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February 11, 2013

Mindfulness And The Body: Second Week of Sharon Salzberg's Retreat

In this second week of Sharon Salzberg's retreat, "Mindfulness and the Body," she expands our understanding of mindfulness as a practice and perceptual tool. She describes mindfulness as a "quality of awareness where our attention is not distorted by bias." Developing awareness of our minds' habitual thoughts that invade and color our perception is essential to changing the way we relate to our experiences. More »
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February 08, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 8: Meditation, Interrupted

My regular sitting practice tapered off about a year ago. I wish I could say what happened and why but I’m not really sure. My life didn’t fall apart or anything. Nor did it fall apart when I stopped sitting. I guess I still had my practice of sorts, cobbled together from sustained periods of concentration or devotion, purposely induced thoughts and lines of reasoning conjured up to counter what I knew was unwholesome, lying in bed staring at the tree branches outside my window, etc. The 28-day program, I hope, will provide a glimpse of what I might be missing and perhaps an opportunity to resuscitate a regular sitting practice. More »
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February 08, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Chinese New Year and Death Cafes

Emma Varvaloucas
Chinese New Year this year falls on Sunday, February 10. It's the year of the black water snake. If you're celebrating (and hey, even if you're not), a very happy new year to you! More »
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February 08, 2013

Meditation Month: Guided Body Scan Meditation

It's Meditation Month here at Tricycle! That means it's time to join the Tricycle staff in making the commitment to sit every day of February—no exceptions and no excuses. We're blogging our triumphs and tribulations here on the Trike blog and at Vipassana teacher Sharon Salzberg's "Real Happiness" website throughout the month. We'll also be sharing videos, audio interviews, articles, and tips from well-known Buddhist teachers that will help you develop and maintain a meditation practice. More »
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February 07, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Black Ground Paintings

Jeff Watt
Buddhist practice and Buddhist art have been inseparable in the Himalayas ever since Buddhism arrived to the region in the eighth century. But for the casual observer it can be difficult to make sense of the complex iconography. Not to worry—Himalayan art scholar Jeff Watt is here to help. In this "Himalayan Buddhist Art 101" series, Jeff is making sense of this rich artistic tradition by presenting weekly images from the Himalayan Art Resources archives and explaining their roles in the Buddhist tradition.   Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Black Ground Paintings Black ground paintings are compositions in which the ground preparation for the canvas is of a black color or the background of the composition is painted black. This type of painting, with its unique and recognizable appearance, has an early historical source and ritual component. More »
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February 07, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 7: Thanking my Suffering

This past weekend, I told my friends when it was over, will hereby be known as The Weekend of the Unfortunate Decisions. It was a series of choices so emotionally masochistic that they deserve to be capitalized, bolded, and forever flagged in my memory's archives as "Things I Should Never, Ever Do Again."The emotional stress of this behavior led to a low but persistent hum of anxiety that vibrated through my body without rest for days. Because I was anxious, I forgot to eat. I couldn't sleep. Meanwhile, I was exercising like mad in a misguided effort to purge the tension from my system. So I can hardly claim surprise when my body shut down on me on Sunday night, and I was left, anxiety-ridden and sleep-deprived, to deal with a very bad case of low blood sugar, a fever, and a panic attack entirely of my own making. More »
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February 06, 2013

When the Iron Bird Flies

An Interview with Director Victress Hitchcock
In her documentary When the Iron Bird Flies, now showing at the Tricycle Film Club through the month of February, director Victress Hitchcock follows the journey of Tibetan Buddhism from its past seclusion in the Land of Snows to its current (almost) mainstream status in the West. The film explores a pressing question as Tibetan Buddhism's influence grows worldwide: In these incredibly chaotic, modern times, can these age old teachings help us find genuine happiness—and create a saner, more compassionate 21st century world? More »
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February 06, 2013

The Real Stuff

Sitting with Pain Cator Shachoy
The author of this guest post, Cator Shachoy, founder of the nonprofit organization Youth Yoga Dharma, is currently leading a Tricycle community discussion about dealing with pain that arises during meditation. Join in on the discussion here. Odds are good that if you sit still for a long time, you will begin to feel pain. Our normal response is to move, to get away from that experience. But what if you don’t? What if you stay, and become curious instead? From this foundation of curiosity, you can grow interested in the experience of pain. What is this thing called “pain”?  Is it hard or soft, hot or cold? Does it tingle or vibrate?  When you look at it in this way, can it still be called pain? More »
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February 05, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 5: Scattered, But Gathering

I am new to meditating, but have read a decent amount of literature and have had the good fortune to meet a lot of teachers who have spoke very eloquently and convincingly about its benefits—so when the Meditation Challenge started I was very excited to commit to integrating it into my daily routine.  But how easy I found it to avoid or reason away just sitting down and doing it! Given, I have just moved into a new apartment which definitely is a consuming and demanding activity, but still, what is just 20-30 minutes? More »
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February 05, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Machik Labdron

Asha Kaufman
Biography and autobiography in Tibet are important sources for both education and inspiration. Tibetans have kept such meticulous records of their teachers that thousands of names are known and discussed in a wide range of biographical material. All these names, all these lives—it can be a little overwhelming. The authors involved in the Treasury of Lives are currently mining the primary sources to provide English-language biographies of every known religious teacher from Tibet and the Himalaya, all of which are organized for easy searching and browsing. Every Tuesday on the Tricycle blog, we will highlight and reflect on important, interesting, eccentric, surprising and beautiful stories found within this rich literary tradition.    Treasury of Lives: Machik Labdron More »
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February 04, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 4: The Perfect Sit

This is my third year participating in the 28-day commit to sit, and each year I’m reminded that the conditions for integrating a daily practice into my life are never “perfect.” There’s always some challenge, some distraction, that gets in the way of what I had hoped would be four weeks chock-full of blissful moments of peace and tranquility. More »
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February 04, 2013

A Real Pain in the Butt

Some hard facts about sitting, the sciatic nerve, aging, and your pelvis Cator Shachoy
The author of this guest post, Cator Shachoy, founder of the nonprofit organization Youth Yoga Dharma, is currently leading a Tricycle community discussion about dealing with pain that arises during meditation. Join in on the discussion here.  Let’s talk about your pelvis. You know—that big bony area at the geographic center of your body. Odds are good that you take it for granted. You may even be annoyed by the bony pokey-ness of it when you sit. Perhaps you think the less you feel your pelvis, the better. More »
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February 04, 2013

New Online Retreat: Real Happiness: A 28-Day Meditation Challenge

February is Meditation Month here at Tricycle. As we embark upon our 28-day meditation challenge, our new retreat with renowned meditation teacher and co-founder of Insight Meditation Society, Sharon Salzberg, is a great way for beginners to get started and for veterans to renew their practice. In this first week's retreat, "Concentration," which is available for all to watch, Sharon discusses how common it is for our minds to become scattered and subject to all kinds of distraction. The practice of concentration, or as she calls it, of "gathering," can result in a sense of empowerment and feelings of integration and presence.  More »
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February 01, 2013

Buddha Buzz: A Columbia Professor and a Death Row Inmate

Emma Varvaloucas
Not to be outdone by Burma's shocking level of prejudice against Muslims, a group of Sinhalese Buddhist monastics known as the "Buddhist Force" is campaigning to ban halal meat in Sri Lanka amidst attacks on Muslim-owned businesses and other violence. The Sinhalese president has urged the monks to maintain religious harmony within the country, especially since the nation's civil war with the Hindu Tamil Tigers ended only four years ago. More »
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February 01, 2013

Meditation Month Begins Today!

It might not say this on your desk calendars, but it's Meditation Month here at Tricycle! That means that starting today, it's time to join the Tricycle staff in making the commitment to sit every day of February—no exceptions and no excuses. We'll be blogging our triumphs and tribulations here and at Vipassana teacher Sharon Salzberg's "Real Happiness" website throughout the month. We'll also be sharing videos, audio interviews, articles, and tips from well-known Buddhist teachers that will help you develop and maintain a meditation practice. To start things off, you can download last year's Meditation Month e-book, Tricycle Teachings: Meditation, here.  Beginning Monday, February 4, you'll be able to: More »
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January 31, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Mahasiddha Appearance

Jeff Watt
Buddhist practice and Buddhist art have been inseparable in the Himalayas ever since Buddhism arrived to the region in the eighth century. But for the casual observer it can be difficult to make sense of the complex iconography. Not to worry—Himalayan art scholar Jeff Watt is here to help. In this "Himalayan Buddhist Art 101" series, Jeff is making sense of this rich artistic tradition by presenting weekly images from the Himalayan Art Resources archives and explaining their roles in the Buddhist tradition. Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Mahasiddha Appearance More »
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January 30, 2013

Straight Outta Kapilavastu

Home Taping Is Skill in Buddha M. Sophia Newman
One day, long after he became a teacher, the Buddha went to give his daily sermon to the monastic community. He climbed on the dais but didn’t speak. Instead, he held aloft a single flower. He waited in silence. The monks and nuns looked back at him as the minutes passed. Finally, a single monk, Kāśyapa, looked at the Buddha. Kāśyapa smiled. As ancient scripture records it, the Buddha said, “I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle dharma gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.”[i] In other words, “Great Kasyapa is enlightened.” The Buddha got offstage and called it a day. This is the origin story of Zen. Amen, Brother. More »
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January 30, 2013

We Love Getting Mail Like This

We love getting mail like this! This letter arrived from an anonymous Zen practitioner this morning: More »
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January 29, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Kagyu Founders Part 5, Taklungtangpa and Sanggye On

Alexander Gardner
Biography and autobiography in Tibet are important sources for both education and inspiration. Tibetans have kept such meticulous records of their teachers that thousands of names are known and discussed in a wide range of biographical material. All these names, all these lives—it can be a little overwhelming. The authors involved in the Treasury of Lives are currently mining the primary sources to provide English-language biographies of every known religious teacher from Tibet and the Himalaya, all of which are organized for easy searching and browsing. Every Tuesday on the Tricycle blog, we will highlight and reflect on important, interesting, eccentric, surprising and beautiful stories found within this rich literary tradition. More »