Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

10 Entertainments On the Cheap

June 8, 2007

A budget can be a bit of a constraint. It takes some time to wear one in. Here are some ideas to entertain yourself whether the money’s running thin or walking tall.

  1. Make a paper wallet. There are so many ways to go geeky with this. Wrapping paper. Graph paper. You could actually write and track your cash expenses on the actual wallet. If you love stationery you might already know about this nutty website. Lots of fun stuff. You could print some of it out and make a wallet out of that. Go wild.
  2. Feeling like your life is too cluttered up? Have a glance at this image, and take a deep breath. Perhaps meditate on it. This is a veritable visual symphony on consumerism.
  3. Another one from Stumble. Spot a lie! It’s fun, but I wouldn’t take the conclusions this person draws too seriously. Any time you make rules about human behavior you’re just asking for it.
  4. Meditate. Learn from a very credible meditation teacher. He’ll even has a format for keeping a meditation journal. And he’ll respond to your journal. So much of what is written about this practice is second-hand at best. This guy is the real deal.
  5. For goodness sake get away from the computer. Take a walk. Go for a swim. Ha.
  6. After your lungs have been stretched a little and you’ve rinsed the salt water out of your hair, settle down into a comfortable chair and read a great essay. Make a fresh cup of coffee.
  7. Take care of your brain. Part of what’s nice about meditation is that occasionally it can take you out of verbal thinking mode. Just for a moment. If you’re fretting about budgeting and how to squeeze a nickel and reading how-to lists, I think it’s fairly safe to say, both as an average joe and a pscyhotherapist that you have a tendency to get lost in verbal mode. You drive along and remember nothing about the scenery, swept away by cognition. This can have the effect of actually disconnecting you from reality. (Fixed, false belief equals delusional.) While distinctions about what is right-brain and what is left-brain are usually facile and oversimplified there are some general rules that tend to hold. You can use right-brain activities to interrupt the rabid click click clicking of the calculating left brain. So paint a picture. Scribble in a notebook. Listen to music. Open a jar of cloves, close your eyes and take a deep breath. The left brain gets a lot of press in our culture. It’s the bean counter. The planner. Give it a break.
  8. Go to a museum on free admission day. If you live in New York City check out the Frick. I love that place.
  9. Lost for words? Are you needing to kick that left brain into gear? Try this random word generator.
  10. Bury yourself in the delightful arcana of the rational scientific worldview. This is its own peculiar form of escapism.

John Horgan on Why He Ditched Buddhism

May 25, 2007

I mentioned that meditation might be used in the service of debt reduction. That would be very goal-oriented, and un-Buddhist in its intent. It’s an established trend in secularizing Buddhist practices while underplaying its ethical and religious elements.

A fantastic book in this vein is Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. Get it at the library, or buy it used for $3.95 (plus shipping).

Veering wildly off the topic of debt-reduction. But there’s so much romanticism of Buddhism by disenfranchised Christians and dreamy me-generation seekers. Horgan knows his stuff. Some may find it irritating.

So does Alan Wallace, from a different perspective.

What Does Buddhism Have to Do With Debt Reduction?

May 24, 2007

Probably not much.

You might connect it with meditation practice, though. The practice of meditation is not central to Buddhism — at least as it’s currently practiced in much of the world. The front and center status of meditation is mostly a facet of monastic life, or Western Buddhism, which takes its cues largely from Thai forest monks of the Theravada tradition.

Walk into a Buddhist temple of first-generation Cambodian-Americans or third-generation Japanese-Americans, and you won’t likely see anyone sitting on a zafu. You might find something resembling church.

Nevertheless, engaging in a meditation practice could be a sensible step toward debt reduction. So much of our debt is the result of impulse purchases. Witness my pal in Vroman’s bookstore, handling something called “The Wine Deck.” A cleverly packaged deck of cards with facts about wine. No home would be complete without one.

“That’s your credit card debt right there, dude.”

These things turn into crap before our eyes, clutter our shelves, packed away in our cupboards, drawers, and even, ugh, rented storage space.

One small part of what we do when we meditate is to observe the contents of the mind. The ebb and flow of feelings and thoughts. In this practice we learn that that these unceasing processes are fleeting. As we develop the ability to observe thoughts, emotions, impulses, we gain the insight that we are not those impulses, we are separate.

This is very simplistic, and represents only one broad style of meditation, generally referred to as insight meditation.

Interested in learning more? Try this.