April 17, 2003 5:35 PM   Subscribe

"Mindfulness In Plain English" is a meditation manual by Henepola Gunaratana which has been reprinted online. It's a great introduction and step-by-step guide to Vipassana ('insight') meditation, a technique practiced in Theravada Buddhism. There are several centers which teach classes and retreats in the U.S. and Europe. There's also a 90-day online course, but the next open course doesn't start until September.
posted by homunculus (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe someday someone will write about meditation and get right to the point. Why does meandering in meditation need to also cause meandering in written communication? Can't people seperate the two?
posted by HTuttle at 6:09 PM on April 17, 2003

Perhaps to properly elaborate the principles of the practice, it takes more than a laminated index card of bullet points.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:26 PM on April 17, 2003

Meditation is only going to sell well if it's easy, simple, and quick. Laminated index cards with the Cole's Notes on the front and the Eternal Answers on the back are exactly what's needed. Instant self-enlightenment, that's the ticket!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:38 PM on April 17, 2003

Buddha did not have PowerPoint.
posted by ilsa at 7:01 PM on April 17, 2003

Can't people seperate the two?

There is no seperation, Grasshoper.
posted by homunculus at 7:04 PM on April 17, 2003

Thanx for the links...Community of Mindful Living (Thich Nhat Hanh) is another good place.
posted by Mack Twain at 7:47 PM on April 17, 2003

Buddha had PowerPoint. Get over it.
posted by muppetboy at 9:42 PM on April 17, 2003

This is great, homunculus, thanks.

When I was about 13, my English teacher tried to explain poetry to his class of adolescents. Our attitude was - why should a poet use figures of speech and flowing language to make a point, why not just come out and say it? Our teacher tried to explain that poetry, written well, is revealing a different level of truth that isn't about stating facts. Meditation, I believe, works in a similar way to poetry, in that it exists on a different level to the merely factual.

Or, to put it another way, everything is important, even things that seem trivial, rather than a few key points. This is why meditation can involve exercises such as listing everything that you can hear or sense (something that's not easy because the mind is in autopilot nearly all the time); it's a kind of awakening. Similarly meditation can focus on a flickering candle flame - which maintains its identity, but is constantly changing.
posted by plep at 11:24 PM on April 17, 2003

The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, which is why I've asked all of you to pack a lunch.

--B. Kliban
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:59 AM on April 18, 2003

I concur with Mack Twain -- Thich Nhat Hanh is a far better educator when it comes to the practice of Mindfulness.

Probably the best place to start is with his book, "The Miracle of Mindfulness".

(Ya'll can find it on amazon yourselves.)
posted by HogarthNH at 7:15 AM on April 18, 2003

Maybe someday someone will write about meditation and get right to the point.

Quite a few people have. You might start with "Zen Meditation in Plain English." It's a book, rather than a website, but it's simple, direct, colloquial and practical.
posted by digaman at 7:32 AM on April 18, 2003 [1 favorite]

Thank you, homunculus. In two clicks, I got to some very precise, relevant information about sitting practice. Some of the advice on "Attitude" bears repeating:

Don't expect anything.
Don't strain.
Don't cling to anything and don't reject anything.
Let go.
Accept everything that arises.
Be gentle with yourself.
Investigate yourself.
View all problems as challenges.
Don't ponder.
Don't dwell upon contrasts.

And of course, as I suspect HTuttle was trying to say, when the mind meanders, come back to these things.
posted by divrsional at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2003 [1 favorite]

Sounds like good advice for going to the toilet... Don't strain, let go, be gentle...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:49 AM on April 18, 2003

Five fresh fish, that's why it's called excremeditation.
posted by cps at 10:17 AM on April 18, 2003

I doubt anyone is still reading this, but if so, here is a new op-ed by the Dalai Lama:

It is for this reason that I visited the neuroscience laboratory of Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin. Using imaging devices that show what occurs in the brain during meditation, Dr. Davidson has been able to study the effects of Buddhist practices for cultivating compassion, equanimity or mindfulness. For centuries Buddhists have believed that pursuing such practices seems to make people calmer, happier and more loving. At the same time they are less and less prone to destructive emotions.

According to Dr. Davidson, there is now science to underscore this belief. Dr. Davidson tells me that the emergence of positive emotions may be due to this: Mindfulness meditation strengthens the neurological circuits that calm a part of the brain that acts as a trigger for fear and anger. This raises the possibility that we have a way to create a kind of buffer between the brain's violent impulses and our actions.

posted by homunculus at 8:28 PM on April 25, 2003

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