Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

A Tricycle Book Club Discussion with Sharon Salzberg

From the introduction of Real Happiness:

For thirty-six years, I’ve taught meditation to thousands of people, at the Insight Meditation Society retreat center in Barre, Massachusetts, which I cofounded in 1975, and at schools, corporations, government agencies, and community centers all over the world. I’ve introduced the techniques you’re about to encounter to groups of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, schoolteachers, police officers, athletes, teenagers, army chaplains and medics, doctors, nurses, burn patients, prisoners, frontline workers in domestic violence shelters, new moms and dads. My students come from every walk of life, ethnic background, and belief tradition.

And they’re part of a national trend: A 2007 survey (the most recent data available) by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that more than twenty million Americans had practiced meditation in the previous twelve months. They did so, they told researchers, to improve their overall wellness; for help with stress, anxiety, pain, depression, or insomnia; and
to deal with the symptoms and emotional strain of chronic illness such as heart disease and cancer.

People also turn to meditation, I’ve found, because they want to make good decisions, break bad habits, and bounce back better from disappointments. They want to feel closer to their families and friends; more at home and at ease in their own bodies and minds; or part of something larger than themselves. They turn to meditation because human lives are full of real, potential, and imagined hazards, and they want to feel safer, more confident, calmer, wiser. Beneath these varied motivations lie the essential truths that we’re all alike in wanting to be happy and in our vulnerability to pain and unpredictable, continual change.

Again and again I’ve seen novice meditators begin to transform their lives—even if they were initially resistant or skeptical. As I’ve learned through my own experience, meditation helps us to find greater tranquility, connect to our feelings, find a sense of wholeness, strengthen our relationships, and face our fears. That’s what happened to me.

Because of meditation, I’ve undergone profound and subtle shifts in the way I think and how I see myself in the world. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be limited to who I thought I was when I was a child or what I thought I was capable of yesterday, or even an hour ago. My meditation practice has freed me from the old, conditioned definition of myself as someone unworthy of love. Despite my initial fantasies whenI began meditating as a college student, I haven’t entered a steady state of glorious bliss. Meditation has made me happy, loving, and peaceful—but not every single moment of the day. I still have good times and bad, joy and sorrow. Now I can accept setbacks more easily, with less sense of disappointment and personal failure, because meditation has taught me how to cope with the profound truth that everything changes all the time.


Sharon Salzberg cofounded the Insight Meditation Society with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work. Sharon is blogging throughout the 28-day challenge at her website—here. Many others are blogging on her site along with her!

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LindaG's picture

Thank you for your kind thoughts and encouragement.

It is 7:05 pm of day 18 and I haven't yet meditated. I found myself talking myself out of it on my way home from work this evening. Then, I logged on and read the post on the home page for the 28 day challegne. I'm logging off now to do a 20 minute walking meditation.

Not sure why.

sharmila2's picture

Hi Sharon & everyone
I'm a regular meditator in the vipassana tradition, and have done between 30min & 2hrs each day for several years plus several retreats. I've sort of adapted the challenge to my pre- existing schedule. I find that whenever I sit for longer than an hour though, I have increased tension in my brain during the rest of the day; it feels like a pressure cooker. I finally decided that maybe I was becoming attached to mindfulness, but have no idea of how to skillfully let go! Any suggestions? Btw you, Jack Kornfield & Joseph Goldstein have been my de facto teachers for a while, through your books; thank you.
Metta and encouragement to all
Sharm

cbgoring's picture

I am here to make a confusion. I made the pledge to sit for all of Feb. , but I missed the 14th due to Valentines day and giving all my attention to my wife, which was a worthy cause. And I missed the 15th just due to being lazy. Even though it has only been 2 weeks, I have already noticed a difference in all aspects of my life - work life, home life, and the mindfullness I bring to all my relationships and interactions. I also have noticed a decrease in negative thoughts. Seeing this change has been fantastic. Thanks for your time.

SharonSalzberg's picture

Oh the joy of being able to begin again! Everyone stops now and then, don't feel badly about that. When you pick up the practice again, it feels like coming home. I'm glad you had a nice Valentine's day.

sharmila2's picture

Your confession was very sweet; more important than what you skipped was that you started again each time. I wish you many more fresh beginnings;
Metta
sd

mirrordrum's picture

oh, it's good to be home in the breath again!

i want to thank my fellow and sister travelers in this retreat for all the good stuff coming to me via the ethernet. you teach me so many things. a special shout out today to annE, LindaG and basho42. many thanks for your recent posts.

i was having an unwanted experience in the doctor's office today, kinda scary unpleasant, and i flashed on your posts. had the thought 'hey, this is an opportunity to be with the breath and the experience instead of fighting it.' so i focused as best i could on the breath. yes!

then became aware of intrusive sound of too-loud news TV w/ ads. promptly tensed up and then remembered the posts on this page again and thought, 'another opportunity to practice.' bringing attention to the breath, i labeled everything i heard [nurses, TV, office noises] as 'sound.' returning to the breath felt familiar and gave me a place to focus my attention and energy. i was happy to find a place to rest in the middle of the experience and really, truly grateful for the support in this sangha.

may all beings be happy
may they be healthy
may they be free from enmity and danger
may they know peace and well-being

SharonSalzberg's picture

Nice to think of everyone supporting each other. When I leave Barre and the Insight Meditation Society to go somewhere, people often say to me, "I keep remembering that people are on retreat at the center, they are meditating, and i draw strength and inspiration from their practice." We can also add the dedicated practice of people everywhere, in their daily lives, very committed to transformation.

LindaG's picture

Nice way of bringing formal practice into informal!

I had a similar experience. My spouse was acting charged about a difference. While I had a quick pull to go after him, I thought hey, this is just like a distraction that occurs when I sit. What if I just let it drift away like a thought or noise disturbance, and focus on the breath right now. Of course - it faded.

Hope your experience of the doctor's visit is fading, as well.

Marys's picture

Just read this from the "Reflections of Week 2" section: ... "If we look closely at it, the pain is bound to change, and that's as true of a headache as it is of a heartache: the discomfort oscillates; there are beats of rest between moments of unpleasantness. When we discover firsthand that pain isn't static, that it's a living, changing system, it doesn't seem as solid or insurmountable as it did at first." This allows for so much space! Thank you Sharon!

trijen's picture

Thanks for sharing your experience and these words, Basho42! That excerpt from Week 2 jumped out at me, too. I'm really trying to work with the space between stimulus and response -- exercising my choice and trying to tap into whatever inner wisdom lies beneath my surface reactions. Remembering that the pain I'm feeling is temporary and will change -- that's so helpful when I'm really triggered. Strong emotions can overtake me like an emotional storm, and it's great to remember that storms pass of their own accord...So then for me it becomes partly about what Pema Chodron would call being "willing to stay" through the storm. Can I hang on through the peak discomfort until it passes, instead of impulsively "scratching the itch" to try to "make" it go away. So it's also a form of refraining...

Thanks for everyone's posts!

SharonSalzberg's picture

Sometimes I try to think of strong emotions as storms passing through me. I say, "it's weather," and make enough space for the torrential rain, or thunder and lightening. It helps me remember not to try to block it, nor to feel it is permanent and essentially me -- it's a storm passing through.

trijen's picture

Yes! Thank you.

Jen

Marys's picture

I've missed a few days but I'm back on track. What I'm finding though, is that even on the days that I miss the "formal" sit there are ample opportunities to connect with the teachings and Sharon's book. I had another "episode" with my teenager on Sunday and a few things happened....I had discovered my diamond earrings were missing (ok, cubic zurconia) and knew that my son had taken them (a much longer narrative), so I go into his room saying, you need to stop taking things from your family and then he began his flat out denying, why don't you trust me, you always...blah, blah, blah. The wonderful thing is that I became acutely aware of my body and all the sensations arising from his speech; burning, tight stomach, heart pounding through my chest. Then my mind, wanting so much to engage; I've been through this enough times that I absolutely knew I had to get up and leave, for everybodies sake. I wanted there to be a consequence, especially after I found the earrings the next day. This time what I found was that I was really seeking clarity before I said anything to him. After 24 hours he happened to call saying that maybe something was wrong with his cell phone and I very calmly replied, no, there's nothing wrong, I turned off your phone. This is the consequence for your recent action and I'll turn it back on when I'm ready. He was pretty subdued and just answered, alright.

I learned so much from this encounter. It showed me many things but most importantly, the understanding that comes with giving space to a feeling or a situation, not trying to push anything away, the value of allowing and oh my goodness..the breath. I saw how me being clear and coming from a place of my own understanding and responding instead of reacting made so much difference in the way I was able to give my son's consequence. I'm sure there will be more of these encounters but, just as sitting formally on a regular basis really generates a strong inner "seat", repsonding to teenagedom and taking the time for clarity brings sanity to the situation, myself and my son as well.

SharonSalzberg's picture

That's a beautiful example. I've found in my own experience of meditation that even when I think nothing is happening, something is happening. And the proof, of course, is in how we respond instead of react.we remember to breathe, we know that if we pause, we will have options. I'd also add that even if in the next encounter you feel you've blown it, and totally lost your cool, that isn't a sign of failure. I think of that as just the natural rhythm of progress -- inevitably there will be ups and downs, and the most crucial thing to remember is that we can always begin again.

sharmila2's picture

Many bows to your experience & wise handling; as practice matures I find that wise response becomes much clearer, & is quite different from "no response" or, in common parlance, passive- aggression.trust the dharma, and all will be well

LindaG's picture

Day 15 and I am back from a mini vacation. Meditated daily: on airflights, poolside, in the midst of chatter all around. Simply finding the breath, one at a time, some went missing, some I caught just before they were forgotten. Many experiences accompanied the breath, but the breath was ever present. Whether I noticed it or not.

Commitment.

SharonSalzberg's picture

I'm glad the meditation went on vacation with you! It's nice to think of it as a friendly companion, rather than a chore (especially poolside). And this too shows the usefulness of being with the breath -- no matter what situation we are in, we have a touchstone that brings us back to the present moment.

mirrordrum's picture

thanks for this. wonderful. big smile :)

annE's picture

So, getting in the habit of mindfulness of finding that moment to stop and notice was really helpful. I was out with my daughter having a fabulous mom/daughter shopping-laughing-eating-talking day. I was cc'd on an email where a team member took credit for much of my work. I was instantly angry. Which would have spoiled my day out with my daughter. Not done anything to resolve the credit grab. And just given me a headache. I realized that the professor on the project knows me really well and we had talked about the project earlier. She knows I did a lot of work, whether the team member mentioned me or not. My daughter and I were out to have a great evening. She lives on campus and I don't see her often anymore. I sat in Restoration Hardware in the mall and breathed mindfully for a few minutes ( the sales lady probably thought I was just really enjoying the great chair) and went on with my time. I know that's not really why I started this challenge, but it helped. It really helped.

SharonSalzberg's picture

I loved that example. After all, we practice meditation not to become some kind of great meditator, but to have a better life. And while we can't do anything to prevent difficult people coming our way, we can relate differently to their behavior, which might include taking appropriate action to protect ourselves, but doesn't have to include their ruining our day. And your example also pointed to why it is so useful to have something like the breath to come back to -- it's always with us.

SharonSalzberg's picture

I'm in Denver now. I think the last time I was here was for the Democratic National Convention. And tomorrow I go to Boulder, which is where Joseph Goldstein and I began teaching -- in the first summer of Naropa Institute, in 1974. And Feb 14 is IMS's anniversary..we moved into the building on Valentine's Day 1976. So lots of memories, newer and older, in this season. I think about one of the points in Real Happiness about not having so many add-ons to our experience, ( such as comparing to the past, projecting into the future) or at least seeing them for what they are. It's very special in many ways to feel that evocation of the past.. I'm not talking about rejecting it. But the only way we can be truly open to what's now and what's next is to center in the present moment, and pay attention. Of course those add-ons will come up, and we needn't blame ourselves for that. But we can be aware of them with clarity, and in the spirit of discovery remember to return our attention to our experience right now.

mirrordrum's picture

i have a favor to ask. i got sharon's book today and was really excited. however, the font size is so small i can't read it. i had particularly wanted to read the instruction on 'not breath.' i wonder if someone would be kind enough to post the essence of the instruction so i can copy and paste it into a text file for easy reference.

you're welcome to send it to my e-mail addy at aemosesBE@PEACEcomcast.net. just be sure to remove the "BE PEACE" part from the addy. thankee. :)

i know it's difficult to type copy from a new book and i would be profoundly grateful. _/\_

SharonSalzberg's picture

I can ask the publisher on Monday if they have that text that can be sent to you, but in the meantime, I think it also might be one of the meditations on the CD.Sorry it is hard to read.

mirrordrum's picture

no no no. please don't add that to your already hectic schedule. you're very kind and i appreciate it but it's not necessary. i asked my partner if she'd find that bit and read it so i can type out the gist and she said she'd be delighted. i should've done that in the first place. *eye roll*

as for not being able to read your book, i, too, am sorry i can't. at the same time, it's provided a marvelous opportunity to be mindful of attachment and aversion and frustration and the ways i can create quite a remarkable well of self-absorption and suffering out of what is, at most, an inconvenience. indeed, observing that has been one of many kewl things to come out of this retreat.

sometimes the gifts i get are things that make me happy and joyful in and of themselves. sometimes, gifts come as unwanted experience and the gift is only discovered later after practicing with the unwanted experience. i confess i prefer the first kind. ;)

thanks again, Sharon.

trijen's picture

Lots of strong and difficult emotion arising in this morning's sit...feelings of rejection, anger, distrust, resentment, and distance pertaining to some unilateral decisions my relationship partner has made for himself that affect us both. While sitting today I kept returning to Sharon's suggestion in Week One's guided breath meditation to regard emotions that arise as clouds passing through the sky that don't actually change the sky. It's a helpful image, because I sense that my feeling certain emotions over and over *does* change me and gradually tilt me toward self-pity and other "negative" states, just as eating unhealthy food every day would undermine my physical health. After I sat I re-read Jack Kornfield's reminder that "The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?"

I like these reminders that I get to choose -- every day, every minute!

Thanks, everyone, for being here!

Jen

SharonSalzberg's picture

One important part of our insight is not blaming ourselves for what arises in our minds.. We can't insist on control, just like we can affect the body, but not ultimately, finally control it, as in "I've decided not to die." But we commonly do the psychological equivalent : I shouldn't be angry, afraid, etc.
We have so much freedom and creativity in learning to relate to those difficult emotions differently -- that's where our power is. And not expending energy in self-blame over what we never could have controlled is a big help in that!

trijen's picture

I know in general I tend to be hard on myself and attempt to control things; I'm gradually learning to soften around those and let go, bit by bit. The "I've decided not to die" made me laugh! Point taken. Thanks, Sharon, for the glass-half-full reminder to focus on where I CAN have some influence (reminiscent of the 12-Step Serenity Prayer)!

mirrordrum's picture

may all who are suffering in Egypt,
whether rich or poor,
government or non-government,
powerful or powerless,
women or men,
young or old,
soldiers or civilians,
pro-Mubarak or pro-revolution
may all without exception
be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
may they know happiness and the causes of happiness
may they be free from enmity and danger
may they take care of themselves happily
may the know peace.

as i watch the news,
may i be free from aversion, judgment, enmity and delusion
may i be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
may i take care of myself happily
may i be mindful
may i know peace

may all beings everywhere
be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
may they know happiness and the causes of happiness
may they be free from enmity and danger
may the have ease of well being
may they know peace

Brucio's picture

Hi mirrordrum,

How lovely.

Bruce

Monty McKeever's picture

!
thanks for this mirrordrum

drgayle's picture

I have just ordered the kindle download, and just become a member of the tricycle community. I have been meditating spontaneously, everyday, almost for the last 6 months, but different places and times. I wnder if doing it the same time and place would be better. I look forward to learning.

Marys's picture

I've been sitting in the morning but I missed Tuesday so I came home for lunch and sat then...what a nice way to refresh before going back to work! This morning I knew I hadn't made enough time so shifted right in to placing my intention on mindfullness throuhgout the day. Everything so much more alive! I don't want to waste my time feeling bad or guilty about the "plan"...I just keep moving forward.
I am appreciating Sharon's recollection in the book of Joseph Goldstein's response to "add ons". Not piling all our thoughts on top of what actually is going on. Very helpful with a drama filled teenage son!

SharonSalzberg's picture

My Burmese meditation teacher, Sayadaw U Pandita, used to ask a seemingly simple question of his students: "What do you feel with your feet touching the floor?" What he was looking for was a description of direct sensations -- hardness, pressure, throbbing, heat, coolness. It didn't need to be an elaborate list, or very long -- just a description of some actual sensations. That kind of exercise is done to help us perceive a layer of our experience that isn't strictly conceptual. Many people would respond with, "i feel my feet against the floor!" This, of course is a true statement and a reassuring one -- it demonstrates the conventional, consensual reality. We've agreed to call these feet, and a floor. If he were to ask someone that question and the person replied, "I'm feeling the lampshade, we would all worry about him.
But the "feet against the floor" description has a certain static element to it -- we'd call them feet yesterday, right now and presumably tomorrow. But if we are detailing heaviness, pressure, tingling, vibration, we have entered the world of noticing moment to moment change.

Once I was sitting in the back of the room when Sayadaw u Pandita asked someone this question, and he replied," When my feet touch the floor I feel my oneness with all beings and the whole cosmos." I sat there and thought, "Don't say that Just say, 'hardness!!'"

We can use awareness of sensations in the body to come back to the moment, to ground our energy, and to have a direct door to the world of constant change. That's why mindfulness of the body is emphasized so much in Buddhist teachings.

annE's picture

The dog decided to help my mindfulness today. Breathe. Dog wants to be petted. Breathe. Doggy kisses. Breathe. Ack Dog breath. Decided to be mindful of the dog.

mirrordrum's picture

sat for 25 minutes last night. it went very quickly. started out a bit disoriented and tried several of Sharon's suggestions for getting buzzing brain to connect to diaphragm. finally found that lovely 'blowhole' in the top of my head and breathed in from crown down and out soles of feet than back in through soles and out the crown. enjoyed that so much i was loathe to move back to regular breathing but did and was a bit more centered. tremendous heat generated at the base of the spine and in my hands. haven't had that happen for a while.

had energizer bunny mind to the max, which was fine. amazing to note how many different sensations, thoughts, images, sounds, commentaries can go on in the brain simultaneously.

Also had Anna Dominoes, our youngest cat, trying to engage me in frolic. gave me giggle fits. she spent the 25 minutes haring round the meditation room making 'come hither' sounds and finally started knocking things off of surfaces onto the floor. one-point focus, that girl.

may all beings in this sangha be healthy
may they be happy
may they be free from enmity and danger
may they take care of themselves happily
may they be at ease

LindaG's picture

20 minutes each day! Yesterday I included the three breath pause throughout my day, that Sharon discusses in the book. As best I could remember to do so, that is. I'm continuing with that today as I really noticed it help with presence.

On a more challenging side, much more difficlult to stay with breath during informal practice yesterday when my hubby and I encountered one of our relationship "issues". I caught the breath and stayed with it until... You can guess from there ;)

I will be heading out of town for a few days EARLY tomorrow morning. Finding time to meditate will be a challenge. I plan to do so on the plane for tomorrow, though.

Keep at it my fellow sangha-ites.

trijen's picture

Thanks, LindaG! Hope your trip goes smoothly.

Jen

trijen's picture

Hi! I'm joining in mid-stream, and am very grateful to be here with everyone! I just got the book late Sunday night, sat yesterday w/the core breathing meditation, and will go sit today as soon as I log out. Thanks, Sharon and everyone, for the gentle invitation back to a daily sitting practice. My "formal" sitting practice has been on-and-off for many years, and I appreciate the group support and camaraderie here.

Earthmother49, thanks for your image of the "movie trailer of all my thoughts and feelings." Helps me remember that the contents of that flow aren't necessarily either the main event or "reality," and that I have some choice in the matter -- what kind of attention do I want to pay to this? How real do I want to tell myself this is? The role of exercising choice is really big for me in my inner life right now: e.g., responding v. reacting, giving myself processing and settling time before responding, choosing to not dwell on negatives or indulge in downward thought spirals...

LindaG, thanks for the reminder that it's about bringing it into daily life, not about reaching a goal.

Msriatw, February is typically a hard month for me, too, for personal reasons. Hope you feel ease within your month.

May we, and all beings, all benefit from our shared practice! Thanks for being here, Sharon, and everyone!

Jen

SharonSalzberg's picture

Welcome to the challenge. I think the question of choice is very interesting, as so many false impressions about mindfulness have to do with passivity and complacency, like, "I'm just going to sit here and watch this mental event until the end of time and I'll never do anything about it." But one of the main functions of mindfulness is to give us a choice -- when we are submerged in and overcome by an experience, say an emotion, there isn't a lot of learning happening and so very little sense of choice about whether to or how to act based on that emotion. And if there is tremendous struggle against even feeling that emotion, there also isn't a lot of learning or much sense of choice. A mindful relationship to our own experience opens up our vision of the choices we have -- to react or not, to act or not.

trijen's picture

"A mindful relationship to our own experience" -- that's a lovely way to put it; thank you.

The dance of "how much is enough" is so challenging for me, in part because I've found that I usually *can* learn some really valuable things from being temporarily submerged in an emotion. Sometimes that's how I learn what's most important to me, or what I need to do something about, etc. It can be my trustworthy emotional mirror. Not "going deep" into that place can be a form of denial and bypass for me. What's so important is what I choose to do next. Can I bring myself mindfully out of that place, or do I choose to stay there or to keep re-visiting it to "indulge" it or "wallow" in it, like an addict wanting strong sensation? So finding that balance can be really tricky.

Thank you for all the tools and wisdom you're offering now and throughout your life of teaching! This challenge is definitely helping me stay grounded at a, well, "challenging" time! :-)

Jen

LindaG's picture

Jen, I feel your enthusiasm for getting back into your formal meditations and finally getting on board with the book. Welcome.

mirrordrum's picture

oh, one other thing. over the last two years, i have fallen into the habit of making snarky remarks, especially political ones. i don't know how it can but, heaven help me, it feels good. it is not skillful. it is not compassionate. i do it with malice aforethought. today is 'be mindful of what i say' day. watching the almost overwhelming desire to convey something derogatory about a group of individuals to my partner. watching the desire to make fun of others was the only way i could stop myself. i can be more skilled than that. i want to be more skilled than that. the amount of tension generated by keeping silence is enormous. how can bashing others, even mildly, feel good? i don't know but it does.

doesn't matter. instead i have the intention to. . .to what. . .well, i don't know just at the moment so i will make that part of the mindfulness work for today.

i think i have disapproving rabbit mind today.

metta. :)

mirrordrum's picture

session 5 was just one of these 'doing it to do it' ones. and that was fine.

session 6, last night, was storytelling night. many thoughts led to embellished narratives, remembrances, imaginings. at one point heard a very familiar voice say in a most judgmental tone, 'will you stop that and get your a** back to the breath.' i never do know who's talking and who's being talked to in these inner conversations, but bless me, i didn't get drawn off onto that endlessly interesting diversion. ;)

did finally ease into the breath and had one of those lovely side-effect moments when i was connected to the ocean as the breath became tidal flow and then to all beings breathing. this always fascinates me so much and gives such a sense of connection that i get quite attached to it. i really was with the breath, though. just sort of an 'everything breathing together' experience. one among the multitude.

today, practicing mindful sweeping. i do like to listen to a book while i sweep but today decided to spend some part of the time sweeping in mindfulness. very complex process, sweeping.

also had mindfulness of crows. we have a mated pair of crows that comes for bread and p-butter. great gorgeous spirits. they visited this morning. i wish they may be happy, healthy, free from suffering, joyful in the wind. 'oh wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful and yet again wonderful, and after that out of all whooping!'

it's so nice to be home with the practice again. i'm lucky.

may all beings be happy
may they be healthy
may they be free from suffering
may they take care of themselves happily
may they know peace

Susan A's picture

Late to start but I'm taking the plunge!

mirrordrum's picture

come on in, susan. water's fine. :)

may you be healthy
may you be happy
may you be free from fear and danger
may you have ease of well-being

ellie

Monty McKeever's picture

thanks to everyone who has commented. It's really inspiring to see all these different experiences described in one place. Lots of insight in this thread...

I just posted a blog about my experience with the challenge over the weekend here: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/days-5-6-and-7-great-meditation-challenge-c...
It's titled "Days 5, 6, and 7 of The Great Meditation Challenge: Canine Chaos"

best,
Monty

mirrordrum's picture

thanks for the link, Monty. i've enjoyed visiting and hope you'll keep blogging. will comment there in the near future.

may you be happy
may you be healthy
may you be at ease
may you take care of yourself joyfully

LindaG's picture

This morning, I did the "not breath" meditation from Sharon's book. Interesting. So, quite often in my meditations the ghost of "vulnerable" appears. Usually I concentrate on that sensation or state til it fades. Quite different to see it come up, label it as "not breath" and concentrate fully on the next breath.

Also, noted that a coughing jag is quite a violent interruption of breath, and how interesting to concentrate on breath in the midst of a coughing fit.

So goes day 7.

SharonSalzberg's picture

I actually used that meditation of "breath" and "not breath" quite a lot at a certain point in my practice in India. i was so terribly judgmental of my thoughts and emotions, and also not used to seeing my inner world so clearly -- I was often reactive, like 'Oh no, I didn't know I was so angry. I'm awful!" etc...I used the "breath, not breath" to cut through all of that judgment, to see that it could be the nastiest thought, or the sweetest, and that for both I could have the same kind of spacious, relaxed awareness, "Oh, it's not the breath." It was a great relief, and the platform for a lot of insight.

mirrordrum's picture

wow. mindful coughing. or mindful breathing whilst coughing.

glad you have your book. be happy to receive mine maybe next week.'not breath' sounds interesting.

may you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
may you know happiness and the causes of happiness
may you be free from enmity and delusion
may you take care of yourself happily

ellie