Why Should You Go On A Meditation Retreat?

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The idea of a meditation retreat freaks people out in the best possible way. An in-depth meditation retreat, something longer than just a weekend, is almost always a worthwhile and transformative experience, both for our relationship to meditation practice and for our life in general. We build confidence in our own mind, and clarify our intention for moving forward along our path in life.In less than a month, I will be co-leading my only in-depth meditation retreat of 2014. I can't wait. I notice, that as I talk to students and friends about their practice, people often meet the prospect of a longer retreat, say a week of mostly silent practice, with both inspiration and trepidation. Sometimes their resistance is palpable. But slowing down and getting away like this, and also building trust that we can actually handle our mind during long periods of practice, is an invaluable experience. I

Lessons From Philip Seymour Hoffman: Russell Brand Says Our Drug Laws Need To Change

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A lot of us were so surprisingly saddened by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of this generation. I had heard various cool stories about him from an old friend who knew him. I love this story here of a critic who met him on the subway. Given that he was only 46 when he overdosed from heroin, there is a huge pile of sadness from the sudden reality of his death. (more…)

What Is Happening in Russia Right Now is Downright Scary…

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I just finished reading this lengthy piece in the current aedition of GQ, "Inside the Iron Closet" about the culture and strange legality of homophobia in Russia right now. From Pussy Riot to random people on the street, there seems to be a massive crackdown on all kinds of self-expression in that country, especially the freedom to be queer or gay in public (or private) life. (more…)

Buddhist Thoughts on The Super Bowl

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I wonder, as I prepare to host a Super Bowl party with my girlfriend for people who don't really care about the Super Bowl (aka artists and Buddhists), what future sociologists might think about the event. Will they think it was a beautiful celebration of the human drive to achieve and compete? Or will they think it is a greed-driven gladiator arena, a 21st century Rome, emblematic of a society in steep decline? Optimism tells me the former, realism tells me the latter. (more…)

The Revolution Will Not Be Blonde

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The next cover for Time magazine is getting a lot of attention—and a ton of heat—from the mindfulness community. It is actually the second time that they have run a cover about meditation with a beautiful blond Caucasian woman on the cover. The first was Heather Graham in 2003. I must admit that my biggest personal bias against Heather will always be her performance in Twin Peaks, not her Time cover. (more…)

My Favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Quote

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King day y'all. Nothing I could say that he didn't say better, and first. Here's the man himself: “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality . . . Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality. “ -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace   (Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King with Thich Nhat Hanh)

Four Tips To Help Your Meditation Practice Become Daily

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Here are four very simple tips for turning your dabbling, on and off, casual,  swinging, it-loves-me-it-loves-me-not relationship with meditation into a daily practice that actually helps you. I will be talking about a similar topic tomorrow night at the Shambhala Center of New York. Hope to see New Yorkers there. It's supposed to be cold, but not as cold as it is in the Midwest right now! (more…)

Snow Day! Using 2014 to Deepen Your Practice

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I recorded a little YouTube video message on this snow day in NYC. I'm feeling optimistic about 2014. Hope you are too. Please be in touch if you have questions about deepening your practice and study of meditation. Links to the programs I referred to in the video are here: -"Finding Your Path" Online Course - Begins January 13 -IDP 2014 Yearlong Immersion and Instructor Training Program - January 15 Application Deadline (Program Starts Feb 21) -Shambhala Training Retreat with Ethan and David Nichtern January 24-26 -Retreat in Vermont with Ethan and Acharya Suzann Duquette March 6-20  

Screw Resolutions, What Are Your 2014 Aspirations?

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Here is a practice I often give to my private Dharma students at the end of each year as we contemplate the year ahead. The difference between a resolution and an aspiration is that a resolution usually lasts only for the first few days of the year, if that. An aspiration is Buddhism's codeword for a long-term intention that we return to again and again and again. An  aspiration forms the basis for a complete life path, not just a fad or impulsive decision. I'll be talking about this in NYC on January 7 at the first Weekly Dharma gathering of the year at the Shambhala center. Read on if you would like to engage in this contemplative and journaling practice as you prepare for 2014. I would do  this practice in three steps. (more…)

Help Me Down The Home Stretch!

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I'm writing this in my capacity as Interdependence Project board member. If the below is not something you can help with, please disregard! We are engaging in a year end fundraising campaign to reach $30,000 for putting ourselves in a great position to start 2014. I have personally never felt more confident about our leadership or where we stand as an organization. We have a great executive director, Kim Brown, and a dedicated Board, and an amazing community, both online and in person. Hope you can check out a class in the new year. Due to a few generous teaching gifts I received recently, I was personally able to give $1000 to IDP this year, which felt great to do on behalf of awesome students. I have personally committed to raising $3000 more in the last 6 days of the year, as we are just about $6000 shy of the