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Empathy

Empathy: Its Nature, What Makes It Hard, and How to Develop It

Donald Rothberg talks about empathy: its nature, what makes it hard and how to develop it. Empathy is the ability ...
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Nature of Awareness

The Power of Lovingkindness

The practice of Metta makes the heart more responsive. You'll be surprised you don't even need to learn Metta in ...
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Miranda July & The Dharma

Miranda July & The Dharma

Matthew Brensilver reflects on the movie where Miranda July was an actress, playing the role of receiving emails from the ...
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Wishing Ourselves And Others Well

Wishing Ourselves And Others Well

Taking the time to wish ourselves and others well can be a powerful tool for achieving greater peace and serenity ...
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Gil Fronsdal Guided Anapanasati Meditations

Guided Anapanasati: Relaxing and Cultivating Joy and Ease

Gil Fronsdal leads an Anapanasati Relaxing & Cultivating Joy & Ease. Taking 3 deep breaths to settle in to connect ...
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Lesson from Nature, Energizing Your Body

Energizing Your Body (Binaural Beat)

Binaural Beat for Energizing Your Body. Binaural beats are auditory illusion perceived by the brain when two different tones are ...
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Gil Fronsdal

Beautyful

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Meditation Beautyful. Someone skilled in meditation is someone who is skilled with the beauty of ...
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Golfing With Monkeys

Golfing With Monkeys

Tara Brach talks about Golfing With Monkeys. She started with a story of monkeys proliferating in a golf course in ...
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Mindfulness Exercise on Lessons From Nature

Mindfulness of Depression 4/5

Rona Kabatznick leads Part 4 of the guided forgiveness meditation on Mindfulness Depression. Forgiveness of self is to open one's ...
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Meditation: Tonglen

Meditation: Tonglen

Tara Brach leads a guided Meditation: Tonglen. The natural suffering we encounter is the gateway to compassion. Let loving awareness ...
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Faith In Ourselves

Faith In Ourselves

Sharon Salzberg talks about Faith in Ourselves. Thoughts are impermanent, they come and go at whim. It causes us to ...
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Transforming the Jaudgmental Mind

Transforming the Judgmental Mind

The judgmental mind works in a very selective manner. Donald Rothberg explores the nature of the judgmental mind and gives ...
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Gil Fronsdal

Choosing the Long Path of Practice

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Meditation Choosing the Long Path of Practice. The idea of a fast way to enlightenment ...
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Working with Difficult Emotions

Working with Difficult Emotions

Guy Armstrong discusses about the sufferings brought about by the emotional pain. Sadness, grief, all other difficult emotions, how you ...
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1 Minute Meditation

1 Minute Meditation

Fitting meditation into your day doesn’t have to be a challenge. Try this free 1-minute mindfulness meditation by Tara Brach, ...
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Mindfulness for holiday stress

Introduction to Drawing Yourself

Marcia Rose introduces the "drawing yourself" exercise. First is to draw a part of yourself, either the hand or the ...
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Letting life be, Just as it is

Letting Life Be, Just As It Is

Tara Brach leads a guided body scan meditation about Letting Life Be Just As It Is. Sense sounds not just ...
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Gladdening the mind

Gladdening the Mind

Tara Brach leads a guided meditation about Gladdening the Mind. The Buddha taught the value of gladdening the mind as ...
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Dharmette by Gil Fronsdal

Dharmette: Doing Nothing

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Meditation Dharmette Doing Nothing. A big part of learning mindfulness meditation is learning to do ...
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Developing Meditation Techniques

Developing Meditation Techniques

Ajahn Sumedho talks about developing meditation techniques. Keep concentrating on the breath and stop the wandering mind and bring about ...
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Surrender

Surrender

Frank Ostaseski talks about seeing things in a new way. That to uncover what's hidden we gradually remove the obstacles- ...
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Mindfulness Exercise on Lessons From Nature

Free-Floating in Discomfort

Ines Freedman leads a guided meditation on Free-Floating in Discomfort. This meditation alleviates the discomfort of pain and increases calm ...
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Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness & Pain 3: Cultivating Wisdom

Oren Sofer talks about Cultivating Wisdom as Part 3 of Mindfulness & Pain. To understand suffering, we need to listen ...
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Mindfulness meditation

Failing Well

Matthew Brensilver talks about Failing Well. It's about perfectionism, failure and loving-kindness. In practice, failing is indispensable and important ...
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How To Deal with Afflictive Emotions

How To Deal with Afflictive Emotions

Joseph Goldstein leads a guided meditation about How to Deal with Afflictive Emotions. Anger, sadness, grief, and anxiety set aside ...
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mindfulness exercises guided meditation 9, Compassionate Body Scan

Compassionate Body Scan

Kristin Neff leads a meditation called the Compassionate Body Scan. It takes about 20 minutes to complete. Start with getting ...
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Just Like Me

Just Like Me

Just like me guided meditation by Sean Fargo focuses on the appreciation of your likeness with others. To feel the ...
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Experience gratitude

Experience Gratitude

Has gratitude been unrecognized or forgotten? Your experience with gratitude can help to recognize where it has been present and ...
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Integrated Body Scan

Integrated Body Scan

Sean Fargo leads the integrated body scan meditation. This meditation promotes calmness and peace of mind. It scans the whole ...
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Mindful sexuality

Love, Sexuality & Mindfulness

Matthew Brensilver talks about Love: Sexuality & Mindfulness. Love & Sexuality requires a lot of awareness and the sense of ...
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Mindfulness meditation

The Tall Poppy and the Shrinking Violet

James Baraz describes the characteristics of the tall poppy and shrinking violet to oppression and benevolence. The mind can be ...
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Starting the Day with Gratitude – Meditation

Starting the Day with Gratitude – Meditation

Before your mind wakes up completely every morning, create a blank canvas. Clear your mind starting the day with a ...
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How To Focus Your Attention

How To Focus Your Attention

This guided meditation by Sean Fargo is about How To Focus Your Attention. Relax and stay alert at the same ...
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Forty Five Minute Meditation

Forty Five Minute Meditation – Just Bells 15 Minute Intervals

Available for download, audible media of 45-minute meditation with just bells. The 15-minute intervals are good for parts of relaxation ...
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Gil Fronsdal

Guided Forgiveness

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Forgiveness meditation. In preparation for a Loving-kindness practice is a practice of forgiveness. Forgiving is ...
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Lessons from Nature

Nature: Tropical Beach at Sunset

Nature Sounds: Tropical Beach Sunset. You calmly watch the sunset as the waves started to recede. The inland wind carries ...
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Leading With Purpose

Leading With Purpose

Sean Fargo leads a guided meditation Leading with Purpose. This meditation explores leading with purpose whether you're in an organization ...
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Working with Transforming Judgment Mind

Working with Transforming Judgment Mind

Donald Rothberg talks about working with transforming judgment mind. It talks about daily life and limiting factors and sometimes unconscious ...
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Mindfulness exercise, Judging Mind, no self no problem

Fear of Public Speaking

Our perceptions are unreliable, subjective and impermanent. Ajahn teaches how different audience perceive, and why public speaking is terrifying ...
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Right Concentration

Right Concentration

Shaila Catherine quotes the Buddha, "concentration is to understand things the way it is." When the mind is steady, it ...
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The Joy of Virtue

The Joy of Virtue

Jack Kornfield talks about Joy of Virtue or Happiness of Integrity. Relating virtue to morality without harming any form of ...
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Mindfulness meditation

Emotional Reactions to Pain

Ines Freedman leads a guided body scan meditation about Emotional Reactions to Pain. The meditation brings into awareness certain pains ...
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Mindfulness for holiday stress

Investigating Aversion and Anger

We don't need to judge ourselves for being angry. In meditation practice, we see it and investigate it aversion or ...
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Welcome Your Body Home

Welcome Your Body Home

Spring Washam talks about the topic Welcome Your Body Home. It's about the benefits of meditation, how the mind can ...
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The Camel Knows The Way: Reflections on Faith

The Camel Knows The Way: Reflections On Faith

Spring Washam talks about reflections on faith through the story of The Camel Knows The Way. The talk about faith ...
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The Multiplication of Courage

The Multiplication of Courage

James Baraz talks about the power of community. There is a kind with creativity or collective intelligence, and sometimes multiplication ...
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Dharmette by Gil Fronsdal

Dharmette: Practicing with Imagination

Gil Fronsdal leads a Guided Meditation Dharmette: Practicing with Imagination. Yes can be called an attitude to being present and ...
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Settle the heart

Settle the Heart First

Gil Fronsdal talks about Settle the Heart First. Rest in the calm of peace first and settle the heart before ...
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Open Awareness

Focused Attention And Open Awareness

Sean Fargo leads a guided meditation that alternates between focused attention and open awareness. Direct the attention back to the ...
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mindfulness meditations online

Teachers And Cults

Jack Kornfield talks about teachers and cults. He expounds the importance of independence or spirituality and truth; in order not ...
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The Power of Mindfulness Exercises

Though the term mindfulness might sometimes feel to be a relatively new term to arrive in collective consciousness, it is a practice that has been understood for centuries in other countries and communities of the world. While Western society as a collective is only just beginning to scratch the surface of what mindfulness really is and the widespread implications it has, Buddhists and Hindus have understood its powers for thousands of years, seeing mindfulness as a potent tool for transformation and deeper life understanding. For reasons that are quite understandable, more and more people are starting to explore this powerful practice as the fast-paced and highly interconnected world is leaving us feeling more disconnected from ourselves and from the world around us. As we begin to tap into our own personal mindfulness practice, we begin to intuitively understand how and why this teaching has held strong throughout millennia.

Observing the Nature of Reality

Mindfulness calls us to take a closer look at the present moment – exactly as it is. Through our direct experience, with preconditioned beliefs and ideas set aside, we expand our field of awareness by observing whatever we can sense in this very moment. Some of the ways we can tune into the present moment mindfully include basic techniques such as:

  • Drawing awareness to the breath
  • Witnessing thoughts and emotions without attachment
  • Observing bodily sensations, both surface and visceral
  • Tuning into each of our five senses without judgment and without seeking anything in particular
  • Compassionately and non-judgmentally interacting with whatever is present in the moment

Though it might at first seem simple, the truth is that it is and it isn’t. Much of the world, and the majority of the Western world specifically, has not been raised to interact with the world in a mindful way. It is a concept and a way of being that has not yet influenced most societies on a major scale. Learning to tune into the world mindfully is therefore a big step for many people and as such, it is a slow and continually evolving process. Mindfulness is a completely different way of being than most of us are used to and this is what can make it appear challenging.

However, with that said, it is a simple practice that once explored in a meaningful way has countless benefits, extending outwards from the core of our being like a ripple in water. Not only does everything in one’s immediate life change, so too does the surrounding environment. By quietly beginning to observe the stories we tell ourselves and tune into the assumptions we make about the world around us, we start to gain power over our thoughts, unveiling the true potential of mindfulness.

The Power of the Mind

While it might be commonly thought that our thoughts are a product of who we are, the assumption deserves deeper exploration. In mainstream Western culture, we often don’t probe our thoughts, leaving them to direct the show of our lives. We take them on as if they are our own, allowing them to speak for who we are. These unexamined thoughts influence our beliefs and our actions and the external world reflects back whatever energy we are radiating outwards. 

Mindfulness practice helps us to observe the opposite – to understand that our thoughts are not, in fact, an expression of who we truly are. Instead, our thoughts are viewed as separate energy bodies that do not belong to us. Though they are largely formulated by residue from our personal history and from the culture of our human and societal collective at large, our thoughts are not ultimately fixed and they are not “true” in any absolute sense.

When left unchecked, the conditioned and habitual mind makes all of our executive decisions. Through mindful observation of these mental movements, we begin to take some of that power back. When thoughts arise suggesting words to be said and actions to be taken, mindfulness intervenes as our ability to quietly observe the rest of that experience. At any moment, we might silently, compassionately, and non-judgmentally inquire:

  • What is arising in the silence?
  • What sort of energy is observable in the mind?
  • How does the physical body feel right now?
  • Is there movement towards or away from something?
  • What feelings or emotions are present within me right now and where?

Without seeking clear answers, mindfulness provides space for pure awareness of the present moment to arise. When we are mindful, we might pick up on subtle energies and deeper insights that the mind might not normally wish to address, such as:

  • Unhealthy decisions made based on cravings
  • Avoidance of opportunities for growth based on fear
  • Repressed emotions influencing our actions and decisions
  • Attachment patterns resulting from fear of being alone
  • Judgment of others to avoid looking within
  • Fear of being unloved, unaccepted, or rejected

These are only just a few of the infinite insights that can arise from mindfulness practice. While we might also be able to witness some of these ideas or notions without practicing mindfulness consistently, they resonate on a deeper level when we observe them from the heart space rather than from the mind. When we are quiet and approach whatever is present without rationalization, fear, or judgment, the power these observations hold is exponentially greater than when deduced from mental analysis. What we then come to know holds true power to transform our lives.

The Healing Powers of Mindfulness Exercises

Once we have tapped into mindful exploration of the self, mindfulness has the power to heal on numerous levels. As a human collective, we are beginning to understand how interconnected the mind and body really are, making mindfulness practices incredibly beneficial for physical ailments. On the level of the human body, mindfulness has countless positive benefits, including:

  • Reduction of one’s experience of pain, nausea, and fatigue
  • Lowered levels of the stress hormone, cortisol
  • Increased levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a calming brain neurotransmitter
  • Increased gray matter density in brain regions associated with emotional regulation, learning, memory, and perspective
  • Improved sleep habits and reduction of insomnia
  • Improved immune system functioning
  • Reduced blood pressure and lowered risk of heart disease

On a mental and emotional level, the potential for mindfulness to transform is just as powerful. As we start to observe the habitual patterns of the mind, we gain greater awareness and subsequent control over our thoughts and our responses to life. This heightened awareness, paired with the effects that mindfulness has on the physical body (such as reducing stress hormones and influencing the brain), is a large part of what leads to transformation of mind. Regularly observed effects of mindfulness practice include:

  • Greater capacity for focus and attention
  • Greater acceptance for the present moment
  • Deeper insights and powerful realizations
  • Deeper sense of connection to self and to the world around
  • Greater overall experience of peace and harmony

Mindfulness touches each individual in a different way. Where there is authentic willingness to open ourselves up to whatever exists in the present moment, there is great potential for transformation. Insights and growth cannot be forced, however; rather, when we surrender to whatever exists, wisdom unveils itself.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Brené Brown

The Path of Presence

In her poem ‘When Death Comes’, Mary Oliver writes:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

Mindfulness is, in essence, this sort of movement through, or interaction with, life. It is a wholehearted acceptance of whatever exists; it is a path of presence. As we learn to become more mindful in our everyday lives, not solely when in moments of meditation, we start to understand what it means to live in the present moment. Though feelings, thoughts, and emotions will continue to arise, our relationship to them changes. We become more curious about everything that exists in the present moment. Tendencies to judge, suppress, or reject things we ‘don’t like’ or deem to be ‘bad’ begin to lessen; instead, we practice the art of quietly sitting with whatever appears to be happening.

​Exploring the Power of Mindfulness

We can explore the power of mindfulness is numerous ways. From sitting meditations to written, reflective free mindfulness exercises, the paths of transformation through mindfulness are numerous and intertwining. Here are a few ways to explore the power of this practice.

1. Mindful Self-Inquiry

Even though mindfulness is commonly associated with meditation, mindful reflection on our observations can help to enhance our understanding of the mind and the ultimate nature of reality. To practice, take some quiet time to sit with these questions or to write down your answers. Let whatever comes come with judgment or analysis. Inquire:

  • What do you believe about yourself? Why do you believe these things, and would you label them as “truth”? Are these beliefs fixed or fluid?
  • What exists within your body right now? As you draw your attention to a particular sensation, does the sensation change at all? If you draw your attention away from this area, does the sensation change at all?
  • If you were to wipe the slate of your personal story clean, what would remain? What can you observe in the silent space created when all stories, beliefs, and ideas falls away?

2. Emotional Awareness and Acceptance

When difficult emotions rise to the surface, we often struggle to accept them. Part of the freedom that arises from mindfulness comes when we learn to accept whatever exists – “good” or “bad.” When emotions arise, practice:

  • Taking a step away from the outside world but sitting comfortably in an upright position and tuning into whatever is present. Note any stories or plot lines weaving themselves through your direct experience; tune into the raw sensation instead.
  • Note the emotions that are arising by simply labelling them, “anger,” “grief,” “irritation,” or whatever may be applicable. Refrain from attaching the I-self to these energies.
  • Draw your attention to the heart space, opening yourself up compassionately to whatever your experience is. Mindfully ease any judgment that arises and simply allow yourself to be right where you are without attaching to the energy that is there.

3. Become the Observer

We spend countless hours thinking – thinking about what we want to do next in life, thinking about ourselves, others, and the world, and thinking about everything we pass by in our lives. Left unchecked, thinking runs our lives.

  • Practice becoming the observer of your thinking by watching your thoughts as if they were weather patterns. Like the weather, thoughts move constantly, and as we begin to become more aware of their impermanence, they loosen their grip on our beliefs and our actions. When thoughts arise, simply acknowledge them by silently whispering, “I see you,” and then letting them go. Acknowledge and release. Acknowledge and release.

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