Here are a handful of articles and posts I have published on my site over the years.
On Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness: Finding Joy in the Present Moment
If we examine our days truthfully, most of us would agree that we tend to spend a lot of time operating on autopilot. We’re always making plans, thinking about the future, trying to complete our To-Do lists. We are so busy rushing towards the future and some perceived wonderful event that is more exciting than the present moment, that we don’t actually experience our lives.
Usually, when we are suffering in some way, we habitually grasp towards things that we know have previously made us feel good. For some of us, the pick-me-up might be eating chocolate, talking to a friend or watching TV. We basically look for anything that will distract us from the unpleasantness that we are experiencing.
When our minds are mindful and aware it can dramatically change the nature of our day and transform our relationship with ourselves, others and the world. Practicing mindfulness helps us reconnect and remove barriers that prevent us from enjoying each moment.
As our lives get busier and more frantic, eating has become an activity that we usually do alongside other activities. Be it watching TV, working, answering emails, or thinking about what we need to do next; rarely do we eat our meals with mindfulness and enjoy the flavors of the food.
Buddhism offers a smorgasbord of different meditation techniques we can practice to achieve everything we could possibly wish for: from developing peace, eliminating our anger, cultivating compassion, to meditations that will bring us to ultimate, ever-lasting happiness and wisdom (also known as achieving Enlightenment in Buddhism).
Most Dharma centers these days offer people the chance to deepen their meditation practice by offering retreats, anywhere from one day to a few months in duration. For many of us, even to take one day out of our lives to attend a retreat can be difficult, but the benefits are lasting and well worth making the effort to attend.
Our life is like a burning candle. The flame illuminates our surroundings which illustrates the energy, excitement and joy of living. But while there is light, there is also a shadow being cast. This shadow that we cannot avoid is the certainty that one day we must die. If we can keep death as a friendly reminder, as opposed to a morbid one; we will surely make each moment count.
One thing that has changed a lot for everyone in the last two decades is society’s ease of access to the news. With the information literally at our fingertips, it seems that many of us have developed what seems like an insatiable appetite for news stories.
Meditation is the key to developing a mind that is peaceful, compassionate and wise, but it can also unlock extra-sensory abilities that we were not previously able to experience. Some meditators who have been willing to document their experience have shared how they have gained special abilities following a period of meditation.
On Finding Happiness In Daily Life
How to Solve Problems: It’s All About Perspective
One of the great things about Buddhism is its ability to transform anything, and everything, into the path of awakening. In Buddhism, we try to solve all our problems in life by treating them as opportunities to develop spiritual qualities in us that otherwise wouldn’t be cultivated.
Nobody wants to have negative thoughts. But how do we stop them from arising, multiplying or increasing in strength? Preventing and eliminating negative thoughts from our mind forms two of the Four Great Efforts we should be trying to practice, (the other two are to cultivate positive thoughts and maintain them). One technique for abandoning negative thoughts is to remember that we don’t have to believe every thought that comes into our mind.
There is a meditation technique called ‘tracing back the thought’. When we apply it to our everyday life it means that when we notice our mind has been caught up in a story we try to slowly go back through the mental events to see how it has resulted in the current chaos in our mind.
There’s nothing shameful about experiencing suffering or dissatisfaction in our lives. The Buddha taught in the first and second Noble Truth, that life is ultimately dissatisfactory, because not only do we constantly crave for something better, but we aren’t able to feel satisfied once we finally attain the things we’ve desired.
It is never pleasant when someone hurts us with their words or actions. The good news though is that the unpleasant moment is momentary, it only lasts a second. The bad news, however, is that most of us are very good at creating permanency in impermanent things.
Every moment we choose to let go of our fears and expectations, it gives us the ability to simply see ‘what is’. There is no moment that is more important than the present one. And it is when our minds are open without judgment and expectation that we see the peace that naturally resides within us.
Life can be stormy; full of emotional ups and downs. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be bad. Even rainfall can bring new growth, freshness in the air, and a feeling of relaxation when we listen to the rain from the comfort of inside.
Another common misconception that people have about Buddhists is that they don’t really think of Buddhists as the type to do charity work: opting for the solitude of meditation instead of serving meals in a soup kitchen. But since the birth of Engaged Buddhism, that has started to change.
In Buddhism, it is said that all sentient beings are ones who can perceive and feel, which raises the question whether animals are conscious and experience feelings and emotions like we do. For those of us with pets, like cats or dogs, it may be easy to see that these types of animals experience similar emotions to us like happiness, sadness and even jealousy and pain.
There seems to be a growing sentiment that a vegetarian or vegan diet is more in line with keeping with the Buddhist values of non-violence and wanting to reduce the suffering of the world. If you’re considering changing to a vegetarian diet, often the most daunting task is deciding what meals to make to replace your non-vegetarian ones.
Imagine… You’re sitting next to the MahaBodhi Temple, only meters away from the very spot where the Buddha gained full enlightenment. You take in a few deep breaths and look up at the beautiful heart-shaped Bodhi tree leaves moving gently in the breeze above you. There is a feeling of wonder and excitement in the air, knowing that this was the place where the Buddha sat in meditation and achieved a great awakening 2,600 years ago.
In October 2015, I had the privilege of taking five eager travelers from across the globe on pilgrimage to India and Nepal. It was a wonderful trip and my fifth time going on a Buddhist pilgrimage. Going on pilgrimage, in general, is an extraordinary journey, but to take people along with me last year, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.