Guide If you can breathe, you can meditate: A practical, secular how-to guide to meditation

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Nov 9, If You Can Breathe, You Can Meditate: Morgan Rosenberg holds a graduate degree in A Practical, Secular How-To Guide To Meditation.
Table of contents



To purchase, just click here. The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. The title of this chapter is something of a misnomer, since there is no actual Dark Buddhist "lifestyle. For example I practice yoga every morning, and I am a vegetarian. Must all Dark Buddhists also practice yoga and abandon eating meat? Of course not. These are my personal choices. They are what I have determined are best for me.

I will discuss my own decisions, briefly, in this section, simply so that you have examples of how one man has chosen to live his life. I began practicing yoga long before I began studying Zen Buddhism. I was not on a spiritual quest. I was simply looking for a gentle form of exercise that might aid in restoring some of my flexibility, balance, and joint motility after eighteen years of bodybuilding. What I discovered was that yoga was not only incredibly effective exercise, but it left me feeling great after each and every practice. Earlier, in reference to right meditation and right concentration, I was slightly critical with regard to yoga, stating that Buddhist meditation is often confused with yogic meditation, which includes the asanas, and also is frequently taught along with spiritual elements, including autohypnosis, quests for occult powers, and an attempted union with God.

Unfortunately yoga practitioners and instructors often relate this amazing post-yoga feeling with any or all of these, linking yoga to invisible energies, chakras, and all manner of mysticism. The real reasons that yoga leaves you feeling energized and in a good mood are that it focuses on breathing-as do many forms of Zen Buddhist meditation-and a well-oxygenated brain is a happy brain; and these are simply the benefits of physical exercise, whether you are practicing yoga, running, or dancing.

As a bodybuilder I never experienced any of the good feelings that are supposed to be associated with exercise, but that is because one of the core principles of bodybuilding is to overdo exercise until you reach a point of complete depletion, referred to as "lifting to the point of failure". That is how you build muscle.

Now, having learned to practice right view toward myself, I recognize that when my body is telling me that it is in pain, I should be aware of this fact and act on it, rather than consciously choosing to ignore it. Just as I excised the rigid views of Objectivism and combined the remaining principles with a similarly excised Zen Buddhism to form Dark Buddhism, it was very easy to take what I found to be beneficial in yoga, excise the spirituality and then fold it into my personal Dark Buddhist lifestyle. The basic principles of yoga, the yogasutras , are divided into four parts: The first part, samadhipada , is directed toward attaining self-absorption, samadhi.

This is actually comparable to the concept of mindfulness in Buddhism. The second part, sadhanapada , deals with the means of attaining self-absorption, analogous to the Eightfold Path The third part, vibhutipada , is directed toward supernatural powers such as being able to levitate or astrally project, or siddhis, that supposedly come with the practice of yoga. In the Western world, yoga is best known for its asanas , or yogic postures, which are the most visible forms of yoga. Buddhism is best known as a practice of meditation. The two blend well because yoga, despite outward appearances, is actually a tradition of meditation.

The asanas are used as a means to calm disturbances of the mind. In other words the physical movements are intended as an aid to meditation. Additionally one focuses both on breath and the body itself while practicing the asanas, which are both forms of meditation-mindfulness meditation with both the body and the breath as anchors. In my personal Dark Buddhist lifestyle, I perform yoga asanas and Zen Buddhist meditation separately, but, once again, this is what I have determined is best for me.

I urge you to explore all avenues of meditation and find what works best for you, even the more spiritually based yogic meditations. Similarly once I abandoned bodybuilding and was no longer reliant on gross quantities of protein throughout the day, I decided to become a vegetarian. This had nothing to do with the "thou shall not kill" Buddhist precept. It was a decision I made based upon my desire to live a physically healthy and simple life. It was, in other words, a purely personal decision based upon what I felt was best for me. I also happen to enjoy cooking, and the challenge of turning vegetables and soy products into reasonable facsimiles of my favorite meat dishes gives me a great deal of pleasure.

I make a pretty mean vegetarian bacon cheeseburger. To quote the Buddha, "Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care. From the Buddha to Thomas Carlyle, who wrote, "There is but one temple in the universe Whether you practice yoga, bodybuild, jog, or get some other form of exercise, the point is not to make yourself look attractive to others but to get in touch with your body. Although most of this book has been directed toward thoughts and consciousness, which are functions of the mind, it is important to always remember that the body is what supports the mind.

When you have a feeling, which originates in your mind, your body responds to it. In fact the best way to get in touch with your emotions and feelings is to explore them in your body. If you feel fear, rather than giving into the fear, you use right view to observe the fear objectively. Part of that is exploring what it feels like to fear: I feel like I have a knot in my stomach, I feel like the blood has drained from my head, I feel a tingling along my spine.

It would be artificial, and not part of reality, to try to separate your mind from your body. In chapter seven I briefly mentioned the yogic Eightfold Path and touched on the yama of brahmacharya , or chastity with regard to right action. The yogic yamas actually conform very well with the lifestyle I have developed for myself based on the principles of right view and right action. The yama s include ahimsa , which translates as "do no harm"; satya , which means "tell no lies"; asteya , "do not steal"; aparigraha , "don't be greedy"; and the aforementioned brahmacharya.

Based on my own objective view of what is best and healthiest for myself, I make the choice to not willingly cause trouble or harm people, to not lie, to not steal, to not sleep around, and to live my life with moderation in general. This is not because I fear that some higher power will strike me dead or send me to hell; it is because I simply wish to live peacefully and happily.

The 'common sense' guide to meditation

My serenity is what I value the most, and my right action is directed toward maintaining as serene a life as I can manage. As discussed with reference to right action and right speech, if I go around insulting people or stealing, I'm setting myself up for fights, being a fugitive, getting punched in the mouth, and so forth. None of this contributes to my goal of living a peaceful and happy life. In addition to yamas, yoga teaches a set of niyamas , which are positive things to engage in. These include shauca , which translates as "be pure"; santosha , which means "be content"; tapas , "be disciplined"; svadhyaya , "be studious"; and ishvara - pranidhana , which means "be devoted.

Keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy as well as bathing regularly, wearing clean clothing, keeping your home clean, and maintaining general hygiene. Santosha, of course, is what we already seek via the Dark Buddhist Eightfold Path and through our practice of meditation. Tapas is the practice of self-responsibility, which has been promoted with regard to many different aspects of the Dark Buddhist path. Svadhyaya does not mean "studious" as in going to school, but as in being in a constant state of seeking knowledge and being ready to learn.

This is not just observing and learning about the outside world, but being open to learning about yourself. Ishvara-pranidhana is the one niyama devoted to the "spiritual," as this is devotion to the "divine.


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You can't throw a pebble into a crowd in India without hitting a guru. Enlightenment is offered to you on every street corner, on every billboard, in every hotel, in every bus and train station, and in every marketplace.


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There are hundreds of different types of yoga; some include the asanas we are familiar with in the United States, but most don't. There are yoga schools where you learn how to bend, there are yoga schools where you learn how to breathe, there are yoga schools where you learn how to chant, there are yoga schools where you learn to scream, and there are yoga schools where you learn to hop.

Most of these are forms of meditation How can I be so sure? Because enlightenment does not require you to actually "do" anything. If you are flying to India, if you are contorting yourself, if you are walking on hot coals, if you are screaming your head off, if you are forcing yourself to laugh, if you are lying on a bed of nails Enlightenment comes from within, not from a guru, not from tricks, not from altering your mind with drugs, overoxygenation, underoxygenation, or pain.

I will repeat the old Buddhist saying referenced earlier in the book: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him! I have attained moments of enlightenment through a daily meditation practice that takes place in my office chair and by studying the concepts I've put into this book. Nothing more. Although I have emphasized time and again that your path to enlightenment is purely personal and relies solely upon your own choices, made with an objective right view, keep in mind that enlightenment itself is also personal.

It comes from within, not from without. If a guru is asking you to pay money for guaranteed enlightenment, run very far away. Believe nothing on the faith of traditions, even though they have been held in honor for many generations and in diverse places. Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it. Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.

Guide: Everything you need to start meditating | A Life of Productivity

Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself that a God inspires you. Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests. After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto. The largest part of living a Dark Buddhist life is practicing right effort and right intention. Her chapters on the nature of mind and the experience of the novice practitioner were very helpful for me, as were her descriptions of the glimpses of the fruit of your labor and challenges faced on the way , which offer gentle reassurance that you are on the right path even when it feels as if you are all over the place.

Beginning practitioners may appreciate the varying sense meditatio A lucid introduction to mindfulness meditation. Beginning practitioners may appreciate the varying sense meditations she includes as alternatives to breath work. May 21, Simran Nirh rated it it was amazing. This was an excellent book for someone like me who has always struggled;ed with being able to control my mind while meditating. Pema offers a variety of techniques and strategies that really helped me with this. I found that on days I listened to this book and completed my morning meditation thereafter, I had a much more relaxed mindset throughout the day.

The audiobook is recorded on set at a meditation retreat that Pema is running, and as such is very instructional in nature. I will definitely This was an excellent book for someone like me who has always struggled;ed with being able to control my mind while meditating.

I will definitely be using this as an ongoing tool! My husband actually bought this book for himself as a brand new practitioner. I hadn't read this one, but I do think Pema Chodron's books are among the most accessible, clear, wise, and funny- and this book is no exception. By far the best summary of meditation I've read yet. Great for beginners but the later chapters are good even for those with an established practice.

Getting into the Habit of Meditating

A great gift, and a resource you could return to again and again to remember the basics. May 29, Diane rated it it was amazing. Pema Chodron is a master at describing the intricacies of Buddhist thought and practice in accessible language. Her North American roots give her the requisite background to instruct us Westerners in the arts of meditation and mindfulness with brevity, clarity and compassion. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about meditation.

Mar 23, Dee-anne Leith rated it it was amazing. I loved this book. But it truly has changed my perspective on meditation and made me eager to delve into my own mediation journey! I loved her writing style. I would love to read another by this author. Sep 07, Z rated it it was amazing Shelves: favourites , So grand in its scope, so simple in its style. I would rank this as a more important how-to on meditation than even Shunryu Suzuki or the Dalai Lama, because of how eminently accessible and implementable it is. No jargon, no esoteric references, just the idea of being awake and aware in daily life.

I used the Headspace app alongside this book to implement the teachings and loved it. Apr 24, Aelia rated it it was amazing. Plainly and beautifully written; I will be recommending this book to many friends, as my sanagha-friend did. She has a sweet and caring narrative, without overwhelming jargon.

The last chapter without pretention writes: what we have been learning in this book is how to awaken the bodhicitta, which we all carry and are. Jan 11, Amita Gupta rated it really liked it. Beautiful book, which narrates meditation is part of every moment..


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It's the sense how much one is in here n now.. One can start meditation by any activity he choose to.. Sep 03, Toria rated it it was ok. A very short and friendly intro with some short friendly exercises. Not a bad book, just reads as if she is a great teacher who talked to a ghost writer for an hour or two and got transcribed into a book without much of its own book soul. Apr 11, Aurora Shele rated it really liked it.

This is a really good book on meditation. Not my favortie from Pema Chodron but it did have many nice tips and reminders as well as a simple way of explaining various methods of meditations we can use in our daily practice. May 11, Leslie Wilkins rated it really liked it. I'd been doing guided meditation with an app Headspace for a few weeks when my mom recommended this book thanks, Mom! It was so helpful to learn the reasons WHY the app has you do things a certain way.

Highly recommended. Sep 08, Sarah Metts rated it it was amazing. Pema Chodron is a great teacher. I recommend this book or the audiobook in which you can hear the original talks the book was based on. Jan 11, Karen rated it really liked it. Ann Patchett recommended it so of course it's good ;. Oct 31, Nancy Long rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction.

I have the hardback and also listened to the audiobook. This will be a book I refer back to many times as I teach meditation. May 27, Ana Mark rated it liked it Shelves: spiritual , non-fiction , reviewed.

If You Can Breathe, You Can Meditate

Calming, reassuring but too vague. Jul 13, Jean Marie rated it it was amazing. A clear, insightful guide to learning how to meditate. Jul 05, Patricia rated it it was amazing. Her take on meditation is a bit different, refreshingly so. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. Self Help. How To. While in her mid-thirties, she traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. That being said, there are plenty of benefits.

Here are five reasons to practice mindfulness. A new study has found evidence to show that there is actually a direct link between nasal breathing and our cognitive functions. This simple yet effective form of deep breathing defuses the stress feedback loop and teaches your brain and body to relax.

A practice for teaching preschool children the basics of mindfulness by drawing on the elements of nature. A simple practice to help kids take some time to notice what has gone well and see what happens next.

1. A Simple Breathing Meditation for Beginners

A simple meditation, appropriate for older kids, that uses counting breaths to cultivate mindful awareness, decrease mind wandering and negative thought loops, and improve mood. Mindful movement can help you tap into that space beyond your busy mind where you are already calm and clear. By focusing on the breath while doing some simple movements you can synchronize your mind and body with breath and rhythm. What happens when you do that, even after just a few minutes, is you begin to pause and start to focus. Some of the most popular ideas about mindfulness are just plain wrong.

If You Can Breathe, You Can Meditate: A Practical, Secular How-To Guide to Meditation

When you begin to practice it, you may find the experience quite different than what you expected. Try this basic meditation to strengthen neural connections. Mindfulness apps are trending in a big way. Getting Started with Mindfulness You have questions about mindfulness and meditation. Mindful has the answers. A brief mindfulness meditation practice to relax your body and focus your mind. An Minute Awareness of Breath Meditation. Breathing Compassion In and Out.