Beliefnet
Mindfulness Matters

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The early part of 2017, I’ll be presenting workshops, two with my friend and spiritual brother, Jaimal Yogis. Most of these are on the East Coast and I am also excited to be teaching in California with Jaimal. Please join me or us for some mindfulness training, solitude, and the opportunity to develop some resilience, inner strength, and equanimity in the uncertain times we are living in.

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Riding the Waves of Life

I am teaming up again with Saltwater Buddha–Jaimal Yogis. After our wonderful teaching together at Kripalu this past summer I  am super excited to be co-leading a workshop at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA (in Marin County). This Sunday  workshop will focus on the healing power of water and the unity we can feel when we recognize our place in the natural world–the vastness that surrounds us and that we are in every moment. Sunday January 22, 9:30-4:30 (CE credits available)  Please join us for a great weekend together. For more information and to register, click here >>

A to Z

Mindfulness A-Z at Kripalu

Freedom and self-compassion are the promise of awakening, available whenever you skillfully engage your attention with mindfulness in the present moment. This program combines training in mindfulness meditation and the Buddha’s psychology with a creative narrative process called Story Art to free you from self-inflicted obstacles.

Please join me for a 5-day workshop at the peaceful, beautiful, and fun Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health 12-17 February 2017. We will explore mindfulness and meditative journaling practices to liberate ourselves from regret, perfectionism, and being stuck. Registration and more information is available at Kripalu. 

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Self Is a Metaphor

A new consensus is emerging both within Buddhist studies and in the cognitive sciences that the self, as we experience it, is—itself—a metaphorical process. The Buddha’s teaching of anattā (not-self) can be understood through the cognitive science of language, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. The Buddha was a master metaphor maker, and in this workshop we’ll look at his original teachings on not-self, dukkhanibbāna, and the three fires as all cast in metaphorical terms.

I am once again teaching a course on metaphor. This time, instead of a general approach to mindfulness using metaphors, I am apply the power of metaphor to the self, itself. Join me for this exploratory weekend at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, 17-19 February 2017. Registration is open >>

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SOLITUDE AND THE VIRTUOUS LIFE

The unrelenting stresses of the information age devalue solitude and make it difficult to realize. Without solitude, we are lost. This afflicts introverts and extroverts alike, and especially those more prone to the interior. Mindfulness is the path to solitude and can help us to become impeccable in our lives: embracing uncertainty, valuing vulnerability as a means to growth, and being in the world as ethical agents. The Buddha’s example as a solitary, quiet, and inward looking teacher can lead us to wisdom

Come join me for a heartfelt weekend of reflection and solitude at the contemplative Copper Beech Institute, the weekend of 24-26 February 2017. Registration is open >>

padang5Surfing the Ocean of Life: Meditations for Thriving in a Stormy World

No matter how turbulent the ocean of life, meditation can help you ride the waves. Mindfulness and other meditation techniques can bring you a sense of oneness, providing refuge, sanctuary, and deep inner peace.

Once again, I’ll be teaching with Jaimal Yogis. This time, it’s a 5-day retreat at Kripalu Center. Come meditate and learn with us, April 16-21 2017. Registration is open >>

 

 

 

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4.1.1

I’ve heard it described in various ways this week, from “seismic waves” to “I don’t want to to talk about politics.” All the same, the election did occur and we must all live with the results. My friend Jaimal Yogis put it eloquently:

What do we do with despair, anger, fear, frustration? How do we let these massive waves exist in their own right without letting them turn to hate? Without losing compassion for all beings? How do we find wise action in a stormy world and rise above mere reactivity and karma? How do we become leaders of change that heal and unite rather than divide? How do we find peace inside so we manifest peace outside?

These are lifelong questions that Dr. Arnold Kozak and I hope to focus in on in our upcoming Spirit Rock retreat, a couple of days after the Presidential inauguration. We don’t have all the answers but in coming together with openness I know we’re all going to stumble on greater insight and love that can fuel the action our world needs right now. Hope you can make it.

I have my own strong opinions about the election and I also know that interest must always trump reactivity (pun intended). I was disappointed that more people didn’t vote (still only a fraction of the eligible electorate actually voted). I am still frustrated that we don’t have a better coordinated system that allows everyone who wants to vote to vote. Given these two issues, it is not clear what the results of this election mean. Is this really what most of the people want? Too many are silent to know. I’ve read that at least $5 billion was spent on the election. I think that money would have been better spent fixing our election technology. Not to mention the length of time this election cycle took and how it dominated the news. No wonder so many were stressed for so long. The presidency hasn’t always been a cult of personality. This is a more recent phenomenon. What just happened is important yet it is not the only thing of importance happening in our lives and the world.

Mindfulness can help us to sit with all these feelings and to see clearly the best path for moving forward with action. Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of books and workshops that can help us to do just this–holding all the feelings with a sense of equanimity, breathing into all the uncertainty, and moving forward with interest and compassion for self and others.

For a list of available workshops, please visit my website arniekozak.com

IMG_4500Peak foliage is here in Northern Vermont and the landscape is a ubiquitous reminds of the change that is always present.

This change is most visible now, dramatic, showing itself off.

Yet change is the order of things. Nothing is fixed, even though we may wish it to be so.

Appreciate the colors around you and if you are in a place with little fall foliage, you can look for changes that are happening all the same.

IMG_4321I was recently in Southern California and saw this message plastered on a car. I thought to myself, “this is not the best metaphor.” I didn’t realize at the time that it is a quote from the Bible.

Now that I know its ecclesiastical credibility, I still don’t think it is the best metaphor.

We can think of metaphors broadly as the process of understanding one thing in terms of another. The other thing is more familiar and creates associated commonplaces between the known and the less known, unknown, or something we wish to know more deeply.

In this Biblical metaphor, the associated commonplace is the furtiveness of both thieves and salvation, a kind of criminal soteriology, if you will.

Metaphors both highlight and hide different aspects of experience. A good metaphor will illuminate things that had not been considered before or create new possibilities or a sense of connection.

I once heard a metaphor that compassion was like lotion for the heart. Yuck! While this image (really a simile) conveys the sense that compassion is soothing, the image is disgusting. It just doesn’t work for me because lotion does not belong in or on our internal organs.

Cover_108MetaphorsAs the title suggests, my book 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness is a compendium of classical and contemporary metaphors for understanding mind, self, our quirkiness, acceptance, and practicing mindfulness. It was recently re-released from Wisdom Publications.

These metaphors range from complex images and stories to simple comparisons. One of my favorites is the DVD commentary, a metaphor that was very au currant in 2007 when I wrote this book but getting a bit dated now with the popularity of streaming media.

If you still watch DVDs and watch the “director’s commentary” that mode is very much like how we conduct our mental lives. The “movie” of our life is there in the background and we talk over it, rendering opinion after opinion, meanwhile missing out on the richness of the movie.

The entirety of our lives is a metaphoric process as we are always understanding one thing in terms of another. In fact, this is the way that our brains work. We never experience something completely new and always from what we have already learned, experienced, and remembered.

The key is to keep our categories flexible, not being so beholden to what we already think we know and opening to the possibilities of each moment. Look for a new metaphor today as you move about the world. Write and tell me what you discover!