What is Walking Meditation?

I was reading a book about adult ADHD yesterday and it said that meditation is helpful for people with the condition because it helps them to train their mind. The book mentioned that walking meditation, yoga or tai chi might be easier because the movement helps a person keep their attention longer. It said that walking meditation in nature can be particularly useful.

This sparked a discussion with my husband who had coincidentally been trying to do a walking meditation earlier that evening. He felt like it had been a failure because he hadn't been able to get to his zone that he reaches in sitting meditation. He said that he was too focused on his steps and how the ground felt under his feet to clear his mind. Actually, that is what walking meditation is about; he was doing it without knowing. The same exercises in concentration and returning the mind to one topic apply while walking. Outdoors all the senses can be used to smell the trees, see beautiful colors or hear each one of the birds sign in their chorus. 

 ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com

More information:

How to meditate while walking

Study on meditation helping ADHD

Meditation Myth #5 – Sitting On A Cushion Is Boring

Get-Started-Meditation When someone is meditating, it looks like they aren't doing anything. If they are just sitting there,isn't it boring? And if it is boring, isn't that a bad thing to be bored? 

Sitting still can be foreign to most people before they start meditating. While it might look like someone who is meditating is not doing anything, they are actually very active. They are working their brain by increasing their concentration power. The person meditating might be focusing on relaxation. Or, they might be contemplating something. All of this is active, just not visible. Being present is work. It's not easy and it's definitely not boring. 

  ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com

Class Review – Meditation in Everyday Life

I took Meditation in Everyday Life as my third Shambhala class although it is the first in the series The Way of Shambhala. While it would be better to take it first, I thought the class was valuable even though I wasn't quite a beginner anymore. Since you never really master meditation, it always helps to be reminded of the basics. 

The class runs for 5 weeks in the evening at the Burlington, VT Shamabhala Center but might be a weekend program at your local sangha. The readings for the class are from Turning the Mind Into an Ally and Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior. There were three articles provided from the magazine Shambhala Sun: Meeting Pain with Awareness by John Kabat-Zinn which talks about managing pain with meditation, Mindfulness of Mind by Michael Stroud who addresses treating depression with meditation, and Mindful Society by Andrea Miller who talks about how meditation is being used in five different areas of American society: health, caregiving, organizational leadership, teaching, and  prisons. The three articles can be found by clicking on the links above. The readings provided a solid foundation for starting a mediation practice, showed how it can work for your life and demonstrated some of the benefits of meditation. 

The class covers how to get to the cushion and what to do when you get there. Each class is structured to have some lecture, plenty of time for questions and some activities to demonstrate the teaching. We had very good discussions on topics such as the correct posture and whether to keep your eyes open or closed. We also got to bring up all those feelings we have and found that everyone in the room was having a similar experience. It seemed that everyone had a hard time focusing on their breath and everyone got uncomfortable or their feet fell asleep. It was really helpful to hear that you aren't alone and some tips on how to deal with the issues. 

My favorite session was the one titled "Obstacles and Antidotes". This is the information that I wished I had when I started so I would have known better how to handle the inevitable roadblocks. The one that particularly struck home for me was how busyness can be a form of laziness. When you use your list of things to do to procrastinate from sitting on the cushion, it is really is just being lazy. While it may feel like you are getting so much done, the priority has to be on sitting first, then doing the list of things that will still be there when you are done. 

To find a class nearby, visit the Shambhala website Find A Center page. 

~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com

What Does Vipassana Mean?

This is a question that people often wonder but don't always ask. In it's most simple sense, it means the same thing as Mindfulness Meditation. Here are a few definitions: 

Oxford American Dictionary: 

vipassana |viˈpäsənə| (alsoVipassana) noun

(in Theravada Buddhism) meditation involving concentration on the body or its sensations, or the insight that this provides.

ORIGIN Pali, literally ‘inward vision.’

Wikipedia:

Vipassanā (Pāli) or vipaśyanā (विपश्यना, Sanskrit) in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the nature of reality. A regular practitioner of Vipassana is known as Vipassi (vipaśyin). Vipassana is one of world's most ancient techniques of meditation, the inception of which is attributed to Gautama Buddha. It is a practice of self-transformation through self-observation and self introspection. In English, vipassanā meditation is often referred to simply as "insight meditation".

The Buddhist Society:

Insight into the true nature of things. A particular form of meditation

Shinzen Young:

Originally derived from the Theravada school of Buddhism, vipassana can be practiced by followers of any (or no) religion as a useful mental skill set. Removed from its cultural and doctrinal trappings, vipassana meditation (usually under the name mindfulness) is finding clinical application in the fields of pain management, stress management,compulsions and as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com

Fearlessness at Work, Karme Choling

Karme-Choling

I attended a retreat this weekend at
Karme Choling in Vermont called Fearlessness at Work. It was taught by Michael Carroll who wrote the books Awake at Work and The Mindful Leader. This was my first weekend retreat and really I was just worried about making it for three days on a cushion. I didn't do any research on the teacher or subject matter before I arrived. Fortunately, as I suspected it would be, the teaching was top notch. Michael's sense of humor and business savvy made the weekend both interesting and fun. I enjoyed getting to know the other participants as well. It was a small group which made it so that we all got to know each other and had some great discussions. 

The exciting part of the subject of using mindfulness at work for me is how to use mindfulness to perform better. Before I started meditating, I thought that if I really mastered it, I wouldn't want to do well anymore, like I would just be so peaceful nothing would matter. While I have to admit that two years into meditating I don't care as much about how I rate against others, I put even more effort into my passions than before. But now, it's from a creative energy rather than feelings of inadequacy. Being with a group of people that also wanted to excel in what they do, yet maintain their sanity while doing it, made me realize that success and mindfulness are not contrary to each other. Instead, I see that mindfulness can foster success. 

The class used the second book, The Mindful Leader as the guide which I am glad I have to read cover to cover. The most important topics for me were those of synchronizing with your surroundings and opening up your awareness to really see what is going on in any situation. I can see how it might take a while to incorporate everything but that each little step in using the learning will make small changes. My meditation practice has also taken a big leap forward with the advice and counseling from Michael as well. 

~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com