Monday, March 30, 2015

RAIN: Working With Difficulties

Tara Brach

About twelve years ago, a number of Buddhist teachers began to share a new mindfulness tool that offers in-the-trenches support for working with intense and difficult emotions. Called RAIN (an acronym for the four steps of the process), it can be accessed in almost any place or situation. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives.

I have now taught RAIN to thousands of students, clients, and mental health professionals, adapting and expanding it into the version you’ll find in this chapter. I’ve also made it a core practice in my own life. Here are the four steps of RAIN presented in the way I’ve found most helpful:

R   Recognize what is happening
A  Allow life to be just as it is
I   Investigate inner experience with kindness
N  Non-Identification.

RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn’t matter whether you resist “what is” by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.

Monday, March 23, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 2

Indonesian Bhikkhuṇīs & Women Ascetics: A Historical Introduction & Survey of Terminology

Article by Tathālokā Bhikkhunī  
Intro by Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī

This second part of History of Women in Buddhism series, leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, is an extract from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors.” It provides an overview of the Indonesian terminology and a brief historical overview. It explores something of what is known of the ancient Buddhist women monastics and ascetics of the Indonesian archipelago through the travelogues, local oral traditions, dedicatory inscriptions, monuments and statuary that remains of them within their cultural and historical context."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Does Mindfulness Make You More Compassionate?

Shauna Shapiro

I attended my first meditation retreat in Thailand seventeen years ago. When I arrived, I didn’t know very much about mindfulness and I certainly didn’t speak any Thai.

At the monastery, I vaguely understood the teachings of the beautiful Thai monk who instructed me to pay attention to the breath coming in and out of my nostrils. It sounded easy enough. So I sat down and attempted to pay attention, sixteen hours a day, and very quickly I had my first big realization: I was not in control of my mind.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fear About the World: Confusing Compassion with Despair

Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron

There’s a lot going on in the news these days, which can lead thoughtful people to reflect on the state of the world. Generally, however, we don’t know how to do this in a skillful way. For many of us, reflecting on the state of the world creates a state of distress, and our minds get tight and fearful.

Within that fear there is a lot of “I-grasping,” which we sometimes confuse with compassion. We think, “When I look at the world, and see so much suffering I feel compassion for people.” But in fact, we’re miserable, feeling a sense of despair, fear, depression, and so on. That isn’t genuine compassion. Not recognizing this, some people get afraid of feeling compassion, thinking that it only makes us feel awful. This is a dangerous thought because it can lead us to closing our hearts to others.