The following is the introduction to an eleven part series titled "How To Meditate: Instructions to Free the Mind and the Heart" by Peter Williams, a Buddhist Meditation and Dharma Leader based in Boulder, CO.

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Vipassana, also called insight or mindfulness meditation, is a common sense technique that helps you live a happier and fuller life by paying attention to the present moment. The technique, although based in Buddhist teachings, does not require you to become a Buddhist to practice it. In fact, Buddhism is ultimately compatible with any faith you may already have. Buddhism does not require you to adopt a new set of beliefs. It just asks you to check out the teachings and see if they work in your life.

What is Buddhism? At its core, Buddhism is a teaching on realizing the deepest possible happiness. We all want to be happy, it is our birthright. But, says Buddhism, we look in the wrong places; we look for it in experiences and events and relationships that are all subject to change. All these things can provide us with much happiness, but a happiness dependent on conditions is ultimately unreliable because all conditions change. What is most amazing to me about the discoveries of the Buddha is that he discovered a happiness that is free of conditions, that does not depend on anything. The Buddha called his discovery nibbana (nirvana), a happiness so profound that it transcends, while still including, all the ordinary ups and downs in our lives

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Cultivating mindfulness is the key to overcoming suffering and recognizing natural wisdom: both our own and others'. How do we go about it?

In the Buddhist tradition and in Contemplative Psychotherapy training, we nurture mindfulness through the practice of sitting meditation. There are many different kinds of meditation. For example, some are designed to help us relax; others are meant to produce altered states of consciousness.

Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are. Instead, it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment. We could say that it teaches us how to be unconditionally present; that is, it helps us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is.

Mindfulness, paying precise, nonjudgmental attention to the details of our experience as it arises and subsides, doesn't reject anything. Instead of struggling to get away from experiences we find difficult, we practice being able to be with them. Equally, we bring mindfulness to pleasant experiences as well. Perhaps surprisingly, many times we have a hard time staying simply present with happiness. We turn it into something more familiar, like worrying that it won't last or trying to keep it from fading away.

When we are mindful, we show up for our lives; we don't miss them in being distracted or in wishing for things to be different. Instead, if something needs to be changed we are present enough to understand what needs to be done. Being mindful is not a substitute for actually participating in our lives and taking care of our own and others' needs. In fact, the more mindful we are, the more skillful we can be in compassionate action.

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What is yoga? The classical texts define yoga as a process of channelling the forces or expressions of the mind. How? By following a discipline. What is the aim of discipline? To establish yourself in your real nature. These are the first three statements in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and are the foundation of yoga practice and philosophy. If yoga was only physical exercises, these statements would reflect that physical component. But they do not. If yoga was a religion, these introductory statements would reflect that religious inclination. But they do not; rather, in the yogic tradition yoga has to be seen as a discipline, a lifestyle and a science of practical living.

In order to create a system, a progressive practice, and to immerse oneself in yogic disciplines, there is a very beautiful sequence. Yoga begins with the body, goes to the mind and aims to realize the inner nature. The question can arise: If yoga deals with the mind, why does it begin with the body? Yoga looks at the well-being of the total personality, of the body, mind and spirit. Body, mind and spirit have to come together so that we can become a complete human being and experience the wholeness of life.

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 “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” ―Amit Ray

Yogis have known the importance of the breath for thousands of years. The ancient sages taught us that “prana”, the vital force circulating through us, can be cultivated and channeled through a spectrum of breathing exercises.

Learning to breathe consciously and with awareness can be a valuable tool in helping to restore balance in the mind and body. Utilize the Breath video to create a controlled meditative breath. 

Learn more about meditative and yogic breath from our great selection of yoga and meditation wisdom books:

Yoga Wisdom: frequencyRiser.com/YogaWisdom

Meditation Wisdom: frequencyRiser.com/MeditationWisdom

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Make Peace with your Mind - Mindfulness Book by Mark Coleman

 

Many of us are well acquainted with our “Inner Critic.” It is the voice that makes us second-guess our every step by saying “not enough,” “not good enough,” or sometimes “too much.” At times the Inner Critic can be so strong that it feels invincible, but bestselling author and renowned meditation teacher Mark Coleman promises that it is not in his newest book Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Your Inner Critic. Selected as last year's top book on mindfulness by Mindful Magazine, we hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt.

Mark Coleman is the author of Make Peace with Your Mind and Awake in the Wild. He is the founder of the Mindfulness Institute and has an MA in Clinical Psychology. Mark has guided students on five continents as a corporate consultant, counselor, meditation teacher, and wilderness guide. He lives in Northern California. 

Get your copy of this life changing book here: frequencyRiser.com/MakePeaceWithYourMind

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Cutting edge scientists and ancient mystic dudes may have more to agree on than you think. The Science of Yoga video explores some of the parallels between science and the ancient practice of meditation.

The Science of Yoga Part 2 examines posture.

Learn more about the scientific effects of meditation on the brain by checking out the work of Harvard Neuroscientist Sara Lazar. Sara Lazar's amazing brain scans show meditation can actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving our memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress.

Watch Sara's TedX talk, "How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains".

Explore more Yoga and Meditation wisdom here:

frequencyRiser.com/YogaWisdom

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Happiness is elusive, irrational and can at times be an emotional roller coaster. Its pursuit can make you feel good, bad and everything in between.

The fact is happiness is important, we all want it- even if it is on an unconscious level and in this article I am going to give you 33 Simple Ways To Be Happy, Healthy And Spirituality Connected

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The mind is very wild. The human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. We can’t escape any of these experiences in the vast terrain of our existence. It is part of what makes life grand—and it is also why our minds take us on such a crazy ride. If we can train ourselves through meditation to be more open and more accepting toward the wild arc of our experience, if we can lean into the difficulties of life and ride of our minds, we can become more settled and relaxed amid whatever life brings us.
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