,

We wake up empty and frightened.

Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.

Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

— Rumi

When most people hear the word meditation, they often think of transcendental meditation or similar practices used to evoke the relaxation response. In these approaches you focus attention on one thing, usually the sensation of breath leaving and entering your body or a mantra (a special sound or phrase you repeat silently to yourself). Anything else that comes into your mind during meditation is seen as a distraction to be disregarded. These practices can give rise to very deep states of calmness and stability of attention. They are known as the concentration, or "one-pointed," type of meditation--what Buddhists call shamatha or samadhi practices.

Mindfulness is the other major classification of meditation practices, known as vipassana, or insight meditation. In the practice of mindfulness, you begin by utilizing one-pointed attention to cultivate calmness and stability, but then you move beyond that by introducing a wider scope to the observing, as well as an element of inquiry. When thoughts or feelings come up in your mind, you don't ignore them or suppress them, nor do you analyze or judge their content. Rather, you simply note any thoughts as they occur as best you can and observe them intentionally but nonjudgmentally, moment by moment, as the events in the field of your awareness.

Paradoxically, this inclusive noting of thoughts that come and go in your mind can lead you to feel less caught up in them and give you a deeper perspective on your reaction to everyday stress and pressures. By observing your thoughts and emotions as if you had taken a step back from them, you can see much more clearly what is actually on your mind. You can see your thoughts arise and recede one after another. You can note the content of your thoughts, the feelings associated with them, and your reactions to them. You might become aware of agendas, attachments, likes and dislikes, and inaccuracies in your ideas. You can gain insight into what drives you, how you see the world, who you think you are--insight into your fears and aspirations.

The key to mindfulness is not so much what you choose to focus on but the quality of the awareness that you bring to each moment. It is very important that it be nonjudgmental--more of a silent witnessing, a dispassionate observing, than a running commentary on your inner experience. Observing without judging, moment by moment, helps you see what is on your mind without editing or censoring it, without intellectualizing it or getting lost in your own incessant thinking.

It is this investigative, discerning observation of whatever comes up in the present moment that is the hallmark of mindfulness and differentiates it most from other forms of meditation. The goal of mindfulness is for you to be more aware, more in touch with life and with whatever is happening in your own body and mind at the time it is happening--that is, in the present moment. If you are experiencing a distressing thought or feeling or actual physical pain in any moment, you resist the impulse to try to escape the unpleasantness; instead, you attempt to see it clearly as it is and accept it because it is already present in this moment.

Acceptance, of course, does not mean passivity or resignation. On the contrary, by fully accepting what each moment offers, you open yourself to experiencing life much more completely and make it more likely that you will be able to respond effectively to any situation that presents itself. Acceptance offers a way to navigate life's ups and downs--what Zorba the Greek called "the full catastrophe"--with grace, a sense of humor, and perhaps some understanding of the big picture, what I like to think of as wisdom.

One way to envision how mindfulness works is to think of the mind as the surface of a lake or ocean. There are always waves, sometimes big, sometimes small. Many people think the goal of meditation is to stop the waves so that the water will be flat, peaceful, and tranquil--but that is not so. The true spirit of mindfulness practice is illustrated by a poster someone once described to me of a 70-ish yogi, Swami Satchidananda, in full white beard and flowing robes, atop a surfboard and riding the waves off a Hawaiian beach. The caption read: "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."

4. How to do Mindfulness Meditation
...Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

* http://www.shambhalasun.com/Archives/Columnists/Sakyong/SakyongJan00.htm

“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.”

            In my last column I discussed why mindfulness is essential to spiritual practice, for no matter what spiritual tradition we follow, we must have a mind that is able to stay in the present moment if our understanding and experience is to deepen. Now I would like to talk about some aspects of the actual mindfulness practice.

            In mindfulness, or shamatha, meditation, we are trying to achieve a mind that is stable and calm. What we begin to discover is that this calmness or harmony is a natural aspect of the mind. Through mindfulness practice we are just developing and strengthening it, and eventually we are able to remain peacefully in our mind without struggling. Our mind naturally feels content.

            An important point is that when we are in a mindful state, there is still intelligence. It’s not as if we blank out. Sometimes people think that a person who is in deep meditation doesn’t know what’s going on—that it’s like being asleep. In fact, there are meditative states where you deny sense perceptions their function, but this is not the accomplishment of shamatha practice.

Creating a Favorable Environment

           There are certain conditions that are helpful for the practice of mindfulness. When we create the right environment it’s easier to practice.

            It is good if the place where you meditate, even if it’s only a small space in your apartment, has a feeling of upliftedness and sacredness. It is also said that you should meditate in a place that is not too noisy or disturbing, and you should not be in a situation where your mind is going to be easily provoked into anger or jealousy or other emotions. If you are disturbed or irritated, then your practice is going to be affected.

Beginning the Practice

            I encourage people to meditate frequently but for short periods of time—ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. If you force it too much the practice can take on too much of a personality, and training the mind should be very, very simple. So you could meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, and during that time you are really working with the mind. Then you just stop, get up, and go.

            Often we just plop ourselves down to meditate and just let the mind take us wherever it may. We have to create a personal sense of discipline. When we sit down, we can remind ourselves: “I’m here to work on my mind. I’m here to train my mind.” It’s okay to say that to yourself when you sit down, literally. We need that kind of inspiration as we begin to practice.


            The Buddhist approach is that the mind and body are connected. The energy flows better when the body is erect, and when it’s bent, the flow is changed and that directly affects your thought process. So there is a yoga of how to work with this. We’re not sitting up straight because we’re trying to be good schoolchildren; our posture actually affects the mind.

            People who need to use a chair for meditation should sit upright with their feet touching the ground. Those using a meditation cushion such as a zafu or gomden should find a comfortable position with legs crossed and hands resting palm-down on your thighs. The hips are neither rotated forward too much, which creates tension, nor tilted back so you start slouching. You should have a feeling of stability and strength.

            When we sit down the first thing we need to do is to really inhabit our body—really have a sense of our body. Often we sort of prop ourselves up and pretend we’re practicing, but we can’t even feel our body; we can’t even feel where it is. Instead, we need to be right here. So when you begin a meditation session, you can spend some initial time settling into your posture. You can feel that your spine is being pulled up from the top of your head so your posture is elongated, and then settle.

            The basic principle is to keep an upright, erect posture. You are in a solid situation: your shoulders are level, your hips are level, your spine is stacked up. You can visualize putting your bones in the right order and letting your flesh hang off that structure. We use this posture in order to remain relaxed and awake. The practice we’re doing is very precise: you should be very much awake even though you are calm. If you find yourself getting dull or hazy or falling asleep, you should check your posture.


For strict mindfulness practice, the gaze should be downward focusing a couple of inches in front of your nose. The eyes are open but not staring; your gaze is soft. We are trying to reduce sensory input as much as we can. People say, “Shouldn’t we have a sense of the environment?” but that’s not our concern in this practice. We’re just trying to work with the mind and the more we raise our gaze, the more distracted we’re going to be. It’s as if you had an overhead light shining over the whole room, and all of a sudden you focus it down right in front of you. You are purposefully ignoring what is going on around you. You are putting the horse of mind in a smaller corral.


When we do shamatha practice, we become more and more familiar with our mind, and in particular we learn to recognize the movement of the mind, which we experience as thoughts. We do this by using an object of meditation to provide a contrast or counterpoint to what’s happening in our mind. As soon as we go off and start thinking about something, awareness of the object of meditation will bring us back. We could put a rock in front of us and use it to focus our mind, but using the breath as the object of meditation is particularly helpful because it relaxes us.

            As you start the practice, you have a sense of your body and a sense of where you are, and then you begin to notice the breathing. The whole feeling of the breath is very important. The breath should not be forced, obviously; you are breathing naturally. The breath is going in and out, in and out. With each breath you become relaxed.


No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, “That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.” It gets down to how honest we are, how true we can be to ourselves, during each session.

            Everyone gets lost in thought sometimes. You might think, “I can’t believe I got so absorbed in something like that,” but try not to make it too personal. Just try to be as unbiased as possible. Mind will be wild and we have to recognize that. We can’t push ourselves. If we’re trying to be completely concept-free, with no discursiveness at all, it’s just not going to happen.

            So through the labeling process, we simply see our discursiveness. We notice that we have been lost in thought, we mentally label it “thinking”—gently and without judgment—and we come back to the breath. When we have a thought—no matter how wild or bizarre it may be—we just let it go and come back to the breath, come back to the situation here.

            Each meditation session is a journey of discovery to understand the basic truth of who we are. In the beginning the most important lesson of meditation is seeing the speed of the mind. But the meditation tradition says that mind doesn’t have to be this way: it just hasn’t been worked with.

            What we are talking about is very practical. Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. And because we are working with the mind that experiences life directly, just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is holder of the Buddhist and Shambhala lineages of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He has received teachings from many of the great Buddhist masters of this century, including Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche and his father Trungpa Rinpoche. In 1995 he was recognized as the incarnation of the great nineteenth-century Buddhist teacher Mipham Rinpoche.

True Yoga

* http://www.trueyoga.com/


2873 East Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Thousand Oaks, CA.




Kara Reed: kara@trueyoga.com

Gloria Murcia: gloria@trueyoga.com

Kara Reed... Kara is the founder of True Yoga and a yoga student for the past 11 years. She was formally trained at the Center for Yoga in Los Angeles and has been teaching for four years. She strongly believes in the healing energy found in a yoga practice. By combining breath and movement in her classes, she enables her students to reach a point of strength and surrender to the power that lies within. She previously taught grade school and uses her natural teaching ability to guide her students. Her background is in Ashtanga and Vinyasa with an emphasis on the philosophy of Anusara Yoga.

u p c o m i n g v e v e n t s:



FREE INTRODUCTORY CLASS, THE FIRST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH . . . 2:00-3:30. Open to all students interested in our studio and an excellent way to learn the fundamentals as well as ask your questions.


CRYSTAL BOWL HEALING with Richard Dubac the 2nd Saturday of the month, 2:00 - 3:30. A great opportunity to generate healing, unblock energy points and eliminate stress and tension. Class fee of $15.

BUDDHIST MEDITATION with Rev. Kusala ...will be here to guide us in meditation every 3rd Saturday at 9:00AM. A $10 class fee applies.


Partner Workshop with Kara and Mellara: Learn to work with a partner in order to get deeper into your Yoga poses and enhance your state of meditation. With Mellara and Kara, Saturday March 22nd 1:00 – 3:15. Class fee $20 per person or $35 per couple.

Date Night with Chandra and Jeff: A chance to connect with your partner in a more spiritual way through meditation and partner Yoga. Saturday April 19, 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Class fee of $30 per couple.

Mariel Hemingway’s Practice of Being Present: Inspired by her book, ‘Finding My Balance,’ Mariel will explore the “Practice of Being Present.” Saturday May 3, 12:30- 3:30. Class fee of $65 includes autographed copy of her book.

Yoga with Mellara: Join Mellara for good music, good people and a great atmosphere. Deepen your experience with a full size practice. Friday May 9, 6:00 – 8:15pm. Class fee of $25.

Intro to Anusara with Shari Goodhartz: Explore the basics of Anusara with one of LA’s premier teachers of Anusara yoga. Sunday, May 18, 12:00 – 3:00. Class fee TBD.

Yoga for Relaxation with Chris: Learn and practice simple, effective techniques that bring complete relaxation and stress relief. Saturday June 7, 1:30 – 3:30. Class fee of $25.

Upside Down with Kara: Come learn the benefits and techniques of Inverting in your yoga practice. Sunday June 15, 1:00 – 3:00. Class fee of $25.

c l a s s d e s c r i p t i o n s:

"Yoga teaches us to seek love by going to the source of our being. It teaches us that we are not only the givers of love and the receivers of love, but that we are love itself."

-Yogi Amrit Desai

True Yoga offers traditional Hatha Yoga classes.  Hatha Yoga is the physical practice of Yoga Asana including breath work and meditation.  Our teachers represent the various styles of Hatha yoga.  For more information on our teachers specific style, please inquire at the studio.

Yoga Basics These classes focus on the individual poses as a means for healing, strength building and flexibility.  There will be a variety of poses including sun salutations, standing and seated poses, inversions and shavasana.  Recommended for all students.

Yoga Flow A more active class which links poses together by combining sequences through vinyasa.  The fluid movement of the flow classes generates heat through the body and additional strengthening.  For students looking for a more rigorous challenge.

The 1 after a class name signifies that beginning poses will be taught.

The 2 after a class name signifies that more advanced poses will be taught. 

Gentle A traditional Yoga class coordinating breath, mind, and movement. Designed for those who want to practice yoga as a meditation, seniors and those with limited ability.  Emphasis on slower movements.

Pre-natal This class is designed to increase flexibility and endurance as well as offer breathing techniques to aid in labor and delivery.  Poses are modified for the changes in a mother’s body.

Community This mixed level class is offered at $7 or one class deducted from your class series. Open to all students.

Kundalini  A classic Kundalini class as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Includes meditation, specific breathing techniques and asanas that tend to strengthen the abdominal area.

Open Practice This class is offered as a donation class (you may donate a class from your series if you choose) and is open to advanced students. It is a group practice and has limited direct instruction. Please check with the instructor.

Classical Yoga This class will be open to all levels and will include short sanskrit chants, pranayama (breath work), a balanced set of asanas and will end with deep relaxation.

Meditation Classes will teach techniques as well as allow time for meditation.  Different types of meditation are explored.  Please note these classes are priced separately from yoga series.

Crystal Bowl Healing A type of sound meditation where the student is able to relax while the sounds of the bowls open up blockages in the energy channels.  Please note this class is priced separately from series.

Kids Yoga These classes are offered throughout the year in different sessions.  They bring movement, coordination and fun to kids age 5 -11.  Please inquire about the next session.

6. Emotional Healing through Mindfulness Meditation: Stories and Meditations for Women Seeking Wholeness
...by Barbara Miller Fishman, Shinzen Young

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0892819987/wwwkusalaorg-20/

Book Description

Explores how women can heal deep emotional pain through a new therapeutic approach that combines mindfulness meditation with psychotherapy. *Includes 8 vivid stories of women overcoming great emotional pain and life obstacles through Mindfulness Psychotherapy. *Each story is followed by a discussion and a relevant mindfulness meditation. *Guided meditations are included on an accompanying 60-minute CD.

Amazon.com- Reviewer: David E. Key from Philadelphia, PA United States... First, despite what the editors put on the front cover, this book is NOT just for women. Anyone with emotional problems -- woman, man, or whatever -- can help her/himself with this book. The individual stories are both intriguing and powerful, and the cd makes meditation easy. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to achieve greater equanimity and decrease the stress in his/her life. And it's fun to read, too.

Amazon.com- Reviewer: karen greenstein from guilford, ct United States... In Emotional Healing, Barbara draws a sensitive and thoughtful portait of some women in crisis. She has added the skill of using meditation to her already quite accomplished therapy skills. I was particularly struck how, in the midst of chaos, the simplicity of breathing, calming and getting in touch with oneself can be a tremendous help to the confused aspects of a person's life. It appears to shift the focus so that the puzzle takes on a different look. Barbara is respecful and loving of her subjects. The book is lovely for any psychotherapist to read, or for that matter, anyone.

7. Peace Quote...

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. ...Albert Einstein


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