If you’re an LA Eastsider — that is, on the East side of Los Angeles — and looking for a group to sit with, you might try InsightLA. I’m not affiliated with them, but have taken a few of their classes and they’ve all been good.
Every Monday at 7 p.m.:
InsightLA Los Feliz Community Sit
3910 Los Feliz Blvd. on University of Philosophical Research campus – there is ample parking in the lots.
We will start with a 30-40 minute sitting meditation with guidance in the beginning, (sometimes) followed by 10-15min walking meditation. The teacher will then give a short talk. We will end with a period of discussion either about the talk or about your mindfulness practice.
Ever heard of such a thing? I tell you, it’s better than you think. Of course, it would be preferable to sit with a group or a friend or a teacher — but in absence of those people — or while they’re not around, why not try this?
The style is called Aro Meditation, and it’s a fairly obscure Tibetan branch of Buddhism, by their own account.
You simply type in your email address and they send you a weekly email with meditation instructions, and some thoughts about meditation, each week.
The weekly reminder is quite handy for developing the habit. And the prompts are interesting. They say it’s 18 weeks, but I got emails for longer. But they were never bothersome, nor did they ever become spam in any way.
I am not affiliated with them in any way, but I tried it and if you’ve read this far — you should too!
This is an excerpt from a longer interview. Worthwhile read that also touches upon the current explosion of interest in mindfulness. “Not just the big bang but the inflation of the big bang.”
Some Buddhist teachers and scholars have criticized the popular mindfulness movement and implied that what is being taught no longer reflects the traditional meaning of mindfulness or Sati. In fact, in some papers we find the term ‘McMindfulness’ popping up. What are your views on this?
First of all, that term first came out of one person’s mouth or one person’s mind. When you say it is popping up, of course, every term like that tends to just go viral on the web, but it just came out of one person’s mind. This is not McMindfulness by any stretch of the imagination. What it is – now I have to use some Buddhist terminology – it is the movement of the Dharma [the Buddhist teachings] into the mainstream of society. Buddhism really is about the Dharma – it’s about the teachings of the Buddha. You know, in various Buddhist traditions, there are actually very big differences among Buddhists about what it is all about and what the best methodologies are and all of that stuff. So Buddhist scholars you know, love to, you know, stew with each other about the nature of all of those questions. And now that this is moving into the mainstream, I think instead of seeing that it has the potential to actually elevate humanity in profound ways that are just completely in accordance with the fundamental teachings of the Buddha about the nature of suffering and the possibility of the sort of transformation and liberation from suffering, they get into, kind of, what I might call orthodoxies that allow them to continue to basically throw grenades at something that is at least 99% healthy for people.
Mindfulness meditation can really enhance well being. Additionally, using mindfulness practices to cope with anxiety or depression can be quite effective. Here’s a little document for the beginner – a list of resources. Included: Two helpful apps, an email course, two websites, three recommended books, and for those on the Eastside of Los Angeles two places to find a community of mindfulness teachers and students.
Here’s the pdf: MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION
Mindfulness definitely has exciting applications for use in psychotherapy. But what is mindfulness? Here are eleven definitions of mindfulness, mostly from cognitive psychologists, but also from a few Buddhist meditators.
- The clear and singleminded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception (Nyanaponika Thera, 1972; cited in Brown & Ryan, 2003
- Keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality (Hanh, 1976; cited in Brown & Ryan, 2003)
- Psychological and behavioral versions of meditation skills usually taught in Eastern spiritual practices… [usually focused on] observing, describing, participating, taking a nonjudgmental stance, focusing on one thing in the moment, being effective (Linehan, 1993; as cited in Hayes and Shenk, 2004)
- Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally (Kabat-Zinn, 1994)
- A state of psychological freedom that occurs when attention remains quiet and limber, without attachment to any particular point of view (Martin, 1997).
- Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999)
- A way of paying attention that originated in Eastern meditation practices (Baer, 2003).
- To simply “drop in” on the actuality of [one’s] lived experience and then to sustain it as best [one] can moment by moment, with intentional openhearted presence and suspension of judgment and distraction (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
- Mindfulness captures a quality of consciousness that is characterized by clarity and vividness of current experience and functioning and thus stands in contrast to the mindless, less “awake” states of habitual or automatic functioning that may be chronic for many individuals (Brown & Ryan, 2003)
- Broadly conceptualized… a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is (Kabat-Zinn, 1990, 1998; Shapiro & Schwartz, 1999, 2000; Teasdale, 1999; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002; as cited in Bishop et al., 2004)
- A process of regulating attention in order to bring a quality of nonelaborative awareness to current experience and a quality of relating to one’s experience within an orientation of curiosity, experiential openness, and acceptance. We further see mindfulness as a process of gaining insight into the nature of one’s mind and the de-centered perspective (Safran & Segal, 1990) on thoughts and feelings so that they can be experienced in terms of their subjectivity (versus their necessary validity) and transient nature (versus their permanence) (Bishop et al., 2004)
Adapted from a post of the same title at pasadenatherapist.wordpress.com