Sunday, October 25, 2009


I have been accepted for the Vipassana Retreat in February!!! I got the email last night notifying me that I have been accepted. I AM SOOOOOO HAPPY!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

it's all in the mind

In The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buddhism, Gary Gach shares the following story.

Korean monk Wonhyo (617-686 C.E.) set out for China to study Buddhism.  On the road one night, he took shelter in a cave.  He found a gourd of pure water, which he drank.  Content, he then fell asleep.  At dawn, he awoke startled to discover he'd spent the night in a tomb and that he'd drunk putrid water from an old skull.  It came to him in a flash that "mind creates all things, all things are products of the mind alone."  Realizing this, he turned around, as there was no longer any need to study in China.  He studied his own mind instead and went on to become one of Korea's greatest Buddhist teachers and scholars.

In our Buddhism class on Sunday, Howard shared a story of a man and woman who were so very hungry that they finally decided to eat their infant child in order to sustain themselves and live.  Of course, anyone who reads or hears this is immediately repulsed and thinks, "How in the world could someone do that to a child?".  Yet, when we eat meat or eggs, aren't we eating someone else's children?  It's all about perspective in your own mind.

struggling with monkey mind?

My son is attending college with the goal of becoming a psychologist. We recently had a discussion regarding multi-tasking. He told me that recent studies have found those that multi-task often find it very difficult to focus their minds as they get older since they have trained their minds to do many things at once.

If you think about it, it makes sense. After all, isn't meditation about training the mind? As a culture, we multi-task constantly. Driving the car and talking on the phone (even if it's hands-free). Reading a book while listening to music. I'm sure you can think of many, many more examples; and if you can, then you, my friend are a multi-tasker.

Multi-tasking is difficult to avoid. Trying to cook a meal so that everything is ready at the same time and hot when it's placed on the table. However, when multi-tasking becomes such a strong habit, we are challenged with daily mindfulness.

As I practice mindfulness, I have found that it appears even harder, especially in meditation, than ever before. Is it because I am more aware now (the goal) or is it because a lifetime of multi-tasking has made it even more challenging to settle my mind into one point of awareness during meditation?

I've been rolling this around in my mind for a few days now since my son mentioned that to me. It has helped me to feel better about the monkey mind -- and it should you too.

Just keep reminding yourself that meditation is the practice of training the mind to be aware. Think of how old you are and how many years you have allowed your mind to roam freely. Just like gaining weight, it doesn't happen overnight -- and losing the weight doesn't happen overnight either.

Eventually, if you remain dedicated to your practice, you WILL attain the awareness during meditation that you seek. The ability to sit and bring awareness to your breath, to quiet the mind through awareness.

It will not happen overnight, in one week, one month, or even 10 years. This is why you must approach your meditation practice as a lifelong commitment. Otherwise, you will remain frustrated and discouraged with the monkey mind.