What the teachers say about restarting your Buddhist practice: overcoming obstacles, bringing back the enthusiasm, re-establishing faith and commitments
Video mantra chanting: Lama Tsongkhapa’s Migtsema wonderfully chanted by Yoko Dharma. Benefits: healing, compassion, metta, wisdom
Video teaching: Metta and Karuna, the “most important” Buddhist practices of Love and Compassion, from H.E. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche with Lama Tsongkhapa Migtsema mantra chanted by Yoko Dharma
Sacred outlook – Seeing beyond ordinary perception in modern culture, and American Buddhism
Why is pride a poison, and when can pride of accomplishment be considered a good thing? With full Ambattha Sutta “Pride of Birth and its Fall.”
Vajrasattva, the Great Purifyer, among the most powerful and profound healing and purifications techniques in Vajrayana Buddhism
Family lay Buddhism: What the Teachers Say about keeping motivated in your Buddhist Practice as parents — and coping with every-day family life in a modern stressful world
Reconnecting with nature to reboot our “spiritual self” activates a feeling of self-transcendence
Video: Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, The Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Rinpoche
Kucchivikara-vattha: The Monk with Dysentery (Sutra teachings) “If you don’t tend to one another, who then will tend to you?”
“Putting Compassion on the Scientific Map”: Compassion Boosts Happiness/Health; and Research Indicates That Practicing Buddhists Are Happier than Average.
Video with wonderful mantra chanting: Om Gate Gate Paragate Para Samgate Bodhi Soha, the essence of Heart Sutra and Emptiness
Music Mantra Video: Taking Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the Four Immeasurables wonderfully sung by Yoko Dharma with video visualizations
Broken Commitments: 3 Teachers weigh in on practice “overload” and breaking Vajrayana practice promises. What do we do about it?
Dalai Lama and Lama Tsongkhapa: teachings on calm abiding meditation that go beyond “the breath” as the focus — targeting the main affliction
Music Mantra Video: Om Mani Padme Hum wonderfully chanted by Yoko Dharma, the sacred sound of compassionate Buddha Chenrezig
Tara Book excerpt and teaching: Who is Tara and how can She help us? An introduction to Tara, Karma, Shunyata, Dependent Arising, and Buddha Nature by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
What’s with all this consort union in Tantric Buddhism? No, it’s not about sexual fantasies. The psychology of Yab-Yum consorts, union of wisdom and compassion
Video: “How do I deal with my anger? Sometimes it consumes me and hurts others”: a Buddhist student asks teacher Ven. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Video: “Experience Buddhism” with Namdrol Rinpoche “Buddhism emphasizes, and lays its very foundations on, equanimity.”
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other teachers recommend Kṣitigarbha mantra and practice for times of disaster, especially hurricane and earthquake, because of the great Bodhisattva’s vow
Medicine Buddha healing mantras chanted by the amazing Yoko Dharma
Why 35 Confessional Buddhas practice and “The Bodhisattva’s Confession of Moral Downfalls” is a critical purifying practice for Buddhists
What the Dalai Lama and Patch Adams Have in Common: Laughter, and Compassion, the Best Medicine
“Preliminary practices… clear and enrich our minds, allowing practice to progress smoothly” — Thubten Chodron. Why Ngondro is a lifetime practice, and a “complete path”
Tantra Helps “Stop Ordinary Perception”, and is the Fast Path to Enlightenment. But How Do Modern Buddhists Relate to Deities?
Painter and digital Thangka artist Jampay Dorje aims to bring “Thangka painting into a modern era” with spectacular art, lessons for students, and a life-long project to illustrate all of the 11 Yogas of Naropa
Buddha teaches us to view every meal as if we were reluctant cannibals: Samyukta Agama Sutra 373, the Four Nutriments
Letting Go — letting go of past, letting go of future, letting go is the hardest thing to do: Na Tumhaka Sutta
Becoming Gesar, the fearless Buddhist: How to overcome fear in uncertain times, according to Pali Sutta, Mahayana Sutra and Tantra
The Hand of Buddha defeats the three poisons : Vajrapani (literally, “Vajra Hand”) — Guardian of Shakyamuni Himself; Vajrapani, the power of the mind to overcome obstacles such as pride, anger, hate and jealousy
Tonglen video: Why giving and taking practice is an important kindness meditation and Bodhichitta practice; how to do it: taught by Zasep Rinpoche
Understanding Dependent Co-Arising is critical to Buddhist practice: The Great Causes Discourse Maha-nidana Sutta
Pali Sutta for Our Age: Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Book Review of a Classic
The bridge between science and Buddhism, atoms and no atoms, theism and athiesm; Yidam deity meditation and the Cognitive Science of Tantra
“Every one has Buddha Nature.” A teaching video: Venerable Zasep Rinpoche with mantra chanting by Yoko Dharma
Meditation is Good For You: A How To

Meditation is Good For You: A How To

Every day I find a little time for mindfulness sitting meditation, and as often as possible I practice mindfulness while walking, performing chores—taking out the garbage, shovelling snow, Tai Chi. Mindfulness is an important practice in virtually all schools of Buddhist thought, and in one form or another, most Buddhists practice it. From formal Chan practice, such as archery or KungFu practice in Shaolin, to facing the wall meditation, to active mindful chore meditation, to mantra or sutta recitation, to simple things like making offerings—all are methods of practicing mindfulness.

Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

There are manifold benefits to practice, not least of which are abandoning the clinging to the past and the worry about the future, both of which are the path of suffering. Daily practice, inexorably takes us to a place where lofty ideas like enlightened thinking is actually possible.

Personally, I find mindfulness practice has many other benefits beyond the main purpose of practice. It inspires courage by removing the worry about the future. What is there to be afraid of when you are in the present moment? It improves concentration in all tasks, making you more productive at work or play. It makes you much more attentive, making you a real blessing to your family and friends.

Meditation with a mala on Buddhis Mantras is healthy
Meditation with a mala on Buddhis Mantras is healthy, not only for the spiritual being, but for the body.

Mindfulness Proven to Reduce Stress
The most commonly mentioned benefit of mindfulness training—the very reason it is studied at every major medical university and used in psychiatry practice—is the known link between mindfulness and benefits to health through reduction of stress. To this, I can personally attest. Increased energy, improved self-esteem, ability to relax and sleep, and a general ability to cope with modern life are also often cited.

Man praying and meditating
Bowing or clasping hands in Namaste is a form of mindful meditation

Science Proves Mindfulness Positively Alters the Brain
Apparently, it goes beyond all these already extraordinary benefits, by benefiting us in terms of bodily and neurological health. A May 2011 study in Neuroimage, which has been making the rounds of lofty publications and the science community, indicates that mindfulness physically changes the brain for the better. According to an article by Carolyn Schatz, an editor at Harvard Medical School publications, “all this focusing and refocusing is increasing brain connectivity. Researchers in Los Angeles, California compared the brain activity of volunteers who had finished eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training with that of volunteers who did not do such training. Functional MRI scans showed stronger connections in several regions of the meditators’ brains—especially those associated with attention and auditory and visual processing.”
Many studies support the supposition—based on extensive evidence—that there are substantive health benefits associated with mindfulness meditation. More importantly, from a Buddhist point of view, the research specifically points to an actual alteration of brain function and also body function at a fundamental level. Dr. Herbert Benson, director of Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that mindfulness training can actually turn specific sets of genes on and off in people who practice regularly. These genes improve the body’s ability to handle free radicals, inflammation, pain, and even cell death.

Mindfulness Improves Physical Health
Other studies have shown that mindfulness meditation improves immune system function, can eliminate food cravings and binge eating, reduce stress and improve cardio-vascular health.
So, when I practice White Tara mantra mindfulness meditation, perhaps I am physically changing my body, probably enhancing my ability to prevent cell death (longer life, which is one of White Tara’s manifold blessings), reducing pain and removing free radicals which cause many diseases (also one of the many benefits of White Tara practice.) In other words, science proves that faith alone is not needed, since regardless of faith, mindfulness simply works.

[box type=”shadow”]I can also personally attest to the power of White Tara’s mantra in my own life. It simply has helped me overcome major issues relating to health, where medicine failed. Her mantra is
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā[/box]

Mindfulness Meditation How To
At it’s simplest, mindfulness is about keeping us in the present, allowing us to shed the clinging to the past and the worries of the future. For this reason, the most common techniques include sitting, standing or walking meditation involving single-minded focus on:
• the breath
• mantra repetition
• emptiness practice (focusing on nothing—which is an element of all mindfulness practice)
• observing practice — simply observing your own thoughts, your own body, the sounds around you
• focus on any single thought, word or phrase
• martial arts or repetitive physical acts such as archery, Tai Chi, Kung Fu but with single-minded focus.
The key skill, that develops over time—apparently because we are actually altering our neural pathways and brain function, according to these studies—is to allow stray thoughts to happen, observe them, but then refocus on the single-minded focus point. It takes practice. It’s relaxing. It allows you to remove the obstacles to enlightenment. And it’s good for the health.

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