Meditation

and how thoughts grow out of it like mushrooms

I’ve just flown to Colorado in the mid-West of the US, one mile above sea-level on a massive plateau fringed by the Rockies.

It’s a long while since I’ve done a long-haul flight, not least because I suffered badly from jet-lag.

Alistair is off to the Rockies for a few weeks

Tomorrow sees me setting off to the Rockies in Colorado. The Sangre de Cristo mountains to be precise. After a few busy years studying and running Mindsprings workshops, I've elected to spend Christmas studying with Reggie Ray at his mountain retreat centre in Crestone.

What we need to say to thoughts...

One of my lovely students sent me this photo today today. She said it was the perfect instruction to thoughts that pop into our heads on a dally basis.

how the 'B' road of breath leads to the landscape of life

Of course, if it were that easy to sit in bliss then we’d all be doing it. So what is it in the samadhi practice that allows this transition from left to right?

the liberation of boredom and the step to the right.

One of the first things we did on the Island was stand in the darkness on the bobbing, black jetty that stretches some 30 metres out into the inky sea (bright with phosphorescent plankton on that evening) and imagine how it would be to throw our mobile phones into the water.

The magic island and the big task

I got back last weekend from our annual Mindsprings retreat up on Holy Island, off the coast of Arran in Western Scotland.

resist MacMindfulness and become the Resistance!

I’ve been meaning to write about Suzanne Moore’s thought-provoking article in the Guardian last month.

You can often spot the speed at which columnists write their offerings by the bagginess of their style and this article is no different, bouncing about as it does between a critique of secular mindfulness, Marina Abramovic and the corporate hue of Adriana Huffington. But, nonetheless, Moore poses several key questions which I think are crucial for practitioners to ponder.

  1. Why is mindfulness so popular now in this particular historical moment, characterised as it is in Europe and America by grim austerity in the wake of financial collapse, regressive political tides and a seemingly bleak Middle East meltdown?
  2. How mindful are we of the creep of ‘MacMindfulness’ and the neutering of this radical practice into a sort of dissociated safe-space from the aforementioned bleakness? Moore calls this the “commodifying of blankness”
  3. If we are wary of mindfulness being co-opted by late capitalism as an efficient ‘pill’ that allows us to blank-out the excesses of exploitation, degradation and impoverishment that are being carried out around us, how can we ensure that mindfulness stays connected to the very radical potential of its original Buddhist roots?
  4. What is that radical potential and how much do we have to subscribe to the Buddhist belief that suffering comes from greed, hatred and ignorance to unlock it? How can we answer Moore’s central critique: “ This neutered, apolitical [mindfulness] … lets go of the idea we can change the world; it merely helps us function better in it”.

These are chunky questions but are more necessary than ever.

Discuss, while walking

It’s the first morning home and my feet are remarkably spry. Winchester in Hampshire to Brighton in East Sussex. That’s three English counties and 75 miles in six days.

Apologies firstly for the long lacuna on this site.

And other egocentric worries...

Kathy and I are running a course on self-care at the spa road buddhist centre next weekend and so our thoughts have been circumnabulating around the tricksy subject of the self and what to do with it.