meditation

meditation

Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it's a listener's response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it's often intriguing. If you'd like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

Social psychologist Ellen Langer's unconventional studies have long suggested what brain science is now revealing: our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something "play" rather than "work" can mean the difference between delight and drudgery. She is one of the early pioneers — along with figures like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Herbert Benson — in drawing a connection between mindlessness and unhappiness, between mindfulness and health. Dr. Langer describes mindfulness as achievable without meditation or yoga — as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”

I faked my way through all of them: the Christian retreats with my confirmation class in eighth grade, the retreat to help freshmen adjust to their first year of college, a spiritual retreat to find my true calling in life, a writer’s retreat.

+ Read » Part I: Arrival | Part II: Absence | Part III: Navigation

I've been taking walks out into trackless space, leaving point A without a point B to find.

+ Read » Part I: Arrival | Part II: Absence

Look at the map. Don't look at the coast, don't look at the text. Just look at the white mass that is the Antarctic. Look at the nothing that fills the map.

Beyond the penguins and icebergs, far behind the stony coast, larger than the United States and deprived of life, is the East Antarctic ice cap. This blank space is the vast bulk of the southern continent, a world of ice inconceivable to anyone who has not traveled over its emptiness.

I have spent the last 20 years trying to portray the sense of place I experience at the lake of my childhood. Located in Upper East Tennessee, South Holston Lake is cradled in the Appalachian Mountains.

Being in the presence of a deep, quiet body of water gently surrounded by this wise mountain range pulls me out of the shallow fray of my frantic life to rest in a centered awareness. It is a threshold — a true “thin place.”

Two legendary teachers shine a Buddhist light on a classic Christian teaching: love of enemies. Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg are working together on how we relate to that which makes us feel embattled from without, and from within.

“In my calligraphy, there is ink, tea, breathing, mindfulness, and concentration. Writing calligraphy is a practice of meditation. I write the words or sentences that can remind people about the practice. For instance, breathe and enjoy the kingdom of God in the here and the now or breathe and enjoy this wonderful moment. I think the word ‘wonderful’ means full of wonders. If you are truly there in the moment, you can recognize so many wonders in that moment. The Kingdom of God, the Buddha land is there.

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