...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... April 22, 2003
UR professors study benefits of mindfulness ...by Matthew
3. Mindfulness Meditation ...by Jon Kabat-Zinn
4. How to do Mindfulness Meditation ...Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
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
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.
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.
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.
-- 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.”
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.
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.
frequently provide instruction on mindfulness techniques to
cancer patients, who are often suffering emotionally as well
“no one has really looked at whether mindfulness itself
is making the difference,” said Brown, a visiting assistant
professor of psychology.
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,”
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
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
like every other day,
wake up empty and frightened.
open the door to the study and begin reading.
down a musical instrument.
the beauty we love be what we do.
are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
a Favorable Environment
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
5. True Yoga
East Thousand Oaks Blvd.
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.
p c o m i n g v e v e n t s:
MONTHLY YOGA AND MEDITATION CLASSES:
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.
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.
MEDITATION with Rev. Kusala ...will be here to guide us
in meditation every 3rd Saturday at 9:00AM. A $10 class fee
AND OTHER ONE TIME EVENTS:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
l a s s d e s c r i p t i o n s:
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."
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.
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.
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.
1 after a class name signifies that beginning poses will be
2 after a class name signifies that more advanced poses will
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
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.
This mixed level class is offered at $7 or one class deducted
from your class series. Open to all students.
A classic Kundalini class as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Includes
meditation, specific breathing techniques and asanas that tend
to strengthen the abdominal area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
7. Peace Quote...
know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but
World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. ...Albert
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