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Showing posts from February, 2016

Mindfulness of vedana

I recently went to an interesting day retreat on vedana and it was packed. I've also had some interesting discussions with my meditation group on this topic so there's clearly an appetite for it. So then, the first thing to address is: what is it? As always there are different levels of understanding from the  broad to the intricate but let's start off simple.
Vedanais the sensation of pleasant and unpleasant, or something in between.
How do you know when you experiencing vedana? Well, here are a couple of examples: if you stab yourself with a pin you will experience unpleasantness (generally);if you stroke your cheek you will experience pleasantness (for a while). And that's it. Actually knowing vedana in your mind is where it gets tricky because its something you feel and know rather than think about. So relax, stop thinking and tune in to the ambiance of feeling that accompanies you everywhere you go.
That's probably enough for now. Pay attention to everyday vedan…

Mindfulness app (minpa)

I'm a big fan of software technology that helps us get through the day. Anyway, I knocked together this new app to help remind me of the 16 stages of mindfulness practice (anapanasati) and it was very helpful. Then I added a couple more techniques to give it a bit of variety and I thought I would release it to the wider world for those souls who like to sit still for long periods and forget what to focus on next.

As usual, I have massively grand plans to make it into a meditation personal assistant but, well, time is short and I don't have a software team anymore.

Anyway, it's on Google play and you can find it here:

A really great mindfulness app

The comforts of people

Now I'm a bit of a recluse when it comes to socialising although I generally like being with other people (probably why I go to coffee shops and restaurants all the time). Anyway, I recently went to a small gathering of practitioners and its safe to say we shared something that afternoon. I guess you'd call it unconditional kindness. I didn't know these people and they didn't know me but we went through some practices and had a go at projecting kindness at each other and, well, it just worked . There was no judging, no batting of eye lids, no career aspiration ugliness, no expectation of anything, and it was beautiful really. On reflection, we connected with each other in an unconditional way.
So, find some people and drop all pretense and be amazed at what you might find within each other. You might find dropping all pretense tricky at first, but stick with it.

Dress to unlock your better self

You know the one.

We might think clothes are annoying things that cover our hairy, fat bodies, but they are quite interesting really. I like the book "101 experiments in the philosophy of everyday life" by Roger-Pol Droit and there is a clothes experiment in there that best describes what I am trying to get it = Experiment no.43 is "try on clothes". It's quite interesting. We should all try it.

Get the outfit that unlocks that thing in you...

Measuring up to Utopia

We have Thomas More to thank for this word, which basically means a perfect society. We might like to think about a perfect society, given that the one we live in has a few sub optimal features. Thomas More's idea of a perfect world was an island in the Atlantic where everyone was equal (apart from the slaves which everyone had and the women who had to report in every month with their husbands, but let's not worry too much about that) and no-one really owned anything. People generally worked six hours a day and were distributed evenly across the island in houses. It's starting to sound a bit communist so we'll leave it there.

If you look at any Utopian society you will find the equality is important, as is the eradication of poverty (it turns out that poverty is key determinant to future happiness). Leisure seems to feature strongly although working good land is a feature. It's also important that humans live in sympathy with the natural world - there needs to be b…

Positive psychology movement revisited

I was half way through my post yesterday - had to go and make dinner and then I forgot about it...

Anyway, I'm getting on a bit now (not that old but old enough to sound like an old person when I talk to students) and I can sense a shift in the atmosphere of the world - there's a new generation who want to achieve things! Interestingly, they don't know how mechanical the world used to be, and they have completely bought into this digital-always-connected paradigm. And they don't seem to mind.

Now, these are exciting times. This new generation can take the ball and run with it. One thing that is emerging is the positive psychology movement which is like a little flower of awareness that is opening, helped in due course by mindfulness, etc. Interestingly, if you go on tumblr or twitter you get a blast of positive psychology back in the face, which is kind of nice. There's a kind of bubble of positivism moving through the Internet - this is creating a kind of awarene…

Enlightenment - digging up potatoes

You'll need a leap of imagination to follow this one.
Imagine your mind is a potato plant. There are the roots, tubers and potatoes, and the foliage that sits on top. Your everyday mind is the foliage, interacting with the sunlight but driven by the system underground. We can use awareness to see the everyday mind, and we can even get a sense of the potatoes lying beneath, but by and by, we live in the foliage.
OK. That's the analogy bit. You see your thoughts coming and going, you try to control them but after a while you realise that there is something deep within driving your behaviour. You cant see it directly, it is visceral, huge. It is the architecture of you, of your mind, your being.
Now, go deep, deep, deep. Your mind is infinite but there us kernel of your mind still being you - yes, you guessed it, your inner potato. Release this potato and experience the relief of being potato free. Will it feel good? By golly it will. Enough said.