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Meditation

  • Zafu or Bench? How Yoga’s Vayus Can Make or Break Your Meditation

    In the early 1990s, when I was just a few years into vipassana meditation practice, I sat a 10-day silent retreat. It was my fourth such retreat, so I knew that physical discomfort would visit from time to time, especially in the first few days. On every retreat up until that point, I’d experienced physical pain in my shoulders and back—a deep pain that was absent in my daily life. I knew my knees would tire, and I’d feel both sleepy and restless at times. But on this particular retreat, there was an inexplicable agitation I couldn’t place. I felt...

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  • 4 Benefits of Meditation for Seniors

    Some traditions of yoga recognize the “seasons” of people’s lives. These traditions advocate for allowing your practice to evolve according to your season. Here’s how it works: Spring is the season of childhood. In childhood, free play is the most appropriate practice. Summer is the season of young adulthood. In young adulthood, asana is the focus, along with introducing some basic pranayama and meditation practices. Fall is the season of middle age. In middle age, pranayama becomes the central practice, with asana and meditation to support it. Winter is the season of seniorhood. In your senior years, meditation becomes the...

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  • Metta Meditation: Kindness for Your Mentors

    In the past few months, I’ve been exploring metta (kindness) meditation in this blog. The first installment covered practicing kindness for an easy being—someone, human or animal, with whom you have an easy, uncomplicated relationship. The second installment covered kindness toward ourselves, an important foundational practice for extending kindness to others. If you’re just now discovering this blog and haven’t read the previous posts on kindness, you might want to read them to have a better idea the scope of metta practice. This post will focus on extending kindness for your mentors. If you reflect on your life, you can...

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  • Metta Meditation: Kindness Toward Yourself

    (This is the second installment of instructions on kindness practice. Read this post to familiarize yourself with the basics.) “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Gautama Buddha In a world where narcissism seems to be rising, it’s ironic that one of the biggest challenges in metta meditation practice is offering kindness toward yourself. I’m not sure why this is. But many...

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  • Metta Meditation: Take a Kindness Break

    In recent years, our lives seem to have gotten harsher. Our culture has factionalized. No one wants to listen to anyone with whom they disagree. Dialog has become not just disrespectful, but sometimes even violent. Social media is partly responsible for this. While I enjoy connecting with friends on Facebook, I sometimes feel a need to stay away. There is such a thing as having too much political information. And much of what is called “news” these days is meant more to rile people up than it is to inform. If you are at all sensitive, this environment quickly becomes unsustainable. Practicing...

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  • Celebrate National Meditation Day!

    Images of meditation have become ubiquitous. In the past, meditation was depicted as something that was confined to monks in the East. You know the images— loincloth- or robe-clad sadhus in Lotus Pose. Of course, now that yoga and meditation have entered the Western mainstream, other more seemingly relatable images come to mind. Ubiquitous among them is the young, attractive woman sitting on a sunset-drenched beach in white leggings and yoga top. (Would most people actually sit on the sand in their white leggings?) An even more recent popular image shows a man or woman in a business suit meditating...

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